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.