ewein2412: (osprey hair)

You know, I have lived in the United Kingdom for over 20 years. Cumulatively, I have lived in the UK for longer than I have lived anywhere else in my entire life. Osprey-like, I raised my children here. Now, OFFICIALLY, I am as much British as American. (It was bound to happen some day!)

Of course I did this for a bunch of practical reasons as much as, and maybe more than, deeply emotional ones. The process was such a grind – my friend Tina and I have been going through it together, comparing notes and interviews, helping each other with forms, etc. We started filling stuff out in February and YES, we had to take the “Life in the UK Test,” which incidentally I think is easier than the one they make you do for US citizenship – it’s kind of like the Great British Pub Quiz, and indeed, I have been calling the whole process the Great British Scavenger Hunt, because it’s required trips to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Falkirk, and ultimately Perth, as we gather signatures and official stamps and pass certificates.

So the very last thing you have to do is make a pledge of loyalty to the Queen, and I had kind of just viewed this as another Scavenger Hunt Item, and was TOTALLY unprepared for how much fun it was.

For a start, I’m so glad it happened in Scotland. I ended up having a private ceremony, to expedite it, as they only do them once a month in Perth and I wasn't going to be here for June or July. They do it in the Old City Council Chambers, in a beautiful Victorian high-ceilinged room all wood-panelled and with ornate stained glass windows overlooking the Tay.

They got out the Saltire & the Union Jack and a portrait of the Queen up on the altar where they usually do weddings.

Because it was private, I was allowed to invite random guests – the Council actually sent me invitations, which was lovely, and I was “attended” by my great friends and (both of them) former next-door-neighbours Betty and Kathryn. Tim came too (Sara is still in Salisbury finishing up her first year at university and Mark was at his Duke of Edinburgh award qualifying weekend on a 50 mile hike). Betty and Kathryn were UBER-EXCITED and got all dressed up and brought presents. Kathryn got tearful while I was doing my pledge of allegiance! “Accustomed as I am to public speaking,” I, you may know, managed not to tear up.

At the end we all had to stand up while they played the national anthem. I loved the speech about diversity and making a contribution. I do try.

Afterward the Council gave us coffee and shortbread and the presiding official, Rhona, revealed that she’d been at a Girl Scout camp (as a Guide leader) in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, near Ephrata, in 2011. So that was a funny coincidence. Later, Betty and Kathryn and I had a girly lunch in the sun in St John's Square in Perth, while Tim ran away to nurse his latest round of dental anesthesia (he had already been to the dentist in Edinburgh and to Ikea by the time he met us at the Council Chambers at 11 a.m.).

“Do you feel different?” someone asked me.

I do, kind of. It feels right. It was time.

The Recall

I am the land of their fathers,
In me the virtue stays.
I will bring back my children,
After certain days.

Under their feet in the grasses
My clinging magic runs.
They shall return as strangers.
They shall remain as sons.

Over their heads in the branches
Of their new-bought, ancient trees,
I weave an incantation
And draw them to my knees.

Scent of smoke in the evening,
Smell of rain in the night -
The hours, the days and the seasons,
Order their souls aright,

Till I make plain the meaning
Of all my thousand years -
Till I fill their hearts with knowledge,
While I fill their eyes with tears.

--Rudyard Kipling

ewein2412: (e Wein)

It’s been a couple of weeks since our trip to Dorset, and I am a lame blogger. So here’s kind of a photo essay to give you a taste of the highlights.

The trip was Sara’s idea. Apparently she is a dinosaur fanatic and has always wanted to see the Jurassic Coast. The Jurassic Coast, FYI, is a World Heritage Site of 95 miles’ worth of coastline in southern England boasting an amazing amount of geological cross sections and fossil remains. It’s been noted by geologists and palaeontologists for about 200 years. This was not a very organized holiday for us (like we are ever organized, um), and we planned it very quickly, and it was great.

Cut for many pics )
ewein2412: (harriet writing (no text))
[livejournal.com profile] lauradi7 has sent me this wonderful link to an animated version of the Bayeux Tapestry, also reminding me of one of my favorite weird British museum pieces, a lifesize replica of the Bayeux Tapestry on display in the Museum of Reading in England. It was made in 1885/1886 by a team of 40 British embroiderers (all women) led by Elizabeth Wardle.
ewein2412: (Default)
LiveJournal Haiku!
Your name:eegatland
Your haiku:england for a year
i would give you the weather
in scotland my god
Created by Grahame

I want to go punting.
ewein2412: (Default)
Yet another of my friends died of cancer last week, which meant that on Saturday I flew down to southern England for the second funeral I've been to in 6 weeks Read more... )

On the flight home I was hoping I'd be able to see some of the fireworks, but I was totally and utterly unprepared to see Britain in FLAMES, which is what I saw. Fireworks were going off all around the airport as we took off, and all over the city of Luton (just north of London), and they never stopped the whole way back to Edinbugh. Not just municipal displays; the thing about Bonfire Night is that everyone does their own fireworks display in their back yard. Wherever there were lights, civilization, there were fireworks—over every village, every town, every city. Has anyone seen the strobe lighting on the Eiffel Tower recently, amber glow covered with sparkling white light? The whole city of Newcastle looked like that. From 30,000 feet you couldn't see individual fireworks—just sparkle, everywhere, for the whole hour it took to fly to Edinburgh. There was one stretch where there was low cloud, perhaps 15,000 feet below us, but you could still see the fireworks, the clouds lit from below and glimmering as though they were full of lightning.

And of course, the other thing you could see was THE BONFIRES. Remember how big the Perth bonfire was last year, [livejournal.com profile] katranides? Like, the size of a tank? You could see the bonfires from 30,000 feet, even where there weren't any fireworks. Big, glowing spots of dark orange all across the blackness of the land; at least a dozen in every town, bright, deep orange, far more intense than the general pink glow of sodium streetlamps. The moon wasn't up yet and Mars was burning red and steady above it all, and it was pagan and primeval and so, so, so amazing.

And when I got home, dazed with this, there were candles burning all along my own dark garden path.

Tim had run out to light them when he heard my car pulling up. Sometimes, very occasionally, he does small things that really knock me reeling. He said, "Did you like the runway lights?"
ewein2412: (Default)
It's now a week since we got back from our week at the beach in Northumberland (my notebook still smells like woodsmoke). Can I just say, again and again, that Northumberland is jaw-droppingly beautiful. We were in Bamburgh, which I think is the most glorious beach in the whole of the UK (when I discovered Bamburgh with a friend of mine 2 years back, her then-6-year-old stood on the sand and uttered, "Is this the Mediterranean?")—there isn't anything remarkable about the landscape itself, really, but the LIGHT! The clear light and near sky does something to it like watercolour on a paper landscape. When we arrived a front was passing away to the south of us, clouds piling up on the horizon in what Mark (who is 5) described as looking exactly like a wave about to crest.

I will stop talking about the weather (this is what happens when you live in the UK for 10 years) and skip over the castles and priories and steam railways and sandstone caves in order to cut to the best part. On Lindisfarne, Holy Island, the place where the Book of Kells was written, we all walked along the beach at sunset. Looking back over the bay towards the mainland the sky was all rose cloud with pinpricks of gold in it, reflected in water and wet sand. Halfway across the bay—half a mile away— was a spit of sand where at least 20 seals were playing—rolling about on the sand, diving and surfacing in the water, stretching and posing. And they were singing. At first we thought it was birds; it was a distant, dovey sort of sound, quite haunting. Sometimes louder, sometimes softer, barking, cooing, howling, hooting.

I think that Northumberland is the Great Undiscovered Vacation Spot of the Known World.


ewein2412: (Default)

September 2017



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