Across the Pond

Across the Pond

I don’t remember when I first wanted to go to the UK. Or maybe I should say, I don’t ever remember NOT wanting to go there. Was it reading Alice in Wonderland so much as a child? The Narnia books? Fairy tales? Those Frances Hodgson Burnett books, A Little Princess and The Secret Garden? Reading Watership Down so many times? Or all of the All Creatures Great and Small books? Some weird, unvoiced calling deep in my DNA? I don’t know. But I’ve always wanted to go.

Of my body England is the spine
The backbone and the trunk
My shoulders span the mighty Tyne
London sprawls across my rump
Cornwall my crooked ancient leg
Wales two hands held apart
Scotland is my dreaming head
Ireland is my heart
— Islandman; The Waterboys

When I was 17, WorldCon was in Brighton, in the UK. Did I want to go, my parents asked. OF COURSE. As it got closer, though, I forget now if they wanted to go early or stay late and go to France and Spain; whichever it was, was going to interfere with classes I’d already signed up for. So I told them that I wanted to go, desperately, but I could only go for the Con. I couldn’t go for the extra trip. My StepMonster being the absolute pill that she was, turned that somehow into me not wanting to go at all, so she told my dad I volunteered to stay behind and take care of all the animals on the farm while they were gone. *stares motherfuckerly*

When I was 21, and my grandmother had died that summer, my dad told me six months in advance that he was only getting me two things for Christmas. Uh… thanks? Then he said those two things were a week in Amsterdam and a week in Paris. It was both stressful (StepMonster) and amazing (history! art! more art! standing at the Zuiderzee with my father!) (you have to be a Steve Goodman fan to get that last one) and while I was hoping that my flight home (solo, because my parents were going on to Spain and I had to get back) would have a layover in England and that it would be long enough that I could get outside somehow and touch the ground… no such luck. My layover was in Hamburg, and since I’d taken the train from Paris to Amsterdam the night before, and had to sit at the airport overnight until the plane left at like 6 AM, I was exhausted and cranky and just tried to sleep while the airplane staff cleaned around me and the few other people staying on the flight on to Atlanta.

When I was 35, WorldCon was in Glasgow. Did I want to go? OF COURSE. But Tim didn’t want to go. But! Our friends Jag and Antony…. Antony really wanted to go, but Jag didn’t. Maybe Antony and I could go together? But it was our anniversary weekend. I’d be gone for our anniversary. Tim said that was OK with him. That he knew I really wanted to go, and that was enough for him. I should go. SO BOY DID I AND IT WAS GLORIOUS. I could probably write ten blog posts on just how wonderful that trip was; suffice to say that it was everything I wanted. Were there places I didn’t get to (England, Ireland) and things I didn’t do (Isle of Skye, Stirling Castle)? Of course. But overall the trip was amazing and if it was the only time I ever got there I would have been happy with just that. Surprise bonus? Antony and I, at the tail end of a panel, were talking about maybe going and getting some lunch. We stood up and turned around and THERE WAS JEFF RIGHT THERE. He’d come over for the con, too! He’d not met Antony before but they got on like a house on fire and we had a great time together.

So……. guess where WorldCon is next year?

No, guess! I’ll wait.

Did you guess Glasgow, again? BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE IT IS! AND GUESS WHO’S GOING?!

I already have my membership to the WorldCon paid for. Hotel rooms haven’t opened up yet but there is a list of the eight closest hotels so that Aunt Gay and I can at least start thinking about which hotel we might like (Jeff and Uncle Joe are coming, too, but I think we know who’s making the plans).

And how are we getting over there, you ask?

BY SHIP. We have reservations on the Queen Mary 2; we leave New York on July 28th and get to Southampton on August 4th. That gives us three days to get up to Glasgow (I think we’re staying in London for at least one, maybe two days, then taking the train up).

But… that’s not all. Because I don’t have school and I don’t have a real job and when the fuck am I going to get over there again and how fucking long have I wanted to get over there…. here’s what I am thinking. A week over, on the ship. A week in Glasgow for WorldCon. At that point Aunt Gay and Uncle Joe will probably go back home. But Jeff and I? Wait, is it Jeff and me? I think I feel like I should say “I” but that grammatically it’s really “me”. ANYWAY. How about a week just tooling around Scotland (train tour, maybe? something we don’t have to rent a car for?). Jeff has family in Scotland, and when we were all over for WorldCon last time he didn’t have time to look them up.

Then a week down in the south of England with my friend Donna – and check this — I knew she lived near Stonehenge but I didn’t know she also lives near Watership Down! THE ACTUAL REAL LIVE WATERSHIP DOWN. THAT IS PRESERVED AND IS STILL NATURAL. AND YOU CAN HIKE A TRAIL UP TO THE TOP OF THE DOWN AND LOOK OUT OVER THE LAND. If you think I’m not doing that, you don’t know my love for fictional bunnies. I am afraid to look up to see if there’s some sort of All Creatures Great and Small tour…. when I found out there’s a place called the Watership Down Inn and that each room is styled after one of the rabbits, I about lost my shit for two days. I know, I know. Most people want to see London. And I do want to see London! I really do! But I also really, really want to see the countryside, because that’s the part of the UK I’ve been in love with since I was a child. Rolling hills. Secret gardens. Warrens hidden among the trees. Badgers that invite you into their burrows for tea and cakes.

After England… Is it reasonable to add a week in Wales? With as many times as I’ve knit Nancy Bush’s Conwy socks, I should see the castle that inspired her to write the pattern, yeah? I see there’s a six day train tour of Wales. You actually stay in a hotel, but each day you take a different train out to a different castle.

And after Wales (or after England, if I don’t sneak in an extra week in Wales) is a week in Ireland at my friend Hawk’s house, where I finally get to meet his hella kick-ass wife, and the completely enchanting place they live (pretty much if you think “large stone house in Ireland on a big spot of land” you are going to think up exactly what they bought) (Hawk keeps showing pictures of butterflies and bees but I’m reasonably sure they are fairies in disguise) (also video from his game cam of the badgers going to and fro… probably getting that tea and those cakes ready).

From Ireland, we’ll fly home. I’m sure I’ll leave a big part of my heart there, in those countries.

So… that’s a five week trip. Six, if we add in a week in Wales. Can I be away from HaldeCraft for six weeks? Can I be away from my dogs for six weeks??? But how can I not – because when am I going to get the chance to do something like this again?!



5 thoughts on “0

  1. You absolutely can be away for that many weeks. And this is said with much love and not at all, even the teensy, tiniest bit because I am going to be living vicariously through you all those weeks…. Nope, not at all.

  2. You totally should take this trip and I have been scheming how to pack myself along! What a fantastic opportunity!

  3. “” …… It’s the thrill of a lifetime and a long sea voyage that starts at six o’clock tomorrow morning. “‘ Carl Denham from King Kong 1933

  4. Well this brought a big smile to my face! Your enthusiasm for my Brexit-fucked land is a tonic, more so because it completely outstrips mine…no contest. Enjoy every minute Lore. I’m presently living in Kent, land of Anglo Saxon kings and Queens, saints, castles and fresh produce. It ain’t called the Garden of England for nuth’n.
    Be prepared for the “wanna live here’s. With every mouthful of strawberry jam & clotted cream scones, every bottle of you-name-it craft beer brewed just up the road, every Gregg’s sausage roll greedily consumed on a railroad platform, the magic will be woven more strongly until you start checking out property on Rightmove and seriously consider shipment costs for your menagerie (don’t — both will bankrupt you).
    But I digress. Welcome to my country!!
    I sure miss yours…..

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