These are my last few days in the UK. I’m savouring my time with family. I’ve been in the good old Blighty for nearly a month. These have been precious moments. I’ve been staying in Cornwall most of the time but this weekend I’m off the North of England to see my closest childhood friend. He and his wife are having a dedication ceremony for their two young boys aged 3 and 16 months. I’ve been asked to be a Godfather as I am ‘kind of spiritual’ – a rare compliment indeed!
Northumberland is a new part of the world for me to explore, and it is looking glorious under summer skies. Some wonderful place names in this part of the world too: Osmondthorpe, Ulleskelf and Bolton Percy. I’m listening to a biography of a TV comedian, Rory McGrath, entitled ‘Bearded Tit.’ Hilarious raconteur, I’m trying to hide my laughter behind a handkerchief and pretend I’m blowing my nose. After all, I might appear mad to be laughing to myself with earplugs in. Strange public taboo that one. Laughing out loud is definitely frowned upon. Chap on the bus this morning laughed at the unclosing bus door and said to the driver that it was playing ‘Silly whatsits’. Wondered if I’d ever hear such a phrase anywhere else on my trip. Unlikely that I’ll hear it in Chicago.
Another phrase keeps making me giggle; Rhod Gilbert is a welsh comedian whose latest program has him trying different jobs. Last night he was trying to be a scout leader. To say he was useless would be an understatement, or as he put it in his own words: “I couldn’t organise a bum-off in a field of baboons” Still cracking up every time it comes to mind. And what on earth is a ‘bum-off’ anyway?
The train journey I’m on is to Newcastle from Liskeard, 686km nearly 8 hours. The audio book has helped pass the time, also the train manager we had from Bristol. He had a broad Mancunian accent and his name rhymed with the honorary title I bestowed upon him: Kevin Kramer, Train Tamer! He made light of the crowded conditions with quips to passengers like “Have you been to Cleethorpes before? I live there.” “Has the tide had come in yet? What do you mean? I went there for two weeks and never saw the sea, well, I say two weeks, it were for a day, only it felt like two weeks… I hope I get more train conductors like this fellow on my trip, makes for a good chuckle.
Next week I take a seven hour ferry trip to Brittany, the Celtic part of France, to see my family there. One of my cousins has promised me an afternoon visiting the neolithic standing stone alignments of Carnac. Interestingly, it’s one of the wonders of the ancient world and just down the road from where I spent all my childhood summers yet I’ve never visited them before. There are kilometres of standing stones following ancient lines of earth energy and also huge stones arranged as chambers called Dolmen. They are sacred to the old religion of Europe and actually predate the druids. I’m looking forward to it immensely.
After that I take a high speed train to Paris for one night before flying out to Chicago. Looks like I’ll get a chance to visit the Windy City for a couple of days before heading into Michigan to see Dear old Aunty Mary of 93 years grace. That will be fun, she’s got an iron will and strong convictions. She’s still coming to terms with the fact that her grandson married a man. The modern world moves pretty quickly…
After Michigan I fly to Vancouver, via Dallas (whoever said a straight line is the shortest distance between two points obviously knew nothing about Frequent Flyer Programs… ) I’ll meet my stepson in Vancouver, he’ll be studying at UBC for the next year. I’ll also explore that beautiful city. I’m hoping to plug in to the energy there and find out what makes that part of the planet so exciting . I’ll keep you posted on that. One final stop in the Redwood forests of Northern California and then I return to Brizzy. 14 hour overnight flight across the date line. Take off on Wednesday, land on Friday. I think I’ll need a hot bath when I get back.
Thanks for all the lovely comments being left on the Facebook photos, its such a joy to share the journey with you all. Bon voyage mes amis!