Wednesday, September 30, 2009

musique concrete

a whimsical interlude...

where earth meets ocean

there is a major coastal walking path which passes the front of prospect house. i walked it many times during my stay. below, the pictures will better my attempts to describe it 1000-fold; i hope! also, i must mention how endearing i've found the british national trails [walking/riding] path system. they're everywhere, criss-crossing the country. how lovely to find people of all ages, but especially retirees, with their packs, hats, dogs and walking sticks!

to the left is a view of prospect house from the trail.

to the right gives one a portrait of the prevaling winds and the winter gales!

a moment sheltered from thoughts of winter....

...passing the local flora and fauna....

 i spy a beach?

yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssssssss! the day is lovely and so is she! i can't resist!

she entices me with a wave of her hand....

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! she's quite cold [50-60 degrees f] but still beautiful...

i'm in devon...

from left to right, meet james' mum and felicity [shown posing with a reluctant james]:

last year when james and i last popped in on mum n' fliss, their condo was a literal construction site---no walls or anything. now they're some of the only full-time residents in their unique community, named 'prospect house', which has an interesting history in itself. read about prospect house here. [pdf format]

they were amazingly gracious hosts, full of laughs, stories, competitive card games, curiosity, warmth and gourmet meals! thinking of jay and jen, i attempted, but failed, to capture a meal of fish rolls [portuguese style] below:

return to the unfamiliar

sorry for the lapse [i've been away from my being away]! since i was away from a computer for over a week, i'm going to have to post the exciting goings-on backwards, leading up to the ever-fleeting present.

the map traces [sort of] the route from the flatlands of norwich to the hilly, windswept maritime hallsands, devon, where james and i visited his mum and her partner at their new retirement home----3 trains and 8 hours later.

from devon we made our way to the famous megaliths of carnac, brittany, france---2 drives and a ferry ride in another 8 hour soujurn. it was interesting to drive on the right side of the road on the wrong [right] side of the car!
details and pictures in the posts to follow!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

conceptual ruins

two short, cheap and painless bus rides and i'm in the countryside on the other side of the pie of norwich, in caistor st. edmond. why? because it was the next walk in my beloved tour book after norwich city; also, because i could get there without a car. good enough reasons for me, apparently!

caistor st. edmond is the site of a purported roman ruin. in fact, the visit to the site was about as conceptual as staying home and reading a history book! [though the day was perfect and all is forgiven] let me illustrate:

through a parking lot, up some stairs, down a path---you walk, basically, on top of the old roman town wall. this is your view:

every once in a while, some signage fills in the literal blanks of what you would have seen, had you been there 1500 yrs ago:

get the picture? here is another trans-temporal superimposition:

here's the wall as of yesterday, complete with landscaping sheep:

cut way back to 'our favorite philistines' creating our present...

anyway...i duly completed walking the square mile and pulled out my trusty guide book to map out the rest of my day on foot. once i realized that the writers were planning on having me walk considerable distance on the main road, without sidewalk nor shoulder, in the nettles and thistle, i zipped up the book in a deep, not-very-accessible pocket of my bag.

like so many travel moments, in peak despair, i looked up across the road to find this awaiting me:

a wonderfully marked, off-road, public footpath circuit of about 6mi. around a farm! why hadn't the authors noticed this option for walkers?! so, off i set to finish a couple of hours later with a nice half-pint of abbot's ale in the local 16th century hotel bar...cheers!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


'derive': situationist french for, 'wandering' especially around a city with the hopes of getting lost in order to find something you haven't seen before...

we've had lovely weather for the past few days! so, i went trekking around norwich [which is easy to do being that the medieval roads run in circles]...speaking of which, i was using a book called [falsely] '50 walks in norfolk', to guide me...i have to agree with this amazon review:

2.0 out of 5 stars 50 walks in norfolk, 15 Feb 2009
Ms. Kate E. Percival "lighthouse dreamer" (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews(REAL NAME) I am a fairly experienced walker and this book is dreadful. We have tried out 6 walks now in this book and every time we ended up making our own walk up. The directions are very unclear and I don't know if the walks have changed (although I have only just bought it!) but the directions do not correspond to the walk. The only thing positive thing I would say is that the book gives you a good idea of places to walk, especially as a newcomer to the area.

eventually i found my way with the help of some confused locals, an a-to-z map and a head full of steam...i was happiest, just like the above reviewer, when going my own way, which i've done twice now: in norwich and right outside the city...

this photo doesn't reflect the sentiment of most of the people i've met, strangers and otherwise---probably just some teens trying to be 'shocking'...i remember what it was like...

in contrast, a bus driver, once he found out where i was from, spent the entire 25 min. trip recounting all the thousnds of miles of touring he'd done around america----way more than 99% of all americans [including myself] have! pacific coast hwy, bryce canyon, grand canyon, yellowstone, colorado river...

so...ambling around norwich...having lost faith in the 'walk' book, i happened upon the medieval city wall peacefully coexisting with more modern construction:

pondering our own current creations from a longer view, how many modern building efforts will leave even this much of a trace 800 yrs hence? how potent a belief in eternity is [was]! free access to peasant labor surely didn't hurt either...

speaking of eternity and peasant labor, nothing weds them so well as a cathedral! here's a shot of norwich cathedral:

i started getting happy walking on the edenic grounds of the cathedral...towards the river wensum which runs around the city and was probably one of the main reasons for its james says, 'you could canoe to france on it if you wished...'

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

down, down into norwich town

biked to the park and ride about 15mins. and for a pound round-trip, got the bus into downtown norwich with a couple of mums with their pups and a clear majority contingent of retirees, whom james and i most resemble. the postcard to the left shows the permanent open air market stalls in the city center. i'm pretty sure, judging by the weather so far, that the sky is courtesy of photoshop...

bought a greater norwich map, the better to orient myself----i think of how difficult it is to make connections in a strange city in one's native land [at least for this native!] and see how daunting it'll be here...especially when i momentarily unplug my umbilical to james! need to leap into verbs! common verbs! verbs in common with others...shared contexts...or else it's an intellectual exercise in futility with enough navel lint for a sweater. sadly, i think my social prospects resemble our bus ride----that my peers are busy making hay while their proverbial sun is still shining; leaving retirees and mums home during the day.

james has been excited at the prospects of singing norfolk [local] folk songs---possibly on the street for spare change and, hopefully, fun [with me on uke and/or drum] i'm excited to possibly bring you audio of james' sublime singing!...and so we searched in the library to find two books of collected songs transcribed by classical composers, vaughn williams and moeran. moeran's book was a facsimile of his actual notebook, mistakes, snide asides about the [lack of] value of the lyrics and all!

a lamb and mint cornish pasty for lunch:

then pedaled to an allotment [public garden] to check out a potential plot for the green man's recreation. now i type to a setting sun, swaying treetops and waning autumnal light...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ordinary time

verbs, finally---but not very exciting ones...left are some literal fruits of our labors in a u-pick-it orchard: plums, apples and pears. it's harvest season! made a pukka apple crisp with bramley apples [look! apples with their own website!], buckwheat, oats, cinnamon, sugar, butter and honey---thought very much of jay!
jen wanted to hear about the food here and i'm planning a post about that...some interesting contrasts with the states.

mostly, for the past few days, we've been doing lots of little odd jobs around the house and slightly beyond. for anything beyond, since juliette takes her car mon-thurs, we're on bicycles equipped with racks and knapsacks:

fixing the toilet seat

tincturing hawthorn berries picked from bike path hedgerows [male witch activity]

filling, sanding, painting and/or varnishing an interior door and its moldings

cleaning a freecycle fridge

trimming the budlia bushes for the season

inevitable trips to the food store

i've actually found the completion of various day-to-day chores quite grounding...i'm really feeling the necessity of work in my life----did my father just faint?! i've also found myself hesitant to open my mouth for fear of 'standing out' as an far no one cares, though...

Monday, September 14, 2009

meet james...gardener extraordinaire!

more setting for you, with implied action---gardening! simply put, james is the green man! how easy he makes it's a general view of the back's probably about 60 feet from the house to that door in the picture...and that door is attached to a strawbale shed!
you heard me correctly: a shed made from bales of straw! see for yourself [above]. it was his 40th birthday present to himself. usually the straw is sealed over with plaster to prevent decay, but this shed has withstood the elements for 4 years without any damage.

behind the shed [as if it weren't enough] is a compost, rainwater harvesting and glass greenhouse area:

here's a closeup of the grape arbor which divides the garden in half:

yes, grapes! he grew them from a cutting given to him by a former co-worker. from a moist twig in his pocket!
lastly, let's not forget about natural, organic slug a small pond.

an artsy shot of one of the frogs right after hatching...note to americans: a one pence coin is smaller than a us penny, almost dime-sized:

the green man steps off of hundreds of cathedral walls and is caught on cctv plying his magic in the garden:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

alright, then?

i did it. a patient recovering from an elective operation of my own design: to go on a sabbatical from my career and my day to day life i had built in boston, ma. to pack up my life and live with a friend in norwich, uk, for 6 months. why 6 months? [especially when it would mean returning to new england from old england during early march] this is the maximum time alloted by british immigration for a tourist visa. this will be, by far, the longest time i'll spend as a tourist!

only after a 20 min. interrogation was i allowed to enter england. perhaps the truth i told was too baffling: that i was there to soak in numerous neolithic sites. was i a scholar doing research? who was my sponsor? what did i do for a living, anyway? how much money did i have access to? was i planning to work? drive on the wrong [right] side of the road? pester british women with requests for kisses?

how grateful i am for my telepathic link with james; the immigration officer marched out to james on the inside of the border and asked him the same questions, to which he received the same answers. majority ruled and created truth. no longer was i alone and/or potentially insane! welcome! surprisingly, the guard claimed that, in his experience, no one had given as a reason to enter england, 'neolithic sites'...i say, 'shame...'

meet my three gracious hosts: james, juliette and holly the cat. they cleared a corner in the living room for me to live in...i thought the posters were a particularly nice touch...privacy, be gone! holly is allowing me to sleep in her bed for the moment...

early in the game, i know, but our freshly-minted family gets along well and hopefully will still by the end of 6 months' time. i hope i don't stink after 3 days [ah, too late, as this is my third] like poor richard's 'guests and fish'! we are going to attempt a weekly meeting to maintain this challenging living arrangement.

i've set the setting and the dramatis personae...check back soon for some verbs---hopefully!