Lullenden and Andy (2004-04-20 - 8:14 p.m.)
Man, I must say that I'm having trouble living with such sporadic internet access. It's so frustrating, too - we have highspeed at work, but I'm not allowed to check my email on it. So near, and yet so far. Drives me NUTS.
I mention this because I just got an email from my mother, opining that I probably haven't posted/emailed lately because my life has gotten really boring. Thanks mom!
Anyway, since I personally think interesting stuff is still happening, I'm still going to post. At the moment, the most interesting thing is that John's here for a visit. Wonderful to see him, as always. Although having him sleeping on the floor is a bit awkward as that means I have to crawl across my bed to get out of the room (there is literally no floor space). Well worth it, though.
John's parents were here as well. They did a two-week trip across Ireland, Scotland and a bit of England while John's on Easter break. They managed to feed me twice, even though they're the ones cooking in a hostel kitchen and I'm the one with a place. Sweet of them, though.
In other news, I got to go down to Lullenden on the weekend! That's right, "Winston Churchill's erstwhile home" (to quote a letter from Peter. I remember the phrase because I had to explain what "erstwhile" mean to Steph). Lullenden is insane. Think of those very English novels - Agatha Christie, say, or (furthur back) Jane Austen, where people are always having huge parties of titled people out to stay for weeks at their manor in the country. This house was straight out of one of those novels.
It's a Tudor place, apparently. The fireplace was put in in the 1600's, and the house was there well before that. It has something like 10 rooms and an almost equal number of bathrooms. The Great Hall has to be seen to be believed (and I will post pictures one of these decades, when I have access to someone's computer). I had a whole wing to myself, complete with giant duvet-covered bed and huge windows.
I got invited down because I meant to go visit Peter and Diane, but their son Matthew invited them down to Lullenden and didn't mind me tagging along as well. I quite enjoyed myself (despite staying up all night with the roommates on Friday and catching an early train Saturday - I was somewhat the worse for wear!) First of all, I really like trains. Although I almost got stuck on this one. There are no inside handles on the doors, so you have to haul down the window, reach through it and open it from the outside! If Diane hadn't rescued me I would have ended up in East Grinstead.
Anyway, as I mentioned the house was amazing. And did I mention there's a pool, tennis courts and a formal English garden? Peter, Diane and I stayed in the main house, which is due to be renovated. I got to see the plans, and it's going to be something else. Anyway, the old barn (where Churchill's kids used to play) has been converted to quite a luxurious seperate house, which is where Matthew, his wife Sally and their daughter Jemima live. They let Diane and I see the entire place, which of course I enjoyed.
Both houses are done up with antiques and everything is in keeping with the look of the house, which I really appreciated. It's nice to see such an effort being made. But the thing I admired most about Lullenden was - the curtains. Sounds pretty dumb but they have the most gorgeous curtains I've ever seen there. Someone (Matthew, apparently) has quite an eye for fabric. They're mostly sort of old-fashioned prints and I thought they were great.
So yes, I had a lovely weekend down there. Just getting out of the city was great as well. The house is on quite a few acres of land and we went for a bit of a walk. It was so nice not to see city anywhere, just green as far as you could see.
And the last thing that's happened lately... being in the Commonwealth Programmes dept of BUNAC, of course I hear about what's been happening in the other Commonwealth countries. Last week, one of the Brits down in Australia died. Sort of brought me up short - it's quite scary how easily it could happen, and so far from home. So, in tribute to Andy, here's the email BUNAC got from his sister Sam.
Just to let you know the latest information. Mum and I are in Oz at the moment. We are at a place called Airlie Beach where Andy spent his last few days. It is beautiful - he certainly did it in style!
We spoke to the doctor at the hospital that treated Andy, so we now know the exact details. Andy had an abcess in/around his tonsils, which caused severe inflammation around his throat. Andy was in hospital (watching Aussie football!) and died in his sleep. He was not in severe pain (although obviously uncomfatable). The last time the nurses checked him, he gave them a thumbs up then quietly died in his sleep. He was in a twin room and the other patient was not even aware that he had passed away.
This is of great comfort to myself and Mum, to know that he was not distressed and died quietly. I hope you will be able to find comfort in this too.
Mum and I are bringing Andy back on Weds/Thurs. Only once he is back in the UK can a date be set for the funeral. I will of course be in contact as soon as we have any further details for you.
To those of you that I have been in contact with, thank you for your support. It is clear that Andy will be greatly missed.
And just in case you were wondering, if I do get hit by a bus or something while I'm here, you can say the same thing about me. I'm where I want to be, seeing things I never thought I'd see and enjoying the heck out of it. Puts it into perspective.
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