Cosmo the Camper-van and Bonds Fine Foods

We’ve arrived in Nottingham, England, but still eagerly await the appearance of our luggage. The ETA is, as all things are, smack-dab in the middle of the ONE THING WE HAD PLANNED for this day (and week). Total irony. Which, of course, has not been absent on this journey. Not even for one little second.

The luggage then. It was six cases in total, each weighing just shy of the allotted 50 pounds, several nearly bursting to excess. In fact it was a bit of excess, if I am frank. That is why I was, in my innermost heart, secretly relieved that we we did not have to haul those beasts through the airport and to the rental car lot, especially after a 17-hour journey. Though we did hire a vehicle large enough for the 300 pounds and half-dozen cases, I confess that, after three flights (all delayed, thanks) and lots of time zones, it felt really, really good to chuck my backpack and carryon case into the huge trunk, close the passenger door (left side, mind) behind me and call it good.

The family at home on the morning of. And the luggage, of course, in the foreground.

So, on to Nottingham. Cue the Robin Hood jokes; everybody knows them. And they’re fun, for sure. Indeed, Sherwood Forest is a lovely and non-fictional spot and there is significant (but waning) evidence of medieval footpaths and trade routes through the area. But the Nottingham we are presently concerned with is the one just east of the University and Nottingham Castle, in a neighbo(u)rhood called Bakersfield, which is close to Carlton Hill. If the names confuse you, don’t worry: it won’t really get easier or any less confusing. But you do sort of get used to it: everything has a name here. Even the camper-van.

Cosmo was parked somewhere else when we arrived at our accommodations so we were not able to bask in his Cosmo-ness until the following day. We passed Cosmo the camper-van en route to the Carlton High Street, which is just a few residential blocks away. The high street is the original Main Street, where all the shops and pubs are located. Our High Street, Carlton High Street, is home to such amenities as Albert’s Fruit and Veg, Tesco, several charity shops and some decent pubs. It is ALSO home to Bonds Fine Foods.

This place deserves a post all to itself, and may someday receive one, but today it will suffice to say that if you have seen GBBO (Great British Bake Off aka Great British Baking Show) you will know what a hand-raised pie is and you will want one. They look like tiny turrets and you feel like you’ve been dropped into the nearest period drama when you see them. The owner/proprieter of Bonds is a third-generation baker. The shop is proud, rightfully proud, of its history and its product. I have only been here three days and already I know that this is a shop that has earned the respect and business of its locals. (Note: they have their own FB page)

In essence, these are the very things we have come to England to discover, and they are not all that different from the things we were seeking on the other side of the pond. The question remains, then, why did we not find them there?


A Post from a January Journal

4 January 2019, Friday

Began by reading in Lewis the chapter on Friendship in The Four Loves.  Here are some reflections and excerpted passages:

‘Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves.  Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend.  They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, “Here comes the one who will augment our loves.”  For in this love “to divide is not to take away.”’ p. 92

‘In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no one can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isaiah VI, 3).  The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.’ p. 92-3

‘The sensible women who, if they wanted, would certainly be able to qualify themselves for the world of discussion and ideas, are precisely those who, if they are not qualified, never try to enter it or destroy it.  They have other fish to fry.  At a mixed party they gravitate to one end of the room and talk women’s talk to one another.  They don’t want us, for this sort of purpose, any more than we want them.  It is only the riff-raff of each sex that wants to be incessantly hanging on the other.’ p. 110

“You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” and “You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” 

This is really just a tasting of this chapter, and this book.  If I were to summarise this chapter it would have to include a sentence or two, a thought at the very least, on what Lewis says about the dangers of Friendship as well as its shining attributes.  For what we are seeing in the vitriol, anger, and division of our country, the United States of America, is in a sense this friendship gone entirely wrong.  Lewis has written about the ‘Inner Ring’ in a separate essay or lecture, but he does not hold back from including much of that sentiment and warning here.  The need for approval, accpetance and coterie are, as we know, incredibly strong, and the vehicle of friendship—perhaps less friendship than loyalty, agreements—serves to move this vice forward.  A quote on the matter, worth including, is this one: ‘But the dangers are perfectly real.  Friendship (as the ancients saw) can be a school of virtue; but also (as they did not see) a school of vice.  It is ambivalent.  It makes good men better and bad men worse.  It would be a waste of time to elaborate the point.’ p. 115.

Monday into Iceland

We are moving at a speed unknown to ancient man.  Our medieval ancestors did not even know about the nine planets, only seven, and two of them were moon and sun.  I like this world, the one in which man does not move from continent to continent within a span of evenings but from a web of lifetimes, coming bold into a new country with the knowledge that his feet have touched the ground by way of effort and of worthwhile travel and not merely because of an amazing flying machine.  

Reminders of a less aerodynamic world.

Screens that bind

Orwell knew: we willingly buy the screens that are used against us

I won’t say much about this article because it speaks for itself (especially if you access the audio feature).  The irony behind this is everywhere, not least in the fact I am staring at a screen to type and share this, but the article is still pertinent, perhaps made more so by the irony.

Again, from aeon.

Ninnoc and the chip in the windshield


This film, linked above, is visually beautiful if the only things you look at are the images.  But if, like many of us, you look with your ears and your mind as well as with your eyes, you will see the beauty has two edges, maybe more, and the film is not beautiful in the way you might have thought it was.

This film is called Ninnoc and it was made by Dutch director/filmmaker Niki Padidar. 

In this film it is clear that Ninnoc, who is quite attractive, lovely, clever and creative, was bullied for being different.  She likens the effects of bullying to a chip in a windshield: it weakens the windshield and makes it easier for the glass, eventually, to break apart.

Why is she bullied?  Why is she unhappy?  I was completely struck by this film’s honesty and was quite torn between wanting to dismiss it as indulgent and embrace it as revealing of the human condition.  In the end, the human condition is in need of some indulgence, though I would call it not indulgence but attention or concern.  I was also struck by the idea that, if a person as smart, sensitive, creative and beautiful as Ninnoc is, can feel the way she does, and express such hard emotions, then there is no safety in physical beauty, intelligence, creativity or reflection alone. These traits must not be held up as safeguards against anxiety or vulnerability because they are in no way capable of fending off the relentless attacks mounted by jealousy and insecurity–so common among school-children but not at all limited to them or their age-range.

Ninnoc does reveal her delicacy and some of her less ‘appealing’ sides simply by allowing herself to be the subject of this film, but I would argue that unless we see Ninnoc as our friend, sister, daughter or neighbor, and therefore human and relatable, we only see the side she chooses to show us.

Caveat: I came across this film via aeon, and want to give them their due.  So, check out their site, donate if you feel so inclined, and don’t be afraid to explore the ‘other’, the ‘different’ and to stand up for it, too.

Adventure, Obscura-style

Screenshot-2018-3-20 interior cafe open windows - Google Search.png

Atlas Obscura.  What a great invention.  Whoever invented this concept website was seriously on the right track.  I’m an email subscriber to their daily newsletters and, while I don’t read EVERY article (or every newsletter), I skim and I find some pretty cool stuff.  I’ve found that, in reading these blog-articles once every few days I am less tempted to get into it on social media or throw myself down the dark pit of despiar dug by the nation’s leaders’ political antics.  So, hurrah for the Internet helping to save us from human stupidity!  It really does come down to a healthy dose of discernment and the ability to think critically about what one allows into one’s life.

And so when this Atlas Obscura exercise (article linked above) asked readers what tools, bits, bobs, mainstays and necessities accompany us on our daily adventures, it occurred to me that discernment in items is not all that different from discernment in websites and media posts: we have to choose, and whether we want to face that reality or not, the choice not to choose is, actually, a choice.  By scrolling-scrolling-scrolling we tend to dis-engage, mindlessly, numbly, half-heartedly hoping there will be something at the–bottom? end?–to save us from our boredom and inertia.  But, of course, there is no end to media scrolls, and there’s no  bottom to the mediocrity and apathy: it just keeps churning and regurgitating and we feel sicker and sicker as we go along, complicit.

But to choose!  What items would you throw into your rucksack?  And why a rucksack?  Maybe it’s a vintage Gucci or a kitschy beach bag from the LA airport.  Whatever, it’s yours and you ought to own it.  Own that choice!  What’s in that bag and why is it there?  What are your essentials?  What would you NOT bring?  What items just don’t make the cut?  Because, you know as well as I do that some just won’t. You gotta choose, and even if you think you made a bad choice, it’s better than endlessly scrolling, isn’t it?  Because, really, now you’re ready for an adventure.  Bag’s packed, let’s get going!

The article is linked to the photo above, and is also here. 🙂