bonny_kate: (doctor and rose)
A week or two ago it rained, but I use that word lightly, because there was not even enough rain to get my car properly muddy. But it smelled like rain, and it made me long for rain, because after England, it seems so dry and dead here. Before I left for England, the mountains seemed golden, but when I first came back, they just seemed dead after the beautiful green of the rolling hills (now they seem suede). I miss that green, and I miss the rain, for it rained, if not every day, nearly every day that we were there. It cleaned the air and cleaned the colors of the very flowers. One thing that I should like to have done in England, but was stopped by the impracticality, was to stand in the rain, and dance in the rain, until I was soaked quite through. I want to stand in the rain, a nice, warm sort of rain, and get absolutely sopping wet, because I haven't done it in ever so long, and it would be just lovely (part of the loveliness is in coming in and getting dry after, of course). I miss, at least a little, the rain and the green and the clean air and clean, clear, vibrant colors of England. The greens were so brilliant, and the flowers were much larger, and the air was much cleaner than the poor, smoky, smoggy, dusty air here. I wish it would rain.

Dickens

Sep. 3rd, 2009 05:48 pm
bonny_kate: (doctor and rose)
I've been reading Dickens (a collection of Christmas stories), and that reminded me of something I learned at the Dickens museum in London. I knew, before, that Dickens was influential in a great deal of social reform in the Victorian times. A common thread through so many (perhaps all) of his books is the inhumanity of those who are cruel or thoughtless to the poor. Dickens does not care if you are rich or poor, but if you are kind (the two brothers in Nicholas Nickleby are rich, but are marked by their generosity to everyone, Scrooge is rich and is cruel and must be redeemed, but in Oliver Twist we meet the cruel and wicked poor). Even Pickwick Papers, which is so light hearted for the most part, depicts the horrible nature of a prison system which will feed criminals but not those in debtor's prison. Dickens really cares about what we would now call social justice, and it is all throughout his books. What I hadn't realized, though, is that Dickens was also personally involved in many projects to help the poor, which I learned at the museum. I didn't know that he had started a house for women to get them out of prostitution and into good employment, like sewing or such. He even paid for dresses that were nice for the women so that they would feel that someone cared, and have a higher sense of self worth. He was also involved in various projects to help the poor. I just didn't know how directly involved Dickens was in all this, and it makes Dickens just that much more awesome.

Piccadilly

Aug. 18th, 2009 07:30 pm
bonny_kate: (doctor and rose)
While reading a short story collection about Lord Peter Wimsey, I learned that Wimsey lives on Piccadilly. I'VE BEEN TO PICCADILLY.
bonny_kate: (doctor and rose)
The clouds move faster in England. Here, it is unusual to watch the sky and be able to tell the clouds are moving, relative to a tree or such. But in England the clouds are always skimming across the sky, and there is no need to compare them to anything stationary. To stare up at a building, you must be careful, or you will quickly find yourself dizzy because the building feels like it is falling, but it is only the clouds. But because the weather moves so quickly, it may be sunny and half an hour later it may be pouring rain, until it clears again in half an hour. You can watch the storm clouds coming, and watch them swept away. We joked that the forecast was never sunny with a chance of rain, but overcast with a chance of sun. There were a few nights we were away from the cities, and city lights, but it was never clear enough to see the stars.

Because it rains so much it is so very green everywhere. Everything is green, and a brilliant, vibrant green (unlike our dusty California green; we have not seen rain in months), and what is not green is living gold. The rolling hills are shades of green square fields edged in dark green hedges, with deep green trees, or dark green bushes lining the road most places (making it difficult to take a picture, because the fields can only be glimpsed, not often directly seen). Some of the fields are living gold, pale gold (I dare not call it yellow, it is too beautiful for that), with touches of red, and green underneath; living gold because it has once been alive, and will be again. It looks exactly like the Shire. Some of the country roads wend their way under living archways, the trees squared off at the shoulder and above, the sunlight turning green under the canopy, and the rain falling in loud, occasional splatters instead of constant drops. There is no shoulder on much of these roads (two lanes wide), and occasionally no stripes. Instead, the hedge comes nearly to the edge of the road (I scraped the car with the branches on the left a time or two), or the trees are nearly to the edge, or the wall of stacked thin stones. Sometimes there is four inches of road beyond the white line, sometimes a bit more, and sometimes there is even a bit of green grass before the inevitable hedge. I wondered what I should do if the car broke down, because there is nowhere to go. These roads are never straight for very long, but are the rolling English road that Chesterton writes about, that rambles round the shire.
bonny_kate: (doctor and rose)
It was odd being in England because it wasn't odd. After a day or so of adjustment, England felt, although not exactly familiar, not unfamiliar. I think I was expecting it to feel old and full of history, and to really feel how much older it is there than here, and how much more history there is. But the strange thing is that a medieval church does not seem old. Perhaps this is because it is part of the city.

In a nearly contradictory way, I did not like reconstructed things very much. I found Shakespeare's Globe to be emotionally empty; it is merely a reconstruction for tourists, I think. I did not particularly like the reconstruction of the medieval rooms at the Tower, partially because they lacked the intricacy of something truly medieval. I did not mind, so much, Dicken's house, which has a room furnished as best they know in the style of Dickens, but it has real carpet in the Victorian style, and window shades, and wallpaper and such. It also has one of Dicken's chairs. I think there are two differences. The room in Dicken's house has some original elements (such as the chair), and those things that are reproductions are good reproductions (they really do have the detail of the original). I like the old things, although I do not feel that they are old. The new reconstructions lack character, history, and that sense of reality that Anne Hathaway's cottage has, for instance. The old things do not feel musty or dingy, but interesting (the closest I can come, I think, are my great uncles, who have all kinds of marvelous stories about all their lives, and I'm sure I've not heard them all).

Stonehenge comes the closest, of everything I saw in England, to that weighty sense of history. The medieval walls in York are old, but they don't feel old; they belong to the city and it is the Borders and Starbucks that seem out of place.

Perhaps it is because I have read so many British authors, and loved England before I was there, but England had very little of that otherness I expect when visiting another country. There are differences; bobby pins are called grips, they drive on the other side of the road and prefer roundabouts to four way stops, and it is in a sense smaller (although not really, because England is bigger when you are inside it then when you are outside it). I know this country, with its greenness, and castle walls, the Underground and St. Pauls. I had never seen St. Pauls before, and yet I knew it. It was what I expected (from the pictures and descriptions), but it was also bigger and brighter and realer.

huzzah!

Jul. 8th, 2009 09:09 pm
bonny_kate: (doctor and rose)
I leave for England tomorrow!!!

(also as a cool sidenote, it looks like I will get to meet Kyra while I'm there. Nifty.)
bonny_kate: (Default)
I'm just a *smidge* stressed out because I leave for England in a little over a week. It will be fabulous and wonderful, but in the meantime there is so much that needs to happen (including packing and paying bills and balancing my checkbook and figuring out spending money and there's a whole list). We (being my mother, Irene, and I) are going to London (for a week), then to Poole for my friend's wedding (really the whole reason for the trip, but a really good excuse to wander about England), then to Stonehenge, Bath, Oxford, Stratford-Upon-The-Avon, and York.

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Kate Saunders Britton

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