Relief… and sadness.

One piece of unrest has been taken away after my post yesterday. After a few more calls and an e-mail we have confirmation from the director himself: our daughter can indeed attend the new school! Got the relieving phone call at 4 pm at work this afternoon and this is how I felt…

Things still need to be formalized and we still need to figure out schoolbooks and such but on Monday morning at 10 am my daughter can report to the new school for her first day there.  The relief is great! Whew!

Now, if only I could start feeling this happy about the news, but alas, there has been more tragedy today… Today there was another terrorist attack, this time in Barcelona. My heart goes out to all the victims…

candles

Unrest

Ah yes, real life has begun again! I still have lovely memories of my recent holiday in England as I sip tea from my cat-cup that I bought in this wonderful cat-themed shop in York…

… but the real world has crudely descended upon me again.

My aunt’s closest friend, who has also become a friend to the family and who I have known pretty much my whole life, has suffered a brain hemorrhage and is now half paralyzed and barely conscious. She is 92 and it looks like she won’t recover from this. I’ve already seen her twice since I came back home last week Friday evening; this morning she was even conscious for a bit, recognized us visitors and was even able to communicate some things. How long she will last, we don’t know, but it could be a few months yet and it’s already heartbreaking to see her slowly waning like that…

Another worry has been my daughter. She has had to deal with some issues this past year which resulted in us all wanting to enrol her at a different school. This past July, at the end of the school year, we were interviewed by the director of a new school, he wanted to check some things with my daughter’s old school and would then let us know whether she can indeed come to this new school. We all don’t forsee too much trouble but it is a formality that apparently needs to be handled before she can change schools.

As the summer vacation was upon us, the director hadn’t been able to reach my daughter’s old school. He told us then that he couldn’t do anything until the 3rd week of August, the week before school is due to start, which is this week. He would try to get it all in order then (which is now) and hopefully have her enrolled.  But: we haven’t heard from him yet! We’ve been trying to call him since this past Monday afternoon but we can’t reach him. We couldn’t reach the school administration either. Until today… I finally got someone on the line! I asked whether my daughter is actually enrolled or not, but the admin lady didn’t know. All she could tell me was that she couldn’t find my daughter’s name on any class list yet. The school had asked for my daughter’s info before the vacation and we had e-mailed it all in July before we left, but apparently nothing has been processed yet. The admin lady needed to ask the director but she couldn’t reach him either (and hadn’t seen him around school yet)! So, here we are in limbo land… we told my daughter’s old school last July that she will be going elsewhere (and she really doesn’t want to go back there!) but she isn’t enrolled in the new school yet either… So now, we don’t know which school she can go to this coming Monday. This insecurity is stressing me out!

And then, in addition, the US political situation is freaking me out; it has a grip on my heart like an iron fist! First, last week, it felt like the orange president was about to start World War III, if not with North Korea then with Venezuela. That seems to have been smoothed over a bit for now but then this week it feels like he is unleashing a second US civil war instead! Ever since all the unrest and the terrorist attack in Charlottesville this past weekend this Muse song has been drifting through my head (“I am hungry for some unrest…”):

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hungry for unrest (the opposite, in fact!) but the phrase just keeps on popping up in my mind. To be clear, I hate violence, whether perpetrated by the right or by the left! But there is only one side that has initiated this by their blind hatred: white supremacists and nazis. “All men are created equal“, right? Not to these white supremacists who organized this hate demonstration! And here we have a world leader condoning them (despite him saying he doesn’t), enabling a society in which nazis can flourish. Where will this end? I know it’s all happening geographically far away from me, but it feels close and it scares the shit out of me.

This is a week of such great unrest for me, I find it a little difficult to cope. Work has started again and has taken my mind away from these troubles occasionally, but there is this sinking feeling, always there in the background, that I can’t quite shake. Here, some gifs that illustrate how this week has been for me…

It’ll help a little when at the very least this situation with my daughter gets resolved. Fingers crossed for tomorrow!

I was recently reminded of a picture taken a few years ago;  a picture of Esther’s treasures which really made me smile:

Esther's treasures

I’ll just hold on to that for positivity, shall I?

The Yorkshire Dales

Just a few more picture impressions to share from our holiday… Of the ducks at our campsite, for instance. There are so many of them! I love seeing them quack and waddle around although my son in his tent is less happy with them… their quacking right next to his ear each morning wakes him up before he wants to wake up.

We also passed through the village if Middleham, where Richard III (him again – a bit of a theme for us this holiday!) spent part of his childhood in the castle there (now a ruin).

 

 

The area is also known for horse-racing and we promptly walked by some stables next to the castle…

IMG_7019

We visited Aysgarth Falls in the Yorkshire Dales…

This is apparently also the location where the river fight between Robin Hood and Little John was filmed in the 1991 movie Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves:

The Dales are so beautiful, pictures can hardly do them justice! And yet we tried to capture some of the wonder (click to enlarge)…

When we saw a litte red car in the distance on one of the narrow roads, Mr Esther, a grown man of 46, exclaimed, “Hey, there’s Postman Pat!”

Another filming location we drove through was a village, Askrigg, that was used for external scenes in the 1970s/1980s TV series All Creatures Great and Small.

The series was about the Yorkshire vet James Herriott and Mr Esther kept on saying how he loved watching that TV series in his youth and how that show defined the look of the English countryside for him. It really was a great show, we also enjoyed watching it at my house, so we both were mildly excited at actually driving through this village.

We were also quite high up in the Dales at one point, it really felt like the middle of nowhere. It was quiet and windy and very chilly up there (see my shivering son) and oh so beautiful!

We start our journey back home on Thursday. We’ve totally blown our budget for this holiday but even so, I’m really not ready to leave yet…

Dreams can come true…

Jane Eyre and the Brontës have come to life for me in the past few days!

We’re in West Yorkshire now, on a campsite near Harrogate, and on Wednesday I went to the theatre on my own to see The National Theatre’s play of one of my absolute favourite novels, Jane Eyre.

The play is touring through England and happens to be in Leeds this week, so when I got wind of it a few months back and I knew I’d be in the neighbourhood, I immediately booked myself a ticket. Alone, without the family, as I didn’t think it would be something for the kids. I had purposely not read that much about the play beforehand, I just understood that it was supposed to be good and boy, was it! Here, have a gander at the trailer…

I thought it was wonderful, for me it came close to the experience I had with The Crucible. I was quite emotional at the end of it! Of course, there were a few things I missed and a few minor gripes, but overall this really was excellent! So much so, that I convinced my husband we should all go see it as a family because I think even the kids can enjoy this one. So, we have booked tickets and will all go and see the last performance in Leeds on Saturday evening. I will write up my full impressions of the play sometime after that. I need time to process… and watch again…

I’m in full-on Brontë mode, because today (yesterday by the time this post is published) we visited Haworth Parsonage where the Brontë family lived. For me, this was the main reason for our trip. I have wanted to see this place for myself ever since I fell in love with Jane Eyre in my teens (before that, actually, when I first read a simplified version of Jane Eyre at the age of 9 or 10!).

We first drove by the village of Thornton, by the house where Charlotte Brontë and 3 of her siblings were born…

… and it got me wondering: was this village the inspiration for the name John Thornton in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South? Gaskell, famously, was a friend of Charlotte’s and wrote the first Charlotte Brontë biography two years after Charlotte died (and also two years after N&S was published).

Afterwards we drove to the village of Haworth, where the Brontës moved to when Charlotte was 4 and where she and her whole family lived for the rest of their lives. Her father, Patrick Brontë, preached at the church there and in the church is also where the family found their last resting place. The graves can’t be seen, there’s a pillar above where the family vault is, put there after the chruch was rebuilt after the deaths of all the Brontës. Maria Brontë, the mother, was the first to go when the youngest child, Anne, was only a few months old. The oldest girls, Maria and Elizabeth, passed away because of TB when they were around 10, Branwell was 30 when he died because of opium and alcohol abuse, Emily Brontë died only 3 months later (also of TB) and Anne died half a year after that (again TB). Charlotte died a few years later at age 38, probably due to the effects of extreme morning sickness, nine months after she had gotten married. Patrick Brontë outlived his whole family, he lived till his 80s. Anne Brontë is the only one not buried here, she rests in Scarborough, where she died…

The church and the parsonage where the Brontës lived are very close to each other, separated by only a graveyard…

Next to the church, on the path that leads from the parsonage to the church, there is a school that Patrick Brontë set up and where his children also taught at…

The village is situated on steep hills and very pretty…

We had lunch in this pub…

And at the end of the afternoon we had drinks in “Branwell’s pub”, The Black Bull, where Branwell used to go (as soon as he had any money) to get drunk…

The highlight of the visit was of course the Brontë Parsonage itself! The right part of the house was added on after the Brontës had gone.

Inside was Patrick Brontë’s study, with the magnifying glass he used for reading and the piano Emily used to play on; there’s the kitchen; the children’s study; Patrick’s bedroom (the neat one); and Branwell’s messy, artistic bedroom (click on images to enlarge). By the way, all the costumes you see on display were used in the BBC TV film about the Brontës: To Walk Invisible.

One of the most special rooms was the sitting/dining room with the table where Jane Eyre had been written at by Charlotte!
Bronte parsonage (2)

Charlotte Brontë’s bedroom upstairs (also the room in which she died) has all sorts of artefacts, like her reading glasses laid out on her writing desk, some portraits she drew, her shoes or the wax seal that she had used.

There were more artefacts on display in another section of the house, like Emily Brontë’s artist’s box; a dress-up top hat (not an original) that Mr Esther put on for my viewing pleasure; a lock of Charlotte’s hair; the original signatures of Currer Bell (Charlotte Brontë), Ellis Bell (Emily Brontë) and Acton Bell (Anne Brontë); Emily Brontë’s wax seal; writing by teenage Charlotte and a first edition of Wuthering Heights.

At the museum there was also an extra special event: an art project where, during 2 half hours each day, the lost manuscript of Wuthering Heights is being re-created, one line at a time (see description in the picture below, click to enlarge). The people who choose to do so get to copy one line of the novel into the manuscript; I also participated and wrote one line from Chapter 23…

It was the end of the afternoon by the time we left Haworth. Right behind the parsonage the Yorkshire moors start, so famously depicted by the Brontës. We drove on for a few miles and then got out for a little walk on these moors. The views are breathtaking, the colours on the moor change all the time with the clouds and sun at play, it really felt like I was walking in Jane Eyre’s world or in Wuthering Heights!

Seeing Haworth, the Brontë Parsonage and the moors for myself was a dream come true for me! I won’t quickly forget this experience…

Picture impressions

This time no long blog post about our holiday (at least not in words), just some pictures…

First off Lincoln, a medieval town with some beautiful medieval houses still there and a beautiful cathedral! My brother (who lives in London) later told me they have a beautiful Christmas market there every year. I think we need to come back for that one day…

Cambridge, university city. Very beautiful as well, with all its colleges and punting boats on the river, but totally overrun with tourists (like us). My brother who lives in London (the dark guy you can see from behind in some of these photos) came up to meet us there for the day and we had a lovely time together. Click on images to enlarge if (among other things) you want to see a street musician in a trash can!

MTA: even The Guarduan has something to say about how busy Cambridge is, in an article I was just reading here.

Today we left the kids at the campsite (and in the pool) while Mr Esther and I went off on our own. We first made a quick stop in Fotheringhay, where Richard III was born and Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded.

IMG_6516

And afterwards visited Peterborough with its cathedral and 13th century original wooden ceiling, which is also the last resting place of Katherine of Aragon, first wife on Henry VIII.

Tomorrow we break up camp and go on to West-Yorkshire.