Sunday, August 12, 2007

In Which is Much Disagreement on the Geography of England

Saturday was only 88 degrees (before heat index, which takes into account how hot it actually feels, after humidity), a welcome break after the recent heat wave. During heat waves, I feel like the whole world around me, myself included, kind of hunker down (except it's really hot, so we more lay out), and wait until the heat subsides, because that's all we can do. Eating is a bother, sleeping is, certainly doing anything constructive is. These times always make me think of the pioneers and makes me wonder how they survived heat like this, with long sleeved dresses and all their petticoats, etc. We don't have air conditioning (and Avram and I haven't since our marriage), so in that respect at least we are like our fore-bearers. Especially because on even the hottest days of the year (102 degrees before heat index; broke the record last week) they needed things like to make bread, or farm, or whatever. Hopefully we're on a downward trend, that will gently glide into Autumn, my favorite season by far and away.

As an update on my stressed post of yore, we now have a Bank Account with Bank of America, who banks with Barclays in England (England only has like five banks total. I'm used to almost limitless choices in my life; limited ones will be new for me. I feel so American as I write this.) We bought a laptop, a very nice factory refurbished HP, that at Cosco new sells for 1,000, but we bought for 700. I haven't really used it much, yet, partly because there's really no where to set it up, and in the hot weather, a running laptop on ones lap is almost like a personal heater. We got Avram's passport photos, we secured our student loans, and in general much more of the logistical nightmares in our life are being resolved. Avram even did all of these finaglings on the phone, which as anyone knows might be the true miracle. He's been great, though.

Lydia's darling as always. She'll begin nursery in three Sundays; so soon. We're definitely looking forward to it. She's decided her wake up time is 6:30 am, and because our bed and her bed are both just mattresses on the floor, she'll come over and climb all over me, trying to convince me to wake up and play with her. I, however, do not desire to wake up this early, so we'll spend an hour of futility trying to get the other to conform to our ideas before Avram will finally wake up, and take Lydia upstairs with him, while I'll sleep for a half hour.

I've checked out our local library's complete collection of travel books, and spend my time reading tidbits about various potential travel sights in England. So far I'm not really trying to see where to go, but rather where I don't want to go, hoping to narrow down the possibilities. A conversation between Avram and I:

Me, "Well, I definitely don't want to go to Northumbria."

Avram, "Hadran's Wall! You don't want to see Hadrian's Wall?"

"We can see Hadrian's Wall In Lancashire, where there also happens to be the Lakes country, which Jane Auston talks about in Pride and Prejudice."

Avram, "But nothing of historical importance happened there!"

"It's supposed to be beautiful, and Elizabeth Bennett really wanted to go there. Well, at least we can definitely cut out Liverpool. There's nothing I want to see in Liverpool."

"Liverpool! The Beatles!"

"Fine, then we can most definitely cut out East Anglia, we don't need to see anything there."

"Hastings! You don't want to see Hastings?!"

"Well, that entire corner of the country is boring, and more expensive. Although we will miss Canterbury Cathedral."

"Canterbury Cathedral!"

"Yes, but we should go to York"

Avram actually agreed with me on this one. So I continued on, "York will be great; we can see the Bronte's house, and the moors, and the house that Wuthering Heights is supposed to be."

"You would rather see the Bronte's house than the Canterbury Cathedral, and Hastings!"

And so it continued, over all of England. Avram realized later that the Canturbury Cathedral and the Battle of Hastings are actually in the same area, and so we most definitely need to see them, he says. I suggested Wales, because of The Grey King, a book of the Dark is Rising series. Avram tells me that all Wales contains is sheep and dirt. I want to see Ireland because of an autobiographical book I read about Americans who moved to Ireland. Avram, "Bombs and Radicals are in Ireland."

Avram wants to go to places with Historical importance (with the exception of the Beatles, I'm not sure they can count as historical yet). I want to go to Literary places, and places of beauty. Not that I'm opposed to historical places, mainly I just don't know the history behind them very well. One area we do agree on it that we both want to see King Arthur places, or at least, "traditional" places, because of course King Arthur sites have nothing to do with the actual Arthur, if there was such a man. We also both want to see the church historical sites; Benbow farm, Preston (for the temple), but because the church took hold among the working class in the industrialized cities in England, the historical places are in the uglier, city-ized areas of the country. Oh, well. What can you do.


  1. Hi-ho, Matt Here.

    A couple things.

    Hastings is in Sussex, not East Anglia. You should go there because Sussex is where the Reeds are from, and because it's beautiful. Though, it should be noted that the battle was fought at a place that is now called 'Battle' - just the first stop on the rail line between Hastings and London (or, the last stop before Hastings, if you're going down from the City.)

    Historical things DID happen in the lake district! Wordsworh? Huh? Huh? Tintern Abbey? Heh? Heh?

    What about Portsmouth? Bath? Stratford on Avon? Henry II's castle at Dover? The Royal Pavilion in Brighton?

    So much to see! So much to see!


  2. Avram did realize later that Hastings is in Sussex - and the Cantebury Cathedral is in Kent, right next to it, so we're going to hit both, and completely skip East Anglia. We're planning to go to Stratford on Avon for sure; it's only about 50 miles north of Oxford. The Royal Shakespeare company does plays there, and they have 5 pound tickets there. Actually, we can also see Shakespearean plays (although not by the RSC, alas) at the recently rebuilt Globe theatre for only 5 pounds, but we have to stand in the Yard. Very authentic, but I definitely wouldn't want to see Hamlet standing (four hours long). Theatre ticket are the most reasonably cost items I've seen so far in England - a good sign for culture, I suppose.
    I wish I could pack you and Sarah in my suitcases, and then you could give us the Matt Reed tour of England. That would be a fascinating tour, I am sure. With required reading, probably. Suddenly I am filled with homesickness for Provo, and my friends. We'll just have to both end up at U-Wisc, where we can find another club to mock (in a friendly manner) from the inside.
    (this is Thora, btw)

  3. This is the real Avram.

    In my defense, I never said that nothing historical ever happened in the Lake Countries. That is my wife editing for narrative effect. What I actually said, is that going to the Lake Countries because Elizabeth Bennett mentioned it is silly in light of all the great historical stuff in England. Not as funny is it.

    This is the real Thora. In my defense I figured if Elizabeth wanted to go there that badly, it had to be a really neat place.

    Avram again. Apparently you get to sit in one of our discussions. Almost like you were in our apartment in Wymount, eh? Anyway, neither Thora nor I actually thought Hastings was in East Anglia, just in that general direction (from Oxford, not from Town).

    You are right, though Matt. There is too much to see. Maybe since I'll be an Old Oxonian, I'll have a chance to get back. Even a year won't be enough.

  4. Your blog can't count! It says "1 comments" on the main page, but there are actually two. Here are a couple of suggestions:

    1. For the heat: Wring out a sheet just short of dripping wet, lay it over your hot, sweaty body on top of the bed, and place a fan so it blows on the sheet. Turns your bed into a personal evaporative cooler, even in a tropical, humid environment, at least until the sheet dries out.

    I did this every night for a year and a half on Okinawa, where the temperature and humidity are both often in the 90s. Simultaneously. It works.

    2. Geography: since you say you don't know where things are anyway, why not make lists of WHAT you want to see, and assign priorities? THEN figure out where they are and what you can combine.

    I like to make a list of possible trips with the highest possible sum, then discard the ones I can't afford, and winnow. (Then I choose something else anyway, but at least the numbers make me feel like I'm being scientific.)


  5. In the spirit of this discussion, I got home from work and told Matt "Tintern Abbey is not in the Lake District, it's in Wales." To which he replied "Well, he wrote the poem in the Lake District". I decided not to bring in the fact that some scholars believe that he didn't write the poem, but that his sister did, in light of the fact this was supposed to be a geography debate, not a literary one.

    Thora, you should be careful what you wish for. We're thinking about crashing in on you on the way to the "Middle" East this December.

  6. You should do just that, crash in on us, I mean. Avram and I are and would be very excited. He has no school from December 7 to January 7, so we would have lots of time. You should just have a long layover in England. A really long one.

  7. Problems with the Literary places of england. Tourist. Every American woman and their dog will want to go to Derbyshire and the Lake country. Everyone will be visiting the Arthur sites. Everyone will be visiting the cathedrals and the castles. Sure you'll only be there a short time and but that doesn't mean you should make your adventure a photo copy of every other adventure in England.
    I suggest you find a couple of books on the ruined Monastaries, as well as visiting many of the great houses of England. Like in the day of the Bennets you can still go and visit them and stroll around the grounds.
    Not that the things you are going to do would be bad.
    In defense of East Anglia They have the Sutton Hoo site their of course most of the good are in the Museum. But still there is lots of Viking stuff there as well as very beautiful lakes and rivers.
    Wales is okay but plan to go to some castles because otherwise its not very different from pastoral england. As Avram Said "Sheep and Dirt"
    The Question of King Arthur and the sites associated with him? Don't be to quick to write them off. Many of the older welsh and cornish sites may have something to them. Avoid these sites on any astrological date of importance. It's likely to be like a bad SCA event full of "pagans" and "Druids" worship at their "religious shrines" despite the fact they didn't build them. Okay your getting a really long answer from.

    I would focus more on enjoying england than trying to cram a huge amount of visits into a small space of time. You'll really end up seeing more of the english mass transit system than anything else.

    Anyway I hope you guys have fun.

    (p.s. Hastings is bound to be really boring unless its reenactment day because its just a big feild)

  8. I know I'm a bit slow, but I wanted to add a bit in defense of good ol' Wales. I mean, as Thora said, the Grey King. You can't get much better than that - and I will refrain from mentioning a worrisome adaptation of said belov'd sequence. But, this is also the land of a hill that became a mountain that became a hill, that became a mountain! Imagine!