Archive for January, 2003

January 27th, 2003

» England

In the cool, grey, misting afternoon the front glass walls of the coffee shop are opaque with steam. A child’s small finger is tracing through the condensation, flashes of his face appearing through the curved trail he draws on the glass. Across the street a bakery displays fresh bread, the dark crust split to reveal its warm insides. Thick legs of lamb pale with fat hang in the butcher’s window. Fresh flowers spill red and orange and yellow toward the sidewalk. An old man pushes an umbrella slowly open and lifts it over his head while behind him a woman slows to inspect a crate of fresh fruit, her white hair capped in clear plastic.

January 20th, 2003

» used books and the reigning fork

Today we wandered down lots of side alleyways. Or, more appropriately, I hared wildly down every unfamiliar turn I came across and poor Stephanie trooped along after me. In addition to taking us on some very round-about paths towards Woolworths (which we never actually found again before we were distracted by Sayer’s and went to the park to eat), it brought us to a little district of really cheap shops.

This was, of course, after Kitchen Krafts, where our six day quest for forks finally drew to a close. I spent an atrocious £1,80 on a fork that looks exactly like the ones I have at home, except with a cream handle instead of navy blue. Oh well, I thought. It’s worth it just to finally have a fork. We exited the store in mild triumph.

That was before we found the cheap stores. First we stumbled upon an entire mountain of used books. The whole district of shops was under one roof, and though all of them had back and side walls, some didn’t have front walls — they were just open, very market-style. This store’s front walls were made of stacked used books. Lots of them were romance novels, and most of the rest were horror or mystery, though there was a decent amount of scifi/fan and a few newer fiction titles. So Steph and I both bought the same book — yes, we’ve reverted to two year olds. We’re incapable of sharing. No, actually we just both wanted to own the book.

Anyway, after we finally pried ourselves out of the used book store, we wandered further into a sort of everything shop, and finally found the Holy Grail for all silverware hunters. A set of 24 pieces for £2,99. We grabbed it immediately, and skipped gleefully to the register. Actually, we wandered around the shop for a while longer and then paid in the proper stoic English manner.

It was only after we had finally limped (not literally limped, but we have been doing a lot of walking) back to my room and had strewn our purchases all over my bed and were basking in the silverware I’d finally freed from the packaging that I realized something was dreadfully wrong.

My Kitchen Krafts (hereafter KK) fork was much, much prettier than my other forks. Stephanie was afraid that the other forks would beat the KKfork up because it was different. There was nothing to do but introduce them, though. Luckily the utter majesty of the KKfork’s elegant cream handle awed the rest of the cutlery, and before I knew it the KKfork had established peaceful domination over its fellow utensils, and now reigns as their beloved and much-celebrated emporer.

I love happy endings.

January 18th, 2003

» things that confound me

  • A university library open only until 9 during the week, and only 12-5 on the weekends.
  • English faucets.
  • English words for food.
  • Sidewalks the same color and material as roads.
  • Roses blooming in January.
  • Building construction that actually progresses.
  • Pounds and pence.
  • Which is the proper side to pass people on when walking.
  • What the English seem to mean by ‘a load of computers’.
  • Registration.
  • The complete lack of anywhere to buy silverware or dishes.
  • Talking alarm clocks.
  • Green tree bark.
  • Nina’s accent.
  • Ducks.

It’s wonderful here. Everything is green and gorgeous and the weather is beautiful. A bit cold, but it’s January, and it hasn’t rained terribly much. And anyway, I like rain. We have a cat in our dorm, and she slept at the foot of my bed all night last night. My feet sort of hurt, but I plan to walk through it. Most of what I’ve been doing for the past few days is walking, and the English walk quickly. I probably haven’t walked more than I’ve slept, but it’s close. Also, most everyone here talks like Oliver Wood. Yum.