Our final countdown began very similar to our beginning with pillow talk. Curled up next to my husband in a bed only partly strange to our existence, but foreign enough, we discussed how we wanted to proceed. Our feet had finally decompressed after a restful night of sleep, previously swollen from four days of walking and tubing through London. We love our friends in London, graciously letting us descend upon their home, at our will. This East London brownstone served as a home base for us, a refuge for wayward travelers, a familiar residence to feel grounded. When we had arrived, four days ago, they were not home, but told us to knock on the neighbors door to gain locked access. We originally meant to arrive around 9pm but the foreign passport line at Stansted took longer than our flight from Italy. It was a complete bollox and one begins to wonder about the merits of Brexit. We arrived at 11pm. They not only helped us in, they bbq'd us some sausages and served up a green salad; saving us from a bread and butter night.
|Canterbury Abbey|| |
However, today was a transition day, referendum voting day, and the day after a major flooding storm in London. We decided instead of another day being filled-up with London sites and voting cues, we'd head-out to Canterbury and Battle Hastings. We waited until after the normal "rush hour" or so we thought. We ended up in the heart of a traffic jam due to Essex flooding and more people on the road due to the British Referendum vote to exit or remain.
Canterbury is one of my favorite towns from visits' past. It is the seat of the Anglican Church, the home of Thomas Beckett and of Geoffrey Chaucer. Each time I have come, a different friend has suggested going to the Unicorn Pub, a 1000 year-old, consistently run freehouse; and each time, I haven't had the chance to stop as Canterbury was always a quick POI and then onwards to a final evening destination. We did enjoy a wax-museum style Canterbury tales and the Abbey. This cathedral is yet another tie into the great history of William the Conquerer represented by its Norman vaults and then the volatile history from a Catholic to an Anglican Church (oh, and didn't we see the Vatican?) with a Romanesque addition 300-600 years later. Someday, maybe, I will get to that pub.
|Beckett's Martyrdom|| |
As quickly as we could, we darted down to Battle, outside Hastings, but, like England likes to do, it was pouring full-bloody sheets of rain. After the delayed start our schedule was greatly behind and this day was just not in our favor. With 20 minutes until closing time and visibility nil, we gave the heritage site a miss, parked until the rain let up and drove down to Bexhill-On-Sea. The evening cleared and we enjoyed a beach (more like rounded gravel) walk and tide-pool exploring. The problem here is just off-shore is an oil-rig and the reef is loaded with an odd, springy, oil-laden sand bar. But, the evening-set was pleasant enough, despite the hotel feeling like an old-folks home, it became very apparent that retirees seem to like this place, kids were not even allowed to use the pool after 6pm.
The next morning brought out sunshine and we travelled on towards an English cottage where Ken and Helen were staying. We drove the coast for a long as we could, brought up Brighton Beach memoirs of John's youth, and more importantly, stories about his father's misspent youth running the Lane's and Down's in wartime. Further, we came upon Arundel, a Wood family favorite hamlet of times past. We decided to lunch and tour the Castle and Abbey. This castle is a residence of a dukedom turned museum, much like Highclere Castle (from the beginning of our trip) but much larger and with a longer history going back to the Norman invasion, they also helped in the D-day invasion and they have gardens designed by none other then Capability Brown. So, all the major themes of this trip were serendipitously pulled together with this unplanned detour out of London. I seriously could not have executed it better if I tried.
Our last couple nights are spent with John's parents and nephew. The boys visited the Good Wood car races and the girls kickedback and enjoyed some Granny time at a quintessential English Farm. We also walked a footpath in hopes of finding a recommended small grocery, all we found was nettles and itchy legs prior to a thunderclap. The report back from the men is that Good Wood was a lot of fun, but cold due to more rain, lots of cool cars but the Revival in September is better. But Ethan ate it up nonetheless.
Conversation surrounded the Vote, this nation is stunned by the referendum to exit the EU. It seriously is reeling. With Great Britan split down the middle, the country is in huge turmoil. I have heard both sides of the story and it seems best to describe those who wished to exit voted out of fear, frustration and a populace desire to stop immigration and those who voted to remain are happy to be in a socialized society. We have seen a general denigration of maintenance within the towns and countrysides since our past visits and much more diversity has set in (I am not asserting an opinion, just an observation) most of which is attributed to EU restrictions and immigration laws; however, living in the US, it's hard to relate to the issue since we have a well established Federal legal oversight system. It is most similar to having Texas pull out of the United States, but this is a simple explanation. I'd rather like Texas to pull-out and that is an opinion.
|Capability Brown|| |
Nonetheless, it highly effects trade and banking systems and I really do think GB is in a bit of a pickle right now, it really did not go as David Cameron had planned. It went the conservative way, the Boris way, the Trump way. And might I add, at the risk of boring my reader, Trump came to visit Scotland, who voted overwhelmingly to remain-in and that ignorant man tweeted how great is was that Scotland voted out. Ok numbnuts, at least do a little research, do you even know that Scotland almost voted themselves out of GB not too long ago? Or do you think England and Great Britain are synonymous? Seriously Trump is stupid and dangerous.
Our final take-off found us delayed an hour, surprise, surprise, due to air traffic control strikes in France. I am quite happy to head home. None of us feel particularly homesick but a change of outfits would be nice. Things I miss most include clothing dryers, garbage disposals, fans (ceiling or otherwise), ice cubes (only found in Britain) and soft toilet paper. Things I was happy to have brought include wash'n'wear clothes, a retractable umbrella, a wind-breaker, body spray, dry shampoo, travel soap dish and a wash cloth. My children have been amazing on this trip, we all learned so much about yourselves, each other and the rest of the world. I can only hope that they cherish this experience as much as I do. Cheers, mate, cheers.
|Farm Cottage|| |
Post a Comment