Tuesday, 22 June 2010

America The Beautiful

We’re currently driving from Pickering to York with cameraman, Keith on a location scouting mission. It is the most glorious of days, which reminds me of those endless summers of my childhood. We’ve been driving through the Yorkshire Moors with the smell of dust, cow parsley and wild garlic drifing in through the open windows of the car. Rievaulx Abbey felt strangely atmospheric earlier on; rather still and contemplative as though it were taking a few moments to bask underneath the powder blue sky. We ate ice cream in Helmsley before heading north into the moors and finding a delightful little farm clinging to a hillside, which we immediately fell for. The countryside around it felt almost mid-Western. In one direction, pine trees stretched out as far as the eye could see. There was a Reader’s Digest Book book at my Nana’s house called America the Beautiful, and I used to sit and stare at all these pictures of places I longed to visit, but somehow knew I never would. That view reminded me of a page from that book, and instantly brought back that same childhood feeling of excitement tinged with melancholy.


The heather is just beginning to flower on the moors, and within the next few weeks all the hillsides will be covered in a deep purple blanket. Nothing could be as spectacular as the poppies, however. We’ve just passed a field which looks like a Persian rug. In the bright sunshine those delicate little flowers are surely nature’s most incredible gift.

It’s with a great sense of calmness that I enter my old stomping ground of York; merrily thinking about university adventures. Faces of old friends bubble up in the murky haze of my memory. Whatever happened to Madaleine Pennell, Clare Skiffington, Hector McAndrew and all those chaps who shared my corridor in the first year?

The 22nd June 1660, and Pepys was once again a busy man; covering impossibly large areas of London; drinking with friends, rejoicing in his new found status, and congratulating others on theirs. England was changing fast, and a brand new set of faces were establishing themselves as the movers and shakers.

Pepys wrote about drinking a can of good jelup; which was an intensely sweet liquid, often consumed as a comforter, a medicine or a laxative. Take your pick, but if you opt for the latter, take a moment to consider the plight of poor Lady Middlesex, who according to idle gossip reported to Pepys on this day, apparently “beshit herself the other day in the presence of the King” – how embarrassing.

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