From Scotland I came to Lancaster, a small town in the north-west of England. See, it doesn't feel that small to me except everyone here knows each other. I was sitting in the town square during the Saturday market eating curry (heaven, FYI) and two sets of people sat down either side of me and started chatting all of a sudden. I figured they were just friendly, like how in Inverness everyone said hello to me all the time, but no; if you sit down in the town square in Lancaster on a Saturday you will see someone you know sitting next to the strange girl with the Harry Potter glasses. Crazy.
So I arrived here from Edinburgh last Wednesday and stayed with the most outrageous family. Nine-year-old daughter is Harry Potter, book and Hitchcock obsessed and completely Hermione-esque (Ugh, British kids. So uncultured.) and seven-year-old son couldn't stop talking about Avatar (though he'd never seen it)and had an allergy to keeping still that caused him to street dance and randomly hug his mother. So if these children weren't horrible enough, their parents were just dreadful. Always asking me if they could get me a cup of tea, joking around, giving me maps of the town and suggestions for places to go. It was driving me mad. Anyway, I had to get out of that obviously toxic environment and I'd already arranged to stay with someone else for a couple of nights so wasn't that a relief.
While staying with the aforementioned family I went to see the castle and the museums and the local vegetarian cafe (come on, I couldn't not), whereas my new host is a young person into music and late nights (how risque!). Unfortunately I wasn't much in a way to experience either as I have caught, from poor baby in Edinburgh, her cold. I should be grateful as I experienced her two illnesses separately and she had them at the same time but waaa! I don't like being sick! But before my throat completely gave out I was taken out for dinner on Friday night which was loverly, a charming old-fashioned restaurant looking onto the canal- I'm not even teasing, that's what it was- and, frankly, peer pressured into trying several desserts. What can I say? My night sucked.
Saturday is market day basically anywhere in England which makes me way too happy. I spent quite a while wandering the now stall-covered inner streets of Lancaster and actually buying fresh fruit and vegetables for a change (novelty!). Oh, and stopped to smell the Indian food which you just have to do if you're able. It's amazing. So that strenuous activity left me basically exhausted so I spent the rest of the day reading and pottering around before eating dinner early and going to bed in the same fashion. I was sincerely disappointed to miss my host's gig though as he is touted as an amazing musician and I really wanted to see him play. Throats will be throats though.
Yesterday was productive. I made pancakes in the morning while everyone else was still sleeping (because they are so much more rock and/or roll than me) which were gratefully received in the afternoon when people woke up or came back from their gig the night before in London (which is three hours away). The uncoolness of me in comparison to these people is unfathomable. It cannot be fathomed. My debt to my host done, I then accepted the invitation to see a place called Hawes (the pronunciation is apparently hilarious and, truthfully, it did keep my host amused all afternoon). It was a gorgeous little town and we took lunch/afternoon tea in this adorable cafe that was like something out of a 1940s movie. Or just a movie starring Keira Knightley that's based in the 1940s. Either or.
I then went to see some other people whose contact details I was given by Denise, this time it was her son and his partner, and they took me to this great blues night that's apparently been running for years. It's all these people that sit around and just shout out songs or tell each other what to play and then they just do (play, that is). It's amazing and though I know less than nothing about the blues (I mean, I was smiling the whole time I was there) I had a really good time and was very impressed.
Today I'ma drop off my backpack for safekeeping with that abominable family I first stayed with, have lunch with another of Denise's friends (she has too many, I think) and get a train to Manchester to see if I can have as good a time the second time round as I did the first time. Wish me luck, I suppose, and also clear sinuses.
It's not a perfect metaphor.