When I was still living in Tromsø I noticed Stuart's penchant for running away to anglophone countries, which at the time was somewhat unfortunate. Circumstance however rules the world, so having moved to an anglophone country myself it suddenly became a blessing. He was bound to show up within the borders of his fatherland in no time! And he did. And decided to also explore the unlikely outback of the west country. My first guest!
He came by car, and has no reputation of a navigation hero to speak of, so I decided to meet him at an unmissable landmark near university. It worked! So after having gotten rid of the car, luggage, the feeling of desiring a shower and the non-availability of bicycles we rode to the Barbican, to have dinner somewhere. I had no food at home, as there had been no opportunity for shopping since the fieldwork. We first went for an aperitif in the Gin Distillery, and then found ourselves a restaurant. Good to have a real chat again! We don't do telephones so when not within earshot any communication is written. And that can be quite extensive as well but it never turns out that way. But now we could talk away. And we did. At some point under the impatient glance of the restaurant employees who wanted to close...
On friday we took it easy. After a lazy breakfast we decided to go to town for business and pleasure. Business as Stuart had to check email. Those with very good memories may remember that my first Plymouth blogposts originated from the Arts Centre, where there was an available computer. And I hoped to dive nose first into culture now Stuart was here, but I had not been able to get theatre tickets for the friday, so going to the movies was another potion. And at the Arts Centre we could find out what films were in rotation. So we could kill two flies with one blow, or whatever the English expression is, by going there. Unfortunately that computer was no longer there, and we did not know what our schedule for the night would be, so that did not work out. Yet what worked out well was a coffee in a cute pub, biking around in the rain, a cider in another pub, checking email in the library, and a jacket potato in yet another pub. And then we went to the post office (more Stuart business) and the JSV, the campus pub, because I thought it would be fun if my Tromsø and Plymouth friends would meet each other. And I think it was! We even enganged in a questionale arcade game based on a dubious TV quiz.
And in the JSV we found out our program for the night. How so? That's a highly unlikely story.
Imagine you have lived in Tromsø, and now live in Plymouth, which is 2287 km away as the crow flies. After a fieldwork you open your mailbox and find a completely unexpected message from a Tromsø friend, inquiring after what you are doing in the weekend, suggesting teaming up, while the sender now sets off to sail around Cape of Good Hope. That wouldn't happen, would it? It did!
It turned out that Sanja had had to dash off to Cape Town in great haste to deliver equipment for an Antarctica expedition. And flew back over Amsterdam, which is only 229 km, 1/10 of the distance Tromsø-Plymouth, away. So she dropped by! And I knew no more than that she would show up in the evening, but not when. In the pub I found out. I inquired if se had had food already, but as time ticked away while we waited for her answer we set out to eat something ourselves, and went to the railway station to pick her up. We there found out that her train was delayed, and she had not eaten yet. So we did some food shopping and were pristinely in time to welcome this surprise guest! Who would have thought, a week ago, that I would be giving Sanja a big hug on Plymouth Railway Station.
Then Plymouth saw the rare sight of a Brit, a Finn and a Dutch girl walking the streets leading along two bicycles and talking Norwegian to each other. We got home, drank litres of tea, fed Sanja, and then it was time to go to bed.
Stuart had erroneously assumed he had told me when he would be leaving. And it was sooner than I thought! He would already leave early next morning to drive to Cambridge. So the whole going to the theatre and the cinema and all these plans did not really work out. But Sanja was quite willing to sniff some culture in his place.
Stuart had promised me to say goodbye before he left, so when I woke up around 9 I thought his plan for leaving early had failed. But he was no longer there! Later I received a message that he had not been able to bring himself to waking me up at such an early hour. Some guests appear abruptly, while others disappear in that manner. Yet it is good to have guests. I hope we'll meet again!