The Book of Na'Lon

or rather, Inane Ramblings of an Expatriot

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Busy, busy
mesmall
na_lon
I want to update my lj, because there is lots to write and think about, but somehow I just know it's going to take me a long time to type it all up. So here's what I'll do. I'll jot down some reminders for myself about the things I want to write about. And then, when I have a moment, I'll fill in the details, bit by bit.


The Saga of the Ferry Tickets
Since the Marquis and I wanted to spend a week at the Belgian coast after Easter, we needed to buy ourselves some tickets to go to said location to meet up with my clan, who had invited us to join them.

'Fine,' thought I. 'Shouldn't be a problem. We just buy footpassenger tickets from Dover to Ostend, or from Ramsgate to Ostend. I used to do that all the time when I was a student.'

Turns out, there ain't any crossings from Dover to Ostend at all anymore. Ramsgate-Ostend is still doable. If you have a car. Or if you take a bicycle. The only other options, like planes and trains would take us to Brussels, cost a lot or be even more inconvenient. We didn't look at coaches, since I hate them. Getting to Ostend looked like something of a major nuisance and since the place we were all going to be meeting is closer to the French border anyway then to Ostend, I decided to try and find a way across to Dunkirk.

I call Ta'Mor. He says he can pick us up in Dunkirk.

The search is repeated. Dover-Dunkirk is not a crossing open to footpassengers. And not to bicycles either.

I call Ta'Mor again. He says he could also pick us up in Calais.

Another search, and at long last we find a way across the channel. Dover-Calais with Hoverspeed, bless their little sea-cats! It's good to know that at least one ferry company is willing to meet the needs of foot-passengers.

What actually happened when it came to the journey, is part of another story to be told in due course.

~*~



A Tale of Footwear Woe
There was a time when I managed to buy shoes that fitted and looked nice relatively easily. I think this happened some time in the late nineties. Alas, it is no more. I saw some shoes I really liked in Clarks. A pair of nubuck ballet-shoe-like summer shoes with some beads on the laces. In the shop they even seemed to fit. I was very pleased and bought them. At home I soon discovered that they squashed my toes.

I decided to take them back and swapped them for a more traditional looking court-shoe. They were still cream-coloured and had a flower-design on the front. But they never quite appealed to me in the same way. On trying them out again at home, it also turned out that they rubbed on my ankle bone.

Back to Clarks again. Tried some more different pairs. Found one I half liked and the fitted more or less but was in an awful colour. At that point I decided to give up. But I still wish that the nice pair from that start had fitted me.

~*~



Traveling on Maundy Thursday
...turned out to be something not particularly clever with hindsight despite the fact that the train was on time and we go some decent seats and arrived at Euston on time. We bought tube passes, which Virgin had cunningly forgotten to send us for the transfer to Victoria station, and then we caught the Victoria line. To say that is was crowded is understating matters. I spent about two stations with a small Japanese man standing on my toes. Then, luckily we arrived at Victoria. Where there was an absence of escalators to the station level.

Somehow the Marquis and I managed to heave our stuff up to the concourse and eventually they informed us of the platform for our train. We found seats fairly promptly and were soon joined by a gang of fourteen year old girls who had been on a trip out together. They were fairly noisy, but not unpleasant and we decided just to put up with their chatter. After all, it wasn't going to be a long journey. Except then we were told that we had to be rerouted via Lewes because there was a dead train in the way further down the line. The girls got worried and we reassured them that it should only be a half hour delay to our arrival time. When the train turned around at Lewes (which it had to to get to B'ton), the girls got worried again. Once again we provided them with the relevant info and they went back to chatting and fooling around. When we finally arrived at B'ton station, the girls scuttled off the train, but not until after they'd thanked us and wish us a pleasant onward journey. We were pleasantly surprised. :-)

We wondered throught B'ton to Churchill Square from where the best bus for our purposes departs every twenty minutes or so and waited. Much to my delight there was space right at the front of the top of the double-decker and we sat watching the traffic below. I guess I still have to make up for the fact that Germany doesn't do double-deckers and so I had to miss out on sitting up top in front when I was a child. *lol*

In the end we arrived only about half-an-hour-late at the Marquis's mum's and spent the rest of the evening chatting and eating sandwiches.

~*~



A Trip to Short and Tall Shops
The Marquis's sister and family are currently rather broke through a series of awkward circumstances. We offered to help them out a bit financially, but they weren't comfortable with that. So my mother came up with the ingenious 'godparent clause'. As a result, we invited the Marquis's sister and her daughter, Woppet, out for a clothes-shopping trip -- quite fortuitous as it seems, as Woppet has suddenly sprung up vertically.

We made our way through a very busy B'ton to Gap Kids, where we let Woppet loose. The first thing she fell in love with was a pair of basketball trainers in denim with little hearts and flowers on the sole and plastic rim. Okay, thought I, those are a definite... Then we spent a fair while searching for things that might be useful and that Woppet liked. Once we had an armful, Woppet went to try everything on. The total haul was impressive, and please both mother and daughter: the trainers, a pair of jeans with pink embroidered hearts on the back pockets, a pair of pink summer trousers with flowery patter all over and embroidered butterflies, a pink t-shirty blouse with ruffs at neck and cuffs, a short cerise pink cardigan that ties at the front, and a purple wrap-around style top (was actually sewn that way) with a bit of lace on the neckline and embroidered flowers.

After the Gap-haul, I dragged everybody on into Long Tall Sally (just a few yards down the road), and bought myself a new skirt (long, brown, tiered crinkle-fabric), a top which looks like a t-shirt over a blouse, and a white embroidered shirt (chosen by the Marquis). The Marquis also picked a spring jacket for me, but I decided not to take... (Should have done - ended up going back for it the next day!)

Then, in some exhaustion, we made our way back to the Marquis's mum's. Woppet rushed off shortly after to put on her new pink ensemble -- she seemed very pleased with it and the Marquis and I were pleased about that! I like taking someone else shopping!

~*~



Of Sunburn and Baseball Caps
On Saturday after the shopping expedition into B'ton the weather was balmy and sunny and the Marquis and I decided to visit his other sister for a chat. We wandered across what used to be a near-by golfcourse. It all turned into a bit of a trip down memory lane for the Marquis and he told me a lot about how things had changed since he'd been a kid in the area.

At the Marquis' sister's we sat in the garden and devoured hot cross buns and chatted awhile. It really was a lovely day. Much sun and warmth. How much so only became apparent when my nose started to tingle in that sunburny way... I purloined some sunblock from the sister before the Marquis and I headed onwards into B'ton to purchase the jacket that I'd liked but not bought on Friday. At the seafront it was much cooler, so I put on my new jacket and we wandered down to the shingle, after a brief detour for the acquisition of an ordinance survey map of the Marquis' hometurf.

When we made it to the beach, I decided that really I needed some protection for my poor tingly nose and we found a souvenir shop that sold baseball caps. And what baseball caps they were! My goodness -- the tat, the pointless, embarrassing rudeness. I refuse to wear a garment that proclaims me to be a slut or any such! The lady in the shop must have heard my expressions of displeasure and found a simple denim cap for me. It looks okay. I wore it for the rest of the day and thanks to it, seem to have got away with only a bit of precipitous nasal tanning rather than a thorough burning.

~*~



A Walk Above
I have to admit that I always think of West S. as a really conurbated sprawl, and then when I go to places from which you can see the Weald laid out below, I am reminded that there is some gorgeous countryside there too. You don't even need to go as far as Devil's Dyke, although I have been there and enjoyed the views on a sunny day with jane_somebody and skordh.

As we returned from our wanderings on the beach, the Marquis and I decided to wander up one of the old footpaths onto the Downs on the opposite of the valley to the Marquis' childhood home. The weather was still mild but cooling down and the sun was swathed in that fine high mist that makes for a sense of dreamscape. I can't remember how long we walked, but I was enjoying the views of the landscape. You could see the valley full of houses laid out below, and the noise from the by-pass drifted over to us in an incessant sussurrus (which I don't know how to spell). But apart from the tops of tall lorries you couldn't see the road at all.

Maybe next time we had to B'ton, we could take our walking boots and savour more of that West S. landscape?

When we returned to Mum-in-laws, we ordered a Chinese take-away (as a late mother's day present) and feasted gloriously. There was so much food! And it was delicious. I know this doesn't really fit in with the title of this update, but I did want to record for poseterity that it was a very pleasant evening with excellent food.

~*~



Whatever happened to Halleluyah?
Easter is usually one of my favourite times of the (church)year -- there is such joy and magic about celebrating the resurrection. I try to call my father if I can't be there to celebrate together with him and one of us will say: "The Lord is risen!" and the other will reply with "He is risen, indeed!" (only we say it in German, of course.) The whole thing is... strong and beautiful.

But this year, things somehow failed entirely to become magical. I had gotten hardly any sleep the night before and the clocks went back to. My back was feeling really awful and I had a very sore head. I did call my family briefly on the mobile and we had a perfectly unobjectionable breakfast and then made our way over to the Marquis's middle sister's again for Easter lunch.

And that's when all sort of got too much. On trying to remove the tea-bag from a mug of fruit tea I had been given, I managed to drop the hot tea-bag on the back of my hand. It hurt - but not that badly - and somehow it was the final straw. I hadn't even realised how awful I was feeling until that moment. I just went and hid in a corner and cried. Stupid thing to do, but I needed to get away from it all.

My in-laws were extremely nice about it and to me and the food was great (lasagne and lemon meringue for desert and chocolate tart), and the rest of the afternoon - until we had to leave for the train - went very nicely with much laughter and conversation. I love my in-laws. They are lovely people and I feel proud to be a part of their family. Especially, because they still like me despite my weird little outbursts.

Later the Marquis's oldest sister and her other half drove us to the station and we took the train home. For once -- I think -- nothing worth reporting occurred on the train back. :-)

~*~



The Dr Who experience!
Even though I have had a thorough education about the phenomenon that is Dr Who mostly at the hands of parrot_knight (whom I would believe without hesitation if he claimed to be a timelord himself!), and even though I have seen a few episodes here and there with various different incarnations of the Doctor (I think they even used to show Tom Baker episodes on German TV when I was at that 'Dr-Who-age'), I had never yet seen any Dr Who 'live' as it was first broadcast by the BBC. But now that Dr Who is back on, I have finally had that elusive opportunity to share in the Dr Who experience!

I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode. It struck me as incredibly British and I was particularly amused by the Dr's assertion that 'Many planets have a north!' when Rose asked him why he sounded like a Northerner! Rose also really appeals to me. What a fun idea to have a Chav heroine who goes from being stuck in a rut to saving the day and going off travelling with the Dr!

(Unfortunately, the Marquis and I then promptly managed to miss the next two episodes of Dr Who, because our video recorder -- set well in advance -- developed an new and idiosyncratic relationship with time. Seems somehow almost appropriate, eh? I do hope we manage to get hold of someone's video recordings at some point! (Parrot Knight? Did you record it?))

Either way, I am now officially a Dr Who fan! ;-)

~*~



The Garden's Awake!
The Marquis and I have a beautiful mature Victorian garden in our care, which has been lying brown and silent over the wintermonths as if asleep. When we came back from our stay in B'ton, however, the garden had clearly woken up. Weeds, tree blossom, grass... Beautiful! But also spelling out the message that our work is cut out for us for the next eight months or so!

We didn't waste much time, borrowed Berry's extension lead and cut the grass, and dug out (some) of the weeds and next thing we knew we'd spent most of the afternoon in the garden. Even though there is still an awful lot to do, it did feel good to have made a small start...

(At the time of writing this, some further work has occurred, but nowhere near as much as I had hoped we'd have done by now. *laughs*)

~*~



More of Chrestomanci
It's very rare that I manage to read a book in less than a week -- Conrad's Fate I devoured. It didn't hurt that the pages were fairly small and that the print was nice and large, but most of all it was just so much fun to read some new DWJ again. I enjoyed her turn of phrase and the sometimes absurd pictures she painted throughout this book. I liked the characterisation, even if some of it was rather over the top. I enjoyed revisiting the old DWJ themes of people not being who they claim to be, of characters in strange and surprising relationships to each other, and of worlds in which Magic is essentially order of the day. In some ways, Conrad's Fate isn't an outstanding DWJ that will haunt me in the way that for example Fire and Hemlock does, but it was great fun, and full of the DWJish delights that draw me to most of her writing.

Enough of this non-review... I liked the book and am pleased I bought it. It helped me deal with much backpain over the Easterweekend.
~*~


Now fully updated! (22.4.05)

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Oh, I'd seen the DWJ in the shop a few weeks ago, but forgot to mention it to you! Let us know what it's like?

Short version is: I liked it and it reminded me of the other Chrestomanci stories. The ending was so-so in typical DWJ style.

Longer version will go directly in the entry above when I get round to it. ;-)

If you like I'll lend you my copy when we next see each other.

Well, I'm glad you made it. It was still better than my hovercraft journey to see you in Belgium, which just came to mind for the first time in years. It was, according to the tannoy, an exceptionally choppy crossing. I felt vile. I was going to be sick. I wasn't sick! Hurrah!

Then, just as we'd come into dock, everything had powered down and people were just about to get up to leave, BLEEEEEEEUUUUUUUURGH. So I had to sit there cradling handfuls of barf while people pushed past me and the hapless couple sitting beside me on the inside seats pretended not to be suffocated by the stink until everyone else had got off, the hostess could get to me to assist me and they we able to get past.

Oh no! That sounds like a horrible experience. I'm glad you actually made it to our place after that and didn't die of embarrassment and horribility!

My apologies for bringing such unpleasant memories to mind!

Oh, I didn't mean you to be dismayed by it! It's quite amusing at 10 years' distance.

I guess so. :-) I often feel that way about things that were very upsetting at the time. Like my glasses breaking on my first ever trip to England...

Hi NL. I'm enjoying the write up in instalments! I confess that I did like sitting at the top front of the double decker bus when I was a kid so I guess that was a benefit of growing up in England. I was fascinated by the periscope type thing the driver used to see what everyone was doing - I would peer down it to see the driver's eyes reflected below. Second confession - I still really enjoy sitting at the top front of the bus! Some of the new London buses have huge bulbous front windows with a bigger and better view than ever before. Great for seeing the sights while getting somewhere, and free with my travelcard, but so slow compared with the tube.

P.S. surely Germany & Belgium must have had their compensations in terms of cool public transport. I have a blurred memory of riding on a bizarre urban monorail thingy somewhere in NW Germany as a child!

Nice to hear that you are enjoying the write-up. I guess the installments are useful because you don't see a huge screen and think: "Oh no! I don't have time for that!" :-)

I think top fronts of buses are great! I don't take the bus very often, so when I get on a doubledecker and there's space at the front... Yay! I'll have to check out the bulbous buses.

The German public transport delights include long buses with bendy bits in the middle, doubledecker trains and trams. The Belgians also have trams. I like those, too.

London is filling up with bendybuses. The other day I saw a bus, stuck in traffic, whose front was on Tottenham Court Road, and its back was on Oxford Street.

Bastard things also delight in parking across pedestrian crossings.

OK, this is probably because I have taken caffeine pills and am not really in the driving seat any more, but now I want to see you in a baseball cap with "slut" on it. The reason being I think you have more presence than the baseball cap and would deconstruct it admirably. Of course, sadly, the general public of B'ton might not pick up on that...

Of Sunburn and Baseball Caps

It were all fields when I was young! ^_~

It's East S dear not West, that starts about two miles further in that direction!

That partly explains my reaction of huh? To me, West S always seems very rural, all Downs and rolling farmland and pretty villages: lovely walking country.

*laughs*

As I was saying to the Marquis -- there are two possible reasons for my use of the term West S. Error or pseudonym. ;-)

My apologies if I have cause confusion. :-)

Well, there are two possible reasons for me calling it West S.

1)I mixed them up.

2)I used it as a pseudonym.

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