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:

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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…

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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…

Esther in Leicester

I kinda like the alliteration of that. 🙂

So, yesterday was Leicester(shire) day with the family and I can tell you Leicester really is all about Richard III. For me personally, it was all about Richard Armitage as well of course.

Leicester is a little over an hour away from our campsite. We were late getting away in the morning and then got lost on the way in Kettering, looking for a gas station and then for a place to use the bathroom (the gas station didn’t have that, they said), so by the time we finally got to Bosworth it was after 1 pm! Bosworth is the place where Richard III was killed on August 22nd, 1485 in battle against Henry Tudor. There’s a museum but we didn’t take time to visit that, we just traipsed over the battlefield site and monument…

By the way, even the bathrooms at the Bosworth site are Armitage Shanks. 🙂 I also very much liked a chain mail necklace I saw, but as I don’t wear militaria (and to what occasion would I even wear such a necklace?) I decided against buying it.

After Bosworth we drove to Leicester but before we got there, we made sure we passed through the village of Huncote first. It is well-known to Richard Armitage fans that he grew up there, so naturally, as we were near anyhow, I thought it might be fun to drive through it. We didn’t get out or anything, just drove through and got a very quick and fleeting impression of the village.

There’s a pub…

… and a church and a village green…

… and I saw a sign to the primary school but was too late to photograph it (we didn’t have the time to drive to it either). So, the impression was fleeting but it looked like a lovely village in the middle of a very green countryside. You can hardly imagine that it’s so near to a big city. Within five minutes, however, you find yourself driving into the outskirts of Leicester, which is a very busy city…

At the request of my son we drove by Leicester City football stadium…

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The parts of the city that we drove through didn’t look great until we got to the city center. After we parked, we walked into the center and this was the first part we saw…

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One of the buildings is the Radio BBC Leicester building, which immediately made me think of Richard Armitage again as he has been interviewed for Radio BBC Leicester before.

In fact, over on Richard Armitage Central there is a link to an interview where Richard speaks about Richard III on BBC Radio Leicester! Very fitting with our visit there yesterday!

We of course also visited the cathedral which is where Richard III is now buried. The black embroidered cover was used during his reburial procession and ceremony.

Some more impressions of the very nice looking center of Leicester…

We also went shopping there, it’s a very good place for shopping. There’s a huge mall right there in the center, good for year-round all-season shopping. It also had this store:

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In Colchester I had come across Mr. Darcy, here in Richard-Armitage-city I fittingly came across Mr. Thornton. 🙂 Is it a coincidence that both are sweets / chocolate shops?

For all its Richard-ness (the Third and Armitage), Leicester was also the city where Mr Esther and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary yesterday! For that alone, it will remain a bit of an extra special place. My son took a few pictures of us and the four of us had dinner in an old bank building that is now a grill restaurant with a very nice ambiance.

Yes, Esther very much enjoyed being in Leicester!

My brush with royalty

One of the first things people associate with England is royalty and yes, I had a brush with royalty on my family holiday!

Yesterday we visited Ely, one of the oldest cathedrals in England and the cathedral that was also used on the cover of Pink Floyd’s album “Division Bell”. You have to look really closely at the album cover (click to enlarge) to even see it, but my husband, as a medieval buildings and Pink Floyd fan, knows this stuff. 🙂

Here I am taking a picture of the roof inside the cathedral through a mirror:

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Oliver Cromwell, 17th century revolutionary against the crown, also lived in Ely for a while. The house is now the tourist office…

Then today we visited Althorp, the residence of Charles, the Earl of Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother (click on images to enlarge).

We had some tea there…

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… and we saw this sign…

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As we had arrived at 13:00, we decided to stick around and take a peek. We bought a book about the house anyway, so we had our book signed as well!

This is as close as I’ll ever be to English royalty I think – I exchanged a few words with the future King of England’s uncle! Conversation with Earl Charles Spencer wasn’t stellar but it was friendly; he asked where we were from and who to make the book out to and thanked us for coming. It was all very pleasant and over very soon.

We visited the house and, in a separate building, saw an exhibition of beautiful photographs of Princess Diana by Mario Testino (her last photo session before she died, the prints exhibited were huge). We weren’t allowed to take any pictures, not of the inside of the house and not of the Diana photos, but I found some of the images that were displayed easily enough on the internet.

We also walked to the island on the Althorp estate which is Diana’s last resting place and visited the little shrine in her honour opposite it…

Afterwards my husband and the kids went kart-racing for half an hour, about 10 minutes by car away from Althorp…

… and while they were circling the track I was talking to a young man who worked there. He told me that the Earl sometimes also comes to the track. Maybe the princes have been there as well? In any case, my brush with royalty feels complete.

Fangirling & family time

So, I am on a family holiday in the middle of England now with my husband and two teenage kids and already feeling very cheeful about it all! Every day brings new fangirl & family moments.

Leaving The Netherlands wasn’t too fangirly but it was family-time. We waited at the ferry that was to take us from The Netherlands to England, but we didn’t have to wait very long to board.

We had our own cabin for the 7 hour ferry trip and the kids reminisced about Titanic on board (although they refused to re-enact any Titanic scenes for me).

Once in England we had to drive on the wrong side of the road (yep, driving on the left feels wrong…)

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We camped just outside Colchester for our first night in England and did a little sightseeing there the next morning (yep, that’s me in the bottom picture)…

In Colchester I had my first real fangirl moment: we passed by a sweet shop called Darcy (of Pride and Prejudice fame)! Of course, this probably has nothing to do with P&P, but it made me smile!

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We also had our first scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam in Colchester… yumm!

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We then drove on to our current campsite, not far from Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire) and set up our camp for the one and a half weeks we’re staying here for. My 16 year old son gets his own little tent to sleep in.

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When I went to the bathroom here at the campsite, I unexpectedly had my second fangirl moment. See for yourself what brand the washbasins are…

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How lovely to have the thought of Richard Armitage with me every day when I visit the bathroom!

We went to dinner at a pub in a village called Perry, which made me think of our fellow RA blogger Perry over on Armitage Agonistes

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… and when we got back, in the tree right next to our camping spot, there was an owl hooting away! We never see owls in the wild where we live, it was quite an experience for us.

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After a day of lazing away, we passed through the town of Stamford, which gave me my next fangirling moment. Stamford was used as the town of Merryton in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice (the one with Keira Knightley… yeah, not my fave P&P adaptation, but I have seen it often enough nonetheless!)…

After a little walk through Stamford, which is quite pretty with all it’s old sandstone buildings, we went on to visit Burghley House, which was used as Rosings in that same P&P adaptation (the one picture here below is mine, the other is from the movie)!

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We visited inside the huge ‘house’ and the moment I walked into the kitchen, I was reminded of my favourite childhood film The Slipper and the Rose; there was a very similar kitchen in that movie with shiny brass pot and pans!

We saw some of the interior rooms…

…and when we exited we came across a lovely tree with a wooden seat surrounding the trunk and lots of lavender around it; it’s something I would love to have in my own garden, if only my own garden were large enough!

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There were some very pretty flowers/plants in the gardens there…

There was also an ‘adventure garden’ with fountains and a mirror maze.

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After we had all passed to and fro through a gate with a very fine spray of water that hardly got anyone wet…

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… I challenged my kids to jump through the ‘Exit curtain’ fountain (my husband and I walked around it) and the little sods actually did!

It took them a little while to get dry, they took their time in the sun for that…

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The current last picture on my camera is one my son took while playing around with said camera in the car. I quite like it…

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Our holiday has only just started, but already it’s goooood!