I May be Addicted to Sausage Rolls

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This is not a sausage roll. It is a Full English Breakfast. There is a sausage, however.

I know, right? as the kids say.

Sausage rolls–for the uninitiated, for the sausage roll virgins amongst you–are these odd take-away foods that are ubiquitous in England. You can get one at Tesco’s or the village baker or almost anywhere.  A sausage rolled up with pastry. Simple enough. The real skill comes in the sort of pastry.  I had a hot one today from a place called Burn the Bread and the pastry was flaky and light and perfect. Others have not been quite so comestible, but I et them anyway.

And I may have to have one more from Burn tomorrow.

Aside from that confession, friends, I am here to report that the Goddess Conference has well and truly begun.  Kick-off ceremonies this morning featured the mayor of Glastonbury’s warm welcome and a gift of flowers for Conference founder Kathy Jones.

Everyone was beautiful in their flowing clothes and enormous orange flower crowns. I felt quite dowdy in my travel clothes. I’ll get dolled up for the Lammas ritual tomorrow, I suppose. But I am not one for “Goddess attire” unless there’s a reason. I prefer to be comfortable and warm or dry or cool, depending on the weather.

Which has been quite changeable here. Rainy and cool, then muggy, then rainy and cool again. Now it is sunny and cool and I really should be going down for the first main ritual but I am skiving off and catching up on writing and correspondence and…well, resting. I’ve been travelling (which includes a lot of walking) for almost two weeks and my feet were ready for a break. As were my legs, my back and my stiff shoulders.  

Perhaps I’ll schedule a massage for Thursday, my next free-ish day.

I am somewhat dehydrated–not drinking nearly enough plain water and drinking too much tea. So I’m remedying that today, too, by keeping my little Buxton water bottle refilled.

Tomorrow, the workshops begin. I scoped out the room where I’ll be doing mine on Saturday. It’s very nice. A few people have signed up for it, so I may have enough handouts to hand out.

My b&b (which does not run to the delicious breakfast seen above, by the way) overlooks the Chalice Well gardens and the Red Spring. I went in briefly yesterday to scatter some ashes–don’t tell–and am trying to decide if I want to go back for a lengthy visit.

I’ll let you know.

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And so the mists parted and she arrived in Avalon

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Yes, that is rain on the window. Bristol weather has never been kind to me and this time is no exception. Pouring rain as I tried to comprehend the “it’s so easy” bus schedule. The handy-dandy rain poncho was close at hand, however, so I put it on and looked for TF. Found it–a covered shelter–and waited with a half dozen others for the 376.

It was a bit time-crunched today–unlike most of my trip so far. The B&B wanted me here between 12 and 2, otherwise I’d have to wait until 4. So I was happy when the road repairs in Bristol gave way to the winding A road that comes up to Glastonbury.

We made pretty good time, even when we changed drivers in Wells.  Here’s Wells Cathedral from the window of the bus.

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That’s leftover Bristol rain on the window.

I’ve been to Glastonbury three times now and I was glad to have my thinking cap on when we turned into the High Street. Instead of getting off mid-way down the street and having to walk back uphill to get to my B&B, I popped out of the bus at its first stop at the corner and went on my way.

The B&B is a little farther away than I’d like but it’s on the site of Dion Fortune’s house and temple and it overlooks the Chalice Well. When I came in today (both times) there were people in the walkway up to the Tor, filling their bottles from the White Spring.

As is inevitable with such things, I went to a potluck today with the worker bees and organizers of the conference. I stopped by the former Truckle of Cheese and got cole slaw and three bean salad to bring with me and then kept asking until I got to the Goddess Hall. On the way, I also found the botanica where I have an interview this week to talk hoodoo.

I met some good folks almost immediately and sat with a girl named Sophie who had been roasting potatoes for the potluck all afternoon.  We laughed and ate delicious food. I finished up with some Victoria sponge cake. Yes, I did. Then climbed the hill back to the B&B.

I ran into my friend Helen who is in town until Weds, conferencing while her family is in London. It’s always funny when you see someone from home when you’re so far away. She had just been to the Tor and was heading back to the High Street.

I am sad about Truckle of Cheese because it was a good name and the people at the counter were old locals. Now it’s called “Artisan” and it has almost no personality at all.  Proving once again that Glastonbury and Asheville should be sister cities. That’s exactly the shallow “progress” Asheville loves.

Border Reivers and Hadrian’s Wall

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I spent most of the day researching the border reivers and writing about what I’m learning. Yes, like school. Only no grades. There will be a paper at the end but again–no grades.

Carlisle is a pretty town there in the city center. Lots of old building stock, plenty of shops. They have done that very smart thing of closing off some streets to traffic so there’s a lot of wandering around and plenty of places to sit and think. Or drink coffee. Or eat ice cream.

Tullie House is a sweet interactive museum with a bright and helpful staff. In addition to the museum, there’s a tidy gallery which is currently featuring an exhibit of George Howard. I was the only person there so I spent good time peering at sketches and watercolors. I even sat for a while, pondering his drawings for a children’s songbook.

Funny the local reaction to the border reivers. There is a sense of almost pride in how totally badass they were but there is also this feeling that they were gangsters and reprobates and, well, good riddance to bad rubbish. I picked up Alastair Moffat’s book on the reivers and what I’ve checked out is quite readable.

I wandered up to the castle and considered going all the way to Hadrian’s Wall but it was hot and that wasn’t about reivers.

Carlisle 031

Tomorrow I take the train to Coventry and will–gratefully!–be picked up by Gary and Maranda and taken to their house in Stockton. Maranda’s assures me she has a washer and I can do a bit of laundry. That may be self-preservation on her part. I’ve been washing socks as I go and even did a pair of pants a couple of days ago. But a nice laundry done will make my arrival in Glastonbury on Monday a bit more pleasant for all concerned.

I settle into G’bury for a week. That will be very pleasant indeed.

meanwhile, north carolina needs to recall the general assembly

Honestly, I am trying to avoid thinking of the mess my home state is in as I travel in Britain. But Facebook won’t let me avoid the inanity that seems to leak from the state house, like cloudy urine from a cracked chamber pot.

There is a powerful and very popular counter movement that is now moving out throughout the state. Dubbed Moral Mondays, it is classic non-violent witness to crimes against the citizenry.

It’s a good start but it can’t be all that happens. NC isn’t a home rule state and there is no way to recall Governor Squint-Eye Pat. What will be the next step, I wonder?

Okay, back to the regular scheduled travel program.

Grrr.

Why Are There So Many Penguins Here? A Wee Guide to Dundee

Yesterday, I got in a cab, got on a train and left Dundee and the Tay. I had a delightful time with Terry as we wandered the countryside, visiting standing stones. Terry is someone I’ve been friends with on Twitter and Facebook but had never met. He very kindly volunteered to pick me up at the train station at Inverkeithy and show me some standing stones that he’d sent me a photo of several months ago. 

He’s a very good tour guide and funny, too. But he had to head back early so dropped me off at Mark Walker’s house where I was spending a couple of days and seeing an old friend and sister-writer Kate Laity.

Dundee is being radically developed–a branch of the Victoria and Albert, a new rail station, new posh hotel and blah blah blah. Given what I know of how development has changed the initial nature of my own town, I was less enthusiastic about it than I could have been.  We shall see, to quote Mr. Walker.

There’s a lot of public art in Dundee and we went down the hill to see the penguins. Penguin statues actually. I didn’t get it. Why penguins in Scotland? The dragon statue seemed somehow appropriate but penguins?

Scott’s ship “the Discovery” is harboured in Dundee and was built there, too. “Scott of the Antarctic” Scott?  That one? We saw it, too. Right before we went to the pub.

More on Dundee tomorrow…unless I get so obsessed with the border reivers (I’m in Carlisle now) that I can’t remember all the pubs and the museum with the Pictish stones and the whale and the gallery and…the pubs.

Also, I ate black pudding for dinner and haggis for supper.

Brilliant.

Banoffee pie–I suppose I’ll have to try it now

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a talkative burn

We have talked so much in the past day and a half. Funny, serious, impassioned, heart-broken talk. I feel I’ve know these good people for ages. And that is an enormous gift.

But this afternoon, Elinor and I got onto the subject of desserts, which none of us eat much anymore. Yes, jammy rolls and spotted dick were mentioned–get your minds out of the gutter–and I mentioned that banoffee pie sounded awful. Elinor’s face changed. O, no. It’s wonderful. You won’t want to eat anything else all day but it’s good.

Great Ooogly-Moogly, will I have to try this delicacy about which I have only read (Country Living UK mag) and heard (Love Actually)?

Yes, I think I shall. With lots of strong tea or coffee, preferably, to counteract the sugar crash that will come hard on the heels of the last mouthful.

I’m doing lots of journal writing on this trip, something I’m hoping to get back to. Blogging is all well and good but I don’t put my innermost thoughts here. That would be madness. But those thoughts do need some place to go, don’t they?

We visited a Tibetan Buddhist temple and compound this afternoon and it was beautiful and very odd. There was a lovely temple and wonderful gardens and I thought what a nice thing for Mother Grove, a kind of model of a spiritual community surrounding and supporting a temple.

Many thoughts.

Iron Age settlement with sheep, too. And a hillside full of meadowsweet blossom. God, what a smell.

And for those of you who know my fixation with elderberries, they are everywhere here. Still in blossom, not quite fruiting yet. I do love them, those wild thatches of healing green. Tomorrow a stone circle and meeting the guys and seeing La Laity again.

I wonder if there are midges in Dundee?

where to begin

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I’ve spent the better part of the day dodging the other tourists and running errands. Isn’t that funny? Not unlike what I do at home, except there I am not a tourist. I got a late start because I slept in but then felt really refreshed for my walk.  Over the Magdalen Bridge where I peeked into the river and onto the High Street. I was heading for lunch, Carphone Warehouse, the post office, the Bodleian and finishing at Sainsbury’s for some snacks for tonight.

I’ve made lots of pictures already and at some point will have to upload them to my thumb drive or onto Dropbox, where I think I still have an account.

Walking into the city center, I stayed on the shady side of the street and was fairly cool. There is a bit of a breeze, thank goodness. I had a pot of tea and a chicken wrap at a smallish restaurant and sat by the door to enjoy the breeze.

The streets are full of ambling people with cameras. My preference is to look like a Very Busy Person Who Belongs when I am traveling. I’m one of those people that gets asked directions in cities not my own. But today I relaxed into being a Sight-Seer and that was pleasant. No pretense of being something I’m not. It’s a sunny day in a beautiful city–who wouldn’t make photos on a day like this?

I wandered up Cornmarket and listened to a four-piece trad group that reminded me of The Red Wellies a bit.  I dropped some coins in their fiddle case for good luck and to bless the makers of music–something we should do when we can.

A very nice fellow at Carphone Warehouse steered me onto a burner phone that will do for contacting my friends here. In fact, I already have contacted two of them. It will make the coordination of visits a lot easier, I think.

The Magical Books exhibit was terrific. And I hadn’t realized Tolkien’s Fall of Arthur had come out–that was a sweet surprise. I didn’t get it at the Bodley bookstore though, since it’s hard-cover and I have miles ahead of me. If it isn’t in the US yet, it soon will be.

I also saw a copy of the Malleus Maleficarum. It would have been even more horrifying but for the fact that a standing fan in the corner at that spot blew cool air down my back. I lingered at that case for quite a while.

Stopped in a pub after the post office and had a Pimms Cup which was nice and cool. The man who served me at the post office remarked on how nice it is to stay connected by sending post cards and how thoughtful it was to remember friends back home.

The post office also had air-conditioning so the wait and the conversation were very pleasant.

I went by 21 Merton Street on my way back to the Iffley Road and paid my respects to the old Gaffer. If I had thought, I would have brought some flowers.

Sainsbury’s for a cold supper and some snacks and I think I’ll be holed up here until I leave for Scotland tomorrow. My feet can use the rest and I think I can feel the first gentle hints of writing returning to my mind. Or soul. Or wherever that is housed.