Friday, 21 August 2009

On the agenda: got more milk, bought stamps, saw Catherine of Aragon

Despite my freindly criticism, I can't say enough about what it's like to live somewhere with such a long and interesting history. I thought our Revolutionary War era was positively ancient, but living in the UK redefines old. Here, one of the pivotal timestamps is pre-Norman conquest. That's 1066, for those who napped through high school history, like me. I was sitting on the sofa, eating my Cheerios this morning, wondering if some Stone-Age shaman might have sharpened his flints in the place where our family room now stands. Deep thoughts over whole wheat.

I recently went on a tour of the tower of Peterborough Cathedral. What a hoot! The guides issue thoughtful warnings about no fears of heights or problems with small spaces. They didn't advertise, however, that the tour also goes by the title, "Cathedral Cardio." No problems feeling the burn on the mini-monk-sized stone spiral stairwells that have been worn smooth by the hoofprints of the last millenia. Not that I got the jitters or anything because my size 9 US feet didn't quite fit a middle-aged monk print:

Peterborough Cathedral, a treasure trove for all you goth fans out there, was only completed 800 years ago. Bennedictine monks ran the joint, but their only remnant nowdays are the little teddy bears dressed in monk's outfits in the giftshop. Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife and one of the lucky ones who kept her head, is buried here. For you history buffs who must remember which of Henry's better halves lost their heads, the rhyme is, "divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived." Another local celebrity, Mary, Queen of Scots, was here for a bit after she lost her head in a town about 15 minutes away called Fotheringhay, but she was upgraded to a better plot in Westminster Abbey in 1611. Catherine would be on the lower left below:
After our cross-training segment, we arrived at the top, which will forever be the highest point in Peterborough due to that snazzy real estate concept of zoning. I managed to forget my miniature flag to stake my arrival at the top, but the sherpa-docent ladies are sure to remember me by the various, "Oh, nooo..." comments I spontaneously errupted with the news we needed to wedge ourselves through yet another 3' x 2' door. It reminded me of the cheese maze I crawled through in my youth at Chuck E. Cheese, without the skee-ball.

All in all, an excellent day out. I reluctantly paid the "camera license" of two pounds to have snaps of the occasion. There's just still something offputting about being taxed by the British. Perhaps I'll throw some of our PG Tips teabags into the bathtub for when Chuttles comes home from work, and we can call it a tea party. (Something tells me he would not be amused. Wasting proper tea could cost me my head around here.)

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