In this edition:
The Light at the End of the Tunnel, by Reinou Anker-Sollie
Online Pubquiz a Great Success, by Marjan Brouwers
Summer Holidays, by Charlotte Korten
In Search of the Hundred Acre Wood, by Elke Maasbommel
The Moors and More, Rembering the Excursion of 1976, by Henk Dragstra and others
Dates to save
Thursday 17th of June 2021: Online Escape Room
Sometime after the summer holidays: City Walk & Picknick
We will keep you posted!
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
By Reinou Anker-Sollie, chairperson
We’ve been through some trying and sad times, characterised by social distancing, isolation and recently the loss of dear Prince Philip. But it seems the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight. I presume most of us are anxiously awaiting vaccination, the moment where “social distancing” becomes a thing of the past, and the time when going on holiday abroad (to the UK?) seems perfectly normal again. I hope you have all been able to make the best of it, and have not succumbed to Zoom exhaustion. We have done our best to keep in touch (online). Our online pub quiz for one thing was definitely worth repeating (even in the post-social distancing era). And more members (2!) joined our Annual General Meeting than we have seen for a long time. The board will start thinking about what we want to organise for you in the (nearby) future. Spring is here and summer is coming, untill then, here’s some light reading for you!
Online Pubquiz a Great Success
By Marjan Brouwers
Since meeting in person remains impossible, we decided to treat you all to an online pub quiz in January. And even though not everyone was able to attend on screen it was a joyful evening. Your board transformed into a group of quizmastesters testing you on your knowledge about all kinds of unexepected subjects. Like medieval castles, music and literature.
Six teams competed for the Pub Quiz Trophy and the winners were Marcia Leushuis, Martine Potze and Marjan Hartsuiker of The Bueno Vista Social Distancing Club!
Hopefully, the next get-togehter will be in person again, but since the pandemic is still raging, this will probably not happen until the next academic year.
By Charlotte Korten
When I was doing my internship in 2018-2019, one of the supervisors said to me: “After the Christmas holidays, things will go terribly fast. He was right and he still is. The last part of a school year is characterized by all kinds of days off, public holidays and vacations. Although the beginning of July still feels a long way off, there are effectively only a few weeks left on the calendar in which to actually teach. That worries me.
I see students who experience stress, students who are tired of alternating between physical and online lessons, students who are fed up with everything. And who can blame them!
But it is also mainly the students who continue to see and highlight the bright spots on the horizon. Last week, one of my students dropped by to say that her grandparents had finally been vaccinated. She asked me whether I knew if she would be able to hug them now. I replied that I did not know, after all I am an English teacher and not an expert in the field of infectivity, COVID and things like that. She kept silent for a moment and then said: “Well, otherwise we can just sit in the backyard and bask in the sun together as the weather will be nice”.
I intend to hold on to her optimism. If I do, it’s not only the end of the school year that’s already in sight.
In Search of the Hundred Acre Wood
By Elke Maasbommel
“Mum, I’m bored!” I cried out last Sunday. As you know, there isn’t much to do these days, and even the city I live in isn’t as much fun as it used to be.
No, my excursions into town are limited to short visits to the local supermarket, when I need food, and the post office, when I need to pick up yet another that book has been delivered there. Some people still live their lives to the fullest. I don’t.
So that’s why I became desperate and cried out I was bored. I asked my parents if I could come over for an afternoon. It would also mean driving a whopping thirty kilometers to their place, which is, in itself, a very exciting trip indeed. Unfortunately, they had other things to do. My mum did suggest coming to my place on Tuesday (my day off) so we could have a nice long walk there. How did that sound?
It sounded great! Even though I would still be in the city I hadn’t left for a good four weeks, it would still mean I’d be outside, and that we’d explore parts of the city I didn’t know really well. For two nights I could hardly sleep, because the mere prospect of a long walk was almost more than I could take. At about eleven this morning, my mother showed up. I knew exactly where I wanted to go.
“Come on, mum, let’s go on an adventure!”
I decided that we were going to visit the Sterrebos, about three kilometers from where I live. It would be a nice trip, and we would act like it was the Hundred Acre Wood, where Winnie the Pooh lives. It is based on a real wood in England, but since there’s no way we’re going there anytime soon, I decided that my mother and I could play make-believe and pretend to be there, like I would when I was a child. (I was doing the make-believe, while my mum was smiling at me in a funny way and telling me that yes, of course it’s perfectly normal to bring a huge book with you when you go for a walk, and by all means, make sure to bring a massive backpack too, while you’re at it.
The best part about being a child is that you can let your imagination run wild. As you grow older, there’s always that little voice inside of you that tells you that some things simply aren’t possible, that they aren’t real. When I was a young little bookworm girl, untroubled by such voices, I loved being the characters I read about in books. I really wanted to have my own Winnie the Pooh, I wanted to cuddle the Cheshire Cat, I wanted to be in as many adventures as Harry Potter, and I just knew that Matilda and I would be best friends – oh, how often I wished my own life wasn’t so very boring!
In a way, I embraced my inner child today. What actually happened was that my mother and I went for a short walk, and visited a park. But I had managed to convince my seven-year-old self that we were really going on an adventure. We’d visit the Hundred Acre Wood! And it was snowing! And it really looked like Pooh could be hiding behind that tree! I immediately let go of all the frustration I’d been feeling about not being able to go to a pub anymore, or go to the cinema or library, or play volleyball with my friends. Today, none of that mattered, for today was about finding Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore.
Even as I child, I didn’t really believe that I would actually meet my favourite book characters. Therefore, I wasn’t really sad that we didn’t find them today. What mattered was that I managed to get out of my head for a while and act like a normal person for a change, unbothered by things like stress, pandemics, and isolation. (That is, if you consider bringing books with you on a trip and acting like you’re a child normal, of course. I’ll just pretend you’re a kind audience, that you’ll understand me, and that you’ll smile at me in much the same way my mother did earlier today.)
So here’s some advice to all of you who are, like me, desperate for something, anything, to happen: go outside! Grab your favourite book, and pretend you’re in it! Act like you’re a child again! Play a game of make-believe!
Today I visited the Hundred Acre Wood. I wonder where my next adventure will take me…
In the previous Anglophile we asked you to let us know if you wanted to share with us your own publications. Unfortunately, our mailbox remained empty. No problem, we will present two interesting publications by staff members: a book by John Flood on the University of Groningen and an online recording of a presentation of Hans Jansen about Hilary Mantel.
In 2018 John Flood published a history of the University of Groningen. Not the regular history by historian Klaas van Berkel, but an unofficial one. It is sold online by Amazon, but I am quite sure you can also order it at your local bookshop.
This is what The University of Groningen about:
“This illustrated English-language history of the University of Groningen covers the years from its foundation in 1614 to 2018. It is structured around a chronological overview of the major events and significant people in the university’s life placed in the context of Dutch national history. Its final chapter deals with current debates and changes at the university. Separate sections are dedicated to the role of women in academic life, the university’s library, its medical faculty and its museum.The bibliography includes the principal Dutch and English language sources for the history of the university. Appendices explain Dutch educational terminology.”
Online Presentation about Hilary Mantel
If you like the novels of Hilary Mantel, the online lecture Hans Jansen made for the RUG is a must-watch. He presented his take on her work in the series ‘Spraakmakende Boeken’.
In his recording Hans speaks about the final book of Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy. Why are the Tudors so popular in the Britisch imagination? Who was the historical Cromwell? And what does Mantel do to get readers so invested in the story of this upstart who claws his way upward in society?
Watching Hans Jansen lecture about Hilary Mantel is certainly a great way to spend a quiet evening at home after the clock has struck ten. You will find his lecture here. Have fun!
The Moors and More: Remembering the Excursion of 1976
By Henk Dragstra and others
Here’s another episode in the series of excursions that lecturer in Old English Anthony Davies organized in the 1970’s. It was unlike previous trips in exploring a quite different part of Britain, and also in other respects. Erstwhile participants reminisce.
In the old days, before the Corona pandemic, and before Anglophile went online, I published a series of reports on excursions to Britain that Anthony Davies organised in even older days , viz. the ‘seventies of the previous century. (They can be perused via the Anglophile archive page of our website; the issues are 2015-16: 2 and 3, and 2016-7: 3). With much input from erstwhile participants, the series had got as far as 1975 when in 2017 came the sad news of Anthony’s death. This led, of course, to a main article in this periodical, in which various students and colleagues shared their personal memories of him. For the moment, the series about his excursions had come to a halt.
But material contributed by former students had been accumulating, waiting to be made into instalments on the last two trips, those of 1976 and 1977. It would be a pity not to use it, and with so much time to spend indoors nowadays, the series has been silently calling for its completion. For 1976, that meant the exploration of the North York Moors and Hadrian’s Wall. Not that any account of the excursions can ever be literally complete, of course: all participants had their own motivations and perspectives. Annie van der Veen, for instance, had some hesitations about joining:
‘What made me go on this trip? I was about to start my 5th year of English, I had never been on a camping trip, I was not a very keen walker, I had never been to that part of England, let alone to the Yorkshire Moors, I had never been on a trip with Anthony Davies before…. What was I thinking? Well, I had not been to England that year yet (and ms Baning had told me that I should every year…) I didn’t have a lot of money. I wanted to see more of England than the South, where I had spent 2 summer holidays as an au-pair. And probably, romantic that I am, trying to get the feel for the history of England. So I entered my name on the list of participants.’
Henk Kaput on the other hand was very clearly motivated: ‘It all started with a growing interest in the tradition of Germanic heroic poetry when reading and studying the stories of Beowulf, the Battle of Maldon etc. As an MO-B student I did not attend lectures by Anthony Davies, but the writing of my final thesis on the subject inevitably led me to him as a supervisor. When the opportunity came along to join the 1976 excursion to the North York Moors I did not hesitate as the area has a lot to offer in terms of Anglo-Scandinavian monuments and sculpture as well as some adventurous hiking on bleak moors.’
As readers of the previous episodes may remember, Anthony’s arrangements for walks were always along the same lines: the group of participants was split into two, each half filling one minibus, and walks were started in opposite directions, ending at the other half’s minibus for the return drive. As a result, the two parties tended to have separate experiences and separate memories of them.
For the 1976 excursion, I was lucky to obtain reports and pictures from both halves. Annie aforementioned had faithfully preserved the full set of ‘official’ reports and also contributed some personal memories. Henk provided some memories and explanations, as did Betty de Vries. Sjoerd Dijkstra put at my disposal the rich collection of splendid pictures he took. Luckily, being all in black and white, they have lasted much better than colour pictures shot by others, which tend to have paled almost beyond recognition. Also in black and white are photographs of stone and wood objects taken by Henk at Anthony’s request and developed in Henk’s own dark room. The pictures shown here are by Sjoerd, except where stated otherwise.
Off the beaten Offa track
By the end of the 1975 Easter holidays, the whole length of Offa’s Dyke, what there was left of it, had been well and truly covered. Time to tackle another part of Britain boasting abundant prehistoric, Roman, and Anglo-Saxon remains. Hadrian’s Wall had already been explored in previous excursions, but deserved revisiting, what with a new cohort ready to tackle it—a cohort of students, I mean. But this time Anthony decided to concentrate mainly on the North York Moors National Park, with its interesting historical sights which no previous excursion of his had yet investigated.
A trek on the wind-swept Moors was likely to be a chilly ordeal if undertaken around Easter. So the 1976 excursion took place at an unusual time of year, the tail end of the summer vacation; meaning, as present-day students may wonder to hear, 11-24 September. Those were the days, when almost half of the academic year was left unscheduled.
Late-summer weather could reasonably be expected to be mild enough for camping, thereby cutting costs on youth hostels and facilitating mobility. So sleeping was in tents and sleeping-bags, to be brought by the participants. Anthony introduced space-blankets as a precaution against extremely cold nights. In the event they turned out very useful. Henk Kaput remembers:
‘Being a novice at hiking I invested in some really heavy-duty Helly Hansen foul weather gear. Remember, this was way before the high-tech Goretex era of semi-permeable gear. It would stand me in good stead though: it kept the rain out but also kept the sweat inside, a mixed blessing. Shortly before departure we all had our tents inspected by Anthony at Heleen Gerritsen’s nice rural place to see whether they were fit for purpose. The weather then being dry they seemingly were…, except for one, as would become clear later in a relentless Yorkshire downpour. ‘
The trip was not designed to be a culinary treat. For quick and cheap dinners, Anthony stocked up on dehydrated ‘Springlow’ rations, called astronauts’ food in those space-struck days, and quite a novelty. As Betty de Vries remembers, ‘they were meals that are quite ordinary nowadays, which absorbed the hot water you poured on them, so the nondescript stuff would explode and suddenly turn into peas, and the meal would be rice, curry and peas.’ At the end of a long day’s walk, they had the virtue of not taking long to prepare and of filling hungry stomachs.
As a route, Hadrian’s Wall was rather like Offa’s Dyke in showing hikers the way, at least along the stretches worth visiting. But the Moors were by no means so self-explanatory; walks there, from one sight to another, were likely to follow a more erratic course. So getting lost was a serious hazard, of which Anthony had warned emphatically.
To prepare participants against this eventuality, he had given them training sessions in the Noorderplantsoen. As Betty remembers, ‘he taught us to follow a compass, placing a coin on the lawn and making us walk in triangles ending exactly at the spot where the coin was. He told us gruesome stories about how you could get hopelessly lost on the Yorkshire Moors, that it was a place of real danger.’
Wrelton, wruins and wrain
Thus prepared, twelve students and Anthony set off from Groningen in two rather rickety minibuses, a Ford Transit and a VW, crossing the North Sea by Norstar night ferry between Rotterdam and Hull. All went well except for one most embarrassing incident, on which Annie will report later on.
In Hull the party was met by another participant. Also waiting for them were inexhaustible rainclouds. As Anthony wrote: ‘The weather made a mockery of all my schedules. Not only were we unable to get into our planned campsite but three days of incessant rain had made our back-up site completely waterlogged. So the itineraries in which I had taken much pride had to be torn up and another improvised.’
For the first few days, to be spent in the Southern part of the Moors, the party made do with a wayside campsite at Wrelton, near Pickering. Lunch in a nearby pub and a visit to Rievaulx Abbey featured on the day of arrival, after which everybody turned in early, to sleep off the exhaustions and deprivations so far, and to get ready for more tomorrow. For that day and the following, Anthony had drawn up lists of ‘day-tasks’, i.e. of visits to various Anglo-Saxon and Roman sights in the area, comfortably reached by minibus, but spiced by stiff walks.
The Anglo-Saxon monuments consisted mostly of stone fragments: gravestones, coffin lids, crosses, and sundials, preserved in or near churches and abbeys, such as that of Lastingham. Roman sites included the road called Wade’s Causeway at Wheeldale, and the remains of Roman camps at Cawthorn. What struck the viewer there, Anthony reported, ‘was not so much the lay-out of the camps themselves, overgrown as they were with bracken. It was the strategically commanding situation of the camps which made the most impression. And that a Roman soldier may once have stood as we did. looking out across the North York Moors.’ ‘Such imaginary experiences’, he affirmed, ’are an essential part of a field trip.’ They certainly were an essential part of a trip with Anthony.
Also worth seeing, musing over, and photographing were the ruins of the Cistercian abbey at Byland, and a few Viking remains here and there. As a bonus, there was a quarry near the church at Kirkdale in which had previously been found ‘the bones of a great variety of species, including lions, bears, tigers, elephants, bison, deer, reindeer, rhinoceroses, boars, horses, wolves, as well as the remains of nearly 300 hyenas’. This was not, as you might think, the boneyard of a former zoo, but a place where prehistoric hyenas dragged carrion found elsewhere, and eventually died themselves.
Meanwhile the rains continued to pour down relentlessly, with one tent so leaky its occupants had to be billeted on other two-sleeper tents which were already sleeping two. Says Henk: ‘I happened to sleep in that one—not my own—with my tent-mate Daan Greven with whom I shared my interest in heroic poetry. After some creative juggling with tents and residents, I managed to reclaim mine again and we were all happy campers. The ladies of the organizing committee had provided each tent with a big bag of food goodies of which I still remember the fantastic nutritious mix of muesli and milk powder. Great stuff to start the day with.’
Starting the day on a well-filled stomach was essential on this expedition characterized by heavy plodding in driving rains, and ‘the drying of soaked walking boots in front of the fire of a cosy pub. I remember (says Henk) us taking shelter in a shepherd’s bothy and Anthony making a brew-up with Oxo cubes—“You can smell the bull right from it”—for us, while at the same time urging us to speak English PLEASE! in the presence of our host.’ Another potent restorative he introduced was Whiskey Mac, preferably drunk hot of course.
Cooking dinner, though essential, was difficult under the circumstances. It had to be performed in the open air, usually in the backs of the minibuses, with the hatch up or rear doors open. Also, rains and the boggy ground had slowed down progress, as it was likely to go on doing. The one favourable aspect of all this sogginess, as Betty pointed out, was that it kept fires at bay. Walking on the Moors could turn perilous due to peat wildfires, which might go into hiding under the moss, heather and bracken, suddenly flaring up when fanned by a wayward wind and trapping unsuspecting wanderers inside a narrowing ring of flames.
On the sixth day, the camp in Wrelton was broken up to proceed to the famous ruins of the Carthusian priory at Mount Grace, on the Western edge of the Moors. Anthony apparently considered these worth the considerable detour, and reported on them in person. For nearby Osmotherley Church he showed far lower esteem. The night was to be spent at a campsite in Swainby, unfortunately positioned close to a rather busy motor road. Also unfortunate was the condition of the VW: ‘the exhaust sounded like skeletons were having it off on a tin roof and our carbon oxide intake increased with each breath. If we opened the window to get some fresh air we got facefuls of rain as well’, Anthony chronicled.
As Anthony regretfully wrote, his original itinerary could not be completed under the atmospheric conditions. The suggestion of dropping the Hadrian’s Wall leg of the trip was not welcomed by those who had been particularly looking forward to seeing it. To accommodate all interests, the two groups, having operated as practically two separate parties from the start, decided to split up entirely, both going their own way.
So one half, including students who had already hiked together in the 1975 excursion, veered North, while the others drove East towards the coast. This satisfied all, though as each half now had only one vehicle, the procedure of ‘we drive there in our van, walk, then drive back in yours’ was no longer possible. Public transport, hitch-hiking, and plain old-fashioned trudging along would have to solve that problem.
Walking the Wall
The group that struck out on their own, led by Richard Ton, and dubbed the B group by Anthony, was to spend four days on the most pertinent stretches of the Roman Wall, with its various sights and views. No campsites had been booked in advance for that time, and indeed they proved to be few and far between. So the group had to camp by their wits, as it were, and did. Bus services were also rare, which meant routes had to be walked both ways from the minibus and back, and tailored accordingly.
The campsite that this group found to use as a home base in this area was on a farmer’s private yard near Hexham, close to the Wall, with splendid views but few amenities. They spent most of their first day admiring the remains of the Roman cavalry fort of Chesters, showing a particular interest in its central heating system and bathhouses, conveniences the campers would have to forego during their stay.
As this split-off group occasionally re-split for their walks, it is hard to keep track of their itineraries. Let it suffice to record that they visited the auxiliary fort at Housesteads, Vindulanda, and Great Chesters fort. The latter is not to be confused with Chesters, both names being derived from Roman ‘castra’, meaning –you guessed it—’fort’ or ‘army camp’.
Judging by the pictures, the landscape as seen from the Wall, and its contours in that landscape, were probably the most enjoyable part of the experience. Interesting stretches of the Wall as such were Winshields, Cawfields, and Walltown Crags. Annemieke van der Linden found the latter ’the most interesting part of the Wall, showing the skill of the Roman engineers who built it upon the natural landscape. Walking there feels like being on top of the world.’ How’s that for imaginative contemplation, unprompted by Anthony?
Sjoerd’s photographs show members of the group usually swathed in dripping raingear, but with smiling faces and plenty of good companionship. Some, though fair hikers, proved unlucky hitch-hikers, taking over two hours to get a ride; but drinks at pubs usually restored everybody’s good mood.
The major forts along the wall had their own exhibition centres, which the party duly visited. The one at Vindulanda excelled by its efforts to make Roman culture come alive for modern visitors, exhibiting, for instance, two heaps of bones with the following comments:
1. Remains of Roman meals, from the floors of the early forts: a selection of bones from fowl, incl. chicken.
2. For comparison, the remains of 50 chickens from a demonstration meal cooked in Dundee, in February 1975, by Clement Freud M.P., rector of the University’.
After the animal cemetery in Kirkdale quarry, this attempt to stimulate the historical imagination seems rather unimpressive; one wonders if it would have found favour with Anthony. ‘This acted as a very effective last straw’, Frits Baars commented, ‘and we left the museum at full speed.’
It was from the frying-pan into the fire that they were speeding: Hexham Abbey turned out to have its own Raw-head and Bloody-bones. It is in the form of a rood-screen, depicting St. Cuthbert carrying under his arm the head of St. Oswald, and St. Denis similarly carrying his own. For comic relief, the abbey also features a chantry carved with caricatures. On that note, let us go and see how the other group has been doing.
Who went where Whitby way
The group that had stuck with Anthony settled at a campsite in Hinderwell, on the North Yorkshire coast between Whitby and Saltburn-by-the-Sea. Walking along the beach participants found handfuls of fossils, such as ammonites and trilobites, decidedly more exhibitable than chicken-bones.
The end of the first day was frustrating. As Heleen Gerritsen recorded: ‘Around dinner-time we found out that almost all the Springlow foods had gone with the other group, so that we are on macaroni plus now. The evening we spent in the pub on the other side of the road, discussing plans and writing up the day’s events.’ Deprived of their dehydrated grub, they could hardly be blamed for seeking comfort and compensation in a good old English pint.
Like the B’s, this group tended to split up into smaller clusters for excursions, so it would be too complicated to report who went where when; but with Anthony present we may assume that the ‘day-tasks’ were duly completed by all. There was a bus service between Hinderwell and Whitby, enabling the various parties to combine a tour of the city and its monuments with a walk along the beach; which sums up Saturday’s programme and events.
The next day being Sunday, the ladies in the company went to attend an Anglican church service in Whitby, whether out of piety or mere curiosity I cannot determine. After that, off to Scarborough, which by its very name declares its Norse roots, and indeed boasts a Viking castle. It also preserves the remains of a Roman signal station, built to guard against invasions by barbarian enemies from Scotland and from across the North Sea.
Monday saw a somewhat fragmented itinerary, involving much plodding through sheeptrods, heather, brambles, and ankle-deep mud. The brambles had their good side, though: blackberries were plentiful and found to be delicious with custard. By then, the B group re-joined the others, in time for dessert if they knew what was good for them.
In the last few days of the excursion, much remained to be hiked and seen. For Tuesday, Anthony had ambitiously scheduled Lythe Church, Low Bride Stones, High Bride Stones, Foster Howe, Ann’s Cross, Lilla Howe, and Shooting House Rigg for one party, and Whitby for the other. The town and its famous Abbey were found quite manageable, but the other itinerary proved a bit too ambitious for some hikers. Henk mentions ‘the slogging on BLEAK moors in driving rain, the bleakness being enhanced by the eery three 130-foot diameter ‘golfballs’ or geodesic domes of RAF Fylingdales.’ Annie reports: ‘On Shooting House Rigg there is supposed to be a very large collection of cairns: over 1,200 closely grouped and closely associated with the double ditch. However, we were unable to find any cairns at all. A bit disappointed we walk back to Falling Foss. There, the beauty of the scenery makes up amply for the cairns we missed.’
Some compensation was also found on the next day, devoted to a climb of Botton Head, the highest point of the Moors: its top had the decency to sport a cairn. A group of schoolboys had attached a note to it, lamenting how low they had felt when they reached it, poor things.
And then it was time to break up camp to prepare for the passage home. But not, of course, without spending a day at York, famous for its Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Viking history. Special attention was paid to the Viking era, as the York museum was devoting an exhibition to it at the time. That night the bespattered bunch splurged on B&B accommodations, where hot showers and dry beds helped restore them to some state of civilization.
The next day offered a quick opportunity to visit majestic York Minster, and equally majestic Beverley Minster with its frith-stol, a ceremonial stone seat. The night was spent on the homeward bound ferry, and Groningen reached on September 25th, as scheduled.
With over a dozen participants, there can be no such thing as a definitive evaluation of this excursion, so let Henk Kaput and Annie van der Veen have the last word.
‘History will always provide one’s memory with a pleasant patina of colours’, Henk muses,‘ that will enhance, filter and sometimes beautify the experiences we had, especially during those formative years that would shape our later lives. This excursion certainly did that. Anthony Davies introduced me to the essentials of how to use a map and compass and fired my interest in ancient archaeological sites and an enthusiasm for walking in the British countryside with my family. And I am still grateful for that.’
‘Was this my best trip to England ever?’, Annie asks herself. Her answer: ‘Absolutely not.’ She continues:
‘Did this trip turn me into an enthousiastic hiker? No. My body is not made for this kind of exercise. My knees and hips were protesting all the time. And not even the homeopatic remedies Erna de Bruin brought along helped much.’
But she certainly found it worth while: ‘Did I learn a lot ? Oh yes. Walking about in the ruins of beautiful abbeys, studying several crosses, visiting stone circles, walking along howes and dykes, standing on the cliffs at Whitby, feeling the lure of the Moors, oh yes, I learned a lot. I fell in love with the city of York, where we visited the exhibition The Viking Kingdom of York. All of this fuelled my interest in the history of England and I have devoured quite a few historical novels since then. All very literary of course … ‘
‘Did I get to know Anthony any better? He was part of our group, was in the same pub at night, but was very much an observer. Clearly watching us closely as to what we were doing, listening to our conversations, always in his own shy way. The grin on his face when I caught him ‘borrowing’ knife, spoon and fork in the restaurant on board the ferry because he had forgotten to bring his own on this camping trip. Making sure that I saw him put back the items on the return trip! Yes, he was definitely a peculiar person, most definitely a charmer, a walking encyclopedia, with a very special kind of humor.’
‘Do I regret going on this trip? No, most certainly not.’ Of course she didn’t, or why would she have enrolled for the next year’s trip?
But we’re running ahead of things; more about that excursion some other time.