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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Our First Days in England

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Our First Days in England

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out of the light star
We are safely arrived in Tynemouth, England!

Saturday afternoon, we departed for our parents' house from Manchester, where we were being driven to the airport. It was harder saying goodbye to the Goldens than expected; they are being "babysat" by a family friend for the ten days that we're gone. We were all giddy on the way to the airport ... well, except for Dad, but Dad gets excited over few things, so that wasn't much of a surprise. We were flying out of BWI and got through security and such with no problems. The flight departed at 9:30 from Baltimore straight to London, and it went perfectly. After growing accustomed to American airlines and their tendency to nickle-and-dime every little need on the flight (we were joking that we expect sometime soon to be told to fasten our seatbelts ... for a $2 charge), it was refreshing to get food, beverages, and movies for free.

Unfortunately, I was sitting in the middle seat of the middle row of the 767. I had Bobby on my left and a stranger on my right. My plan was to read, check out a movie (they had the new Narnia, yay!) and then get at least a few hours of sleep, but when one person wasn't shifting around, then the other was. I fell asleep once ... and two hours later, heard some jerk exclaim loudly that we had only an hour and fifty minutes left on the flight. The jerk, of course, turned out to be Dad. :^/

So much for that idea.

From London, we navigated through Heathrow to an hour-long flight north to Newcastle. We waited for our bags and could see Sharon and Kirsty just beyond the door ... and that was where the first hiccup on the trip occurred.

Mom and Dad's two suitcases came off. Bobby's and my big backpack came off. We waited ... and waited ... and waited some more for our red suitcase. Finally, an employee circulated around, telling everyone that all the bags were off the plane, so if we didn't have ours, we need to report to the desk in the corner.

Our red suitcase, of course, had

  • all of our clothes,
  • all of our toiletries,
  • and most of my schoolbooks, including my cinderblock-sized Norton Anthology and the university-produced "textbook" for my modern fantasy course.


Bobby was told that Heathrow had already contacted Newcastle International that some bags would be sent up on the next flight. Hopefully, we were told, ours would be on it. As the night wore on, though, all I could think about was all that was in that suitcase that would be irretrievably gone if the bag happened to be lost entirely. I do not own a lot of possessions, and those that I do own are things that I really like and plan to keep and use, hopefully forever. I had jewelry in that bag that, while no single piece was worth a great deal of money, I would weep to lose: jewelry I've been wearing since middle school, the Viking pendant hrymfaxe gave me, years of items bought one at a time at the boutiques in Ocean City ... each piece was special to me in some way. Not to mention my books, meaning that I'd have to email my professors and ask for extensions on my assignments, which I loathe to do more than almost anything (being as I despised those classmates, in school, who always whined for extensions ... and then won the awards at graduation *ahem* but I digress). Not to mention my clothes, which included most of my cold-weather clothes and my hiking boots.

It was not a good start to a much-anticipated holiday.

On the plus side, we did get to meet Kirsty's dad, Joe, one-third of our "UK family" who we've been looking to meet for ... well, two-and-a-half years now, since Sharon and Kirsty got married. Joe took my parents and Sharon in his car while Bobby, Kirsty, and I rode the Metro back to their flat.

It was pouring rain when we got off the Metro. It was hard to see through the water dripping off of my eyelashes, but I did see enough to know that Tynemouth is gorgeous: a seaside town like something off a postcard with the castle and priory right at the end of the street. My sister and sister-in-law's flat is gorgeous as well; Bobby and I have decided that we could be perfectly happy living here! We also got to at last meet our niece, Sharon and Kirsty's little black-and-white dog Maggie.

We had a traditional supper of fish and chips--well, savoury and chips for me--and then started to settle in for the night, Bobby and I in borrowed clothes, of course. I was frankly exhausted. I'd slept about two minutes the night before, on top of jet lag. I was falling asleep wherever I sat, embarrassingly enough.

Luckily, around 8:30, there was a ring at the bell ... and our suitcase was delivered! This was such a relief; in my mind--what my tired brain could spare--I was already trying to arrange life without the things in that suitcase. I felt, with this, that I could finally enjoy our holiday.

The next morning, I slept very late. Late enough that Bobby had time to walk around Tynemouth by himself and he and Kirsty went to the bakery and post office. Eep. However, since I was squeezing two night's sleep into one, I didn't feel too bad.

And it was still raining like crazy. Bobby and I have a list of things we'd like to do, having learned the hard way that planning is often futile, when rain (or lost suitcases!) come in the way of the schedule. We'd hoped to see the Tynemouth Castle and Priory, so when the rain slowed down, we headed down the street, only to find that it was closed because the rain had been dangerously excessive even for stereotypically "damp" Britain! We wandered around the grounds, though, and still managed to spend a ridiculous amount of time "nerding over stones," as I like to say. At the least, it was something to stand in the doorway and imagine all the feet that had graced those stones during the castle's long history: to imagine an era long past where, instead of tires sloshing across the not-so-distant street, we would have heard clinking armor and clopping hooves and an English spoken quite different than ours (or even the "Geordie" English spoken in these parts!) One of the amazing things about Europe, I think, that I miss so terribly in the United States, is the depth of history here: where something "old" by the standards of our own local histories is not necessarily unimpressive here but is certainly less so; it has a feel of being newer when set beside a castle that is one thousand years old.

After seeing what we could of the castle, we headed down to the sea. It was very angry today, not surprising given the wind and rain of the past few days, and the waves were breaking far off shore. We saw the Hollingworth monument, a "new" piece of history from the 19th century. There was a footpath leading along the Tyne River, so we took it and watched a ship being drawn in by a tugboat and marveled over the surfers and just ambled until we reached the end of the path about a mile later, then climbed up to the Tynemouth quayside and strolled around there a bit before turning back. Unfortunately, when we were about halfway back, it started to rain harder, and by the time we'd reached the castle and priory again, it was pouring, and we were climbing up a hill into the wind, which meant rain in our faces. I discovered the purpose of my eyebrows today! They kept most of the rain from running into my eyes; my nose, apparently, is a convenient place for the water on the rest of my face to run and drip off the tip. We were soaked by the time we were back to Sharon and Kirsty's flat.

I attempted to read some of Thomas Hoby's "The Courtier" (one of my assignments this week for Beowulf to 18th Century), without much success, and then we met Kirsty's parents over at their favorite Italian restaurant, Il Forno.

It was a great time. Our families have hit it off immediately, which is good, since ours tends to be a little silly and eccentric. Kirsty's parents are wonderful (we will meet her sister next week in Stirling), and the restaurant was quite good as well. We came back for coffee and tea at the flat, then Bobby, Sharon, Kirsty, my mom, and I walked down to see the lighthouse at night. And that brings me to this moment, sitting on the floor with Pengolodh Lord of Gondolin and typing a journal entry into Notepad. :)

Of course, no one clicks on posts like this to hear about lost luggage and the purpose of my eyebrows (though Elf cookies to anyone who actually read my blathering!) but for the pictures, and I would not want to disappoint, so ...

Tynemouth

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Tynemouth Castle and Priory

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Looking out from the castle onto Front Street ...

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The castle door ...

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Seige that!


The moat ...

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Collingworth Monument

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The priory through the castle portcullis ...

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The Angry Sea

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Yes, they surf in Tynemouth (brrrrrr!)

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Lighthouse

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  • Heathrow is such a pain in the butt when it comes to anything involving luggage. Booo Heathrow...

    Tynemouth looks nice - I've never actually been there, but that's a nice castle! Lovely ramparts - if the weather was nice and sunny it looks like a delightful place to have a walk and picnic!
  • OMG! I am so jealous that I can barely respond. I am crazy about England and those pictures are to die for! I hope you realize how really fortunate you are.

    Hey, what's a little rain. I expect that in England. It is raining, as far as I can tell, for the next three days in NYC (tropical storm--does not feel tropical at all). Fortunately under the current circumstances, I am not that close to the ocean--a couple of miles at least.

    On lost luggage: I have had my share of incidents over my long and well-traveled life. I now carry-on all deeply valued items, toiletries and one change, if possible. The big heavy books are always a problem. Too heavy not to check.

    So happy that you posted these pics. Hope you find the time again while you are there.


  • Ack - glad you got the baggage back, sorry to hear the trip started out so unfortunately. As for the weather - get out the raincoats and do your exploring that way! :D I've heard and seen very little except rain during my own England holiday (now wishing I could have gone later so we could meet up), but that was in no way detrimental to it... and if you're touring old castles and the like, it's very arhmospheric, as that last picture of the priory proves. Wonderful shot! :)

    Which also reminds me that I must do my own holiday picspam...
  • Rain, rain and more rain - welcome to England! :P

    Glad you got your suitcase back - that's something I dread every time I get off a plane! (I probably heard your plane come in - I live in ear-shot of Heathrow! :P)

    Enjoy your holiday, I've never been to Tynemouth but it looks lovely.
  • Of course they surf in Tynemouth. There are people in the world who will jump into the frigid waters of Lake Michigan on New Year's Day, so of course there will be people who will surf in Tynemouth in early September.

    And airlines always seem to know which is the most important bag of a set when they're trying to figure out which one to lose. I'm impressed that the airport delivered, though. When Southwest misplaced my bag back in December, the airport did not deliver, and we had to go up and retrieve it our own selves.

    The photos are lovely -- you have a nice sense of image, so I always enjoy seeing your pictures of things. The gray rainy day does give an extra oomph of character to crumbly old ruins.

    What exactly was the "savoury" that you had in place of the fish with your chips? (Or, considering that this is British food, do I even want to know?)
  • Actually, I like your ramblings, they're always interesting. Those are gorgeous pics. I know very little about Tynemouth, but now I can see how lovely it is.

    So glad you got your bag back!
  • Thanks for sharing a bit of our country I've never visited.
    I'm glad your case turned up.
    I'm afraid our English weather is often only good for ducks!
  • What fabulous photos! I love the "angry sea" and the lighthouse in the mist. Also the "nerding over stones" as indicated by those great pics. The stonework in your photos calls to mind this fictional place:



    I expect the artist derived his inspiration from structures he had seen. :^)

    Tynemouth looks beyond wonderful! So have you found the favored local* yet?

    Looking forward to more photos and your "travelogue" here on LJ. What a HUGE relief to have your luggage reappear!

    *the pub, that is. Ours was The Dolphin in Thorpeness (between Southwold & Aldeburgh). Adnams ale...*drool*
  • WOW, the photos are gorgeous, honey! Woo!

    Thanks oodles for posting them--- I always feel as if I am traveling vicariously through my flist!

    <3
  • Glad to hear that you didn't lose your luggage after all.

    Thanks for sharing all these awesome pictures!
  • Oh the so famed Heathrow! I am so glad your luggage turned up within a day because, a dear friend of mine lost her luggage (and that of her family) between the range of 2 weeks to 2 months. But I can imagine the stress and the thought of beloved pieces gone *hugs*

    I couldn't help to think, if this is your first taste of historical buildings in Europe, wait until you see my city. I'd probably lose you and Bobby there for days! But you're going to gorgeous Scotland so I bet you guys get your fill for years to come! :c)

    I always love the sea in all her glory (from calm to enraged), although it feels rather cleansing when she is in this state. Have a fab time dear and I hope to read more of your journey! *big hug*
  • Excellent pictures - I love the castle in the mist!

    Heathrow is notorious for lost lugguage on connecting flights :/ I'm glad they got yours sorted out.

    (No doubt the weather will also be wet in Scotland. That is why they have whisky ;P)
  • I have to admit that Oshun's comment made me giggle ... when my first thought was, "Yeah, they got some nice real English rain over there ..."

    *sniggers*

    I'm so glad the suitcase showed up so quickly. That would have been major suckage, had it been well and truly lost.

    Enjoy your holidays!
  • Lovely pictures, especially the priory in the mist and the lighthouse and the waves. Was the priory destroyed when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and all that?
    I hope the weather improves - things look even nicer in the sun.
  • Congratulations! You've been Heathrow-ed! Thank goodness your luggage didn't take any extra journeys by itself - I remember what a nightmare it was when I was separated from my suitcase for a couple of hours after a flight once.
  • Woooow!!! What absolutely gorgeous pictures! Ancient castles, monuments, lighthouses- man, I wanna go there! And hurrah for the luggage retrieval, it would have been beyond terrible if had gotten lost.
  • Wow, Tynemouth looks like a place I might like! Even with all the rain and fog and stuff. It makes it look so very very stereotypically British!

    Anyway, I've been back from Florence since about 5pm yesterday and I don't like being back at all ;(. It's so unfair that Florence is really one of those places that seem to have gotten it all: The art and culture, the laid-back way of life, the good food and the wine, the pretty landscape and the nice weather until well into Octobre (well, it was raining really bad on Saturday and Sunday but apart from that...). Well, you'll read more about that when I get around to posting on my vacation! Perhaps I'll even do the work of scanning some of my photos (not all though... I took around 150, I think!).

    But first of all I have to second your flying troubles! When I left Frankfurt last sunday (that seems so long ago though it was only one week!) our plane first was undergoing additional checks because of "technical problems" (which makes you go "ooops!" while waiting at the gate), then we were told it wasn't possible to fly with that plane and they had to get a new one to they didn't have any idea if there would be one available within the next few hpurs (which makes you go "ooops" once more because you start to worry about your hotel reservation). After waiting for nearly two hours (I should have been in Italy by that time!) we were lucky and got a new plane coming in from Hamburg for our flight. On the flight someone else had occupied my window seat and because I was too tired to argue I simple took the one in the aisle. Which let to me not being able to see anything but the cabin throughout the whole flight (because the plane was incredibly small and narrow with huge wings that totally blocked the few for anyone not sitting right at the window). Also, some pieces of luggage hadn't been loaded though fortunately my little red suitcase was not among them (I'm always totally anxious for my luggage on flights!). And then yesterday on our flight back we were also but one and a half hour late though nobody ever told us why (Italian laissez-faire, I ask myself?). Though we flew in a big curve right over Florence and I could see everything from above as if in a satellite photo! That was majorly cool though it made the goodbye somewhat harder... :)

    Being in historical places is something special I think. In Florence I visited the Medici graves in San Lorenzo and it was so impressice because it makes you somehow grasp for the first time that nobody has made Lorenzo and Giuliano up, that they were actually real people and all. That simply left me without words :-D. But well, you'll be able to read more about that soon, I think... (and I wrote you a shiny postcard!).
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