Lincolnshire Peasant

Exploring places from a peasant perspective.

A Local Ramble

The warm weather had continued, and I couldn’t face another moment of Biology revision, so this morning I decided to trek to a nearby valley, a kilometre or two from my house. I had barely begun when I encountered a small herd of extremely curious cows, which had blockaded the footbridge. They did not flee when I advanced, but rather wandered a little closer, with an unusually intelligent, rather unnerving glint in their eyes.

I did not want to be eaten by what could potentially be a new breed of super intellectual bovine, and so I decided to find a new way around. There were a few barbed wire fences, and I almost lost my shoe in a marsh, but eventually I stumbled back onto a track and got my bearings; around the corner was a lake which I recognized. The mutt immediately saw an opportunity for mischief and swandived into it, scattering a family of mallard. He certainly has an impressive, albeit agitating, knack for shattering idyllic vistas.

There were no further obstacles, and I eventually found my way back home to bring word to the town about the cow menace to the south. Non of them took heed of my warning, though. Foolish peasants.

Traitor to Wanderlust

Today, while reading a travel article online, I saw this comment:

“I have never been abroad for a holiday and I never will. There’s no need when this country has so much to offer. I certainly wouldn’t want my children and grandchildren exposed to disgusting foreign food and at least in this country people speak English.”

This is surely tantamount to blasphemy against the principal of wanderlust. While it is true that England is a beautiful and varied place, it is only a tiny part of this world, and I cannot imagine being confined here. It also strikes me as odd that anybody can have such a definite opinion on foreign food, and yet never have been abroad.

It is people like this we must pity, who are blinded by ignorance or xenophobia, so that they view the world beyond their homeland as a threat to avoid, rather than a paradise to explore. Lets spend a moment mourning for their children and grandchildren, who will probably be forced to visit Scunthorpe rather than Paris.

Image courtesy of www.scaffmag.com

Consulting Czech Guy

A location we all hope to visit on our travels in Europe is Prague, and so who better to ask than a native? One such person sprung to mind; Alexis, the British Council’s Comenius Programme assistant, who currently resides at my school.

 Sophisticated, cultured, and Czech, he is extremely friendly, and was delighted when we expressed an interest in visiting his homeland. And so he arranged an incognito rendezvous in a shady recess of the language department, where he poured unto us his knowledge of Prague, recommending all sorts of fascinating places, like Kampa Park and the Cafe Mlejn. All went well except for some cretons coming and sticking their uncultured noses into our meeting, as though it was a god given right to converse with the Czech Guy. Evidently we will not be able to keep our travel plans secret  from them for much longer.

One place that particularly piqued my intrest was Alexis’ tale of the old Jewish quarter of Prague, and a story of the Golem, a man crafted from clay and animated by the rabbi and magician Judah Loew ben Bezalel, to protect the city. Deep within my soul a voice whispers that something potent awaits me in the dark and narrow streets of that place. Something, perhaps, that would make my Jew coin from Marrakech pale in comparison, if it were possible for such a dark magick to be paled. Alternatively, it might just be the wanderlust getting to me again.

Spring Stroll

This morning the dreary weather of the past few days had cleared up and the sun was starting to peak through the clouds, so I decided to take my camera out into the meadows not far from my house. There was nobody else around despite the good weather, so I was free to meander along taking shots of this and that without odd looks from the locals. I tried to get some shots of the songbirds, which were particularly lively, but I was saddled with the family mutt for the day. He insisted on charging around and generally disturbing the peace, so I was unable to capture anything worthy of merit on the wildlife front. One small wren led me on a merry chase through a hedge and under a fence, and I had it in my lens when the aforementioned mutt decided to crash through the undergrowth and cause it to take flight.

The town itself was relatively deserted too, with nobody but a few aimlessly wandering elderly to enjoy the spring sunshine. One or two of them even paused to murmur greetings and pat mutt on its unkempt head. He is asleep now, with a smug expression on his snout.

Weather and Walking

I had often heard rumours about the western side of england and the peak district, where the rain never stopped falling and the sky doesnt know how to be blue. And until I went there for my silver Duke of Edinburgh expedition I thought it was nothing more than a myth. It isnt.

We pitched our tents near Monsal Head at a small campsite clinging to the side of the valley, and at first all was dry. On the first morning the sun even came out, which allowed us to warm up a little when we went canoeing at Carsington, and then hired bikes for a trip around the reservoir. This blissful period of basking and good humor helped lull us into a false sense of security, as the following days were taken up with climbing and hiking at a variety of spots as the sky threw down every manner or precipitation, until we were thoroughly soaked and aching. The sheep didnt help, standing there, judging us with their merciless black eyes.

Then, yesterday, we began the actual expedition and walked the twelve miles from Monsal Head to Upper Padley. The scenery was beautiful but bleak, and by this point we were struggling to enjoy it, feeling as though it held a personal grudge against us. Particularly after an acute but intense hailstorm brought an end to our mountain top lunch.

This, perhaps, would have been bearable had it not been for this morning. I awake before dawn to find that one side of my tent had partially collapsed under the weight of snow pressing down upon it, and that the wind had snapped the tent pole in the porch. Outside was even worse; the wind was whipping the snow along parallel to the ground, and the whole sorry scene was being illuminated by sporadic flashes of lightning.

This was rather more than we had signed up for, and so we decided to hastily abandon campsite, leaving behind the horrid sheep and their wet grey hills. I have just stumbled through my door with a bag of wet clothes and a camera full of photographs. Perhaps one day I will return to the peak district, with a reservation at a nice bed and breakfast.

Prologue

This time last year, a group of fellow students and I visited Morocco, where we met and saw a massive variety of people and places. I have since lost the photographs in a harddrive failure and misplaced the only souvenir I purchased, an ancient Jewish coin, but I still have a great many memories from that week in North Africa. While I had travelled before, this really piqued my desire to see new cultures and places, and I can no longer contain this need.

And so I am financing an expedition to Europe, the land of empire builders and inventors, the birthplace of our civilization. I will be exploring it by rail, with a student Interrail ticket. Accompanying me are the most trustworthy and ingenious of companions that I could find. Truth be told, I didnt look awfully hard.

Connor, an old accomplice from Maroc, will be joining me. An expert linguist, he will be acting as translator as we converse with the locals, and ensuring we do not cause offence by breaching any heathen customs. Fluent in French and German, and so perfect for Europe!

From the grimy conurbation of Manchester we will be joined by Madeleine, an acquaintance of Connor, who I have never met. I presume she is a young city orphan waif, much like Oliver Twist. However, she has learned to write, and I am sure travelling will widen her horizons and help her escape the poverty of her home city.

Oh, and Charlotte too. A tough little thing, who is alright so long as she doesnt cook you risotto. Emphasis on the little, she has growth hormone issues which she is very sensitive about. Poor little midget.

I must mention, here, my fellow geographers; who will not be accompanying us. I would like to thank them for their support at home, for making all which I achieved, and for being a  font of support and encouragement as I navigate the logistical perils of purchasing train tickets and booking hostels. And I would also heartily recommend interrailing to anybody else intrested seeing Europe on a budget. Have a look into it at http://www.interrailnet.com/ .

Stereotyping

Dear Internet,

Before I continue with this blog, I should perhaps warn you that it is a strongly held personal belief of mine that stereotyping is a necessary and even acceptable part of the english language, which can be used to bring the most colourful characters to life. These days, it is very easy to be shot down in flames and to be labelled a racist if you refuse to conform to political correctness. And I rejoice at this increased emphasis on racial cohesion, and eagerly await the day in which race is nothing more than an attribute. However, I still feel that political correctness is the wrong way to go about this. It makes life plain and tedious, and every step must be considered as if on a tight-rope, to avoid offending this or that minority. Political correctness builds barriers between cultures; people are afraid to cause offence and so avoid each other: their relationship is polite but cold and insubstantial.

Think of your friends. True friends are happy to tease and mock each other, because they know that such things are meant in fun and that no harm is intended. This is the sort of racism which I engage in, a gentle teasing which should bring us closer together rather than sow hatred. And it does! I am friends with an indian, an egyptian muslim, and a chinese person, and I have no qualms about using stereotypes to their faces, nor do they have objections.

This treatment is fair; no stereotypable group is left unturned, including those which I belong to. I am no hypocrite, so here is a list of words and phrases that you can apply to me if you wish:

Hormonal teenage vagabond. Nerd. Country bumpkin. Lazy male pig. Geek. Loner. Four-eyes. Pig nose. Pretentious fool. Thunder thighs. British tea drinking scum. Mudblood. Whatever.

You get the idea, I hope, and so will not take offence if, for instance, I call a Jew “dark and evil”, or an Irishmen a “jolly dancing leprachaun”. If you do take offence then you have my apologies, and you need not ever return to this page again.

Have a pleasant evening.

Good morning, internet.

Dear Internet,

A peasant girl who lives in the next valley along introduced me to blogging last night. This is my first time, so have mercy, perhaps I should have sacrificed a dozen unfleeced sheep at the altar of the computer desk? I suppose  we should spend a little time learning who I am, and what you are.

I live in Lincolnshire, an empty corner of Englands green and pleasant land, in a modest town perched upon the wolds. I grew up here, among the farms and winding country lanes. Sixteen summers I have seen on these chalk hills. However, the idyllic scenery has its downfalls. The people here are generally old, or boring, or both. The only jobs in the area seem to be picking turnips in fields or stacking shelves in the local shop. And so, regardless of how intelligent and ambitious I am, it seems I am doomed to remain here as a Lincolnshire peasant until I can complete my quaint grammar school education and go to university. But at least I can inflict this on you too now!

Have a pleasant day, I’ll be posting something proper this evening.