Monday, September 26, 2011

England Trip Do Over - Part 3

I woke up Friday to brilliant sunshine and a wide open day. Both of these things are atypical of all my previous trips, so I was very excited. I wandered around by myself for a bit, simply because I could. The one thing I made it a point to do was wander up Tilehouse Street because it is my favorite street in the world. Since I grew up with an English family as a huge part of my extended one, I'd been hearing about it all my life, and had developed a picture of what England looked like in my own head which was shaped entirely around the loose oral history I'd been hearing about since I was 3. My first time visiting the comic he had taken me on a walking tour of Hitchin, which I thought was lovely, right up until we hit the bottom of Tilehouse Street, where I stopped in my tracks and stood with mouth agape. That was it. That was my England. Apart from its not being constantly shrouded in mist (and I've been told to come back at a different time of year because it will be), Tilehouse Street was exactly what I had been picturing all my life. It was like someone had mined my brain, extracted that image and had it built in real life. The comic insisted that was to be expected, as my family was from St. Albans which is just down the road and looks very similar, but I wasn't having it. Magic had just happened. I wanted to stay there forever.

Tilehouse Street

I was getting pretty hungry, having not eaten the night before, and had decided to call Nat the Evil Lesbian to see if she wanted to meet for lunch, but decided first to have a walk through the arcade. Which is where I simply ran into her. It was my second time bumping into someone I knew and I was probably overly excited, as walking around town bumping into people is basically her job desciption. We went and got some lunch which we ate on the lawn at St. Mary's Church, and which led to the only dark point of what was an otherwise perfect day: on finishing our lunch, we were about to throw our rubbish in the bin* when Nat exclaimed, "Oh look, there's a giant spider in there!" There was. A giant, GIANT spider. Like, huge. Like, way bigger than any spider in England has a right to be, because listen up England, one of the reasons that I go there is because there are not supposed to be any huge bugs that can get me, ESPECIALLY not spiders. THIS IS WHY I DON'T GO TO AUSTRALIA OR BRAZIL. You are supposed to be a safe haven for me, and you are RUINING my fantasy of a land of tiny harmless bugs with your ridiculously large bin spiders. CUT IT OUT. Nat, the one who is terrified of actors dressed up in scary outfits who pose no real threat to her whatsoever, for some reason decided to THROW HER THINGS IN THE BIN ANYWAY, thus disturbing the giant spider which obviously WAS a threat to our lives and making me scream like an idiot, "What the fuck do you think you are doing? THERE ARE OTHER BINS. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?"

When I'd calmed down a bit and thrown my own rubbish away in a different, spider free bin (I made her check before I would get near it), she went about doing the tour guide portion of her town ranger job, and took me inside the church, to meet the coffee guy in the square, and to her office where I bought a bunch of souvenirs including a bottle of delicious apple juice to take home (which did not end up lasting even 24 hours). Right around this time, I got a text from MrBalls, who was on his way into town with his best friend, her husband and their offspring. I went off to meet them at Halsey's for tea where we ended up having the best waiter ever. First of all, he had no idea what cakes they had, so we sent him in to go check. When he came back he still didn't know what one of them was. "It looks like the apple ones, but the decoration on the top is different so I think maybe it's not. But the woman who brings the cakes said this morning that she had changed some of the decorations so it might be. I really don't know." I fell in love with him. After our tea and a fork duel, MrBalls and I popped over to see Felix at his salon before heading to a birthday party at the Sunrunner.

We were early, and so we got our beers and sat outside waiting for the others with one other friend, the mutineer, who had shown up when we did. People started trickling in one at a time, most of whom I didn't know but was introduced to by MrBalls, Nat or Sulu. Much of the night is fuzzy because beer! What I do remember is MrBalls saying the mutineer was the most perverted person he knew, which made my head spin around fast enough to cause whiplash so I could argue the point - they both conceded when I pulled my pink bullet vibrator out of my purse, turned it on and started poking the mutineer in the arm with it. Later, after the party started winding down, he was kind enough to walk me home and make sure I made it safely into my bed.

The next day I got up late and had time for very little other than to have some tea and a shower and get sort of dressed before heading to the train station to collect the stranger, who was spending the afternoon in Hitchin with me. I walked him through the square pointing stuff out as if I owned the place, and we stopped for some coffee and a snack at the coffee stand where I greeted Rick the coffee guy like I'd known him all my life. A light rain dissolved into an absolutely beautiful afternoon, which I missed entirely due to the fact I spent all of it indoors. However, it seemed to be thoroughly enjoyed by the wedding party going on in the hotel right outside my open window, which we spied on in between various attempts to disrupt it.

After walking the stranger back to the train station, I realized it was getting a bit late (by Hitchin standards) and I had better find something to eat before the whole place closed down. This led me to do the unthinkable: I discovered a restaurant BY MYSELF, went inside it BY MYSELF, ordered dinner AND dessert BY MYSELF and somehow got through all of those things without dying or bursting into tears. I got a text from the comic sadly informing me of our F.C.'s latest humiliation (which I had wisely chosen not to watch) and text-gossiped with Nat about our respective transgressions the previous evening.

As mentioned in a previous post, I am not English and I am not 20, and my liver can only handle so much abuse. Consequently, instead of going out on the most lively night of the week, I called it a night and went to bed. Besides, I was meeting Steve for dinner the next day, and I had not yet spent an evening with Steve that didn't end with the room spinning. Sunday would not turn out any different.

*trash in the garbage can

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