Sunday, July 8, 2012

Travel to Milton Keynes

7 July 2012

We have had another long day of travel, but it was smoother than I anticipated. We did some re-arranging of things on the boat, so now Mom's backpack is lighter and easier to carry and the suitcases are more balanced, especially for having them "sit up" when we're trying to do something else.

We arrived in England again this morning and took the train into Liverpool St. Station in London. The great thing about this train was we actually sat in the "real" seats on this one, not just the jump seats between the doors. There was lots of room and they realized that most people had luggage from the boat, so it wasn't a problem to put it on the seat in front of us. We went through the area of London called Stratford and out our window was the Olympic Stadium. I had wanted to see it, but we didn't think we'd be able to and, then, there it was!
From there, we were going to take the Underground to the other station we needed, but (based on our experience last week) we decided to be adults and take a taxi. We had a nice 15-20 minute ride through the city to the Euston station. When we go there, we picked up the train to Bletchley, near Milton Keynes.

Every time I asked about the train to Bletchley, no one understands me. I can't actually pronounce this sounds like I'm saying something and then coughing up a furrball. When I show it to Brits, they say something that sounds nothing like what I'm saying, but I can't seem to repeat it either. Consequently, when we needed to buy train tickets, I just said Milton Keynes. We got on the train that was getting ready to go, when I looked at the email from Clare with the times. The train we were on was NOT one of the ones that would stop at Bletchley where the car rental place was. We quickly got off and just needed to cross the platform for another train that would stop there. That was a bit close.

We went through some nice scenery and some funny named towns/stops. The one right before ours was Leighton Buzzard. There was another one with the name "Hemel" in it, which means "heaven" in Dutch. Clare met us at the railway station. We drove back to "The Well"at Wellen, which is the co-housing community in which she lives. Mom and I have our own guest rooms and a nice view of the rainy, England yards and gardens.

We settled in and had a nice pasta lunch with Clare in her apartment. We then had some down-time and I ended up taking a short nap (and not even feeling guilty about it;-) I was in need of some Airborne or Emergen-C, but they don't have it here, so we went to look around at Boots (a pharmacy like Walgreens). I found a daily-boost thing that I hope will help. I'm feeling quite tired with all the different travel and having a bit of a sore throat...mostly telling myself that it's in my head (figuratively, not just literally). On the way home, we stopped by the "famous" Milton Keyes cows. Apparently, an American sculpter felt that, if they were going to get rid of all the farm land to build the city, they should have a herd of sculpted cows. It was too wet and muddy to walk up to them across the field, but we got some good photos from the path on the road.

We came back to The Well and had some tea and then went for a walk. One thing you need to know is that I LOVE labyrinths. The Well has one mowed into their garden here. I want to figure out how they did it, because I would love that on our lawn. There are 2 humanmade lakes in Milton Keyes, creatively named North Lake and South Lake. We walked out the back garden and saw St. Mary Magdalene Church, from the 17th century, which is now used for interfaith services. There was then a nice bike/walking path that goes around North and South Lake. South Lake is for water sports, boating, etc., but North Lake, where we were walking, is more of a nature reserve. No boating, swimming, etc. There is an island in the middle of the lake that is run by goats...they are the only inhabitants.

Along the side of North Lake is Willen Park. In this park are great examples of interfaith work and appreciation. There is a medicine wheel stone circle that was created by a Navajo medicine man. In the center of the circle, there are often fires for significant religious or spiritual holidays/events. For example, the Christians might do one of Easter, but the Pagans might have one on the Spring Equinox. There is a Japanese Temple and Garden where there are several Buddhist services and one Buddhist Nun that lives in residence. Further along the path is the Peace Pagoda, a beautifully-constructed, magnificent structure on a rise in the landscape. Around the sides are reliefs of the story of Buddha. If you walk up the rise a bit further, you find yourself looking down at a giant labyrinth. There is a tree in the center and it is long enough that, if you walk the whole thing, it takes about 11/2 hours! I hope the weather is better to take time with that later.

After the long walk, we came back to The Well and then got ready to go to dinner. We went to find an English Pub for dinner. Mom had a chicken pie and I got some traditional fish and chips. Clare said they weren't quite traditional because the weren't wrapped in newspaper, nor dripping with grease, but I was still satisfied!

It's been a long day, but it is absolutely GREAT to be spending time with Clare and meeting her community.

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