Wednesday, 22 May 2013

London to Leeds & Home Again

Those of you who are following me may have noticed my absence these past two weeks and although you've not asked for an explanation I am ready to tell you.... I was off in England visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Leeds and several friends in London. I wonder if it is a symptom of my having truly put down roots in France that I now prefer the word Angleterre to England... somehow, it just sounds prettier to the ear, no? In any case, it is certainly a different country from this one, and the difference is detectable as soon as you alight at St. Pancras Station (assuming you've arrived by Eurostar train, as I did, a most agreeable way to travel).

But that's another story, I want to move quickly to some of the photos I took during my English holiday... First of all, London, where I spent one marvellous day in the company of Sheila Johnson Kindred, who has been my friend since university days at UWO in LondonOnt, and with whom I crossed the Atlantic on a Cunard liner back when we were still "young things" off to see the world (she to study and me to work as a supply teacher, both of us in LondonEng). Sheila led us on a tour of favorite old haunts -- and for a few hours the weather was in our favour, so that this first shot of tulips in Green Park was taken under blue skies, amid the jolly marching music -- and the noise of crowds -- from the nearby Changing of the Guard.

I'm always a sucker for red tulips and these were particularly splendid.
 Sheila and I had lunch at the Foundling Museum, just off Mecklenburgh Square...Those of you who have read Audrey Thomas's lovely novel TATTIECORAM (Goose Lane, 2005) will know all about this orphanage, and if you haven't read it, I urge you to hie off to the library to find this little gem. We then spent several happy hours at the British Museum, where I was able to view once again one of my all-time favorite artifacts, the reliquary of St. Eustache, dating back to the 13th century... I love the idea of a head being full of saints' bones.. and whatever else.

The wooden head is the receptacle over which the gold one once fit.
Visiting old friends was certainly part of the pleasure to be had in London, augmented of course by visits to the Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria & Albert Museum, etc... I was able to spend time withs several chums, two of them met in Kenya back in the late 1980s:  English hospice organizer Ruth Wooldridge, with whom I saw two plays by Alan Bennett (one of my literary heros), and Canadian writer Debra Martens, whose continually entertaining blog CANADIAN WRITERS ABROAD is well worth following. ( On our way to lunch, Debra and I walked along Kensington High Street and stopped to admire one of the most glorious flowering cherry trees... an exuberant display of fluffy pink blossoms... In spite of the dreadful cold wet weather, London was definitely in bloom.

Debra is learning to love London, as have so many Canadians before her.
Did I mention the cold, grey, wet weather? Honestly, it made walking through the city much less enjoyable than it might have been, but I did what the English do, I put up my brolly and just kept going, head bent against the wind. Lest you think I am exaggerating the grim conditions, here's a view of the Thames with Tower Bridge in the distance... you get the picture.

GREY, utterly grey...