F 1 D 0 -- 02 06 09 at 20 00

The Birds.

That is something you suddenly notice. The birds
here, especially the blackbird. 

I'd take pictures for you, but they don't really
come out well. You hear this very loud birdsong,
and look left and right, up and down, and see nil.
Oh there. On the roof. One small insignificant little
tweeter. Just calling and calling.

And there are these crowlike ravens, with big
beaks, and a caw. The Thunder Bay ravens have a
deep voice, like a crow about to do his bar mitsvah.
These british ravenss have a lighter voice, between 
the crow and TB Raven.

The rain here is different than I remember anywhere.

It doesn't do the Let's Drown the Human game, like
we have in Ontario. It just mists us. Nonstop, light
mist. Oh, it gets dark. And it gets harder for a 
while, here and there. And then it gets lighter,
threatening to bring the sun out. So you go to the
window, but it was just a trick to make you look.
Still raining outside.

The cheese here is different. At least, the
way they sell it.

In Canada, you go to the Deli Department, and get
anything you want. And you go to the Cheese Department
of the Very Same Store, and you can choose between 
Cheddar, Mozzarella, Colby, Farmer's, Brick, Havarti.
And you can go to the Dairy Department, where they 
only have Cheddar, Mozz, maybe Provelone, but in
Very Large Bars.  

In the deli, prices start around 15.00 per kg.
In the cheese, prices drop to 10.00 per kg.
In the dairy, they drop to 7.00 sometimes.

Same store. Three places for cheese. 

Here in England, the routine is different, of
course. I've not seen a bulk cheese place. But
the cheese section has a lot of good things, far
more than you'd expect.

Something which reduces my expectations is the
store size. From the appearances, the Co-op store
in Gt Ayton is just a convenience store. Don't
be easily fooled. They are a full service but
low stock complete supermarket, complete with
toasters, fridge-freezers, low-water washers,
clothes dryers, combo-washer-dryer, TVs, VCRs,
some audio. And Deli, biscuits, soaps. And lots
of wine and liquor.  All of this in 3 long aisles.

Next door is a Bell's, which is not identical,
but still has many of the same things. Bell's
has magazines, more snacks, Indian takeaway,
Chinese takeaway. Takeaway is a new word, but 
I've figured out what it means.

I found that you can get Brie. Easily. Almost
everywhere. Emmenthal. Irish Cheddar. Scottish
Cheddar. Canadian Cheddar. Old. Very Old. Mild.
Medium. See? There are lots of choices for cheese
here. I've not skipped the local kinds, but they're
here too.

I'm convinced that this country has a natural
hospitality which doesn't exist as we know it
in North America. 

I can't be sure, and it won't be universal,
but I think people open their homes to guests
a lot more here.

There is a bed and breakfast at Blakey Ridge,
in the middle of the moor. The pub there is 
called The Lion Pub. Ron and Kath Atherton
run the bed and breakfast, and just *insisted*
that I come in and see all of the things they
did to make their home into a four-diamond (UK
best) B+B. Lovely big rooms, with a view of the
hills of the moors. A huge kitchen, all handmade
cupboards. A big commonroom dining room tvroom.

The place, like so many, is a mix of new and old.
New insides, old outsides. 

The Lion Pub next door is also the real thing.
A pub in the middle of Nowhere, Yorkshire. Okay,
not nowhere; it is Blakey Ridge. But the doorways
are from a time when people weren't as tall, and
if they were tall, they didn't mind ducking as they
went inside a place. 

I'm told that the pub is an extension of the living
room, and that some folks go for a pint of beer each
evening. 

Tonight we went with John and Ynez. Note the "Y" at
the beginning, and if she's reading, I hope she'll
forgive the misspelling of her name until I get to
fixing all of the entries.

Jessie cannot deal with living at home. That's mum
to John and Ann. She forgets things sometimes. Like
eating. And that happens when people come over twice
a day with food, and to check on things. There are
no frypans here. They've gone to frypan heaven, each
one of them. She used to wear one of those necklace
buttons, which dials the emergency monitoring station.

Things were uncomfortable at home. She was bored.
Unhappy. She'd fall or get mixed up. She wanted a
change. So a decision was made to get her into a
home.

Now?

Jessie cannot deal with living at the home. She still
forgets things sometimes, but the home doesn't mind that.
The cooking happens, and that is just part of the friendly
service. No necklaces here: someone is on staff.

But she's bored, and wants to go back home.

This is taxing John and Ynez so very very much, they
deserve a Nobel Prize. 

John is an Eye Surgeon, and a consultant to things
of the eye. He needs to be of sound mind when he's
on call, or has an early operation to do. 

All of the calls from the nursing home are starting
to really wear him thin. I hope this settles down,
as each time something happens, it is a mental distraction
for a long time.

- -

I've seen spiders here, but no mosquitoes yet. I know
they exist, but they don't come out.

I've been told that hedgehogs are very shy night animals,
who like the taste of dog food. Ann continues to worry
that I'll go buy some dog food now, knowing I buy the
large economy size of anything when shopping.

It is too bad, but you see many dead animals in the
middle of the roadways. Many rabbits and hares. I've
been watching what happens at dusk. All of the bunnies
are at the side of the road, ears up, doing the grass
thing. They decide, wrongly, when to cross. 

But you see crows dead too. They are eating the crushed
fluffy animals, and then they get run over. 

I'm reading a book by Tom Vernon, "Fat man on a Bicycle."

He describes cars as "selfish" for the reasons above.
His book is about his adventures biking from England
to Northern France (via Ferry) to the Mediterranean.

He and I aren't identical at all, but he really
understands my position on so many things. If you
see the book, borrow it. He makes a wonderful case
for riding a bike. Faster than walking, slower than
driving. You are truly free. 

- -

Hawks are here. Mostly little ones. You see them
float above, and then they fall faster than gravity.
I have to assume that small animals don't like that.

At the Scottish dance I went to, one of the dancers,
David Houston, told me about Bird Eating Spiders. That
is something that could frighten me. Because a People
Eating Spider isn't a big stretch from a Bird Eating 
Spider.

- -

I biked to Guisborough today. It should not be far
from Great Ayton. It says "Guisborough 5 >" on the
sign. So that means about an hour if I reaaally take
my time, right? Well, once you get there, you stop
a lot along the way.

The towns are Newton Under Roseberry, Pinchinthorpe,
and then... The Big Highway. Then Guisborough.

But that is because the signs send cars onto the 
"dual carriageway". There is a direct road, which
I foolishly ignored, along the way. Sigh. I used
it to get back home, but went an extra few miles
on the expressway. It had a shoulder. That was a
good thing. These lanes don't have any extra room
at all.

- -

The towns here often remind me of other
places, the older ones, in New England.

Not all places look like others; I suppose
that is a truism. So some places look like 
Brookline MA (I think that prize goes 
to Clifton Downs, near Bristol).  The curved
streets of Whitby remind me a place near
Lynn, MA.  None of the places I've seen
so far remind me of Vieux Montreal or New
York City.  Scarborough on the sea looks
festive, too circus-like, on one side. The
nice shore, full of rocks, is off limits
because they are widening the coastal highway.
But the streets and shops are not like any
I've seen.

- -

In Guisborough, the stores appeared to open
for business around noonish on Sunday, today.
But most of the folks come out to go to the
forest, or the moors. One forest is the Guisborough
Forest. I didn't do that today, but passed three
car parks, all mostly full. I didn't see the people,
just their vehicles.

- -

I'm not sure what to share with you today.

Maybe that's because not too much happened.
I went for the bike ride. I stayed at home
all afternoon until 830pm, when Ann and I
went out to the pub with John and Ynez.

- -

I can talk about dance here, so far. The 
report isn't going to be sparkling.

With all of the people here, you'd think
they could arrange pickup bands for doing
dancing. But I'm thinking they actually
prefer using recordings. Is that possible?

Also, I'm concerned when at 45 years, I'm 
so very very young compared to all of the
others. In Canada, we have a broad spectrum
of people who attend. Albeit we have small
attendances, but I don't want to be the 
oldest nor the youngest at a dance event.

The scottish dancers in Gt Ayton were amazing
to me. The dances were all briefly walked 
through. I found out that was just for my
benefit.  I wish the dances (the individual
ones, within an evening) lasted longer. At
scottish, I'd get precisely two chances to
run through a dance I'd learned. That was on
Wednesday.

The english dancers met in Stockton on Tees
in a community/youth centre. This reminded
me of our low-number days in Toronto, with
only four dancers. "I don't have any two
couple dances!" says our fearless leader.
But by 830pm, we had six ready dancers, and
by 840pm, we had a few more. By 900pm, we
had a dozen, enough for two 3-couple sets.

I'll tell you what kind of dancers I find
when we get to London. It is an urban place,
I hear. With some luck, we'll have the kind
of bubbly dance UK has made famous in North
America.

- -

Cameras. They use cameras here to watch the
town squares, to make sure you don't run a
red light, to catch you speeding. There are
usually white signs with a picture of an old
fashioned camera suggesting you should be a
law abiding driver.

Signs. I like the red triangle with a white
centre. They try to put something useful into
the middle of it. They put "ford" when you 
are crossing a shallow stream. They put a 
picture of a duck, cow, or sheep when you
should watch for that. The assorted 2-way
signs are curious. If the arrows are of the
same height, then it just means "be careful,
two way traffic". If the lines are of different
length, then you may have to yield to oncoming
traffic. And if the sign is blue, with white
arrows, it means the opposite, that you won't
have to yield.

Alcohol. I saw my first signs of trouble with
drink here. People here have been celebrating
the 1-0 win England v Argentina. But in Yarm,
they broke a pub window. I'm not sure you'd
consider the people who cheer for sports teams
safe company when they get excited, or when
they are in large numbers. I kept wondering 
what would happen to someone, like me, if 
for humour sake, I wore a Japanese or 
Argentinian sports shirt? 

Fish and Chips. Yarm makes good ones. Well,
the fish was good. I'm not ordering chips
any more. Well, not for the now. Scarborough
also does. I'd expect that: Scarborough is
a seaside town. Good Fish: adequate, not over
heavy nor over greasy batter. Also, fish cakes
are nice. When in Whitby, the fish cakes were
great. Fish cakes were something I ate a lot
of when I was newly on my own. Mashed potato
and fish, baked or fried into a round cookie.
In fact, I recall calling them "fish cookies".

Chips. These folks need to taste good chips.
Then they'll duplicate them. I'm sure that 
is all that is required. Crisp, not heavy
from grease. They'll do this. I know they will.

Cream Tea. You can purchase clotted cream from
your local deli counter, where they slice a 
wedge of cheese or salami to order. This is 
not the rich flowing cream they use on scones
in a restaurant. It is crumbly, related to butter.
The fix: cream equal quantities of clotted cream
(think concentrated cream) with doublecream. The
finished product will be coloured like fresh
butter, and pour slowly from a spoon. It will
stay in a soft mound when spooned onto a scone.
It will hold 2 or 3 demi teaspoons of strawberry
conserve.

Curry. This is where to have it. They understand
how it is done. When in York, do stop in at the
Bamboo Oriental Buffet. It isn't chinese, it isn't
indian, it isn't from singapore nor malasia. But
has something from all of them, in a wonderful
way. For 5.95 you get all you can eat. Good curry,
good noodles, good veg, good fruit at the end. Go
there.

Clifford Tower. 150 Jews took their lives rather
than denounce their faith hundreds of years ago.
In York 25 March 1190 AD?

Museum gardens at the foot of Clifford Tower. 
Ducks. Actually Canada Geese. And young goslings.
All furry, all asking for handouts. Except when
they're hissing at me. They're hand tame: feed
them barley, and they'll eat your hand instead.
Truth: they got gentler with practice at eating
from my hand. Just as well, as geese can bear
down hard with that beak. I liked feeding the
little ones.

Time Warp. Today we went to Whitby; a day has
gone by since I started. This trip we stayed
on our side of the bridge. It was like seeing
a different city. Our trip included a street
organ; a Calliope which used punched cards
for musical programming.

That's all I know.