Devonshire (clotted cream!) (2004-10-02 - 10:22 p.m.)
I'm a little nervous in case I get in trouble from Grandma or Barb for misreporting things. Too bad, though - I seem to have developed a terrible weblog addiction sometime over the last few months and therefore have difficulty NOT writing as long as I have an internet connection. So to forestall any trouble later on, I'll start with the incident Barb is most worried about: she lost her sunglasses today. Then we went back and looked, and Grandma found them under the carseat (except then Grandma thought we'd locked ourselves out of the car, so all in all quite an interesting day). I'm not sure why Barb is so embarrassed about it - she seems to think it brands her as an old lady. I don't quite follow this reasoning, as I've lost FAR more important things in recent memory (more than I'd like to think about now, actually...)
So there, the worst is over. Apart from that, I can report that we had a lovely day in Torcross, which is a tiny little place surrounding an amazing beach. We were brought there by Barb's friend Julie, as it's her favorite beach. It's a lovely pebble beach overshadowed by the most beautiful rocks I've ever seen - they looked like a sculpture (and if I ever see a sculpture half that beautiful I'll buy it immediately). It was shades of blue shot through with darker and lighter colours, and worn down by the elements into lovely undulating shapes. Very smooth, almost soft. I was fascinated.
We also stopped at what is described by Julie as "the world's best fish and chip shop". It was quite impressive, I have to say. It has probably sealed my fate cholesterol-wise, but it was well worth it.
Julie is interesting. She's the sort of person who will never be bored, and never be boring. She's a bellringer at the church. She plays organ and violin, as well as teaching piano, and she knows how to windsurf. She lives with her two cats, dog and African Grey parrot (though sadly I haven't heard him speak yet) in a house converted from an old stable. She says things like "daft" and "blimey" and "oh, I say!". She calls Scotland, Ireland and Wales "those FOREIGN countries" and is horrified that I'm planning to go up to that FOREIGN country where the men wear skirts. Also, she has a giant rocking horse in her bedroom that she rides (and let me ride!) I love the fact that I couldn't invent someone like Julie even if I tried.
We got here on Friday, having spent the week at Susan and David's. They took us around the Exeter countryside to places with funny names (Budleigh Salterton, Ottery St. Mary, Newton Poppleford). We had a posh pub lunch (wild mushroom and brie soup) in Branscombe, near another place called Beer Head (seriously!) We also stopped by the Exeter Cathedral, which was interesting because of all the gravestones in the walls and floors. There's supposed to be one with a very lifelike rotting corpse carved on it, but sadly that area was blocked off and I didn't get to see it.
I did, however, manage to eat enormous amount of clotted cream while I was there. Could not get enough of it, particularly with scones and jam. Cream teas are the best idea ever. Susan also seems to cook the most stereotypically British food - we had steak and kidney pie, fish pie, boiled vegetables, treacle tart... (I was quite impressed by that last: now I know what treacle tastes like).
Tomorrow I'm hoping to catch the train to Edinburgh. I say "hoping" because I never quite trust trains. Regardless, Bee's expecting me and I have my first night's hostel booked, so here's hoping it works out. I'm so happy to have my mobile back. I missed it terribly while in Canada, and I don't know what I'll do when I have to give it up entirely. I've been texting Bee in Edinburgh like mad (which is great, because she's promised me a place to stay for as long as I want). It's so nice to be able to arrange things by text again, rather than having to do that tedious phone-call thing!
My mobile can get me into some slightly odd situations, though. In the bus on the way from Heathrow to Exeter, the guy in front of me borrowed it. He's from Montreal and didn't have a mobile yet - was going to work near Exeter and was trying to contact his new bosses. He couldn't get ahold of either of them, but of course my number showed up as a missed call on their phones. Therefore, they both called me back - one of them twice, and well after we'd left the coach station behind! It was very odd acting as an answering service for some guy I'd never met and whose name I never did get. I hope he met up with them in the end... and that they delete my number off their phones!
So this marks the end of my travels with Grandma and Barb. Yes, it was definitely a "unique experience"... but it was kind of interesting to travel at a different pace and in a totally different manner (and I'm certainly not complaining about being fed cooked meals and having an itinerary drawn up for me, rather than fending for myself at hostels). Grandma and Barb are off to Yorkshire after this, and then I hope they will stop in and see Peter and Diane in Norwich. Then they're making one more stop somewhere over in Essex and getting a ride to Heathrow. I almost feel guilty about taking off (who's going to carry the luggage and run in ahead everywhere to scout whether or not there's steps?) but it sounds like they're sorted with the relatives, so it should be a good trip. Hope mine goes as well!
ps. Grandma says to say hi to everyone. Hi!
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