Wednesday, April 2, 2008

This was England.

One of the more shiny and happy perks of my job here in France was a trip to England with some of my students last week. As you may know, throughout college I frequently declared myself over the industrialized world. But I guess, given the whole French expedition and my travels in Europe, it is clear that I am well, not finished with Western civilization after all. And, if you're not through with the imperialist experiment or done with canonical literature, England is the place to be.

I'm sorry, that may have sounded snide. But let's be clear, I am not over imperialism or good books, so England satisfied me in a way few vacations have. What I mean to say is that England was what I expected it to be, as a tourist, and that I enjoyed it for that. I frolicked the moors, trolled the museums, perused the bookstores, and generally had a delightful week. The best part of this break in England, for me, was just the ease of it. And that really was the result the language thing.

We did a lot, too much to talk about and really more than I could digest. My favorite parts of the trip were the stops in York and Cambridge.

Outside of York proper are the ruins of Fountains Abbey. Once one of the wealthiest abbeys in the country, when Henry the 8th started sacking Catholic holdings in England, he did this one a particularly nasty turn. Following the pillaging, he took the Abbey grounds and created a water garden for his new wife, Anne Boleyn.

I love a good ruin. And Fountains is expansive, with lots of places to run around and more to picnic. It was a great time, even while toting fifty French teenagers.

Cambridge is just too pretty to be believed. You can glide along the river taking it all in on a punt, or you can just walk it, like I did. I spent most of my day in Cambridge just wandering, eating a bun, lazily drinking some coffee. I stopped at a thrift store and bought a couple of used books.

I also saw the Bronte house and got to run around Yorkshire fields with the spring lambs. It was really a wonderful break, and I think I better understand what people see in England. For me, liking a country has a lot to do with personal attraction. I find I often think of countries in high school note terms:

Do you like-like England?
Maybe X

I'll be honest and tell you that England isn't really my type. We aren't going steady. Unless Flumpy moves there, or Nissa stays, in which case I will be all over England. Regardless, I am really glad I got the chance to go. I try not to forget the privilege of living abroad and traveling these places. Especially now that I am less than a week from moving back to America.

Here's to England and to Europe and to these past six months.

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