It’s been a whirlwind of a week. Here’s a quick rundown of events.
Monday – September 14 – A pleasant drive to New York’s JFK with my partner-man, John. There was a longish wait, but that’s okay, rather early than late, I say. The plane left just a tad early than the 5:30 pm time so we arrived in Dublin early as well; a mind-numbing 4:30 am. That 5 hour difference makes a big difference in coming the to the UK. Waited for the Stobart Air hop to Bristol at 6:30 and arrived in the beloved country before 8 am. I got my car, no small feat in itself, and started toward Glastonbury in a driving rain.
When I arrived at InnGlastonbury, my home for the next 100 days, I was greeted by one of their lovely womyn who keep the place clean and tidy. [Her name escapes me, even though we chatted for a long while. Y’all know my short-comings.] Once I got the luggage into place and was able to shut and lock the door, I face-planted into one of the lush beds for some much needed shut eye.
I roused long enough to run our to the local Tesco [TESCO!] to get some groceries and sundries for the evening. I am staying true to my dietary regime that has given me good results so far: gluten-free and lactose-free [except for my coffee milk]. I purchased a one-person sized “George Forman TD” so I can eat good food with frying. I also got a french-press and some very good fair trade Sumatra coffee. [coffee, coffee, coffee!]
When I got home, I ate, drank some coffee and crashed again. Until . . .
Tuesday – September 15 – At this point, I’m not sure when I even got out of bed. I can tell you this. Everything hurt. Oh, I do remember being wide awake from 2-4 am and calling John to let him know I was safe and secure. I think I also tapped out a few greetings on Facebook, but I’d have to check on that.
My main mission for Tuesday afternoon was to find a couple of used tables for my little apartment. InnG is lovely, but for a long haul stay I decided I needed some creature comforts. As usual, the perfect pieces appeared to me as soon as I went hunting. Firstly, I found the Weston Hospice Care Group’s 2nd hand store. The two tables I had envisioned were sitting there waiting. Both for L20. One is a 30″ x 30″ solid pine coffee table. The other is the an old-fashioned flip-top table with brass latch and red leather inlay. It is the perfect height for doing this typing without tiring and makes a nice dining space as well. Then I went on to a little place called Bits and Pieces and the other thing I had envisioned was waiting there for me. A wooden stool [again old-fashioned with turned wood legs and woven thatch top] that I am using as a hassock to put my feet up. Ahhh!
I made a couple of other stops, but that was the extent of my furniture purchasing. I can now tell my fellow Americans what is difficult to find in the UK. Clothes hangers. Yep, clothes hangers are something that is in every store in the US is really hard to get here. Tesco, Asda, Sainbury’s, Boots’ – no one sold clothes hangers. I decided to look another day.
Once back home, I unpacked all of my creature comforts, ate and once again crashed.
Wednesday – September 16 – The work begins. The day dawned clear and chilly. It had been raining nearly non-stop since my arrival. That just makes it easier to sleep, for me. So, I had to set my alarm so as not to sleep too late.
I made my 11 am appointment with Nic Phillips and Susan Storm at Glastonbury Abbey. They had requested that I come by to have a face-to-face chat about my project and how the Abbey might fit into it. I sent a Letter of Inquiry back in early August to several of the primary venues in town where I want to work and gather data with my survey instruments. They were cautious because they envisioned my tapping visitors to the Abbey on the shoulder and accosting them with questions and requests to fill out forms. Of course, that is not what I have in mind at all.
In order to get data that I feel is authentic for the project, I’ve always felt that I should sit back and let whoever wants to come to me. No pressure. No pushing. In the end, Susan, who is Head of Operations, decided that she liked the project, thought it was well thought out and valuable research, and that she would like to see the Abbey involved in the work. I have sent on the .pdf of the poster I have designed for informative purposes and I am waiting for the final okay from the Director of the Abbey to have it printed and to start. Nic and Susan liked the idea of being in the Abbey’s museum once a week from Oct. 1 through Dec. 23. Continuity, as in many things, is key.
I was also introduced to the staff at the Abbey who take care of the collections. I am invited to go and read other pieces of research, one history dissertation in particular [more on that later in the year!], and be in the little library. The offices are housed in the old Gatehouse. Parts of this building are the original 14th century and walking into the space off of Magdalene Street is breathtaking. The age and depth of the place is awe inspiring just as a building. Ancient worn stone spiral stairs lead up to the library level. The more deeply stepped stairs lead on up to office space. Putting my feet on the stones, where 7 centuries of people have already trodden puts one in a different space. Even Nic said that when he first arrived for his job that he did a lot of staring in wonder and appreciation of the actual space. On every wall at the ground level are shelves of hundreds of pieces of Abbey artifacts. Every one is numbered in hopes of returning to its proper place in the stone ruins of the grounds. There are ancient fireplaces, long out of use, windows with I don’t know how old glass, still in use, and something new to rest the eye upon where one looks. I really don’t have the right words. But, Marvelous.
Coming out of the Abbey offices into the bright sunlight, I felt a success. [Let’s keep our fingers crossed!] So, I wandered around the corner up the High Street on the way to Burns the Bread for a gluten-free loaf! Yummy! I was of course distracted from my mission because I saw that a friend of mine, Katie Player, was doing readings in the Goddess Temple Shop, so I went to find her. My great luck! She was having coffee next door at the Blue Note Cafe with two more womyn I love, Katrin Knuepfer and Angie Twydal. We were all happy to see each other and had great hugs and “great to see you’s” before they invited me to join them for a bit. Lovely to have friends.
Thursday – September 17 – I must admit that by Thursday, the full weight of the trip and moving in for three months hit me with full force. I was knackered. A British word that I more than identify with, knackered means “extremely tired or worn-out.” And so I was. I stayed abed most of the day only coming out for sustenance. I talked to John for a little bit, but he’s feeling the weight of my being away and counting the days already.
Friday – September 18 – The day of rest and relaxation was well worth it as I came to on Friday ready to get up and get at it. Some of you who are close to me know that as a self-indulgence I routinely go get my hair washed and braided [plaited here in England] once a week. It has grown down to my waist now and is very difficult to wash myself. Last year [August 2014] I discovered a wonderful all organic salon in which the service is top-shelf. It’s called Natural Roots. I had the most wonderful experience on this day with Katie. I got a scalp massage with patchouli oil [heavenly!] and then the most luxurious hair wash with their wonderful line of product. Then, Katie did a marvelous simple plait. I’m on day 3 and it is still holding up! All of this for L10! Katie has also offered me some clothes hangers, which I will go back and check on Monday! They don’t have wardrobes and the hangers just sit around. Lucky me. So I’ve made a regular appointment every Wednesday to have the same done. What a pleasure.
After feeling so refreshed and rejuvenated, I made my way, finally, up to Earthfare, the organic store on the High Street. I purposely waited to buy my teas and herbs until I made it to this wonderful store. I purchased Darjeeling, some English Breakfast, chamomile flowers, and lavender buds. At this moment, I’m enjoying a cuppa the chamomile and lavender on this rather foggy Sunday.
I also decided that I would go to Wells and do a bit of shopping [there were still a few things I hadn’t found: HANGERS]. I’m sad to say that the Cooperative store in Wells is no more. I understand that the landowners decided to double the rent and the Coop didn’t agree, so they left. Such a shame. There is a lovely small Coop in Glastonbury, but the one in Wells was big with lots of choice. Sigh. So, instead I treated myself to a bite to eat [my first meal in a restaurant] at Beah just off the High Street in Wells. I had a perfect omelet with gammon [ham] and mushrooms and a side salad. An Elderflower cordial finished it off. Lovely meal. I’ll go back!
Just half a block off the High Street, I walked down to look straight at the Wells Original Factory Shop. Everything else I needed so far as both creature comforts and some kitchen and bedding necessities were there and quite reasonable! [No HANGERS, though. Grrrr.] Still, I got some items I really needed and couldn’t manage to bring from the USA home.
After such a great morning, I decided it was time to go and pay a visit to my dear friends, Anne and Melvyn, at the Nut Tree Farm, Stoughton Cross, Wedmore. If you ever need or want to visit the Somerset countryside, this is absolutely the place to stay! The only reason that I’m not is that I needed to be in center of Glastonbury and able to cook my own meals for this stint of fieldwork. Anne and Melvyn are great friends and they greeted me as warmly as ever. We’ve [Margaret Meggs and I] been staying with them since our first trip here in 2006. It’s really like having family to come home to, and that is a wonderful feeling! I look forward to many visits and time spent with them during my stay here.
Now I did complain to Anne and Melvyn of my hanger dilemma. They had the answer!! [Of course they would, as having a B & B they have made sure there is hanging space and quite a number of hangers. There were only 6 in my wardrobe at home in Glastonbury.] The answer to the question? Proper Job. And it’s only a 2-minute walk down the street from me! Perfection. I bought them out of flocked hangers, but I still hope to pick up a few more from Katie on Monday! Now, I am unpacked, put away, and feeling really “home.”
Saturday – September 19 – Faces of the Black Madonna Workshop with Katie Player and Nic Phillips – 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. Well I’m going to leave this description to its own post as so much wonderful stuff happened throughout the day yesterday. So Stay Tuned on that!
Sunday – September 20 – And now I’m back to today. A quiet and cloudy/cool Sunday. I have not been out of the house this morning, yet, but I think I might get myself together and go to the countryside for a while this afternoon. Depends on the rain, really, as I’m not up for any wetness today! I’ll be back with a full description of the Black Madonna workshop and some pictures!
And the living/dining/kitchen at InnG!