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a weekend in wiltshire

January 11, 2011

Life is funny. One minute you’re in your apartment in Montreal, frantically getting ready for yet another flight across the pond with all your toiletries spread out on the table, trying to decide what stays and what goes, and what has to be packed in a ziplock bag and what is over 100mL (because you never know what kind of shenanigans I could get up to with a container of hazelnut hair cream and shower gel). And you’re thinking to yourself that surely you should have this down by now, that it should be as second nature as packing a lunch in the morning for all the times you’ve done this trip. It is not. And that is because butterflies in your stomach are preventing proper brain synapses from firing and all you can really think is “Fuck the toothpaste! I’ll just buy some in London because OMG! I AM GOING TO BE IN LONDON IN THE MORNING.” Yes, pretty much any activity on the day of departure somehow ends with that statement. And then you calm down for a bit because sustaining that level of excitement is detrimental to your nervous system. Then, before you know it, the whirlwind begins. The lineups at security, the boarding, the airplane food, the on-air movie, the landing, the questions at customs, the stamping of the passport, the quick stop at the airport washroom to freshen up, the express train, the tube station, the double decker bus and finally, actually seeing him after so much time spent imagining the moment (it’s like a strange mixture of intense relief coupled with a flurry of butterflies and the excitement of a kid jacked up on chocolate in a ball pit).

That day is long gone now. In fact, I remember very little of my first weekend in England and I can’t even count on my journal entries to jog the old memory as they seriously lack in description (and look something like my high school agenda with doodles of hearts and talks of feelings). The only thing I can recall with absolute certainty is the sense of utter peace I felt just sitting in the passenger seat (on the left side) after such a long journey and holding his hand as we drove an hour and a half to his father’s place in the country. And subsequently, not being able to let go of each other all night. It was, and continued to be for the next 15 days, the strangest thing. To still long for someone even when they are right beside you. To miss them when there are mere inches away. A habitual response, I suppose. It is the strongest addiction I’ve ever known. Both as painful as the withdrawal and as blissful as the high.

And now, here I am again, in my apartment in Montreal, with all my toiletries neatly stowed. Here I am, in this space of longing again. More than a month has gone by since my return and there are, once more, many days separating the British Boy and I from our next encounter. And I am trying my best to reconcile the gratitude I feel for having this amazing man in my life with the ache I feel from being thousands of miles away from him. The Atlantic ocean is mighty big and is made to feel even bigger when your love is on the other side of it.

So, as a kind of catharsis, I shall spend the next week sharing photos of my trip to England and will attempt to recount the events to the best of my ability, though I may have to leave it up to the photos to tell the stories. Because if you want the low down, the truth of the matter is my time in England went something like this: pub-food-bedroom-booze-bedroom-friends… and general obliviousness to anything but each other.

So, sod it. Here are the highlights of my weekend in Wiltshire (the place where Joe spent most of his childhood); a perfect mix of sightseeing and chilling in the countryside.

  1. Him making me poached eggs and toast for breakfast. I love his poached eggs.
  2. Long leisurely drives in small countryside towns and the way so many counties end in “shire” in England and how it all feels so very Lord of the Rings.
  3. Roche Court Sculpture Park. In particlular, seeing an Antony Gormley sculpture up close and personal. And being invited by the curator (who happens to know the british boy’s family) into her 19th century home mansion for a glass of wine. Never in my life have I ever been in such a house, which was, admittedly, intimidating for this small town lower class girl.
  4. My very first taste of banoffee pie at the Silver Plough Pub. “Shut up! You’ve never tasted banoffee pie?“, asked the brother. “Well then, we simply must order some.” Banana, cream and toffee boiled in condensed milk? I said, god damn!
  5. Spending time in the chapel of his childhood, where the sign on the gate post reads “The gravestones in this churchyard are old and tired. They may collapse if read too vigorously. Take care.”
  6. Seeing Stonehenge and other rock formations in Avebury. What up with everything being so steeped in mystery and heritage in England?
  7. Salisbury Cathedral, where one of the four surviving originals of the Magna Carta resides.
  8. Hearing two women chant ever so mournfully in the burial grounds of West Kennet Long Barrow on a nearly full moon fog-filled night. A prehistoric burial ground (3700 to 2000 BC) at dusk is creepy enough, on s’entend. Two women wailing inside, performing what I presume to be some goddess ritual… even creepier (also… strangely enchanting).
  9. Spotting the Westbury White Horse in all its majesty on the hillside.
  10. Joe running a hot bath for me at his dad’s. A long soak in a ginormous bathtub with a ginormous glass of wine and a book before supper? Bliss.
  11. Retiring to the green room after supper. Sitting by the fire and looking at photos and listening to stories about his childhood.
  12. Strapping on a pair of wellies and going for a long walk  in the woods. Trailing behind, stealing kisses in the forest, getting to know each other better (nothing like seeing where someone comes from to get a better understanding of who they are).
  13. Meeting his father was interesting and insightful. He is the quintessential English man with the plus fours breeches and the tweed hat and the wisps of white hair poking out at the sides and the very dry sense of humor that leaves you wondering if he has taken a dislike to you… until you bond over the making of to do lists and the satisfaction of crossing things off them.
  14. A big lunch in a warm, cozy house after a long winter walk.
  15. Sleeping in with him. There is nothing better in this world than a lazy morning with the one you love.

Next adventure: in which the brothers drop me off at the train station and I take 3 trains and travel 4 hours to Falmouth where my dear friend Saffa awaits me on the platform.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2011 2:09 pm

    you mean you don’t have banoffee across the pond?
    ARE YOU SAVAGES?

  2. January 11, 2011 4:58 pm

    your words are magic and a dream to read. your memories and tales are beautiful.
    love love love the photos.
    looking forward to the next installment. x.

  3. January 11, 2011 5:21 pm

    Beautiful pictures. I enjoyed reading your words as well, I think you’re very honest in what you write.
    The picture of you and your British boy is so cute, you’re such a lovely couple 🙂 I hope you can be together again very soon!

  4. January 11, 2011 5:22 pm

    Love, love, love these words and (as ever) your photos were straight-up swoon-worthy too. I’m also looking forward to reading about the rest of your travels!

  5. January 11, 2011 5:46 pm

    Such beautiful photos and wonderful written words … the longing is palpable and a feeling I’ve known well in the past.

    Take care.

  6. January 11, 2011 7:56 pm

    Aw shucks, Jeanine. You’ve stirred up memories of how it was with my Canadian and me. Love, Love, oh Love! Long distance Love is an magic elixir. Girl I hope you find a sponsor soon!

    I love every single image. You have a wonderful eye. Guess that means you have great taste in men too. 😀

    You’re amazing. Wishing you the best.

  7. January 11, 2011 9:16 pm

    oh my, if i were to wrap up all things british/english? and want to experience them, i think you covered most of them in this one trip. *swoon*

  8. January 12, 2011 12:35 am

    I love reading about your love story. Thank you for sharing it!

    And your photos are pure magic as well.

  9. prin permalink
    January 12, 2011 12:52 am

    🙂 So sweet.

  10. January 12, 2011 7:58 am

    Sigh… this post was so lovely. Such bittersweetness and beauty! And the photos, oh the photos. You have such talent.

  11. joestewart4669 permalink
    January 12, 2011 8:34 am

    It was a man and a woman in West Kennet Long Barrow. Huuummmmmmmm…..

    • jeanine permalink
      January 12, 2011 8:48 am

      ok. so maybe it was a woman and a woman that looked like a man.

  12. January 12, 2011 9:32 am

    Wow that’s a great blog, I absolutely loved your pictures (sans rapport: the ones of “a year in photos” are absolutely amazing)

    Looks like you experienced a bit more than just booze and friends in England 😉

  13. January 13, 2011 8:23 am

    You are the best tour guide and I love your writing. Only five minutes here, a few pictures, no money spent and I feel like I’ve been on a great vacation.

  14. January 13, 2011 10:07 pm

    I love that photo of the white chair out in the field! Do you know the story behind it? Does it live there always or did someone bring it out to sit and enjoy nature for a while?

  15. January 21, 2011 4:25 pm

    gorgeous words and images babe. as always. i am captivated and entranced.

    will be you be my ghostwriter?

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