Whew! Made it in and out of the supermarket. Everything here looks like everything at home except it’s just a little bit different. So dishwashing liquid is in the same shape bottles but says “washing up liquid”. Cookies are biscuits — many of them are “digestive biscuits” which is actually a bit disturbing. Am I going to need a great deal of digestive assistance while here? And on the keyboard, several things are in different locations: “, @, . Even the people look mysteriously like the ones from home, yet when they open their mouths and speak, you are hard-pressed to understand what they are saying.
It’s very strange.
I keep forging ahead like everything is as normal, then am gobsmacked by having done it all wrong. Like looking the wrong way in traffic. Like approaching someone on the sidewalk and having them look at you oddly when you move to the right. Like grasping round doorknobs to turn them (they don’t turn, they are for pushing and pulling only). Like plugging in your phone to charge and then finding it un-charged in the morning because outlets here also have a switch for turning them on and off. I even made a telephone call this morning. Lovely people on the other end. Only understood one out of every three words they said. Considering traveling to the UK? Let me tell you, years of watching PBS does NOT prepare you. This is definitely a foreign country.
Anyway, back to the story. To make this long one short, I’ve been able to contact Castle Creavie, near Kirkudbright, to tell them what happened. They’ve asked if I’d like to come on the 11th/12th of June and stay through the first week of July since there will be much to do with the sheep and with preparations for the big yearly party on the 25th. Whew! That’s about four weeks coverage right there. Then, I heard back from one of the farms who’s WWOOFer canceled for the first two weeks of June. They are happy for me to come out by, say, Wednesday. That leaves me with Monday and Tuesday of this week to arrange. Whew again! The new farm, Ardunan Farm (find it at http://www.ardunanfarm.com) is located near Glasgow. I suppose I will travel from here to Glasgow and stay in the city for a couple days before heading there. The owners gave me directions this morning on the phone. I will need to email them and ask them to please write them out for me. I didn’t even try to follow what they were saying. Something about this station and that bus and stop number. Yikes.
So, I’ve been afraid to be too far away from the computer or even to really relax since I arrived in Birmingham. At first, when I got Donna’s email, I was calm as a cucumber. I really felt it would all just come together fine. Then, in the intervening hours, I began to feel like “things”, along with everything else in the UK, might look like they’d be okay but in reality they could be completely wrong. Or I could be missing some vital piece of information that everyone else understands and I don’t. I’ve held it together pretty well for someone who’s BIG TRIP just fell apart. However, when I pulled out my laundry and all my nice white shirts were yellow, I reached the end of my tolerance. I burst into tears.
Thank goodness Rich and Cat aren’t here. They are the folks who own this house – a nice young couple. Their house is in what looks to me like a very middle class, suburban neighborhood of Birmingham. The houses are quite tiny in comparison to ours. They are attached row house with tiny driveways in front (for their tiny cars) and tiny yards out back. Downstairs you enter into a living room with a steep staircase to one side. You can go through the living room to the kitchen. Behind the kitchen is a tiny sunroom where they have their interim kitchen and then you’re out to the back yard. Upstairs there are two tiny bedrooms and a tiny bathroom. Because these are rowhouses, attached to their neighbors on the sides, there is only light from windows on the front and back of the house. I’m not sure if it’s because of being under construction or just that I’m not used to things but the house is FREEZING. Cold, cold, cold. I’m in jeans and my fleece pullover and still feel chilled. Rich and Cat have an elderly cat who is about as old as my sister and brother-in-law’s cat (and she has the same yowl, much to my chagrin). She really doesn’t need anyone to stay with her while they are away for the weekend. But thank goodness they are nervous enough about her health to want someone here. I was down to zero pairs of clean underwear and the very end of my wits. They don’t keep coffee in the house, but they do have a bed, a kitchen, a bathroom, a washing machine (no dryer, so do laundry while it’s not raining or you’ll be sorry), and a laptop. I’m grateful for every one of those items.
Rich and Cat just moved into this house a month ago. They are renovating it. There are building supplies everywhere. The kitchen is out on the back porch. There is exactly one place to sit (the living room couch). There is even a cast iron tub taking up most of the floor space in the guest bedroom. With things in this state, I certainly don’t feel like I’m imposing. They warned me and asked if I’d mind the state of the house. I said “Certainly not!” It’s not exactly comfortable. But I’m grateful to be here. Attaching a few pictures of my present digs, inside and out, the neighborhood and nearby allotments where I see folks growing vegetables and flowers they’ve no room for in their tiny yards.
Going to go switch the laundry, make some tea and then I’ll start writing about the Cotswolds. Finally!