The second collection of emails I’ve sent to Bethwyn. Somewhat less cheerful than the mood of the first set, the cold, wet, bustling environment wears on the spirits over time. Company with my family is beginning to grate on my nerves and I’m more easily cantankerous and bitter. Although I’m trying not to waste time on crankiness, it’s not always a winning battle.
The day out with Lamb was lovely. Without access to googlemaps, I just had to wing it and find directions old school- asking people, reading streetmaps and just wandering until something looked familiar. I got there a little late but managed to recognise her (by her owl beanie). There wasn’t a tour on today like I thought there would have been, but we wandered slowly through the exhibit, pausing over each masterpiece. It was so nice having someone take as long as, or longer than I did to go over the art. I really enjoyed drinking it all in and wondering about the extraordinary wonderlands he envisaged when he set up the shots.
To pass the time, we wandered through the rest of Somerset house, looking at another eclectic photo collection and some pricey and super fancy merchandise (like stuff you might find in Pigeonhole). At my request, we returned to Covent Gardens for another delicious dip into Lush so I could pick up a Christmas present for your Mum. We found a rather charming toystore as well, and a tea specialist (like T2 but a different kind of fancy). It was a lovely experience though I wish I’d had more time to look around.
From there we headed to the Winter Wonderland. It was a theme park/festival, and quiet, unassuming, gentle little Lamb got so excited about ice skating she let out a roar. I was so surprised I burst out laughing. It was her second time ice skating, the first being five years prior. The crowd was huge but I loved the pleasure of being outdoor on the ice. At first I tried to skate at my normal pace, but I kept crashing into people and brushing past them as they changed directions or someone else closed the gap I was trying to squeeze through. I eventually realised I was being reckless and inconsiderate and slowed down, practicing left-leg T-stops and ice hockey stops, as well as skating with one leg in line with the other. Lamb went pretty well, skating slowly without support! She fell down only twice, and I accidentally pulled her down after she lost her balance, regained her balance, and then was pulled off-balance again as I tried to support her. As more and more people left the ice, I plucked up the courage to ask one of the ice marshals if they’d teach me how to skate backwards. At that moment, the bell time finish the session rang and he playfully scolded me for waiting so long before asking.
After that I figured that I wouldn’t have enough time to return home, get changed and find my way to kung fu within an hour and a half, so we wandered around the park for a while before dinner. The smell of hot food, the crowds, the creepy mechanical santas and the music of the rides and games were all wonderful.
Lamb and I tried cups of spiced wine each. They were warm and delicious, but shortly after finishing mine I began to feel very dizzy. I started stumbling and found it hard to walk, especially on a slope or uneven surfaces. It was crazy how fast the alcohol hit me! We staggered along for a while until we found a fish and chips shop where I ate a chip roll. It helped a great deal, but I was still a little tipsy as I decided to go through an adventure house, with moving floors and various obstacles. I only fell down once, and then safely, so it was a pretty good experience! I think I’ll definitely stop drinking alcohol though, even if it is a frosty winter’s night.
I think that Lamb would have preferred to stay in the tavern to sing and dance. I feel a little bad for not indulging her after she took such good care of me. She was very sweet in insisting I sit down and eat the majority of the food and sober up so my mum didn’t find out (not that I would have hidden it from her. My uncle and aunty on the other hand…).
All right love, I’ll try and get this phone to work. I’ll let you know how it goes. I love you baby ♡ Hope you’re sleeping well tonight.
Oh! And one more thing I wanted to mention. As I was walking to Westfield by myself, someone grabbed my bag and tugged back on it. I very calmly turned around, raising my arm and resting it over theirs (turning their elbow for a lock as I did so) and prepared my hand for a palm strike to their carotid sinus. Turned out to be Eugene, who Mum had convinced not to let me go by myself. I was very proud of my reaction- totally relaxed, efficient in movement, ready to harm and create distance but not to seriously injure, and without Eugene ever feeling like he was under threat. He laughed about it when I told him how close I had been to attacking him.
In the morning Eugene suggested we spend the day indoors since it was a tad rainy, but mum wanted to see the tower bridge (which he had spoken about before) and St James Park (which she remembered from 32 years ago). I took her to the bridge, which was beautiful but not particularly engaging, then backtracked to go to Harrods. My God, what a place. See the lingerie in the attachments? [pictures to come] How much do you think they cost? The quality, to my untrained eye, was about the same as Peter Alexander. It was a bit of a wonderland of shopping in there, and I wish I could have spent a few more hours getting lost in the maze and admiring the crystal displays.
After that we met Eugene to see Wicked, which was great, but not as good as the Australian one. The different actors changed the performance, possibly not for the better, but I still enjoyed it. My seat for the first half was so far away that I hired a pair of binoculars to see the stage XD
After that we had dinner, dropped into an adventure store and moved to the Lyceum Theatre for the Lion King. Lots of musicals today! I’m not fond of the number of kids in the crowd, but I guess I shouldn’t be picky. It’s currently the halfway intermission. I won’t have time to email for a little while because tomorrow we’re catching a train to York. I’ll keep you posted!
I don’t think the Lion King was a very big success. While Mum enjoyed Wicked, no one seemed to appreciate the LK as much as I did, and then it was drastically reduced because I’d seen it before and the seats weren’t as immersive as last time. I’ve really come to appreciate good seating- if you have a terrible seat, it’s almost as bad as not going. Worse in some respects because your first impression of the show will be ruined.
It rained on the way home, putting everyone quite out of sorts. It was frustrating that it happened on the day when I chose style over practicality and left my raincoat at home with my umbrella. Everyone got quite wet and grumpy I think, and when I got back I had to shower pack for the morning journey to York.
I’ve been having mostly cold showers, and even though I’d gotten wet, the hot shower wasn’t very satisfying. My body kept adjusting to the temperature and I kept turning it up and up until I realised it may as well have been cold because the water would feel the same. Persisting with my cold showers is surprisingly easy, and as a result, I have little fear of cold. Who ever would have thought?
We arrived at the station a little later than we wanted to, but the ride over was pleasant enough. I started reading A Feast For Crows, book four in the Game of Thrones series, and it is engaging. Perhaps not as much as previous books in the collection, but it is incredible how well characterised the inhabitants of Westeros are. Due to a cow/car (I didn’t hear which) on the tracks, the journey took over three hours.
The weather in York has been quite dismal. A persistent drizzle somewhat soaked our clothes and luggage as we walked around waiting to go into our accommodation. Gladly, I wore my raincoat in the rain for the first time, and it kept me ever so warm and dry <3
Eugene and I went to the chocolate factory for a tour, but none of the others were even slightly interested. After some arguing/discussion, we decided to split up. Sucked to be them because the chocolate factors was amazing. Like seriously amazing. We learnt how to see, hear, taste and finally smell chocolate properly (95% of our perception of taste is not from our tongue but from our noses).
Hey snookums, where was I? At the chocolate factory, I think…
So after learning to eat the chocolate, we watched interactive audio-visual films where our guide had conversations with the screen characters. It was really well done! We learned about the sacred drinks the Aztecs fought and died for (and got to try some too!) and learned about the founding families of England’s (and consequently much of the world’s) confectionery companies. We watched a demonstration on how to make chocolate (if you keep chox in the fridge, it will absorb moisture and odour so be careful what you store it next to- a cool dry place is ideal) and generally had a very good time.
Thereafter I dropped into a game store and found the full version of Mortal Kombat for £20. It has characters that I couldn’t download because of the region difference, most importantly including Kenshin, my favourite blind swordsman.
Meanwhile, everyone had been sitting in a cafe, eating and drinking and chatting. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, but they missed out on so much.
We still had a little time before our accommodation would be ready for checking in. The relatives went to wait at the train station to collect our baggage, miserable and cold and wet, while Eugene and I went to the Shambles to explore the markets and have hot soup and tea in a charming cafe on the second floor of an old wonky house.
After that it was a long walk to our house. Like maybe half an hour in the rain, with a challenging three-lock-door to get past before we stumbled in. The house is so old and so beautiful- I love how it creaks with every step. It’s got so much character! Eugene’s got a double bed to himself on the top floor, which has an attic inside and a sky window or two. When I opened the attic, I thought there was someone inside, or a dead body there, which scared the hell out of me. It turned out to be a roll of carpet with a shoe at the end, but still…
We spent some well-needed downtime relaxing in the new place. We got the heaters and fireplaces going and I lolled around reading A Feast For Crows until I became too tired to read any more. The adults preferred to sit in the rather less comfortable dining room so they could talk. I’m starting to appreciate the role food has in Chinese culture. Yet for all their snacks, they hadn’t considered what to do for dinner. They didn’t want to go out, so they contemplated having food delivered if I could organise it for them. I was not at all in the mood to go get food for everyone while they sat at home in the warmth, but the alternative was to let them be indecisive about it for hours until everything closed. I’m not even joking, though I’m being a tad spiteful. Eugene and I stormed out into the night as they called out food they wanted us to bring back to them. It felt so frustrating and unfair that they weren’t doing anything to look after themselves or have a good time, and whenever we went out of their way to help them they just complained if it was bad or accepted it as a given if it was good. The lack of gratitude and assistance was infuriating, but out we went and got the food anyway because the alternative was to suffer until they decided (which may never have been).
When we got back with the bags of food, Mum in particular extolled how grateful and appreciative they all were to us. Eugene suspects Mum orchestrated it when she noticed our attitudes. Whatever her reasons, it was nice to get a little more recognition.
I think I might have said earlier that the cold showers I take have left me with no fear of cold. I retract that. Tonight I had a shower so cold it actually burned and left my skin pink and painful. But when the water started to get warm by accident, I cut it off and went back to cold. I think that when I emerged from that shower I was stronger than before.
Tomorrow if the weather improves see go to Castle Howard. I think Eugene and I are also going on a ghost tour some time soon. Long story short, after much argument and discussion, I decided it was worth more to keep him company, and that there’s nothing to be afraid of
Okay, falling asleep as I write. That 5am start was exhausting. Well, good night love. Sleep sweet <3
PS: the dressing gown pants were $350, and the gown itself £500. Mortifiying.
Sent at 10:56am (London time) on 21/12/2012. As it so happened, the world apparently did not end. I spent the (poorly) predicted time of its destruction meditating.
Just in case the world ends in fifteen minutes, I love you.
As I mentioned in the previous email, Castle Howard turned out to be closed over Christmas (though the grounds remained open). Instead we wandered around York, through the Christmas markets and towards the chocolate factory so that Caysin and the adults could go. Just before we got there though they lost interest and decided to wander off on their own and then return home when they were ready. I doubt they went to the factory, but that’s their loss I guess.
Eugene and I enjoyed a delicious lunch at Yo! Sushi, where I had chocolate ganache mochi for dessert. It was incredible, possibly the best food ever. But shortly after finishing, my stomach started hurting awfully. I guess it was something I ate, but it became hard to walk because the pain was so bad. I’m sure you have enough experience to know the kind of feeling I’m talking about.
Just before it became unbearable we walked to York Minster, the oldest medieval castle in Europe. It’s spectacular, and the view from the top is lovely. Although all you really see is buildings, it’s very humbling for a human to be up so high. The narrow staircase was a pleasure to climb as well- they’re built so that only one person can fit at a time, climbing up a clockwise spiral. If an invader wants to attack with a sword in his right hand, he would need to expose most of his body as he climbed. Conversely a defender could just peak his arm around the corner and present a constant threat. And because it’s one-on-one, a single defender might hold an army at bay.
It’s about 5:30 here yet it feels much later because the sun set hours ago. My stomach has been hurting for ages and I’m not really feeling up for a ghost walk tonight. I’m kind of more in the mood to sit in front of the fire and rest. Cold and tired tend me towards grumpiness, and I’ve been snapping at people a little. I hope I feel less pained soon, but meanwhile I’ll work on feeling happy and good here and now, which is something I at least have some control over.
Because the internet is so unreliable I’m using my phone as a wireless port. Eugene is using the internet from my phone- pretty cool right? It’s using up a fair bit of battery though.
I miss you so much. I can’t can’t can’t wait to see you in just over a week. It couldn’t come soon enough as far as I’m concerned. Love and miss you more than I can say.. <3