Sunday, 25 July 2010

La Belle Boteler

I had a very restless night last night and dreamt about plane crashes. Nathan told me I was crying out at one point in my sleep and I woke up to find my jaw clenched so tightly that my cheeks were hurting. It’s a very stressful time. London is incredibly hot and muggy and getting on the tube when I arrived was like stepping into a sauna.


It was wonderful to see Nathan again, and to breathe a bit of that sooty Highgate air. The flat smelt so familiar and it was wonderful to curl up in front of the telly with a cheese cake! Our home now has two resident spiders. They’re much bigger than normal ones, so we’ve called them Atilla and Genghis. Atilla is particularly social, and seems to want to be wherever we are at all times. I think this would probably freak quite a lot of people out, but I love spiders. They eat all the creatures I most despise so they know they're welcome wherever I am.

Today has been restful. It’s my Dad’s birthday, so I was able to go up to Thaxted to spend some time with my parents, my brother, Ted, and his partner Sascha. It was astonishing to witness quite how much of a drought they’ve been having up there. Much of their garden is now dead, and a walk across the fields in baking heat revealed streams which had completely dried up. My Dad said the last proper rain they had there, fell in the shape of snow in February! I worry about the fish. Where on earth do they go when there’s no water? And then what happens to the Kingfishers who feed on the fish? Until I saw the cracked earth and the dying crops, I hadn't thought how serious a drought could be... It makes no sense. Leeds looks so green and verdant.

Nathan was given belated birthday presents, including some plugs with remote controls on them, which means all of our sitting room lamps can be switched on with the flick of a single button. It’s like a disco as I type. All the lamps go off... and then they come on again... Nathan is shrieking like an excited little child! Unfortunately, he can even operate them from the kitchen, so periodically I'm being plunged into darkness. I can hear a little voice giggling away...

We came back from Thaxted and headed into the centre of town, where we had a lovely drink outside a pub on Villiers Street down by Charing Cross Station. It was very relaxing end to the day.

Pepys was his usual busy self on this date 350 years ago. He kicked things off in an “ordinary”, which was a tavern, or a dining room which served meals at fixed prices. Here he met a Welsh teacher, who was described as “a good scholar but a very pedagogue.” Later in the day (or was it yesterday? Pepys once again was confusing himself by writing up his diaries at much later points in time) he met up with my favourite character, Monsieur L’Impertinent and his sister Frances (La Belle Boteler) who regularly captivated Pepys with her beauty! On his way home late at night, Pepys called into a Barber to be shaved. It’s strange to think that this sort of thing could happen so late at night.

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