Hi to everyone! Thanks for the great news from home. Sarah and Pat, your emails are great and my RSHS staffroom pals, thanks for keeping me posted.
We now find ourselves in June, quite certain that our nephew or niece will be born this month. Jiselle has now finished up work and hopefully will have a bit of time to herself until she is a mum. We managed to catch a replay of the first, albeit disappointing State of Origin at a Walkabout pub. The UEFA cup final between Manchester United and Chelsea in Moscow was on the same night and it ended in a most painful penalty shoot-out (at least for those who were interested). Let’s hope the second Origin is more worthwhile.
The second long weekend in May was last weekend and we managed to take advantage of the three days off. We decided with Bec and Aaron, two friends from Brisbane, to head north. After realising that our first preference, the Peak District was completely booked out, we suggested a trip to York, which had been one of our favourite places on our trip in 2004. Again, we borrowed the red beast, complete with Janet the Sat Nav, and drove north on the Saturday, stopping at a cute town called Southwell on the way.
We had a brief look around York on the evening – it wasn’t completely dark until 10:20pm – before heading to our hotel late that night. Aaron had spent Friday night flying back from Russia of all places, and was pretty well ready to get some shut eye. Unfortunately, we were greeted at our lovely converted manor house of a hotel with a lot of key cupboard opening and shutting – they had overbooked the hotel. Bec and Aaron found themselves in unfamiliar territory when the key they were given to “try out” opened the door to a room with other people’s things in it. There were a few more mishaps (getting charged twice for one room probably counts as a mishap. Simon leaving his mobile there would be another.) Overall though, it was a very good base to explore Yorkshire.
We were the lucky ones that weekend; for once the north had far better weather than London. On the Sunday we drove to Castle Howard, a very impressive home set amongst even more stunning gardens. It had a real ‘let’s go for a stroll unchaperoned while you court me’ feel to it. Acres of green lawns, several lakes, manicured gardens as well as a dense wood are all there to be explored. The castle remains in the Howard family, with not one but two of their ancestors having married Henry VIII. The current offspring are two little cherubs names Octavia and Merlin, so we’ll see how that goes. There was a fantastic local food fair on and we spent a sunny afternoon picnicking on the grounds eating cheese and bread and drinking Pimms.
After all that dairy and grog, I had a little snooze in the car and woke up as we began driving through the Yorkshire Moors, the setting for Wuthering Heights. It was amazing to wake up to, because it is so vastly different from the English countryside I’m used to. The Moors are breathtaking. They are black, high ridges, with steep cliffs and valleys below. They really are windswept and barren and threatening. The tourism officer told us to return in August when all the black we could see would be bright purple heather. It is tempting.
Whitby, birthplace of James Cook, on the north-eastern coast of England was a great find. We had heard there was a famous abbey there and decided to take a look. We really liked Whitby; it is a gorgeous seaside fishing town with winding streets and a typically alleged British beach. The abbey was superb, an ancient shell of a place with a green-grassed interior. We then drove back down the coast through Scarborough, which has the UK’s largest hotel from Scarborough’s 1950s heyday.
York the next day was excellent. It’s such a beautiful city. We climbed the three hundred steps to the top of York Minster, which is one of the largest Gothic churches in Europe. There were so many people about for the long weekend and the sunshine was glorious. It wouldn’t be a long weekend without a couple of trips to the pub. At the Guy Fawkes, we enjoyed one of the best pub meals ever as well as some friendly service with that brilliant Yorkshire accent.
Early in the week, I booked two tickets to a classical music concert at St Martins in the Field on Trafalgar Square. Simon’s dad used to go to concerts there all the time and we’ve been wanting to do the same for a long time. Unfortunately I got my nights wrong, and was invited with a group of a dozen girls to dinner and then to go see the Sex and the City movie. As much as I wanted to go to both, Simon was a trooper and went to Mozart by himself. Sex and the City is absolutely brilliant. The cinema was full and the atmosphere was really fun; there were heels and fancy dress everywhere. Loved it, loved it.
On Thursday, my friend Margaret messaged me to ask if I was a fan of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I told her I hadn’t much thought about it, but she certainly had and was super keen to see Bruce for her birthday. I’ve decided to be up for a variety of things and we both had a terrific night at the concert. It was at Emirates stadium, the new Arsenal ground, which is very impressive. Bruce is nuts; he is fifty-eight and played for two-and-a-half hours straight. The crowd was very different from what I’d expected; more uncle than aunty and lots of young people. A highlight was walking home with the other, oh, 60 thousand people to the tube station and noticing a drunken yob cradling a beer in one hand and a speaker out the window in the other. He managed to lead the amused crowd in a wobbly rendition of Born in the USA.
Back to work today to keep paying for our lifestyle. We have a couple of parties next weekend, and then we’ve booked the following Saturday and Sunday in Denmark. We’re starting to plan what we’ll get up to when the Elverys arrive in the first week of July. Love to all. To the Dowricks among you, I don't think I've ever enjoyed a Digest more; it was wonderful to read and have a giggle at my desk.
Love, Laura and Simon.
A few random observations this week: 1. There are a lot of young people being stabbed in this country. A lot. 2. Brits use the word 'bespoke.' A lot. 3. To all my soon-to-be-wed friends, there is a website being advertised over here: youbuymywedding.com. Really want a 20 thousand pound wedding? Can't afford it? Oh, you still want one? Get your guests to fork out for the privilege. Classy.