Mar 16, 2009

It's arrived -- Over The Pond, volume 6

Someone said recently that I should change the name of this blog to Over The Pond, since that's the only time I seem to blog consistently. Point taken.

So here I am, again, in Durham. Usually I try to blog at the outset of the trip, but somehow there's no wireless in the Charlotte International Airport (not even for purchase). And when I got to my bed & breakfast for the weekend, nothing there either. So here it is -- Tuesday, day 4 of OTP (6), and I'm trying to get caught up.

This trip has been a bit of a blur so far, probably because the week previous was somewhat crazy. However, the actual departure day was lovely and relaxed -- somehow I'd packed the evening before, so Miranda & I were able to watch Sesame Street, and paint, and dig the garden bed & plant snap peas, and walk to the Meadowthorpe Cafe for lunch. It was wonderful, such good quality time with my girl. Then off to the airport at 2pm, where I caught a plane to Charlotte and on to London.

I spent my first nights at my old standby, the Castle View Guest House in Durham. It does indeed have a view of both the Castle and the Cathedral, plus a lovely garden when one can relax, read about Augustine, or just do nothing in particular. It's nice to be staying there for the 4th time, and have them recognize me and say, "Oh, hello, back again? How are the studies?" That just feels good after a long flight & journey up from London. The English breakfasts were also nice -- bacon, sausage, baked beans, eggs, toast, grilled tomatoes, & wonderful tea. Very sustaining.

I had dinner twice at the Cafe Rouge alongside the river Wear. The food was lovely -- caramelized onion & gruyere cheese bread, spinach tartlets, creme brulee & cappuccino. I was amused to see a young couple eat about half their entrees, then step outside and smoke for about 15 minutes, then return and finish their meals. I'm fairly sure that in the States, their table would have been cleared.

On Sunday morning, I walked about 20 yards down the street to St. Margaret of Antioch, a parish church there in Durham. It's pictured there on the left, and is literally a stone's throw from my bed & breakfast. It was small and welcoming, and the high church liturgy was just perfect for the setting. It was also nice to see a pile of toys in the back corner, where young kids & their mums could peacefully coexist with the rest of the worshippers.

I'm now staying with my friend Maeve, who's another of Robert's students. She's studying the theological bases for Church of England education, which is interesting to discuss as an American, with our stricter separation of church & state.

I'm trying to be witty -- I'm trying! But it's late, and I have some work to finish, and an early meeting tomorrow with Robert. But at least I can compose the daily highlights, days 1-4:
  • Having a truly fabulous meal -- pulled pork, fried okra, greens, hushpuppies, & my first fried pickle -- at the Charlotte airport. The last time I flew through there, I was 14 weeks pregnant & was just emerging from morning sickness. And the food was just as good as I'd remembered.
  • Staying close enough to the Cathedral (around 50 yards) that you can really hear the bells calling you in for the Daily Office
  • Being here 4 nights, and already having dinner twice with Robert & the family
  • The lovely, lovely spring weather
  • Sprays of daffodils on the castle lawn
  • Taking Communion in a church built in 1153
  • Hearing Miranda squeal with delight during our first call on Skype
  • Not having Miranda cry & ask me to come home during our first call on Skype
  • Just being back in Durham. Hello, old friend.

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