Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The longest tennis match ever

I'm currently watching the longest tennis match in the history of Wimbledon, in fact any Grand Slam tournament. Mahut vs Isner. It’s the final set and the score is currently 50 games all! 50 games all!! 50! The crowd is going nutty! I have never seen anything like it. Surely it won’t end until one of them falls over, or simply dies. The umpire seems to be losing his voice. Nathan’s just texted to say the previous record for aces in a single Wimbledon match was 51; but that Isner now has 83, and Mahut is not far behind with 70! I think the England team could learn a great deal about commitment and stamina from watching this match. And on that note, I'm secretly pleased, but outwardly horrified that they’ve made it through to the quarter finals of the World Cup. They certainly don’t deserve it, but what would the World Cup be without them crashing out in a horrific penalty shoot during the quarter finals?

We’ve had another day of travel around Yorkshire and another day of glorious sunshine. We started the day on the "Wuthering Heights" above Haworth. They look absolutely splendid at this time of year. I feel ashamed to be mentioning flowers yet again in this blog, but I’ve never seen amber coloured dandelions before. They’re spectacular little things!

We visited the Ovenden Wind Farm and then a disused quarry where we stumbled upon a group of men with rotary saws taking a burnt out car apart, one assumes to use for scrap metal. En route to Sheffield we passed through what has to be the most beautiful village in Yorkshire. It’s called Booth, and it seems to be on two levels; the upper level is charming enough, but nestling at the bottom of the valley, underneath a steep slope covered in patchwork fields is the most picturesque terrace of houses. I immediately imagined living there; friends coming to visit and picnicking on the hillside, until the cameraman reminded me how dreadfully cut off these places become in the winter, and suddenly city living became a somewhat less arduous concept.

We found even more interesting locations in Sheffield. I was particularly taken with the bustle and colour of the Hillsborough district, but just when I thought I’d seen as much magic as it was possible to see, we stumbled upon the village of High Bradfield, which sits up in the Yorkshire part of the Peak District. The following picture was taken there. If you haven’t spent much time in Yorkshire, I urge you to visit. Around every corner lies another gem. This really is God’s own county!

The 23rd June 1660 was the date the King had decided to touch people suffering from Scrofula; a tubercular infection, which was also known as The King’s Evil, because it was said the disease could be cured by the touch of a consecrated King. Sufferers went to a service where many prayers were offered, and were then given a gold coin, or "touchpiece" which had been handled by the King. These would be worn around the neck until the illness was cured. It is said than on this occasion over 600 people turned up to be touched by the King, but sadly, according to Pepys, it rained, and the King was not prepared to get wet so “the poor people were forced to stand all the morning in the rain in the garden.” Later on the King touched 200 of them in the relative dry of the Banquetting House.

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