July 6, Saturday
[As I lie down, set to write, a cheerfully boisterous group is having a great time playing charades. Must be about 15 of them. They are having a good time. But first, before going further, I must write for yesterday, as I was too tired last night to do it.]
At breakfast a spunky Aussie teacher sat down next to me and we mused on the pros and cons of a woman traveling alone carrying only a backpack for four months. She confided that she had discovered The One True Pearl of Wisdom in her travels. Anxious to gain Great Insight into women traveling the world, I leaned forward as she looked furtively about, lowered her voice, covered her mouth and whispered, "Wear black. It always looks clean." With an impish grin, she left.
Todd, an apparently dysfunctional student from New York City, dominated the breakfast conversation with sorrific tales of his disadvantaged home life - his parents would not support his travel habit in lieu of college. I couldn't bring myself to even nod in sympathy. I ate and ran.
(Aside: Most who have learned through our conversations that we are mom, son, and friend traveling together have thought it terrific:
1) That I could/would do such a thing;
2) That the guys would have me along;
3) That it was working out.
Some students were envious, one saying "My mom would never do that. I wish she would." Another, "She couldn't keep up. It's great that you are doing this." And another, "Wow. You can't be that old. His mom? No Way!"
What fun! Great for my ego.)
We got an "early" start at 9 a.m. and explored the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey where long ago the abbot supplemented his meager income by running a brothel. Shortly after the bishop discovered the sideline business, St. Mary's was permanently closed.
Museum gardens line sections along the River Ouse, which bisects the city. The gardens are more park-like than garden, and refreshingly shady. Along the river path, I excitedly pointed out California poppies growing in a front yard garden across the street. This symbol of home elicited both an energizing bound in my step and a twinge reminding me of the finite length of our trip. Dissonance: A desire keep traveling, and a desire to see home.
The Railway Museum houses an extensive collection of trains and engines. Queen Victoria's Royal Train was on display; a movie depicted the ingenious way mail trains grabbed mail without stopping; and we gawked at the Mallard Engine - the world's record-holder for the speediest steam engine. While admiring this peculiar looking engine with its sleek aerospace design, we heard a man describe it's underpinnings to children gathered 'round. At an appropriate lull, we queried him as to the function of the hose nozzles pointed at a driving wheel. He explained that it shot sand onto the track for traction. With further conversation, he proudly related that he he was one of the specialized welders who helped build the Mallard. He was enthusiastic about "his" engine and a delight to talk with.
After dinner, we returned to the Minster to hear the evensong service. It was beautiful, but it paled in comparison to the Eucharist service.
Our cultural event of the evening, an avant guarde play "MacRune's Guevara," was an oddly entangled story about a Scotsman and Che Guevara, produced and acted by a small, local theater group.
[As I write in this campground, it's 10:15 p.m. and this far south is now much darker earlier in the evening .]