On Being in England

April 3, 2017

While our last post probably made it look like we were done, there’s actually still quite a bit of travelling to come for this year of amazing days. Part of our delay in issuing a new post on the blog has been due to the fact that we’ve been spending some great family catch-up time with Bronwyn’s parents in the UK. And our border collie Ray, of course, who braved the transatlantic flight to hang out with the four of us over here in rainy England.

We’ve been taking it slow, mostly. Bronwyn’s parents are here testing the waters of their recent retirement for a move over to the old world. There’s a chance we’ll eventually join them if they do settle in; all of the WWOOFing experience we’ve had so far has been about getting a taste for living as market gardeners. The dilemma we face relates to the timing of all that happening. There are too many moving parts to describe here, but suffice it to say that while we love being teachers, we’re also really excited about the idea of living in a direct relationship with the land in a regenerative and restorative way. We’re still tickled by the thought of replicating Kakariki in Canada somewhere and hope that Hermann and Monika will be willing to mentor us from afar in Taupo, New Zealand.

Bronwyn and I lived in England way back in the beginning of our story together, and returning here stirs up some of the memories of our time as teachers outside of Slough. That gig was rough: it was our first teaching gig, we were far away from home during a rainy winter and happened to be at a school with some significant problems that we weren’t entirely equipped to deal with in our inexperienced state. The other memories are largely positive, including the great friends we had (some ex-pat teachers, some local Brits) during our 7-month time here. Most of those friends have moved on and we won’t be running into them while we visit the U.K. on this trip.

Ricky Gervais as David Brent in BBC's The Office, set in Slout.

Life in Slough was a lot like this. Not.

This time around, we’re spending quiet non-cycling days in holiday cottages, taking long countryside walks and visiting potential properties. Most of our time has been concentrated in The Cotswolds and Devon so far, and we’ll continue the trend of southwest touring when we move to Newquay in Cornwall in a couple of days. In addition to being antithetical to the bustle of London, the southwest areas are in the crosshairs for wooded farmland possibilities should Bronwyn’s parents move out here. Her mother spent some of her early formative years outside of Melksham and there’s a part of that life that lives on inside of her.

 

I would be completely remiss to not mention that we spent a day in Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of The Bard himself, and took in a performance of Antony and Cleopatra at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Bronwyn and I even toured the museum exhibit they have upstairs, appropriately titled The Play’s The Thing. Saw some cool stuff there as well.

England part one for http://onlyamazingdays.com

I have to admit that most of the photos I’ve taken involve the dog doing something I deem worthy of preserving for posterity. Such is the way for a dog lover. Ray, for his part, seems thrilled with the Bowen Island-like rurality of the lifestyle here. Wide open fields and forest trails are his perfect situation. Endless smells and things to chase. He’s not yet had a face-to-face with sheep, though I imagine that the instinctual tickle he experiences when catching their scent on the air calls to him from the back of his walnut-sized brain in a way that only he can understand. His first face-to-face with chickens was likely akin to this feeling. Other border collie owners know what I’m talking about.

England part one for http://onlyamazingdays.com

Here in Cornwall, the weather is starting to improve and we’ve been taking in the beautiful Atlantic beaches that surround England’s southwest peninsula. The internet access has been really spotty (another excuse for our intermittent updates), but we are revelling in the countryside and thinking of all of the things that we want to accomplish before we set off to visit France in a couple of weeks.

To our fellow cyclist readers, thank you for your patience so far. We’ll be reassembling the bikes here in Newquay and will be riding 80km to Plymouth to catch the ferry to France and Eurovélo our way down to Bordeaux. At that point, the WWOOFing will start up again with some early season learning of farming en français.

More updates to come! As always, thanks for reading and subscribe to the blog by filling in your email in the box in the righthand column of this page.

Author: Christian

Middle school teacher on hiatus/budding permaculturalist currently cycling the world. Sometimes he acts in plays and film. Mostly he travels and blogs about it. Christian is one of the founders of onlyamazingdays.com

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