On Homesickness – Friday Night, October 5th.

I’m leaving on my yearly trip out of the country (I’m currently en route to Mexico) and admit I am already homesick. I already miss my routine, my dance classes, the familiar setting. But mostly, I miss my bed. I made the mistake of changing over to my winter comforter this week and it, combined with the greatest of mattresses, makes for a very cozy bed-time experience. “I miss you already, I said, patting at the top of the blanket after I straightened the bedded before leaving this morning. At least it will be waiting for me all tidy when I get back. There is nothing finer than getting back from a trip to a nicely made bed.

Another cause of the homesickness, in a away, is thy I’m travelling on my own again after years and years of having travel buddies accompany me around the world. I sort of ran out this year, or rather, all my previous travel buddies have other travel buddies. No fear! I also travel alone! Only I notice that it’s not as fun. Having a travel buddy means having someone to plan with (or do all the planning for the both of us) and someone to hang out with during long layovers. Not to mention having someone I know in foreign countries.

When I first started travelling I did it alone and didn’t think anything of it. There were places I wanted to go and I didn’t want to wait for the schedules and budgets of friends. But then these things, in addition to people noticing I travel to places, led to a series of travel buddies. Traveling alone and with travel buddies are great. I like traveling.

But it’s been a while, and I have panic, hesitation and doubt that travel buddies would usually help to distract me from. Panic because of new situations I have no control over (I might be in control of them at the time, but there’s no way to prepare before hand). Hesitation in trying new things while being in new places; talking to new people. Doubt in my ability to handle all aforementioned; that I won’t be in the right mood when I get there; that I won’t feel right, emotionally and healthily. But I go anyway.

Things that help: a tradition of calling Mum from YVR (today accompanied by wine); the things that can and have been planned in action; my wee travel colouring book; phone charging stations

Mexico. Day One. Playa del Carmen – Saturday morning

I get an actual full day as my first day here because I landed at 7:30am. I went right to my hotel, and bonus they had a room ready for me. I dropped my stuff and have “found” a vegan restaurant just a few steps away. “Found” because I saw it on Google maps during research into my trip. I had my order ready in Victoria, but now in the heat, I had to amend to a smaller portion and a cooler drink. I’m hungry.

I’m hungry because I flew with WestJet and they don’t have many options I can eat from their on-board menu, or their pre-pay menu. A couple snacks maybe. It was an overnight flight so I wasn’t too worried: I filled up on a pad thai at YVR. Also, only a 5.5 hour flight so I survived on a granola bar.

Also, I didn’t sleep more than a nappish/doze all night so I’m flakey this morning. My new method for sleeping on the airplane is: a) neck pillow b) pashmina c)warm socks d)podcast i have on but don’t really listen to because I’m dozing. I’m fond of the poscast. “Casefile” for this. It often has multi- part episodes that run for a fews hours and i set them to run continuously. On the way to England last year I half-listened to a really long one about Jamestown. Today was one about some serial killer who I still know nothing about becauae I slept through it. He killed 40 people, probably more (I woke up for that statistic). (“Casefile” is a true crime podcast, which you might not think is good for sleeping along to; however, the narrator has a nice voice.)

I had a super bowl at the vegan place. It was beautiful to start but being sleep- deprived and hungry I dug right in before taking a picture. A picture is no good now because it looks like sawdust and snow:

There’s coconut and granola and a banana in there somewhere and you can see a couple blueberries. The wooden spoon is pleasing.

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I’ve camped out in room 14 at the National Gallery. There wasn’t enough time to go back to the Air BnB before I’d have to leave again to come back to this area for the show tonight. I’m going to see the musical 42nd Street, and the theatre is just up the Strand from where I am now. I thought I’d wait here at the gallery where it’s warm and there’s free WiFi. There is also bench seating in whatever kind of lighting I might enjoy (since the different galleries have different lighting requirements based on what painting are in them).

I’m a big fan of Jesus and Mary paintings. Not because of their subject so much, but because they are colourful and huge and are a pleasure to look at. Here is what I’m sitting in front of right now:

Mary is always (usually) in a blue dress and that pleases me.

One of my very favourite things to do is wander around an art gallery, or a museum, so these past couple of days have been nice. Back to Victoria tomorrow, and I’m excited to go back.

P.S. I had to move a minute ago because there was no Wifi where I was sitting, but I found a gallery with a couch, so here I am now:

Busy 2 days.

Yesterday was the train from York to London. It was a lovely ride. Then we had to lug our suitcases on the underground, which was an ordeal, as I hate lugging my suitcase anywhere, but the trains weren’t busy, and it wasn’t far to go, so it was fine.

Then since it’s London, we sort of just set our bags in our room, got changed and then went out and about: dinner in Covent Gardens and then the West End production of An American in Paris.

There was also a rather lovely walk around with me trying to find Covent Gardens, and getting us lost, or at least, not quite where we planned to be. I love London! There’s so much to see! Susan took over navigation after supper to ensure that we got to the theatre on time for the show.

That was our first day (half-day, really).

The our second day (today) started with me at the Tate Modern and Susan at the British Museum. Once I had my fill of modern art, I met Susan for lunch, and then back to the British Museum because Susan had more to see and I wanted to poke around, too.

Then tonight was a ballet show at Sadler’s Wells, which is a dance organization in London, and they had a show on, so I thought we better go see it. This is what we watched

No we are done for the day. One more day in London tomorrow, and then flying home Saturday.

It was our last day in York. We explored the York Castle Museum, which included displays about life in England and York from the Victorian age to the 60’s. There was a good display about the first World War, and how it affected York. Did you know there was such a thing as embroidered post cards? Women near the front made them to sell to soldiers to send home. Very pretty. There was also a show up about fashion and how we shape our bodies. It started out with a history of fashion, with historical examples, and then moved on to how we’ve eaten and exercised for the past few centuries.

We also spent some time shopping this afternoon. I had a particular wish to try on cardigans at Marks and Spenser, so here I am from that fashion show:

Above is the house we’ve been staying in while in York. Our room is the one with the two arched windows.

This is why it’s been so warm here in York. But now the wind is howling as I expected it to in the north of England.

Today was the Yorkshire Museum, where there was another viking exhibition going on. I’m learning a lot about vikings here. York was the largest viking settlement in England, and people keep discovering more old goods to put in museum displays.

We also went to Barley Hall, a reconstructed medieval townhouse. It contained mostly info on Henry VIII and the time he visited York. There were some costumes from the Wolf Hall TV show there as well, along with all the stuff one might find in a medieval home… like a writing desk:

Not much else today because we’re tired.

Food

We’ve been buying a few groceries for breakfasts and snacks so we don’t have to eat out at every meal (which is expensive anyway, but really expensive here). I think the food section at Marks and Spencer is my favourite. They have dairy free yogurt, and I had some tea buns, and also a packaged salad that was pretty good.

York.

It’s ridiculously warm in York this weekend. I thought, being in northern England, I’d be wearing all of my clothes layered atop another due to the coldness, but I was absolutely incorrect about that. Around 18 Celsius, maybe warmer, and even some sunshine!

Here I am in the sunshine one the wall that runs around York:

Today Susan and I walked along the wall and checked out a couple of museums. One was called The Henry VII Experience. The other was Jorvik Viking Centre, about a viking settlement in York. We got to ride around a viking village in a trolly! And the a guy showed us viking combs made out of antler, and bits of jewelry made of amber, and an ice skate made of cow bone. The highlight, however was getting to see the biggest fossilized poo in the world.

We’ve also spent some time here poking around the shopping area and the shambles market, because they’re easy to walk around in. We also walked along the wall, which led to a river, which we walked along until we got to a bridge, from which I took this picture:

Today was Chatsworth House day. It was beautiful. We had to walk 2km to get to the house from the nearest village, Baslow. Most of the walk looked like this:

It rained a bit and sunned a bit, but it was otherwise really warm. Really warm. I haven’t been cold all day.

First view of Chatsworth House (there are some renovations going on):

The reason for going to Chatsworth House was there is a fashion exhibit happening and I wanted to see it. It was good- lots of old things mixed in with modern, all things worn by people from or visiting the house. I should have studied the blurbs more. I have a pamphlet about it I can read later. Here is some fashion:

(I thought the feathered neckline looked nice on the bald mannequin)

After Chatsworth House, we travelled to York on the train, grabbed some Chinese take-away, and now bedtime! We have a beautiful AirBnB in York.

Tomorrow is the start of York adventures.

(Updated Oct 14 to add photos)

I didn’t write yesterday because we were out late. Susan and I watched a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream that included both Shakespeare’s play And incidental music by Mendelssohn. It was a delight. But, as I have watched a few productions of Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as many other plays, I had some notes for them.

It was in the Sheldonian Theatre, which is at the heart of Oxford. Here is my view of the inside:

It was a fun venue, and was originally build for university ceremonies, no not a normal theatre set-up.

Today we hung out in Oxford for a bit, then lunched at a pub called The Crown, before meeting up for a Morse Tour – I got to see lots of places where all versions were and are still being filmed, as well as hear some stories about what it’s like in Oxford when they’re being filmed. The tour guide had some tid-bits from her chats with Colin Dexter, which I liked.

I’ve summarized the above because I’m tired due to the the following:

Right after the Morse tour, Susan and I walked back to our AirBnB, collected our suitcases and headed straight for the train station. I say “straight for” like we zipped there, but it was a bit of a bus adventure trying to find a bus that would drop us at, or even near, the Oxford train station. There is construction on the way, so the bus I thought would get us there wasn’t going there. Lucky there were some helpful bus drivers to get us on the right bus. Also luckily, we had left plenty of time to get there.

So we got to the station, ate pork pies, got on our train, switched trains in Birmingham, and now are in a B&B in Chesterfield.

Chatsworth House tomorrow.

The Ashmolean today, as promised. We spent the morning in the classical era.

Then lunch.

Then back to the Ashmolean to check out all the other eras. We planned to just look at modern art on the third floor, but then I saw there was medieval, renaissance, 17th century, and 18th century art on the second floor as well, and we looked at those, too. I like all eras of art.

We also checked out Blackwell’s bookshop. I didn’t buy anything, but Susan found something for me:

Today Susan and I explored a few of the sights in Oxford. We started by walking a shortcut from our AirBnB to the Natural History Museum. The shortcut took us along a bike/pedestrian path next to fields and over some brooks. Very pleasant. Much nicer and 50% shorter than walking along the roads, like we did last night and got lost. But we had directions from our AirBnB host today and we did much better!

The natural history museum is full of fossils, rocks, old bugs and other natural history things. Susan is keen and knows a lot about birds and animals. I am less interested, but there was an exhibit about brain development that had real human brains! So that was neat.

I’m touching a badger:

Next we tried to visit the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, but it’s closed on Mondays so we’ll go there tomorrow.

The Bodlean library was on our list of things we must see because there is a Jane Austen exhibit on right now. It explores some of her influences: books she read, people she knew, the Napoleonic war. There were copies of her books, and of books she read. There was also samples of her handwritten drafts, and her little lap desk she worked on. I enjoyed clips of adaptations of her works that have been made by the BBC.

Jane Austen’s portrait in the window, me posing for a portrait outside:

Standing in front of an Oxford landmark (edit: which Susan informs me is called The Bridge of Sighs).

It was time for lunch then, but we got distracted by the covered market. After lunch we checked out the Oxford University Press Bookstore, went shopping for snacks at M&S and walked home.

We’re still jet-lagged so the evening is for rest, colouring, and planning tomorrow.