The Trauma of the Eye, Part 2

Trip Start May 08, 2004
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Trip End May 23, 2004


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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Monday, May 17, 2004

Janice: We've been in the gorgeous countryside of Somerset for the last few days. It was a little hairy driving out of London, but I'll let Nick tell you about that.

Nick: OK, then. I'm going to be doing a chart of my aunt's driving.

Stalls -- too many times to count.
Getting Lost -- too many times to count.
Getting Honked At -- five to six times - and I don't mean a goose.
Wrong Turns -- too many times to count.
Forgotten How to Start the Car -- twice
Leaving It Unlocked -- twice (nothing stolen).

My Aunty Janice does something we like to call The Drift Factor. She starts on the right side of the road and makes her way to the left where she bounces off the curb and hits plants and things like that. Let's just say she's not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Janice: Let me speak in my own defense. You try to navigate out of London during rush hour, drive the extremely twisted and narrow medieval roads of rural England, navigate, remember how to drive with standard transmission (which has a very peculiar transmission in this car), drive on the left side of the road and drive from the right side of the car. All while Nick is either singing songs about selling his puppy who can read braille with his tail or who's yelling, "Drift Factor" in my ear every ten minutes.

Nick: I do it every ten minutes because every ten minutes she hits the curb.

Janice: Nevertheless, we're doing fine. No damage to the car yet.

Nick: Before we continue, we forgot to tell you last week about the Ceremony of the Keys at the London Tower. In lame people terms -- oops, I mean in laymen's terms (not) -- the locking up of the Tower of London.

We had special tickets that we ordered by mail ahead of time and we arrived at the Tower gate at 9:30 pm. They let us into the castle and told us about the history of the Ceremony of the Keys. They used to only have the Chief Yeoman Warder do the ceremony. A Yeoman Warder is a Tower protector and is commonly called a Beefeater, which you know from our earlier entry. He told us that, in the early years of the ceremony, they had to get guards to protect him because, every night when he went to lock up, the people of the village would riot and try to break into the castle. So, from then on -- for the last 700 years or so -- they've had the Queen's (or King's) guards protect him as he has done the deed, or so they say.

During the Ceremony, the guards came down from the Bloody Tower and started yelling -- right in front of me, so it hurt my ears. They're yelling to "Stand at arms" and stuff like that. The Chief Yeoman Warder comes with a little lantern and the keys. The guards escort him to the two front gates and he locks up. They walk back, him being escorted, and one of the other guards pulls out his gun and yells, "Who goes there?" They say, "The keys." He says, "Whose keys?" They say, "The Queen's keys." And he's pretty much satisfied with that and I don't know why. I would go, "What's your name? What's favourite colour?" That kind of thing. They played music to end the day and told us a ghost story before we left. Which ended pretty funny, but that's not the point.

And then when we went up to the door, it was locked. How were we supposed to get out? I seem to be selected by tour guides and everyone else for special things, so obviously I was picked. Do I stick out? Do I have a big red sign on my back that says, "Pick me please?" So, the Yeoman Warder told me to go up to the gate and say a magic word and try to open it. I said, "Alacazam," and pushed and pulled but it wouldn't open. So then he said go to the little door that was set into the gate and say, "Ormish gormish." And it opened! So we got out and headed home.

This is where our story picks up back in Somerset.

Some of the things we've seen in Somerset ...

One of the my favourite things so far is Stonehenge. Dah, da, dah. It's very interesting. They say that there were actually two stonehenges built here before this one. It looks very cool and they think that it could have been a calendar, or a sacrifical circle. But they're not sure. I learned a lot about it and it looks super cool.

We've also been to the Wookey Hole caves. It was very interesting inside. At some point these caves were flooded by water and we only saw nine rooms, but they've actually found 26. But they're all flooded. To go to see the 9th room from the 4th room, we had to go through a tight space. The guide sent us on our own and gave us the flashlight or torch and obviously, who did he give it to? Me! And I had to act the guide. Watch your head people. Look at that people. It was so annoying. But fun.

We learned about the legend of the cave -- a witch there. The Saxons tried to catch her, but she always ran back into the cave and they thought that's where the devil lived. Until a monk came down and turned the witch into limestone, no one went into the cave. They think they even found her bones.

After that, we went to the paper mill and I go to make paper the old fashioned way by taking water filled with paper pulp, shaking all the water from the frame and laying the paper straight. The paper then needs to dry for five days. We didn't wait for that part.

Janice: Yesterday we visited another set of caves at Cheddar Gorge -- a beautiful, but touristy location. I even bought some smoked cheddar cheese and something called Drayton Blue. Actually it looked more green than blue, but was very tasty with quite a zing.

The countryside here is gorgeous. There are many fields and hills -- all covered with blossoming bushes and trees. There is another village every couple of kilometers, filled with old stone houses.

In fact, out cottage is one of them. Nick can describe it.

Nick: It is so weird. Our cottage has a name. I feel like we're living in someone. It's called Fairdene. It has stone floors on the first floor. I was supposed to sleep in the attic, but I don't really feel like it. It has a tiny tv. And the kitchen! The kitchen is special.

They told us there was a well in the back, but we couldn't find one in the back yard. However, Aunty Janice was making dinner in the back kitchen the first night and I heard her scream. I ran into the kitchen only to find that the whole time she was making dinner, she'd been standing on a mat that was covering a glass window in the floor -- showing a well 35-feet deep! It has a light in it that shows the water dripping into the bottom. It was freaky!

Janice: Now, you may be wondering why we called this entry The Trauma of the Eye, Part 2.

Nick: The reason for this is that soon after we got here, I started getting big pains in my left eye. My aunt took me to the hospital the other day to have it checked out. It turns out that I have scratched my eye. But now it's getting better. So, that's life.

The countryside here is very, very nice. Rolling hills and tumbling valleys. The magnificence of its essence captivates me. (I hope my teacher likes that too.) It also has a lot of green -- photosynthesis! (Hee, hee. Added that, too)

Janice: Another thing we did was visit a Toy Collector Show yesterday. It was held in a local arena and was full of antique toys and railway collector kinds of things. It made me want to hand out my Hilary's Special Honey business cards!

Nick: Yesterday was fun. We went shopping! We saw lots of stores. My Aunty Janice bought a necklace and shoes at the Clarks store. I bought a cool dragon holding some jewells. I almost bought a blow-up chair, but there wasn't the right colour, only purple (Yuk).

That's pretty much all we've done so far. See you next time ...

Sincerely, Nick and Janice
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