25 June 2011

To be English or not to be English

Sometimes you have to do things that don’t appeal to you, to find out if they really are as disappointing as you think. In the worst case you find out you really had a reason for not being attracted. In the best case you find out it’s better than you could ever guess!

When Laura, back in the days, invited me to a football match I accepted the invitation. And had fun! I also decided there were so many people I love and admire who love Johnny Cash I had to give it a try. I listened to every song on his MySpace page. And didn’t enjoy a second of it. Watching rugby with the Isle of Wight fieldwork crew was about as tedious. Going surfing with Federico, on the other hand, was so good I now want more.

Given that I’ve now lived in England for almost two years there’s a big omission in my life in this category. You haven’t really seen England until you’ve seen cricket! So one profoundly British day I accepted an invitation by Jon to come and watch a game of cricket. And that day had come.

Not only the day came. With it came extensive, water-laden clouds. And cricket’s main enemy, beside progress, is rain. So the game was called off, and I’ll get my chance some other day. But now the day was open for other activities...

Neil needed a break from work, and cunningly decided he could use this slot of time for his own purposes. He invited me to a walk + BBQ on Dartmoor, and when I accepted he added we would visit the site of a WWII plane crash.

With my ankle still not quite right I decided to go on my every day shoes. Low and very permeable. On most days and in most company that would do! But not with Neil on a day when he decides on having a BBQ. With the barbecue in his hand he dragged me over swampy hilltops, though soggy fern forests, over mossy boulder fields, over rivers and through bogs... soon after we left the car it started raining, and the rain got steadily heavier.

 Mad lawyer with disposable BBQ in a soggy field

We found the site. A Liberator had failed to clear a hilltop, and on impact all sorts of bits of plane dug craters in the hillside. There’s more about this tragedy on this website.

I was intrigued by the blobs of metal, caused by parts of the plane melting in the heat of the impact, and solidifying again on the cold moors ground. An engine that had dug its way into the soil was impressive as well...

When we head seen what there is to see we found a bit of shelter, and lit the barbecue. It was almost Norwegian! It was late June, in southern England, and there we were, watching the steaks in our jumpers, waterproof jackets and dripping trousers, while the wind dragged clouds low overhead and chastised the trees with rain.

There seemed to be a dragon in the trees! 

No way I could finish that! Luckily Neil could.

With more luck than skill we grilled two perfect steaks, but when these were devoured we decided it was time to return. The weather wasn’t getting any better, and daylight wouldn’t last that much longer. So while the gale whipped up the water in the nearby reservoir we made our way back. I had expected to drink Pimm’s in the sun while watching a sophisticated game of cricket, and what I got was cold, wet, gloom, death and desolation, served with large dollops of defiance! It’s good that life still has its surprises...

Who would have guessed this is southwest England in late June!

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