Last day (seriously out of order)   Leave a comment

I’ve been handwriting faithfully so at SOME point this blog will get all updatey like, but this is the first real wifi I’ve had in EONS but I’m also bushed and have several thousand photos to dowm and upload (you’ve been warned) so a quickie will ‘ave to do for now.

I’m luxuriating on the fat fluffy duvet of the giant bed in our room at the Dunraven Arms, looking out the window onto a mystifyingly busy street while David Facebooks. It’s telling that after a week with no TV that we haven’t yet pounced on the flatscreen hanging enticingly on the wall- but boy are we hitting up the data.

The cottage was fantastic. Wait’ll you see the (thousands of) pics. The cottage itself was cozy and cute and comfy, but the gardens…..oh, the enchanted fairy gardens…….. but no. That’s another post. Today we said goodbye to the cottage and left the final offerings to the local spirits and tried one last time to entice the local cats to come have a skritch (declined as always) and loaded up our annoyed little VW (which HATES the rural areas) and headed back to civilization.

In the same grey drizzle that has been our constant companion for the whole trip. The song needs to read, ‘When Irish Skies Are Smiling ” because when the sun DOES come out and some heartbreak blue sky emerges it”s angel choirs and somersaults. Ireland is glorious is rain, mist and storm, no lie, but oh, the giddy joy of sunshine was a rare delight during our stay.

We had a good if uneventful run to Limerick County, punctuated only by a nice lunch in a town whose name I’ve already forgotten (huge mugs of steaming hot strong Illy coffee and a sticky toffee pud with cream for afters) and a stop at a woolen mill outlet where we went a little mad. For a girl who can’t sew a stitch, I sure do lose my tiny mind over textiles.

Adare is by far the biggest and busiest town we’ve encountered since leaving Dublin, and after the wet green fields and forests of Leitrim with its tiny villages, this is a little bewildering. There’s at least three gorgeous ruins in walking distance, not one of which we can actually get into. There’s a castle which promises renovations and kid-friendly interactive displays which sounds like the only kind of castle we’d avoid like dysentery. If I ever get done blogging we’ll hit one of several (several! A choice!) bistros for dinner, and then watch some mindless blissful tube and go to bed early (we have to leave before our already-purchased breakfast in the morning…..boo.)

But it doesn’t feel like *our* Ireland, which is silly, because our trip started just over a week ago in a thriving bustling metropolitan capital.

I wish tomorrow were over. It’s been such a dream trip, but travel days just get harder and harder. I want to be back on the farm, with my critters and my familiar things. Bonus if there were kids there but there won’t be.

Do I sound whiny? I’m not, really, just catching up with myself, as my beloved Wendy says. And gearing up to say goodbye to Eire, with its fae  and rushing waters and flowing green and alien birdsong and ancient spirits and brooding stone and beautiful horses and enigmatic Gods.

My brother Richard posted today (reposted actually) about his and his wife’s experience here, especially with the folk of Ireland, about which I have all these thinky thoughts, but I’m drooping and need to close.

More bloggety blogging anon. And did I mention the photos?

Posted June 13, 2017 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

Wind battered and enchanted by stone   Leave a comment

i am so sweetly exhausted. This vacationing is hard work. I’ll be the rest of June recovering from it, and only then if it’s finally summer when we get home.

we’ve identified a tweak to make in future vaycay plans. We really need 3 nights in each place. Naturally one wants to see all one can. But sometimes one needs to slow down and enjoy each bit of the day, and that requires more time to breathe. 2 days in Dublin was okay, but another day here would have been perfect. We’re not going to see the Burren, or the Whatsit Dolmen, and we both need a really long sleep in.

however, of course, it’s very possible that the enchanted cottage will give us all that and be jewel-perfect for all 6 days. I’m clinging to this despite the determination of every single solitary Irish person we meet to deflate our excitement over it. The Dubliner with whom we chatted on the beach of the Aran Island today? ‘Leitrim? You know that’s the smallest county in Ireland don’t ya? There’s bliddy nothin’ to do in Leitrim.’ The waitress who brought us our pizza this evening. Her- ‘How long will you be here, and then where will you go.’ Me (brightly) ‘We leave tomorrow for Leitrim County.’ Her (smiling) ‘Oh lovely.’ Me (delightedly) ‘You’re the first Irish person I’ve met who didn’t make a face and go ‘Leitrim?’ Her (smiling even more prettily) ‘Oh, I was in my head.’

fuck.

well, whatever happens in Mohill (and I’m sure it will be INCREDIBLY MAGICAL), today worked out perfectly in spite of itself.

being a little tired and draggy, we decided we’d skip the Aran Islands and the Doolin Cave and the Burren and just (just) do the cruise under the Cliffs of Moher and then go scramble around on top of them.

Which really is a Day.

but after a hair-raising drive along roads no wider than a rabbit track we found ourselves at the ticket desk in the charming village of Doolin with a no-nonsense Irish blonde former runway model telling us firmly that the Cliffs cruises were cancelled due to the dangerous winds, and that we would take the 1 o’clock ferry to the Aran Islands, have lunch and explore for a few hours and then come back to Doolin. We acquiesced meekly, and requested permission to go to the Cliifs in the hour and a half we had to kill.

no, said she, it would be madness to go at that hour, it would be tour buses everywhere and we’d have queue to hike the cliffs or even get a wee cup of coffee, and we didn’t want that, did we?

So we obediently went to park at the dock and then explore Doolin.

only the dock was too far to walk back to Doolin and the ticket dispenser for the dock parking was maddening and then the diabolical wind blew our freaking parking slip INSIDE our dashboard and we practically had to disassemble our VW to get it out and we didn’t have enough time on it anyway and had to get another one but it refused to recognize our credit card and the wind was trying to send us skyward like Mary Poppins and our coffee was wearing off quickly.

hence our lack of spending $ in Doolin’s lovely sweater shops.

so we trudged around the astonishingly wild and wonderful shore near the docks and took some photos and tried to keep our hair attached to our heads and twice visited the surprisingly nasty public loos..

side note- Irish loos tend to be very nice as a rule. The unexpected exceptions are the ones on the dock in Doolin (gazillions of tourists! Put in better loos!), the PAY toilets at the bigass mall in Dublin (!!!!!??????) complete with surly attendant, and the terrifying one off the highway. But all in all, Ireland does right by those of us who need to pee. Oh, and last thing, I visited my first public gender-free restroom at the C of M that had actual men in it, and it was horrible and embarrassing and violating. I’m kidding. It was the biggest non-event of the day, although some of the men looked freaked out.

wow. This is shaping up to be the longest blog post ever. Good thing for you lot it’ll be my last one until we get home. The enchanted cottage lacks not only tv and wifi but even cell service, so who even knows if we’ll make it out alive?

after all, it’s in Leitrim.

eventually we boarded the Rose of Aran, quickly checked out and rejected the dreary lower cabin with its tiny clouded portholes, and made sad moues when we saw the nice upper seats were all taken. So we opted to stand like stalwart stanchions in the fo’castle, clinging to poles in the howling gale.

about 30 seconds into our voyage it began to spit. Then drizzle.

and then it rained.

howling winds, 12 foot swells, and driving rain.

but we’re tough. We had on jeans and thick hoodies and our awesome Columbia jackets. We could take it.

after a minute and a half I said, ‘let’s go downstairs,’ BUT the silver lining to this was that the rain had already driven all the other wimps downstairs, so the upper deck chairs were wet but empty. And, more to the point, shielded by the cabin, so less wind. Along with two other staunch couples we huddled on the slick bucking deck, watching the Deadliest Catch waves with awe and cradling our freezing paws in our armpits.

from time to time the wind would blow a puff of air, redolent with diesel but blessedly warm, into our faces. I breathed it in like it was Bermuda oleander.

but a little bit of me was in ecstasy. Even back at the dock, watching the remorseless waves crash and shatter on the sharp rocks, part of me was dying to be in it, part of that inexorable force, the sucking in and the bellowing forth of the Great Mother Ocean. Either I was a sea creature in another life or I’ve got ancestral memories of being in the primordial soup. Maybe it’s the same thing.

we arrived eventually, and the rain stopped, and the sun chased the crazy wallowing schizophrenic Irish clouds, and we were met at the Island dock by a flock of charmingly persuasive Aran Islanders with insanely appealing feather-footed draft horses seducing us with their accents to take buggy tours of the island with them. We beat them back manfully, probably only because we were wet and freezing and in desperate need of sustenance.

michael clopped up behind us as we trudged toward the pub and almost prevailed. In 30 feet we learned that not only would he take us round the island for only 15 euros apiece, cheaper than any other, but that he’d been a fisherman on the isle his whole life and missed it bad, but because of a bum leg had to make his living this way now, and while his horse Murphy was a fine companion there’s nothin’ like the sea when it’s in your blood, and it’s not always like it was today, why often it’s smooth as butter, and see that beach? On a fine summer day you’ll see a hundred people on it, and swimmin’ too, and no clearer and cleaner water will you find, and maybe after a cup of tea we’d change our minds and go for a wee tour with Michael and Murphy?

well, between this and the beguiling way he had of clacking his dentures while he talked, I was putty in his hands. Plus Murphy. But David is made of sterner stuff, and remained resolute, even after lunch when we were feeling fit again and M&M pounced on us. And such a walk I would have missed!

but first lunch- a plain tavern where you help yourself to fruited water and order your food at the bar. Then you sit, and girls with accents recognizably Irish but different enough to be almost unintelligible bring you heavenly hot vegetable soup with divine homemade soda bread and sweet creamy butter, and BLT that defies description, and crispy spicy hot potato wedges with sweet chili sauce and sour cream. I’m not sure, but I fear I moaned aloud a few times during lunch.

after dodging M&M we made our way up to the wonderful and mystifyingly unprotected castle on the hill. Gorgeous, and not so much as a polite sign requesting one to refrain from vandalizing it. I can’t believe it has survived lo these many years of 6x daily ferries full of tourists, let alone the local yout”s.

side note- we encountered several gaggles of girls ala Doc Martin, with bright skin and malicious eyes, clutching lacrosse sticks and freezie pops. Clearly there’s a school on the island, and a bumper crop of pubescent nymphs, but not an adolescent lad to be seen. We think they must ship them out when they hit puberty, like FLDS.

on the far side of the ruined fort we saw the true magic secret of the island. There were hints before we got there. A wall of vertical dry-stacked stone so remarkable and unusual we stopped to take several photos of it. Some picturesque fieldstone-bounded paddocks visible from the sea.

but not until we topped that great hill did we discover that the entire island, probably 2 square miles, is entirely comprised of an intricate labyrinthine mosaic of emerald paddocks bounded in hand-laid unmortared fieldstone.

i don’t think you have to be a farm geek like me to be hogwalloped by the Aran Island walls. Yes, I get a boner over the tractors at the ag shows and moon over vinyl fencing, but these little patchwork gems go beyond FFA wannabe status.

go to my F B and look at the pics. That’s all I’ve got to say. Not all of them. I know I went a little crazy. But I think you’ll agree at least a little that a hand-stacked locally-dug impeccably-crafted beautiful wall is something every yard should have.

I want to live there and watch Jazzie happily munching that lush grass bedotted with brilliant wildflowers with the sea wind blowing her forelock out of her one eye.

well, dears, david has been asleep for an hour and I’m beat. It’s 11:30 pm here and I’m sitting at my big window looking out over the field of wild flowers in front of the Manor, which I can see because daylight hasn’t quite faded and a fat moon is up. I’m tempted to go wander in it, but I want my bath, and I haven’t uploaded today’s photos yet, and I’m going to have to talk about the Cliffs of Moher another time.

did they use the C of M in The Princess Bride? Cuz they should have. They are truly the Cliffs of Insanity, and they want to kill us all. But that’s a tale that will have to wait.

Good night, dears!

Posted June 6, 2017 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

From east to west   2 comments

another deep sleep featuring excellent dreams. At one point I was watching two girls, maybe 8 or 9 years old, riding a pair of horses (not ponies.) they were galloping up and down hills, soft hands, firm but light seats, just lovely, and the horses were having as much fun as they were. I SO wanted to tell them what a good job they were doing, how proud I was of them. But they didn’t come close enough.

huh.

but I digress. I have travel things about which to blog!

today wasn’t even a Big Adventure Day, it was mostly a travel day, but in Ireland even transition days are leprechaun-kissed.

we had another faboo breakfast (French toast and an egg for me, Irish buttermilk blueberry pancakes with bacon for David), another regretful glance at the sybaritic pool, and we were off. The Merrion was delightful, if a little too too for a gypsy like me. When I went bouncing through the lobby yesterday in my jeans and glitter and sparkly purple hat the gal behind the desk arranged her face into carefully crafted neutral lines. And true tell, the other women my age were impeccably coiffed and made up, and wearing shoes and bags that whispered ‘saks, sweetheart.’

but I guarantee you not a one of them had as much fun as I.

the footmen were much more cheerful, at least once you got ’em going. I’m sure they’re actually doormen and porters, but the top-hatted head honcho footman had wonderful buck teeth just like the White Rabbit, so between him and the Cinderella atmosphere of Suz in Dublin, footmen they became. The footmen had trouble summoning a cab for us, as the already impossible Dublin traffic was further snarled by a Women’s Mini Marathon (don’t ask me, I have no idea) and it sent them into a tailspin. 3 or 4 of them were bouncing in agitation in front of the hotel, conferring madly, assuring us they’d get it sorted (we were fine), calling and texting and conferring some more. Finally two of them perambulated all of our bags, over our protests that we could manage, out past the closed street to the insanely busy intersection.

jack insisted on waiting with us (‘to poot yer bags in the boot, ya see’) so we spent a pleasant 20 minutes talking politics (trump is not popular in Ireland), economics and weather with this most delightful gentleman who is now my most favorite footman.

a cab pulled over near us and disgorged a startling number of young women, right as a very stiff and proper Garda walked past us. He leaned into the cab and gave the driver a thorough dressing down for letting a girl open her door into the traffic. He didn’t break into an Eddie Izard ‘Na then, Sunny Jim, wot’s all this?’……..but it was close. I was charmed. He was so young and erect and earnest.

there were way more police in evidence on the street, maybe just for the marathon, but probably because of yesterday’s terror attack in London. 😒

But finally we got loaded into a cab and whisked off to Hertz, with another delightful cabbie who glanced quickly in the mirror at me after letting slip a ‘fookin’ ‘ell’ and expressed astonishment that anyone would choose to vacation in Leitrim County (‘ there’s nothin’ there! Everyone who ever lived there moved to America or Australia! Unless its peace and quiet you’ll be wantin’. I suppose it’s good for that, maybe.’)

david got us efficiently out of the city, which wasn’t too awful as the Hertz place is on  the edge. But the poor fellow, although he was feeling better, just couldn’t stop coughing, so we stopped at a nice convenience store and bought water and switched seats. Left hand driving came back easily enough, and the highway is a breeze. We missed our northern route exit, and dithered for a while about trying to find it again. Highways are very much the same everywhere so we were a little concerned about missing seeing Ireland, but it was drizzly and it just seemed easier to stick with our GPS, so that’s what we did.

it was a very pleasant drive despite the rain, and surprisingly pretty. When it was time to stop and pee again and pick up emergency digestive biscuits we switched seats again, and just in time as the roads turned ridiculously tiny and twisty and I would have died. As it was I had my feet braced against the floor and was leaning madly towards the center as if I could shift my side from ploughing through hedgerow and fieldstone as we careened through the countryside almost as crazily as when Wendy drove us in England.

cuz that girl is plumb loco.

but we arrived, shaken but intact, and ever since I’ve been basking in the glow of being the brilliant person who found this place.

it’s very late now,and breakfast is served distressingly early here, so I’m going to refer you to my avalanche of Facebook pics and pass on describing the Castle.

but a word about dinner. They emailed us to tell us their chef was outstanding and suggesting we make reservations lest we risk disappointment. The owners and one zippy young German waiter did the entire dining service, which was somewhat erratic, but it was one of the best meals of my life. Eat there if you find yourself in County Clare near the Cliffs of Moher. Seriously.

our waiter solemnly informed us that we should lay our silverware just so to indicate being finished. We thanked him just as solemnly, and after our dessert (which he talked us into….’creme brûlée iss only pooding, no? Iit’s like nozzing. Ffft!’ With a flick of the fingers, just so. How could we say no?) we stacked every piece of silverware we could find and left him a big tip.

an after dinner walk in the long, ecstatic but COLD summer twilight, and we came in semi-regretfully under the dreamy waxing moon. I slipped back out to make libations of thanks to my Gods and love offerings to the nature spirits and David’s ancestors (to my sorrow I can’t find the stones I collected for MONTHS to bring as offerings on this trip!) but I got such wonderful loving signs of approval that I guess it’s okay.

jeez it’s late! No more tonight!

Posted June 6, 2017 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

Dublin Deux   2 comments

i am SO worn out and happy. I shall blog, then it’s back into the enormous fragrant steaming tubbie (how I’ll miss this bathtub when we’re at the enchanted cottage) followed by a nose dive into the pillows.

i’m not a 5 star hotel kinda girl as a rule, but I could learn.

we began the day with a thumping good breakfast here at the hotel. David got French toast so tender and divine it melted in the mouth. I opted for the buffet, which disappointed so I had our charming young Brazilian waiter bring me some Irish oatmeal with brown sugar and berries, which did the trick.

thus fortified we sallied forth into Dublin, in a cool breezy sunshine that felt more like autumn than June. We made our way through the endless construction tangling Dublin’s downtown (Patrick the Cabby had warned us), past troubadours and panhandlers, homeless in sleeping bags, casual Americans like us and madly smart Irish shoppers.

Eventually we found ourselves at the glorious St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which we’d planned to explore but since it was Sunday and thus in use (duh) we just enjoyed the luvly exterior and then went off to the Dublin Castle.

needed a loo in the meantime, so ducked into a posh Radisson. Splendid facilities and no scowls looks for randomly invading their lobby without being a guest. Well played, Radisson. I’m now feeling well disposed toward you. Business is built on such things.

our concierge had dismissed the Dublin Castle as ‘a manor house with a turret’ but we’re Americans and we like castles so we kinda loved it. We liked the labyrinth garden and the waterfall memorial garden for the Irish constabulary. We really liked the Olde Bookbinding display, the ornate dental molding on the ceilings (no lie, that’s what it’s called) and the lovely fragile old furniture, including an actual throne.

despite complaining feet and impending dehydration we leapt right back into the crowded streets and toddled off to Trinity College so I could lay my eyeballs on the actual Book of Kells. it was expensive and insanely crowded, and I confess I didn’t get the tingling sense of awe that I got when I stood before the Rosetta Stone and Gilgamesh, but it was still pretty wonderful. And the Trinity Library, while equally jam-packed, was spectacular.

at that point we realized we were about to collapse, so pounded down a couple of bottles of water and ended up having ‘craft sandwiches’ which couldn’t be beat at a delightful tiny bistro not even a block from our hotel. That did the trick. Back into the thick of it we went, to a mall disconcertingly filled with familiar American names. I tried on a bathing suit and rejected it in horror (the gorgeous swimming pool here will go un-swum), and found precisely one tartan kilt, not of a size for me. The Irish are a lean people.

Oh well. David got a tam which looks wonderful on him.

on our way back to the little park full of artist stuff and Oscar Wilde we passed the Dublin Museum of Art so we bopped in. For no charge at all we saw a bigass Picasso, a Monet, and a Van Gogh among many other worthy pieces. I liked almost none of them which tells you all you need to know about my taste in art.

Then we wandered through the park that already feels like ‘ours’ and lay our old aching bones down in the soft sweet Dublin grass and watched the dramatic ever-changing Dublin clouds and marveled that we’re actually here.

a quiet evening in our lovely room with takeaway salads, and Bob’s your uncle.

only ominous note- my feet, which have troubled me little of late, are having ominous pangs. They have LOTS of Ireland to tromp yet. No bullshit allowed.

tomorrow it’s farewell to our new favorite city, and our drive across the country to the Cliffs of Moher. Wish us luck!

 

Posted June 4, 2017 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

Dublin   2 comments

i have no pics to upload, as I’m too inept to get my iPad and iPhone to talk to each other. So just my sleepy words, tapped out one-fingered. Need an actual keyboard!

we staggered through the airport, exhausted, missing having a wonderful Matt Knight to meet us and coddle us. Ended up in a cab with (inevitably) Patrick at the wheel. He gave us a lively and charming commentary as he drove us into Dublin, which was enjoyed solely by me as poor David’s ears were slammed solidly shut and he was effectively deaf.

the Merrion is practically a whole block of stately Georgian townhouses all linked together to form an unassuming exterior with old-fashioned luxury within. Top-hatted and liveried doormen discreetly whisked our bags away and ushered us to reception. With 5 hours to kill before we could go to our room, we sank bleary and (in my case) still groggy from the sleep aids, into the wing armchairs of the lounge. We were brought heavenly coffee with hot cream (I LOVE you, Ireland) and a dish of biscuits) which was worth every penny of the 26 euros it set us back. Once it kicked in we got a map from the concierge and set off to find the tall ships about which Patrick had informed us.

i’m so glad I was revived somewhat for this, my first taste of Ireland, and Dublin in particular. The imposing government offices (just elected Varadkar, thank you very much) are right across from the hotel. Right down the block is a little jewel of a park, bordered by artists of all stripes busking and displaying their wares. Oscar Wilde’s home is right there.

as we strolled through the cool streets we heard at least as many American as Irish accents, which was disconcerting.but oh oh, the Irish. Prim and pierced, fashionable and bohemian, menacing and enchanting. Smart young lads with hard eyes smoking hand- rolled cigarettes. Gorgeous long-legged girls in short skirts and high heels. Apple-cheeked toddlers clutching balloons and soccer balls. And everywhere the lilting undertone of the beautiful Irish tongue.

and so many gingers! It may be a stereotype, but this is a seriously Titian town. I expected to run into Mad Sweeney around every corner.

we walked across the river Sliffey and found the tall ships. There was a full blown festival going on, delicious smells and strains of music (including of duo of Irish cowboys doing Johnny Cash.) stilt walkers and street theater and one intrepid fellow ‘flying’ on what looked like a water-propelled hover board. We loved it but chose to turn around when the crowds grew oppressively thick. The coffee only lasted so long, and we had to walk back.

And, you know, crowds.

It rained on the way back and we sheltered under surprisingly useful trees, and then it stopped and the sun burst out. We finished walking back under brilliant blue skies, through a city wet and fresh and sparkling.

to our joy the Merrion let us check in an hour early. After a hot shower we went nose down into our wonderful king bed and took a long, long nap.

david headed back out before I was all the way awake. We wandered around the hotel and its immediate environs until we bumped into each other. Then we wandered some more until we found Matt the Thresher’s seafood restaurant (endorsed by Michelle Obama no less) and had a fish and chips dinner that was both delicious and elegant.

i’m off for a long hot soak in our palatial tub, and then I plan to sleep like dead.

More Ireland adventures anon!

Posted June 3, 2017 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

The Thargelia moon……   Leave a comment

is unnaturally bright this year. Not only now, nearly full, but even when it was a crescent. On the 3rd night of the moonphase, Athena’s day, it was so bright in the western sky that it cast shadows. Tonight you can practically read by it.

But all the fireflies are gone.

Posted May 9, 2017 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

repost from the wayback machine   Leave a comment

i’ve been wandering through my old LJ lately, and it’s been such an eye opening experience. i’m so glad i’ve blogged and journaled (sporadically it’s true) over the years. my memory is so bad, and there’s SO much i lose. far more is still lost than recalled, but at least there’s something.

this is from 2011 after we came back from england.

 

  • MOOD:

england part one

(since i will surely not get it all in one or two or several go-rounds. and i tend to forget to blog at all most of the time. i compose them in my head and then i think that i actually wrote them. see, i’m digressing and i haven’t even started. welcome to my brain.)
i’ve already ruled out trying chronology. it makes me nut up and my brain starts to fritz. so i’ll just pick random aspects of visiting england to focus on and see where it takes me.
i’ll start with people. yeah, that works. to lead into that, i’ll state for the record that i’m crazy in love with Knights. all of ’em. wendy’s been in my heart and head for years, her kids and mine are inextricably intertwined, i’ve always adored will, and now matt has joined the group Knights About Whom The Thackstons Can’t Squee Loudly Enough.
if you’re new to a country, getting met by a calm person who first thing takes you to a coffee stand and lets gentle amusing banter wash over you, then getting tucked into a car and whisked through the bewildering foreign streets to a lovely quiet welcoming home and nestling you in, just can’t be beat.
we elected to fortify ourselves with coffee and set out to have adventures rather than nap, and try to acclimate to the new time as quickly as possible, which turned out to be a good strategy (although it would never have worked if we’d been on our own.) the caffeine and the exhilaration of being in friggin’ LONDON kicked in, and matt shepherded us expertly onto buses and tubes (eek!!!) and on to the wonder that was downtown.
i find cities uncomfortably crowded, and england’s cities (and towns and villages for that matter) are even more than ours, as the british sensibly keep their countryside pastoral and their humans in human communities. i didn’t see one single solitary trophy house neighborhood with vast empty acres of Chemlawn. i’m sure they exist, but they’re not the norm.
but for someone who lives in the sticks, the crowded streets (and the pickpockets who infest them) could be dismaying if not in the company of someone who so coolly and cheerfully negotiates them as matt did. in the first hour he saved my life at least a couple of times. you do NOT stumble off a curb into a london street. ever. british motorists are far more courteous than american ones, but london is a traffic madhouse. exceptions for klutzy american tourists don’t exist. don’t take it lightly.
but once i figured out that the two-feet rule does not and cannot exist, the beauty and variety and splendor and OLDNESS of the city swept me away. we wandered, jaws dropped, past classical statues, monuments of historical figures, gorgeous edifices built hundreds of years ago and still functioning briskly, brilliant gardens, fountains, palaces, arches, towers, and churches.
oh yes. churches.
i would never have guessed how admiring i could be of christian monuments until i went to england.
and until i met westminster abbey.
i was so busy gawping at the OUTSIDE that i didn’t even really pick up on matt’s insistence on going in before us so he could see our reaction to the inside. oh my gads.
there’s something almost obscene about that amount of opulence. every single inch of that place is a masterpiece, some master craftsman poured his entire life’s toil into creating some little piece of stone carving on a pillar or flying buttress hundreds of feet in the air, utterly exquisite but impossible to grok in the immensity and splendor of the whole. and westminster abbey is not about restrained elegance. it smacks you right between the eyes, over and over and over. your neck aches with staring upwards (as the design intends, constantly re-drawing one’s gaze to heaven) and yet the eye-level stuff is equally compelling.
i’d walk several miles just to stand at the tomb of elizabeth 1 and bloody mary (and i had no idea they were interred together!) but that was just one out of hundreds of shrines. mary queen of scots. shakespeare. chaucer! i stood at CHAUCER’S tomb! (that one made me snorfle up a little in sheer awe.) lewis carroll’s rabbit hole spiral. shelley. mad bad and dangerous to know byron. so many. so many i came to see and send kleos, so many i recognized with awe, so many i’d never heard of before but boggled at their resplendent resting places.
not only did it knock my socks off as a tourist and delight me as a student, it gave me much food for thought as a priestess of the kthonic theoi. on one level i get the need to make a mark, to leave something behind. but on another i’m totally dismayed at this degree of ‘worship my dusty remains.’ and yet as passionate lover of history, i’m so grateful that so many DO create these foolish, hopeless, gorgeous testaments to Life, so that i can stand there centuries later and say ‘omg. some tiny essence of their physical DNA is here, right here before me. damn!’
i was particularly fascinated by the variety of ways the artists depicted the deceased. some had eyes peacefully closed, many were disturbing open but white and dead, others painted with a startling semblance to a living gaze. many were on their backs with folded hands, but some were up on elbows, heads on hands in poses creating a feel of utter ennui with the whole situation. which of course is totally fitting. (matt says ‘um, that would be piety, suz.’ but it didn’t look pious to me.) i was intrigued by the choices of footers, the animals upon whom the tomb figures’ feet were propped, and delightedly horrified to learn that small carved children kneeling under the tomb meant their children, and if they were kneeling on skulls it meant the kids pre-deceased the entombed.
and that’s just the dead people. i don’t even have words for the architecture, windows, altars, pews, chapels, lecterns, nooks, crannies, crypts, doorways, organs, pillars, beams, ceilings (oh, the ceilings!!!)
it was an insanely perfect First Big Thing To See.
i wish so much i could have taken pictures. but they wouldn’t convey it. maybe it’s best that it couldn’t be.
by 5pm we were so tired we couldn’t see straight. matt tenderly led us home again, tucked us into his incredibly comfy four-poster (complete with purring kitties) while he slept on the couch. and we slept like lambies. and woke up to fresh bread, a vast array of jams and honeys, fresh french-pressed coffee, golden sunshine, and our host offering us a glittering choice of prospects for our first full day in england.
khairete
suz
i dont think you could have written a better “eye-view” of the cathedral. wow, oh, wow, you lucky woman!! 😀
i really am!!
khairete
suz
You know, I think when you go to a foreign country in general it is so worthwhile having someone there to help you out a bit. I had this advantage both in Greece and Morocco and I honestly don’t know how I would have managed getting around either places on my own (though I did walk to a few sites from where I was staying when I was in Greece and that was a bit hair raising lol). So I am so glad you had someone compitent to help you out!
As for big sprawling chem lawns. You know I think we could do with less of them. I am walking to work and sure they are pretty enough but really they are such a waste of space. And then you hear talk of people saying how we should be able to open wildlife reserves in the future for building. I got into a big argument with my father once about this subject because he insisted that we are reserving land for our future use and I am sitting there utterly horrified. We waste in this country like nobodies buisness. It seems ridiculous to me for everyone to need their acre or two out in the burbs. While I would also get clausterphobic from your what are describing of London, it does seem more practical to me.
For everything else, Chaucer’s tomb especially, my oh my. I guess I will have to move London up a bit on my must visit list 🙂
I know you love Shakespeare,
but isn’t this extreme? 😀
hee!
😀
khairete
suz
Love seeing this thru your eyes, Suz! Would the marble statues have been painted back in the day? The eyes would have it.
my bolphus!!!
i know the marble statues of classical gods were painted when they were freshly carved, but i don’t know about the dead english church people. the dead white eyes are appropriate, i suppose, but deliciously creepy.
it feels so odd to have it dark so early here. i could probably not survive your long dark, but oh how quickly did i fall in love with your summer light!
are you and cailean doing anything marvelous for the solstice?
please give my love to justin, and tell him he should return to being a pagan just for the day.
🙂 khairete
suz

Posted May 6, 2017 by suzmuse in Uncategorized