It wasn’t until about twelve hours after I got off the plane that I realized I’d grabbed the wrong jacket. I went to put my hand in the pocket and realized there was a zipper where there shouldn’t have been anything. Plus my infamous Grumpy hat, obtained on a cold day at Disney World, wasn’t there.
To be fair both jackets are black leather button-down women’s jackets of about the same legnth, and both fit me about the same way. But as soon as I looked down I realized my newfound felonious status. I can now list “jacket thief” amongst my many skills.
Luckily the friends I was visiting didn’t hold it against me, and we had a very enjoyable evening at Hummus Brothers (”Give Peas a Chance”) followed by a stint at the Porterhouse in Covent Garden, where I gleefully partook a pint of the same Oyster Stout I discovered in Dublin on my way home from England last year.
The following day I made my way to Exeter by train. Remarkably it was a pleasant afternoon: sunny and almost warm, with fluffly clouds dappling shade over the countryside. Sheep and lambs gamboled about in the fields. Normally I would be completely captivated by this sight, but I was very nervous about my new house, especially after what happened last time I took a place sight unseen.
Soon enough I was at my new front door, double-checking the address. I needn’t have worried: my room is a cozy nook at the top of the house, we have a lovely lounge and a well-stocked kitchen that the other two hardly use, as far as I can tell. Plus the landlord left me a little box of chocolates on the desk as a welcome present. I already feel at home.
I spent yesterday dealing with all the niggling tasks required for moving into a new house, but managed to sneak off to visit one of my favorite places in the world.
Exeter is home to a beautiful Gothic cathedral with all the stained glass, pointy windows, and buttresses you could wish for. For the price of the entrance fee to the main cathedral, you can instead have cream tea in the cloisters cafe under bosses carved with faces or curled-up dragons while light streams through stained glass windows devoted to the Earl of Orford, whoever that is. There are several other people mentioned on the windows, but the Earl of Orford always makes me laugh because I wonder if he’s like the off-brand-name Earl of Oxford. Like a Polex watch.
Cream tea, my dear Americans, isn’t tea with milk in it. (The milk is a given in Britain.) It’s the English phrase for a midafternoon snack involving scones, jam, a pot of tea and a delightful if artery-clogging substance called clotted cream which is kind of like butter made of silk. An endless debate in British society is whether you put the jam or the cream on the scone first. In fact the people at the table behind me were having that very argument yesterday. I do so love England.