Finally, the Last Post about England
Well, at least for the time being. We’ve been looking into making another trip over at the end of February during the short break between school years here. In Korea, the school year begins 1 March. Kids get about six weeks off from Christmas to the end of January, go to school for two weeks, then have two weeks off before the new school year. Makes perfect sense. To someone. (But no one I’ve ever met.)
So, I’ve written about the travels within the country (at extreme length), but I haven’t said anything about Craig’s hometown. We began and ended our trip there and popped in and out throughout the fortnight.
We stayed by the Barrage, which is a man-made canoeing place, or something. Apparently, they often have races there, and they can change up the course in various ways, but it was quiet while we were there. It led to a river walk which we took into town, and that was quite nice– much quieter than any river walks we’ve done in and around Seoul! We saw one lone fisherman and not another soul on an hour or so long walk.
The town he lives in is just the kind of picturesque place that I always imagined English towns were like, before I started watching English cop shows and Guy Ritchie films.
On our first night, we went straight to his daughter’s house for a barbecue. Well, straight there after doing a bit of last-minute shopping, since the Tesco delivery hadn’t arrived. Then, Craig spent the better part of an afternoon looking for a gazebo because it looked like rain. He never found one, but in the end it didn’t rain anyway.
At Tesco’s, we divided and conquered to save time: Craig got the meat, I found chips and dips, and Craig’s son, Tom, was in charge of drinks. Tom is 21. You can probably see where this is going. We got to Sophie’s and realized there were at least a dozen large bottles of alco-pops, tons of beer, and… nothing else. One of Tom’s cousins is about 13. I think he ended up drinking juice all night.
Drink situation aside, the food was great, and the company not nearly so intimidating as I had thought it might be. In about 18 years of singledom, Craig has never taken anyone home. No pressure. 😛 Everyone was super-nice, though, and went out of their way to make me comfortable.
On two Sundays, we went to Craig’s parents for Sunday dinner. In the US, we would have called it Christmas dinner, because that’s about the only time we have so many dishes on the table at one time. His mother must get up before dawn on Sunday mornings, and whoever wants to show up gets a huge, delicious meal. With more gravy than I have ever seen in my life. Those are some gravy-loving people.
I was excited to meet his whole family, because he talks about them quite a lot. But, I have to admit, I was most interested in meeting Harry, his grandson. I don’t have kids for a reason: parenthood seems like a lot of work with unpredictable results. Grandparenthood, on the other hand, has always seemed awesome to me. You can get kids hopped up on junk food, teach them obnoxious pranks, and generally spoil them, then send them home. What’s not to like? There’s no homework, no nagging, no wondering what they are doing out so late, just fun.
We also went to the horse races, where the women really do wear fascinators, like the royal cousins wore to The Big Wedding. We were in the cheap seats, but were able to see the VIPs. Craig tried to get a photo of one on her knees while several friends helped her tease and spray her hair, but people kept getting in the way to see the horses.
Despite the lack of photos, I had a great time in Teesside. It was cold enough to be winter, but it was a beautiful village and his family could not have been nicer. Over the past few days, we’ve been talking about going to Europe in February, but we’ll bookend the trip with stops in Teesside. I imagine I’ll whinge even more about the cold, but I’m already looking forward to seeing his family again.