Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Night and The Queen

Well, last night turned out to be interesting. There was a certain amount of grumping over the fact that the restaurant took all our orders on one bill – which wasn’t helped when they forgot Helen’s starter. We were eating at the Swinside Inn, which did us some lovely food.

Brett got more involved in the over-dinner conversation than I did and ended up being quizzed on the little niggles he has with living a British way of life as an American (it turns out it’s primarily having to ask for the bill rather than just being presented with it, along with the way we handle our knives and forks while eating and having to leave them in a certain way to show that we’re finished. Not a bad tally really for a whole different culture!)

Unfortunately it turned out that the acoustics in the Swinside weren’t best for the singsong which inevitably follows the meal so the evening petered out rather earlier than normal, which was kind of a shame.

Heading out to the car I savoured the total blackness and silence of night when you are miles from anywhere. It evoked a great night I had as a student, driving back to Dundee from my parents’ house with Bruce. On a whim we diverted through the Lake District and spent a while sitting on the shore of Ullswater, just staring at the stars. It was the first time I ever really saw the Milky Way and since then I have always loved the opportunity to get away from the light- and noise-pollution of suburbia to stare at the depth of the night sky from where you can really appreciate it. (I really must blog the rest of that night at some point as it was quite an eccentric little adventure we ended up going on!)

This morning we had a later breakfast before setting off for home via the parents’ place to pick up some gifts they had brought us from Ireland (more green t-shirts!) As we were in the neighbourhood, we dropped in on Chris and Michelle for coffee before continuing south. Chris regaled us with tales of his recent trip to Washington DC and a previous venture out to Las Vegas; all very gung-ho. He’s booked them both a holiday to Las Vegas for next year, but Michelle is nervous of flying so we are trying to coax her into a shorter jaunt down to London to get in some practice before the transatlantic trip. The kids are growing apace; I think the last time I saw them the youngest was still a babe in arms. Now she is walking and talking (and fighting with her siblings)!

The rest of the trip home was uneventful. I think next time we may try alternative travel arrangements, as it is quite a long trip for a day’s walking. Either training it up or leaving on the Thursday night to go up to my parents and then a leisurely trip to Keswick on the Friday.

Tonight we went to see The Queen. It was actually more engrossing than I had expected and I can see why it won praise in Venice. There was some slightly clunky dialogue in places where they had clearly levered-in explanations of necessary points of history, etiquette and constitutional law, presumably for the non-British audiences, but on the whole it was surprisingly believable. There again, there were moments where, seeing the Queen, Prince Phillip and the Queen Mother sitting around watching television together, it felt strangely like a Spitting Image sketch. Go figure! Anyway, it’s worth seeing if you get the chance.

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