Continuing from where I left off in my last entry (becuase it is not as late as I thought it was)…
I didn’t spent all my time at my cousin’s asleep though. My friend Jacqui came to visit me during the week. We had a great time and it was really good to catch up. I did my best to show her “traditional English countryside” and she cooked dinner for me, so it all worked out well! She wrote a wonderful description of her stay for her periodic mass emails, which I am going to reproduce here (I hope you don’t mind Jacqui!):
I’m in Milton Keynes (England), staying with my friend Michael (from uni in Brisbane) at his cousins’ place (they’re away in Cornwall) in their gorgeous home – an old converted water mill – with bunny rabbits outside the door, a stream running past the back of the house, cows in the neighbouring fields and beautiful green, green scenery everywhere!
Michael’s surprise for me yesterday was to go kayaking – we climbed out the window of the house (first surprise!) ‘cos that was the easiest access to the stream. Lifted the kayak down, jumped in, paddled across to the other side (like, 3 metres), jumped out, hauled the kayak up, carried it a few metres to the bank of the river, lowered the kayak down again and headed off downstream. (it sounds like a lot of work, but as we each nearly fell into the mud and water a couple of times, was actually quite funny). Down the river about a kilometre, I guess, then another muddy landing, then carried the kayak up a hill, before lowering it into… the Grand Union Canal: which, if you follow it far enough, ends up in London!
The canal was great – colourful canalboats to look at, (no bunches of reeds to navigate!), people walking their dogs along the path beside the canal… and only one lock to get through! At the lock we jumped out, carried the kayak to the other side, and got back in again. We followed the canal up as far as a (nice, old English) pub, got out and had lunch and relaxed there for a while, before heading back the way we’d come.
We were nearly back (rowing harder because we were going against the current this time) when we emerged from the leaves of an overhanging tree branch, to find a family of swans in front of us. Michael very wisely suggested we not go any closer, since Mother Swan was giving us some VERY suspicious looks! So we slowed down to swan-speed, and followed the family home – Dad in front, the three kids, and Mum bringing up the rear, glancing back at us frequently to make sure we got no closer! I wished I could have reached my camera, but it was tied up in a big bundle of my jacket and Michael’s, keeping it out of the water which seeped into the bottom of the kayak. So you’ll just have to imagine what a magic scene that was!
Jacqui had come up from London, and after staying a couple of days with me, headed off to Oxford. She is in France at the moment, and if you are reading this Jacqui, good luck on the rest of your trip!
After Jacqui had left I did some more sleeping and watching DVDs until my cousin came home, where I did some sleeping and watching DVDs intermingled with going out with them. Which brings us up to The Elephant Vanishes. Yay! I am now almost up to date! I’ll write all about my new place and my housemates and what we’ve been up to after the weekend.