Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The rock and roll lifestyle

I have officially been of no fixed abode or employment status for seven weeks now. On the road with naught but an overstuffed backpack, a variety of minor and malodorous foot complaints the reading public should not be troubled with, far too many second-hand paperbacks (I have trouble releasing them back into the wilderness) and – for three weeks – my parents.

That last, I admit, sounds a fair bit like cheating. Especially when they’re paying for the cot-bed your occupying in the corner of their B&B room. I did mix it up in those three weeks, though: the occasional sojourn in a hostel, then repairing to a restaurant with actual tablecloths for a meal with the parents. An odd admixture, but decidedly pleasant.

Now I’m cast back on my own resources, en route to Budapest, and stopping over in Cambridge once more. Friends with actual spare beds (I am a poor couch-crasher) being in unaccustomedly short supply I’ve booked myself into a “guest room” at college. A guest room is in fact an undergraduate’s room, sans undergraduate.

It’s nice to see how the first-years live: up three flights of stairs, sharing a bathroom and toilet on a corridor, with limited heating and ancient (utterly un-double glazed) windows overlooking Front Court. It’s very pretty, though, having a view out towards the spires of Kings chapel.

So, what have I been doing, then in these weeks where all I’ve done is submit Naylor from the road?

Well, I’ve seen a fair few heritage properties, a nearby favourite being Charles II’s weekender Audley End.

I met my mum’s thoroughly wonderful exchange teaching friend and her twenty-something sons and daughter, and son’s girlfriend.

I visited York, which is just damn pretty – even if calling a Cathedral “Yorkminster” sounds a bit unoriginal coming hot on the heels of “Yorkshire”.

I was rained on, quite a bit, in the Lakes District – and was (for a devotee of Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats et al) far more captured by the life and times of John Ruskin, a progressive social thinker whose prodigious writings span an anarchic and sprawling terrain of subjects than the scenery (when visible).

Dove cottage was remarkable for the fact that it predated, by two hundred years, the Wordsworths’ occupation and many of the original floors and walls remained. (Beatrix Potter’s house was also cute.)

In Scotland, I looked at the mountainous folds of Glencoe and felt a very small and brief lived thing of no particular importance whatever.

I looked on bemused, as my mother attempted to swat a fine mist of Scottish midges into submission with her foam neckbrace; while I repeatedly and infallibly triggered the rental car’s alarm by opening a passenger door before the engine was started.

I made it to bits of the Edinburgh fringe festival, and took the chance to swill a little gin and ate a little pasta with blogger extraordinaire (and charming real-space person) Shauna. Next time though, it will be bangers and mash, damn those Edinburgh festival tourists swarming the city (oh, hang on a minute … )

PS All this and new "Naylor's Canberra" too!

No comments: