I'm in England writing this on a cool summer's evening. Nine thirty at night, and just getting dark. A month ago, at the summer solstice, it would have been light until well after ten. I'm enjoying doing all those ordinary things I can't do in Fukushima - sitting out in the garden, going for long walks, hanging out the washing.
Not that all is well in the Garden of Eden. I mentioned before the issue of HS2, the high speed rail line (a shinkansen) planned to run through this valley on its way to Birmingham and beyond. The 29 July, this Friday, is the closing date for responses to the public consultation so yours truly has been swotting up the issues and filed her response today online.
It's a difficult one. Living in Japan I recognise the economic merits of a high speed rail network but what they seem to call here 'blight' (the noise and general unpleasantness that the line creates) I wouldn't wish on anyone. And with the developments in IT, will demand for travel rise as projected? There certainly isn't the demand on HS1, the channel rail link, that was first forecast. At least the UK government is going through the motions of consulting all those concerned and letting us have our say. Very sophisticated it is too with its website and pamphlets, statistics and maps, consultative tone. I'm afraid I remain sceptical though as to whether our voice really will be heard. For more details see: http://highspeedrail.dft.gov.uk/
(Incidentally the photo of me on Facebook in a happy banzai pose a couple of years ago, has my upstretched arms along the proposed route.)
Yesterday was spent on a far more urgent task: the search for a hat. English wedding etiquette seems to demand some kind of headgear for the main wedding party. Indeed, specialist hat shops have sections catering for 'Mother of the Bride' and 'Mother of the Groom' My daughter Reiko and I scoured London's Oxford Street looking for the perfect hat. I tried on a Philip Treacy hat (many of the hats you saw at the Royal Wedding were his). It was wide-brimmed, worn on the diagonal, uplifting - made me look 10 feet tall, definitely Mother of the Groom, but at 500 pounds (65,000 yen) a tad expensive. I tried on 'fascinators' galore, some no more than a flower in the hair, others delicate confections of lace and feathers. Utterly charming, but lacked the necessary presence. I have ended up with a small grey plate-like hat that sits jauntily to one side and is topped by a delicate arrangment of feathers and twirls. Not being used to wearing a hat, I'm a bit nervous. I feel silly but my daughter assures me that it is de rigeur and will not look out of place on the day. Wish me luck!
After the shopping an evening at the theatre to see War Horse. But first a bite to eat. An old haunt, Lowlanders in Drury Lane (Belgian beers on tap) was full so we popped round the corner to 32 Great Queens Street for crab on toast and a deliciously light green salad.
http://www.viewlondon.co.uk/pubsandbars/lowlander-userreview-14434.html (Lowlander user reviews)
http://www.london-eating.co.uk/29196.htm (32 Great Queen Street user reviews)
The show was extraordinary. Joey, young Albert's beloved horse, is sold into the army and goes to the front in the First World War. Albert enlists and goes after him. The battle scenes are gripping and a tribute to live theatre but it is the horses. They are puppets made of wood and leather, with three puppeteers as in bunraku (but wearing .flat caps and Edwardian working clothes). Like bunraku you soon forget they are there. The neighing of the horses, the movement of their ears and legs, the swishing of their tails - these full-size horses are wonderful. Stephen Spielberg has bought the film rights.
So four more days in England. The wedding is on Friday and I leave on Monday.
Bye for now,
|Meadow red with grass. To the right the dried up river bed of the winter flowing River Misbourne.
|Washing hanging out to dry in the garden - joy!
|Missenden Abbey, Great Missenden