That one winter in the UK

Changing on the London District Line at Wimbledon

Changing on the London District Line at Wimbledon

By the time we got to Bath there was nothing left to see. I could have skipped London which would have been dumb, hiding instead in some quiet town by a river in the Cotswolds, some place even the English don’t know about. If I had my way, and it’s good I didn’t, I could have skipped Dublin, Belfast, Galway, Edinburgh…and hunkered down all winter in a country cottage on a cliff with a fire and a pot of stew, to wake in the dark and write bad poetry by candlelight, to drink myself silly and somehow not feel it in the morning, to get myself in shape and grow my beard and reconnect with my wife and kids and end the year renewed.

And that is how dreams go, they don’t add up. They feel real at the time but you wake up confused and disgusted with yourself, how you could think such things, what others might think if you told them or used social media outlets to broadcast it.

The dream starts with a map, with a rendering of a land, with sketched beasts in the water and fake fog over the mountains and names of places that bear the promise of intrigue by the sheer fact that you’ve never heard of them before, they’re spelled weird, they must be worth seeing.

And so Dawn and I put Post-its on the map and strung together a route from the bottom of Scotland to the top and back again, across the sea and the whole of Ireland, up through Wales, hither and thither about England and back across the channel into France, 95 days later.

We bought a car, taught our 8-year-old how to use a barf bag, got skimmed in Scotland, tried on sobriety for a month (one size fits all), saw the opening of Star Wars in Galway, our first panto in Dublin, got burned out on castles, burned out on Tesco, burned out on blogging, but not once hit each other, which isn’t true; we did resolve to stop the hitting and stop the cussing, which we’re still working on, I promise.

The coolant level in the car was low according to the digital gauge which I distrust and wanted to ignore because I don’t like computers talking to me, but it was right — and when I filled it with the universal top-up fluid and the gauge said it was low again, with exclamation points, I joked about it, the stupid computer, but realized it was right when I finally lifted the bonnet, spit in the tank and saw my spit wink back at me from the bottom, grounding us outside of Bath for another day while we waited to be seen by the mechanic, the only day this week that looks good for Stonehenge, which will have to wait for the weekend, it’s waited long enough already.

Whereas you’d think the travel bug would grow in me after seeing so much, after traveling to Europe now a good dozen, 15 times in the last 20 years, I’m wanting instead to move somewhere boring and quiet now, a town with a stupid name like Combe Down, where I can forget myself and be forgotten and reread Shakespeare and blog about it under an anonymous pseudonym like Slick Buttons, quit LinkedIn, suffer no consequences, in fact quit the Internet altogether, force my followers and fans to write to me by mail and know at last that no one is going to Like me, no one is going to Follow, because letters are harder than buttons, they take longer, and no one writes letters anymore and if they do, they’re old and you can’t read their handwriting, they’ll likely be dead by the time you write back.

And yes OK it’s true: there are times, most nights in fact, I keep the phone next to me in bed in case there’s a notification and someone Likes me or Follows me because it’s a gentle trill in the dark that feels good like a kitten’s tongue, like someone likes me, the way cats like you until they decide they don’t.

There were times in one of the 24 places we stayed in the last three months we even had the iPad and iPhone in the room at the same time so that one ding became two, a great way to double the impression of your impact on the Internet!

The kids confided that my mom offered to give them money to buy a fish and a tank and whatever else they needed if they can convince us to let her keep the dog and the cat we flew there from Seattle and now, as we enter Act III, The Return of the Jedi, and I’ve published about 200 posts the past year, there is no “top 5 things I’ve learned from blogging,” even though posts with lists do better statistically, there is nowhere to go you haven’t been if you don’t want there to be, and that is the best advice for a future with an English degree, to start a blog, write with earnest but not earnestly, and don’t pay attention to the statistics because they’re probably wrong, just keep going and you’ll know it when you get there. There’s still time to change the road you’re on.

Public footpath, Combe Down

Public footpath, Combe Down

 

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
This entry was posted in humor, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to That one winter in the UK

  1. walt walker says:

    That was a tour de force, Bill. I’m not sure where it started, and when I got to the end I wasn’t sure where I was or how I got there, but I felt every every bit of it. As I’ve said before, sometimes I don’t know what to say and just have to go ‘wow.’

    Don’t miss Stonehenge, by the way.

    Stonehenge!
    Where the demons dwell
    Where the banshees live
    And the do live well.
    ~ David St. Hubbins

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Thanks Walt — tour de farce, maybe, or tour de farts, amazing how much noise such small organs can make untuned. Hey, thanks — we won’t miss Stonehenge. It just may be a bit windy and rainy, but will make for more moody photos and perhaps some Pink Floyd on the drive there to set the mood you know.

      Like

    • vandissa says:

      lol you start talking about biking in tour de france then oh yea don’t forget about stonehenge 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • pinklightsabre says:

        I don’t really see what all the fuss is about (Stonehenge) but as with other things, I guess the weather can really dampen things, that’s what it does. Thanks for visiting my pile of rocks here, they’re pretty old.

        Liked by 1 person

      • vandissa says:

        I why some people like it so much is they think aliens built, or something weird.

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        I think the aliens were closer to us back then, probably visited more often. I don’t blame them for keeping their distance these days.

        Like

      • vandissa says:

        lol

        Like

      • I agree, Stonehenge is an hour from where I’m from and every time I drive past I think people who travel from so far to see it must be so disappointed to see a few grey rocks standing under a grey sky…

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        I was being a bit cheeky about it: it really is something, though honestly, looks a bit more interesting from the highway, or maybe I’m just being cheap about paying the admission. We saw some standing stones and prehistoric structures up on Orkney Island too, and I think between our kids and the rain, and just being tired of touring after 90 days we were all just a bit over it that Sunday morning, standing around in the mud with everyone and their selfie sticks you know. But it’s beautiful country you have there. Thanks for popping by my little pile here. Bill

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dina Honour says:

    I would kill for a Tesco. I feel slightly sickened by the fact you’re sick of them ;-). There is something vaguely Eastern European bloc about supermarket shopping here. On the outside it’s all Danish design and Jacobsen font but on the inside it’s Bulgarian concrete apartment block. I digress. Two things: one, I just this evening read a really good piece about writing when no one cares (which is not true, because I care so that’s at least one ping) and the pain-in-the-assness of writing into the void (so Wales, essentially) and finding the balance between writing because you must/need/want/are compelled and wanting what you write to be needed/wanted/compelling. Hit home. Second, I lived in NYC for 20 years. I never thought I would leave. I never thought I wouldn’t go back. And now? Now I long for a vegetable garden in a Midsommer Murder village (so Wales essentially). Maine will do, I think.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      There have been times, many a time, we roll into a town and go scavenging for a Tesco because they pretty much have everything you need and it’s gotten so that I know their layout and can basically navigate there in a trance, which is the best way to do any kind of grocery shopping, in a bath robe with the curlers in. I like the balance of the way it sounds, that piece you wrote. Today, I read the first few pages to three different books killing time in a bookstore: one by Burroughs, whom I don’t like as a writer but like looking at pictures of, another Bukowski (in the B’s) and the last, some Brazilian soft-porn “art” writer guy whose book fell on the floor, no one picked it up, and I thought it might speak to me in some magical way, which it didn’t. Are bookstores hard for writers who haven’t published anything yet or is it just me?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. walt walker says:

    I could speak to that last bit there, but it would depress the hell out of everyone, so I shan’t.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Oh come on, tease. We can take it.

      Like

      • walt walker says:

        No, I’d prefer not to, but I will say again this was a hell of a post. Very brave. I hate to say that because it doesn’t mean what I want it to mean, not after that woman won that singing show. But I like how you are brave enough to say here’s where my head is, and not put your best Facebook forward, or think about how it might affect your “brand,” or any of that bullshit. l like the raw honesty of it. And bravo, I say.

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        That’s really cool Walt, thanks for saying — I appreciate it. I just like hearing your stories, which is why I asked…but save it for another time, if you would. I’m glad you liked this, I had fun with it. Best, Bill

        Like

      • walt walker says:

        You’ll hear it, just didn’t want to use this/your space for a negative rant. Floyd would be a good warmup for Stonehenge but the best way to properly appreciate it is by listening to Spinal Tap’s Stonehenge, of course. I’m trying the joke again because I’m committed to its success.

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        You are too kind. And I think I misunderstood the reference to depression-talk and now sense I know what it is, so thanks for abstaining. We speak in code, through Dixie cups.

        Like

  4. Gregg Johnson says:

    love reading these, my friend, and can’t believe how much the girls have changed since your adventure began! give all three of them a hug from the Johnsons….we can’t wait to have y’all back in the neighborhood!

    best,

    gregg

    gregg s johnson cell: 206.399.3066 email: gregg@greggsjohnson.com

    >

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Thank you Gregg, I thought that too with this photo — we all look a bit older, malnourished, rings around the eyes — will do well for some of that PNW dampness and multi-vitamins here, soon. Looking forward to seeing you, and catching up.

      Like

  5. ‘If you had your way’ sounds like a great trip for a single man with no one in tow.

    I beg your pardon but what does ‘got skimmed’ mean?

    The grass is always greener. How long do you suppose boring and quiet with a stupid name would last until your feet started walking off of their own accord?

    Public footpath pic looks like one of those old-timey ghost photos.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Getting skimmed means we got our debit card hacked at an ATM, where they contrive to steal your information and access your account, take out all the cash. I didn’t know what it meant either, kind of wish I didn’t, still. But we’ll recover from that OK, thanks.
      Yes about the grass, the wanderlust, why we have it, how it really feels traveling, all that…you’ve been good to remind me how lucky we are, so thanks for that and supporting our cockamaminess. And once again you are right about the realities of living in a small village (BO-ring), for however romantic it seems. Happy Friday and enjoy your weekend Mark.

      Like

  6. rossmurray1 says:

    Your girls’ expression is how this post feels.
    You’re far too hard on yourself. I think of you as this blinking beacon in the dark sea of inanity. Maybe only a few people can see it, but that’s still saving a few lives.
    Metaphors R Us.
    Accepted your Google+ request. Irony R Us too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. daveply says:

    Getting a like or a follow is like getting a raspy kiss from a fickle kitten. Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Awesome photo at the end. A real keeper!

    Like

  9. Lynn Love says:

    Ah, bless your girls – everyone wears that expression when travelling on the Tube. They fit right into the London ethos!
    You spun a spell with this one, Bill. Beautiful and elegiac – elegy for a lost life, perhaps. A lost life we sometimes guilty crave, but in relity, wouldn’t wish to swap for our own.
    Hopw you enjoy Stonehenge

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Thank you Lynn for the thoughtful comments here and you’re right, the kids have a good dose of road fatigue in this photo: red-rimmed, bags under their bags, vitamin deficient, likely carrying some viruses for good measure. And we’ll have a look at Stonehenge tomorrow, possibly take a coastal route over to Canterbury for the night. You have a great country here, thanks for being such a great reader and friend to me throughout our journey. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Difficult to be anything other than vitamin deficient in a British winter 🙂 I’ll look forward to reading what you made of Stonehenge – we live so close and still haven’t visited. Shocking! 🙂 Unfortunately, I think it’s a little ‘stage managed’ as monuments go. But then, it’s such an icon, it needs protecting. Glad you enjoyed the UK. In a few months time when you’re back home, hopefully you’ll all remember the great things and forget the hurricanes and the homesickness. It’s been a pleasure to hitch hike on your journey.

        Liked by 1 person

      • pinklightsabre says:

        Stage managed is well put. I would write more but we’re in france, my mobile keyboard is slow, and we had wine with dinner. But nice just the same. Everyone here is playing with the outlets and the remote now.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Back to the sunny continent, eh? Straight to Germany, or a detour along the way? Safe travelling

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        We are back in the USSR, so to speak, in Germany. Amazing, how close things are. Very strange, and good. Less controls than you would think and no complaints here.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        A hop across the channel is nothing to you chaps from the States, I guess. You’re all so used to huge distances! Well, at least you can all stop wandering again for a while. A bit of stability might feel very nice. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. ksbeth says:

    adventure never takes the form we expect, or it would not be an adventure.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Amen to that, it’s the best part, all the parts that aren’t written or expected. But sure felt good to get our car back, I’ll say that. And to know we’re back home in Germany in three more sleeps. Hope your weekend is good and you’re well, Beth. Cheers! Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Anonymous says:

    Great writing, but I think you need more sunlight to brighten your mood. Loved the pictures of the girls –

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Oh thank you for the praise…we’re from the Pacific Northwest in the States, moody by nature, into moss, clouds, fog…I get nervous with too much sun, it starts distracting me. I need the threat of a long, messy fall over the cliffs to animate me…but OK you’re right, the sun sure is nice, too. Just not too much, you know. Thanks for stopping by my friend! I’m listening to the band Slowdive now, and that pretty much says it all. Best, Bill

      Like

  12. Yahooey says:

    Seeing as you turned a compliment into flatulence, I shall attempt to short circuit another similar reaction by saying that you shat gold in this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. byebyebeer says:

    Ah, to drop out. Letters! I used to love writing letters (bet you did too) and the only thing better was getting one. Or maybe not. You must be so goddamned tired at this point. Jamming all these memories in a jar to have forever, or for your girls to have. I’m so envious, for what it’s worth (ding!). The photos are gorgeous as are the words (ding ding!).

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Yes, to drop out, and use social media to announce it. How original! Thanks Kristen: you’re right, the memories are really something. It’s strange to be in the present, hard as ever, toggling between what we’ve got ahead of us still, with three more months to go in Germany and then the re-entry to the States, and still trying to retain three months worth of stimulation in the UK, amazing how much we forget. I haven’t written a letter in so long now — just went through boxes of them in our garage, last spring…like genies inside lamps it seems. I sent you a note on my phone crossing the English channel, wondering how on Earth we had Wi Fi there on the boat from England to France, but the message failed for some reason. Technology is about as reliable as people, as easy to complain about too. Thanks for your kind words: volley over the ocean, “ding.”

      Like

  14. robintgalt says:

    Interesting post about all your travels and thoughts. It’s inspiring and depressing all at the same time. How did you do that?! It’s very intriguing as a first-timer to your blog (thanks to WP Discover). Ding!

    Good luck with your journey. I’d totally write you a handwritten letter if you knew you, btw. Long live the pen and paper!

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      It’s refreshing and confronting to hear other people’s reactions that then forces you to reconsider how you present things, perhaps your life, and I’m pleased to have readers and people offering their views…so thanks. It’s a good life, likely the only one I’ll remember and it’s hard enough doing that, so I’m going to bare down on it and get out all the fruit, you know. Glad to be discovered, and thank you for your note. No need to walk to the post office now.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. flieger85 says:

    Interesting Post thank you

    Like

  16. Pallavi says:

    Beautiful post! I love how you write. So descriptive and crisp. I would love it if you stop by my first blog here and give me your opinion on it 🙂 Looking forward on reading more of your blogs 🙂

    Like

  17. Discovered! Hell, yeah! I already knew (thanks to Ross) and it’s about time the rest of the internet caught on. It’s always a thrill to see someone in my feeder get props. Congrats, pal. Well done.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Thank you Mark. Everything I start writing in response to you here sounds “Oprah” as you’d say, but know how much I appreciate you and your pieces about seeing Gilberto Gil in the 80s, and so forth…you make my day when I see that little abstract thumbnail of yours. See, I can’t help it. Lean on in for a man-hug, buddy. Happy Friday. Bill

      Like

  18. Barb Knowles says:

    I, too, have an idyllic, and totally unrealistic, dream of a cottage by a cliff. But mine is in Ireland. And I would check my stats if I was stuck in a cave that miraculously had WiFi. Wonderful post.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Hi Barb — thanks for stopping by and sharing your unrealistic dream too. The less realistic, the better it seems. We had our share of them, great out-of-the-way cottages and farmhouses in the gloomy back waters of the UK, good times. Somehow, I romanticized all that landscape and the thought of being there at such an unusual time of the year (which wasn’t our choice, but we had to leave the Schengen countries for 90 days)…good for the soul. Makes me wonder if that’s one of the reasons the film The Quiet Man was such a hit, that scenery. Kind of helps any dramatic setting…thanks for reading my posts and nice to meet you. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi Bill. Great posts. I’ve never been to the UK except through Dover on my way to the airport…at night. I’ve always wanted to go. Sounds like I should try in the spring. I am a huge fan of the legend of King Arthur (why I’m following your post), and I’ve always wanted to see Stonehenge. Can’t wait to see the next posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Hi Michael — yes, you should have a look more if you’re interested in King Arthur. It’s cool to think how the stories of Merlin and so forth were hatched in these woods and small places. Excalibur is one of my favorite films, some truly magical scenes in that movie. What you can do with fog and armor and casting actors with piercing eyes…thank you for visiting my blog and warm wishes to you and your continued journeys. Bill

      Like

  20. cmblackwood says:

    “And that is how dreams go, they don’t add up.”
    That is the mantra of my life! Thank you for sharing. I love posts that make me FEEL 🙂

    Like

Please share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s