It's a good thing that we're already used to hard, slow travel in difficult conditions. It took eight and a half hours to travel 150 miles from Heathrow to Shropshire (near the Welsh border) on flooded roads, just like Africa! The upside was, by escaping the flooded, jammed freeway and taking our chances on the country roads, we saw much more of the English countryside than we imagined we would on this short trip. And we got to drive the rental car through rivers!
The heaviest rains in history hardly slowed down the wedding, though. A tractor was dispatched to bring the groom's grandmother and the organist to the ceremony. People like us who came from places that were 45 degrees warmer and brought completely inappropriate clothes felt dumb for failing to check Accu-weather. No one, apparently, plans to do anything outside in July in England.
A number of former colonists were quite impressed with merry old England. In fact, some of us wanted to become English so chances would increase that we could have a house like this, where the reception was held. LOVED the hedgerows.
The place is called Lorton Park. It isn't that old (1873 I think), but it is still lived in by the family whose ancestors' photos and portraits hang on the walls of the library. They rent it out now to cover its substantial maintenance costs. Set among wheat and cornfields, it was once 16,000 acres. Now, due to divorces and taxes, it's only 2000 acres. The manager gave me and the producer a tour of its cobwebby old kitchen, billiard and gun rooms in the lower level, which looked like they had never been remodeled, with all the old fixtures (labeled bells used to ring the servants from different areas of the house) and furniture. It made me nostalgic for someone else's past.
It wouldn't be Carpetblog if we didn't take issue with a few things, however. The points are minor, but important:
The ceremony took place in the chapel of the groom's boarding school (English boarding schools - where head boy is a command as well as a position) and was performed by a vicar (a word that always makes me giggle). And, there were lots of brilliant feathered and beribboned hats. Really, it couldn't have been more English.
How did this match ever happen? An ass for every saddle, I guess
As much as I'd like to discredit this dude for his association with American creationists, his analyses of Turkish politics are excellent. Read on.
We've been canoeing around the UK for the last three days -- activities that are definitely post-worthy -- but I'll do it later in the week when back in Istanbul.
However, if you are interested in analyses of the Turkish elections, check out the always-cogent James in Turkey. As usual, he's got it going on.
Having largely abandoned the Devushka beat due to lack of material and imagination, I seem to have lost control of the niche to Diary of a Devushka. She doesn't yet have the photos to cement her bona fides, but it seems that she is a devushka herself, which makes her completely legit and exposes me as a mere poseur.
She even has a devushka dictionary:
"DEVOUSHKA ASSETS" : Every devoushka knows that low self esteem is not an option in her self image. Therefore you figure out your best physical assets and show them off whether it's a good figure or lovely fingernails.
I look forward to her analyses of the regional devushki variations, particularly the Donetski subgenus.
Mashallah Elena! But after I scratch your eyes out, like any devuska would.
If so, please call their headquarters and tell them to fix the streetlights on my street. They're all out and I am seriously annoyed about it. I'm not a voter, but there are lots on my street and you'd think someone might want to get on this, given that this is an AKP neighborhood and the election is in a week.
If my Turkish was better, I would do this myself. Actually, I don't care what party you support. Just call someone and tell them to fix the streetlights STAT! Don't make me go get all organiz-y about it.
Check out this NPR piece about Istanbul's Tarlabashi neighborhood.
As an expat, it's useful to collect people. I don't mean in the "make friends with people who have or can do things I want/need," sense (Ok, well, not very much), but in the "knowing people can come in handy sometimes" sense.
I highly recommend finding a friend* who has a yacht. I have done this and I can think of little that has contributed more to my already enviable quality of life. Want to see pictures of how I spent my Sunday afternoon? You probably don't but I am going to post them anyway.
We were on what is said to be the oldest continuously operated boat on the Bosporus. It had been beautifully restored, its mahogany lovingly cared for and brass fittings polished. We cruised up the western shore of the Bosporus, past the old wooden mansions, almost to the Black Sea, then back down the eastern shore, past the new modern mansions, and up the Halic (Golden Horn) for sunset. The captain was ably assisted by his son, who sports a quality 'fro and plays in an Arabic death-metal band
In terms of awesomeness, Istanbul was at "11."
We instructed the captain to swing by Beruit to rescue Our Beruit Correspondent and then up the Kabul River to liberate Breed, but it got late and we'd had a lot to drink.
*In my defense, we were friends before she had a yacht.
Any day, any place, Skip!
Scene: Brunch at Kahvedan, which is my new favorite restaurant because it has the best French toast in the world, and serves English breakfast with real bacon.
Carpetblogger: "My new house is too hard to clean. It's bigger and has three floors and is very dusty. And I have to carry the vacuum upstairs. It is a burden and a disincentive to house cleaning."
Bentonator: "Maybe you need two vacuums, one for the top and one for the bottom floor."
Carpetblogger: "Yes! That's exactly what I need. Three would be even better."
It's easy for me to feel smug about not having a car or a microwave or a dryer because I don't really miss them (well, I don't miss the dryer very often). But two vacuums would really make my life a lot more convenient.