Sunday, October 24, 2010

Three Months In ...

Writing on my blog is a bit like eating healthy food. Once you stop doing it its really hard to start again. Aside from the fact that I have little free time in which I don’t either, want to run straight to the pub or straight to my bed. So here I am three months into it. What has changed? What has stayed the same? Am I certain about anything that I wasn’t when I got here? Have I found anything/ something I was looking for that led me to move to England.

What I am certain of is, I have not been eating well, at all, and it’s a bit terrifying. I can try and chalk it up to the fact that, they don’t pay me enough to buy my own food, and so I have to eat the fatty fried muck they cook up every day, but it’s a bit that and also laziness on my part. I hope to be better. I can’t keep going like this for much longer. Definitely not a year.

Another thing I am certain of. I am glad I am here. I have always felt this anxiety in my chest for this place, this Island. Now that I am here I feel that pressure easing. The peace of a dream being fulfilled. Too corny? But true. Does anyone else know what I mean though? About the anxiety of seeing / knowing places before you die. If you feel it you know what I mean. So basically when I am feeling like a pile of sludge, or a bit lonely, or a bit like, “wow what am I doing shoveling bark chips into a wheel barrow all day in the middle of the English countryside with 18 year olds who couldn’t get into college as my co-workers?” I just try to relax into the contentment that I am so lucky to be living in England learning about myself and other people. ;-).

Maybe it would be easier to write more often if I just broke things down into bullet points or something? Instead of long drawn out paragraphs written in the hard to follow, Kari-stream-of-consciousness style.

The last month of my life I couldn’t be bothered to write on here I did some stuff, not too much but some things. Ill cover them as briefly as possible. It’s hard to write about things that happened more than a week ago. It was great an all, but kind of like having a new toy, after the first few days or so its kind of old news. Even if you haven't told anyone about it yet, it feels stale to write about it. Ill do my best to keep it fresh from now on.

- I went to this town in Wales, yes Wales is actually another country! (Only a little bit). Basically there is just a little sign when you cross the border, pretty much just like crossing from one state to another. How you know you are in Wales is

- The scenery magically seems to get more dramatic. Hills are higher, grass is greener, and sheep are bigger. They say that Wales is how Ireland used to be in the 1950s. Lots of charm and Celtic heritage, without the influx of Americans ruining it all by trying to chase their heritage. I’m sure Welsh really wouldn’t mind if Americans chased their heritage there, but I’m glad they really haven’t discovered it yet. Anywhere so I went there with the fellow American who works at the Centre who knows a have a thing for books. Because there is a town there, not far from the English border called Hay-on-Wye. This town is known for having, lots and lots of book shops. Supposedly it hosts a literary fair once a year that is a huge deal as well. The town was very charming, as far as scenery goes. The awesome thing is that when you hear of a town of books you expect book shops but what you don’t expect is to have shelves of books actually lining the street! There were little places along the roads where it was like an outdoor “honor” book shop where you could take any book and there was a little 1 pound deposit box. Pretty awesome. There was also an old dilapidated castle that had a book shop in it. As well as an amazing map shop! It had maps and etchings all guaranteed to be 200-400 years old. In beautiful color. It was pretty awesome to see maps of America with 17th century names, and most of Canada / Alaska missing from the top.

- Another thing about Wales in general is, there is a definite Welsh accent that is much different than English, and all signs have Welsh and English on them. For sharing the same tiny Island, Welsh appear to be the strangest written and pronounced language ever. Its like someone chucked English into a blender with a grenade and Welsh came out.

- Another weekend I went to Shrewsbury for the day. Shrewsbury is the county seat of Shropshire, and the town pleasantly surprised us. It has a pretty river running through it and lots of cute shops and buildings to see. In England they call stores “shops” and nothing else. So yeah Shrewsbury, built on kind of a hill, pays homage to Darwin. We toured an amazing Church, my second favorite besides the one in Bridgenorth. The great thing about English churches is that you can read what is written on all of the plagues and under all of the portraits inside. When I lived in France and Italy you would attempt to read that stuff but you really had no idea. Here, you get to see these beautiful churches, that are gorgeous, and yet show some restraint (given these are English protestants we are talking about here and not Italian Catholics), while at the same time you get to read all of this information inside that was written hundreds of hundreds of years ago. I think it really goes a long way to make the people in history seem a lot more like us when you don’t have to translate things written by them, carved in their own hand.

- The next day my friend was going to visit her brother in Cheltenham, which is right on, the edge of the Cotswold’s, and she invited Ed and I along and said she would drop us off to go hiking. I don’t think she thought we would take her up on the idea given it was proposed innocently in a pub. But we did. And I am so glad we did. (Ed by the way is my heterosexual gay best friend, he is dating Lucy but that doesn’t stop us from hanging out). Anyway so we drove down there with Lucy its about an hour away from Cleobury, and dropped us off at this pub high on a hill top. The great thing about it is we decided we weren’t going to plan it. We asked for some pack lunches from the kitchen, I googled the area Lucy said she knows ‘ramblers’ take off from. And that was it. It was a challenge for Ed because he is a boy scout. No a real one. He worked as a Boy Scout hike guide in the Swiss Alps, and he likes his hikes to be mapped, charted, and planned to the minute. So yeah we were a bit scared how the day was going to go when Lucy dropped us at a pub in the middle of the Cotswolds without a map. But it turned out amazingly. She dropped us at a pub at the base of Cleeve Common, which is this amazing hill with about 500 walking trails and a golf course dotting the top. It looks like a huge park that just happens to be on top of a huge hill with punches of rolling parts. We got to the top of the hill and picked out something down below that I though looked like a castle, and decided to walk there and circle back up around the other way and hopefully end up back at the pub in about 5 hours. And believe it or not. That’s exactly what we did. The castle turned out to actually be a castle. Called Sudetley Castle. I would have paid money to tour it but the inside is only opened like twice a week because the family still live there, and I didn’t want to pay 8 pounds to tour some gardens. We tried to get a closer look without paying but got turned away by this intense security guars, while Ed tried to play the dumb hiker card of “Oh we thought this was the foot path.” I was pretty bummed but got over it. When we needed footpaths, we found them. It was pretty fantastic. We also hiked to this ancient burial mound that was actually cooler than we thought it was going to be. How ancients constructed stuff like that without heavy tools is pretty awesome. We ate lunch on top of the Burial mound, then tried to make our way back to the top of Cleeve Common where we started. There is this walking trail called the “Cotswold’s Way”, and it makes its way through the awesomeness of the Cotswolds. The Cotswold’s is an area in England made up of adorable towns and epically beautiful scenery, known for lots of sheep and thatched roof cottages. I would love to go back one day and hike the entirety of the Cotswolds way. When I was hiking on the beautiful day all I kept thinking was how much money and American would pay to do what I got to do that day, and it was free and purely on a whim we came with Lucy. I am so glad when crazy half brained ideas like that pay off, and don’t end in disaster.

This weekend I have done nothing but go for some coffee in Ludlow. And next weekend I go to Bath for three days! Yay. On top of that the thing that I do 99.9% of the time, work, is going fine. We have finished the busy season and now it is going to be about how one can keep ones morale up when doing 40 hours of site work a week. So basically site maintenance, manual labor. I have a feeling I am going to have to dig pretty deep to not lose my mind. I am kind of nervous about it. And I am already looking forward to having kids back in the centre in the spring.

I have taken my Christmas holiday days off. I am going to Guilford, with Lucy on the 21st of December, and back on the 3rd of January. I don’t know what I should do the week after Christmas and for New Years but I would greatly enjoy some suggestions!

Love to you all, Kari

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