Don't worry, Kathryn, everything's okay. Well, things are a little...fraught. But okay.
I loved meeting you in August! Ladies and gentlemen, I can report that Kathryn's a good egg-- all the way through, not just in parts. We spent a day in Coventry together at the Cathedral. In the new Cathedral, we even (shh-- it's not really allowed) got to go up above the wood canopy on the catwalk to look straight across at the face of Jesus on the tapestry. It was amazing. He looks so austere from below, but when you're twenty feet away at eye level, his eyes are warm and kind. And looking straight down at the "Light of Christ" Piper window on the way to the tapestry is also pretty impressive.
K, thanks so much for the expedition and the good conversation. I forgot to mention then that I read Peter Abelard because of the quote you posted long ago from the book. It was fantastic-- a new favorite-- and I'm not ashamed to admit I was crying buckets for the last third of the book.
So yes, I've been away. I spent most of August in Istanbul and London, travelling with friends from college. I've never taken a long holiday before; I never had the money while in college or the time at my former job. It was so great to be away from my town and my job for a few weeks. I need to make this a yearly thing!
And I need to move to London. I love London. I played the tourist far less there than I did in Istanbul-- taking almost no pictures, visiting only one or two museums, taking in just a couple of shows-- because I was trying to fool myself into thinking I lived there. And it worked so well that back in Washington, I feel just the tiniest bit like a stranger.
Highlights of the trip, just because I'm stressed and need to think about happy things:
- Just being in the city-- going to coffee shops, seeing movies, running errands, finding good restaurants, walking around.
- Seeing the new version of Schiller's Mary Stuart at the Donmar Warehouse. I am a huge Elizabeth I fan and Harriet Walter was breathtakingly good playing her.
- Shopping at Liberty. I got Fiori di Capri and a lovely Liberty scarf. And I felt tremendously cultured just wandering around.
- The Imperial War Museum. Much better at showing the ambiguities of war than I would have expected. And having finally finished Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy this year, seeing Siegfried Sassoon's medical report from Craiglockhart was a particularly nice intersection of life and literature.
- The War Rooms, the subterranean hive where Churchill and his top people spent some of the war. My favorite bit was the world's first hot line to the White House, disguised as a restroom off-limits to all but Churchill. There's even a little "Engaged" sign.
- Sunday morning church at St. Martin-in-the-Fields and Choral Evensong at Westminster.
- Hampstead Heath. We stayed nearby and had a couple of picnics and rambles up there.
- Finally almost understanding cricket! I had three different people explain it to me and watched the fourth series of the Ashes. Now the cricket passage in Murder Must Advertise makes sense.
- Berry-picking and lots of cappucinos in outdoor cafes over the Bank Holiday weekend.
I'm homesick for a place I've never lived. But I know I'll go back before too long.