How the time has flown the past few days! I'm on a train to Cheltenham Spa with Martina, and I have four days to catch up on!
Sunday in Welwyn Garden City was the perfect day to chill. We had a nice morning, full of Charlie time and just relaxing. After a very full day of walking at Hatfield House, all out joints were a bit tired. In the afternoon, Jayne took me over to Debbie's house. Debbie and I were neighbors in Nottingham, and I hadn't seen her since she'd been married and had a baby. How great to meet Stephen and play with the adorable 3 year old Daisy, who was fascinated by filling tiny traffic cones with water and pretending it was ice cream. It made me miss my nieces and playing with them. Another lovely afternoon catching up with a friend and haring about her life and the past few years. Then, back to Jayne and Scott's for awesome Chinese food: tofu and veggies. Pure delicious!
Monday I hung out with Jayne and Charlie, helping her get ready to take care of Scott and Charlie. Scott was having a procedure on his nose to help him breathe better, so he was going to be home recouping for a few weeks. So in between Charlie's feeding, I repacked and she got ready. Monday afternoon she put me on a train, saying, "you can only visit next time if you bring Todd." Made me laugh and made me happy that Todd was missed.
I made my way to Candice's house, where we had a great meal and did some more catching up. She just found out she got a new job, so we had celebrating to do. I made some yummy avocado pasta and are with the neighbor's cat keeping us company. I'm not sure if I mentioned in a previous post, but Candice lives in a great old building that once houses single working women. A hundred years ago, there would have been a communal dining space, but now everyone has cute little kitchens. Her place made me feel nostalgic about my studio back in '06-'09.
Tuesday morning I went straight to Walthamstow Central to meet Lucy. We last had dinner the night of the epic snowstorm in 2010, and it had been even longer since I'd seen Simon and the girls. They were all in school, so she took me to the Olympic Park. What an amazing space! The landscaping, kid space, and overall aesthetic is a feat. They really have made it into a place where people and families can enjoy the day. We found a little cafe and popped a squat under a tree. Lucy and I had met back in 1993 when she came over to be a camp counselor at the Girl Scout camp (Camp Wa-Ha-Na-Ha), where I also worked. So we've done quite well keeping in touch.
When we got home, I got to meet the girls, as they won't remember me from a visit ages ago. Evie is a tall eleven year old just finishing primary school. She had her end of school disco hat night, so lots of preparation. Freya is nine years old and clearly the girly girl of the two, and she was making peppermint cremes for her teachers. Bob girls are absolutely lovely, and they clearly love each other quite a lot. Simon is a teacher, so he was feeling quite ready for vacation, as his last day was the next day. It was a fun family night, partaking in the family rhythm. Simon got them to bed, and Lucy and I went to the local pub, where to my happiness there was Savanna, South African cider. Nothing could have made me happier.
Wednesday morning I headed down to the Globe to inquire about tickets for the afternoon performance of Richard II. I had a few hours to kill, so under Jayne and and Lucy's recommendations, I took a boat cruise on the clipper out to Greenwich. What a great view of all the old warehouses and the river Thames. I'd never done that in all my years, and it was amazing. At North Greenwich, I got off and did the cable car, which takes you high above the city and back again. I got a little shaky knees, but the view of the city and all the cranes at work was a unique view.
I then went back to Bankside and to the Globe. I bought my cushion and found my lower gallery seat. I really know nothing about the play Richard II, so it was all new to me. I feared up when the trumpeters signaled the start of the play. Finally, after all these visits, I finally got to see a performance. How fun watching the actors interact with the groundlings, causing the audience to laugh and further egg them on. Wow was it fun. I cannot wait to come back and see another show of a play I know well. I sorta wish I could have been a groundling (tickets were sold out), but I did enjoy sitting out of the sun on a cushion.
I then went up to Kings Cross, where I me up with Luke, a brilliant artist we met when in residency in Vermont. Luke took me on a beautiful walk along the canal up into Camden. What a great walk. It's a walk I've never done, and quite the secret perfect path! I met Luke's wife, Anneke, and his son, Jake, who will be coming to SAIC (school of the art institute in chicago) in the fall, so lots to talk about! (Anybody have a room for rent for August-December?) Luke showed me his work space, which included some of his Vermont pieces. It made me so nostalgic for our residency in 2013. Anneke made an amazing meal, and we all chatted and laughed. Todd and I look forward to having Jake over in the fall, though he is so outgoing that he won't need our help!
After dinner I met up with Martina at the exact time Luke drove me there. She had booked an airbnb, which was a room in someone's flat. There were two women from Brazil also there with the two guys who live there. It was so great to finally meet up with her and prepare for our trip today. We slept to the sound of carts on the cobblestone streets and birds far too early.
Now we are in the gorgeous Cotswold countryside, shortly to arrive in Cheltenham and on to Winchcombe!