which roughly translates into “we don’t speak English like they do”
- OR -
“and we traveled to Cardiff”
(take your pick)
Leaving Edinburgh, Dilly and I boarded another train to Wales. This train wasn’t nearly as nice as the first one. There was no internet, no plug in for my laptop, and no table to sit at.
BUT the trip was great! We left Edinburgh and six hours later arrived in Cardiff. Now, what can you do for SIX hours on a train? You can squirm in your seat, you can stare out the windows, you can long for fun passengers, read a book – OR!
Or you can work on your writing, and your very good friend can listen to you read your stories and offer helpful insights and suggestions.
The first short story I read out loud to Dilly was “The Flume Tender’s Cabin”. This story was submitted for my class, but I didn’t have any critiques back yet (at that time). Sooner (or later) it will appear here. Dilly and I had fun reading it.
Then we ate! When we were in Edinburgh, we'd stopped at this Cheesemonger’s (see picture) and selected some great cheese for our lunch on the trian. I (being a non-vegetarian) had some aged salumi. We had fruit. Crusty bread. A beet salad. Dilly had some fizzy water, I had wine. Scottish shortbread cookies were our dessert.
After lunch, I started in on my other “work-in-progress”.
(IT’S STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS. I don’t know if it will EVER be done. I’m happy with it (because I am not a critical reader) but the READERS don’t seem to be GETTING THE STORY … so … re-write, submit, re-write, stew, get mad, re-write … and see. SOME DAY you might all get a glimpse of “Fish Out of Water and Other Forms of Torture” … which at this point has been renamed, “Departure”. OR, you may not.)
But DILLY is a great listener. And she laughed at all the funny spots. And she GOT the story. As I read this (slightly) risqué story, I couldn’t help but giggle at those around us.
“Mr. Steven’s, those two Americans, sitting in front of us. Did she really just say, “that”??” I imagined the London-Fog clad, white haired, refined matron, sitting behind us saying to her retired University Don husband.
“I don’t know Mildred. With those funny accents it’s hard to tell.” The Don responded.
As I continued to read the story, and the words , "bullwhips", "cage", and "pony-play" were uttered, I could just hear them muttering, “What IS she reading?”
Before I knew it, I was done with the story and we were pulling into Cardiff. Most of the other train stations we’d been in were “pretty” or at least architecturally interesting. Cardiff? Not so much.
But we weren’t there for the architecture. We were there to meet our friend Binooby, and her husband. He picked us up from the train station. I was feeling rather sorry for him. Here he was, playing taxi for two of his wife’s friends and going to be stuck with a houseful of women for the night. I'm sure he was thinking, "What the heck am I going to do?" Thankfully, he’d met Dilly before, so we weren’t COMPLETE strangers, but still. Of course, what I’m NOT mentioning (well, until this moment) is that he’s a Baptist PREACHER. Just graduated from seminary a year ago May.
Now I just want those of you from the south to throw out EVERYTHING you know about SOUTHERN Baptists.
THAT? Is not this man. (This, is this man, in his youth!)
After a quick drive (thank goodness! A car! No walking! No tube! No bus!) and quick tour of Cardiff, (I hadn't looked up Cardiff at all. I thought we were coming to some sleepy little Welsh town. It is a BIG CITY!) we arrived at the ‘Noob’s house.
Mrs. Noobs and the 3 dogs met us at the door. In no time we were installed at the kitchen counter drinking tea (yes, it was hot) and eating CROSS BUNS. (NOM-NOM-NOM)
When we finished the buns, we (Mr. Noobs and myself) moved onto beer. And talking. And talking, and talking, and talking! Oh, he is a delightful man, Mr. Noobs.
Meanwhile, as we discussed salvation, world history, music, theology, philosophy, and discovered we’d both participated in the Alpha Course, Dilly and Mrs. Noobs were across the kitchen from us dicing and slicing, stirring and simmering and roasting.
They finally pressed Mr. Binooby and I into service, and we set the table and opened the wine. (SEE! Soooo NOT a Southern Baptist!)
As we sat down to dinner – salad, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, a chard and broccoli casserole … and this YUMMY, YUMMY cream sauce to pour over it all. Did I mention the wine? (which MIGHT be why the dinner details are so bare.) Plus, I was trying to speak "prop-er-ly". (Humpff)
“How do you say that thing you look in and see your reflection?” Mr. Binooby asked.
“Mir-er”? I replied.
“Ha! It’s a Mir-or! And you bloody say you speak English! What about this stuff that you drink? That comes from the tap?”
Wise to his ways, I carefully said, “Wat-ter”.
“Dilly asked for Wa-der, the first time she was here. I had NO IDEA what she wanted,” he enthused.
“And when you cook! I bet you say everything wrong there too, don’t you!”
Me, “blink, blink”.
Inside I was thinking, “I wish (or maybe I don’t) that Talla Palla (aka tp) was here to hear this conversation. This is a family game we frequently play. It’s called, “How do you say …” Only? Sometimes, if you DON’T KNOW THE WORDS (or are dyslexic) it’s not such a fun game (unless you are asking other people to say “Neal”, aka “Nil”, or “Corn-Beef-and-Hash” sometimes referred to as “Corned (pause) BeefHash”.)
“This! What do you call this!” he said, holding up a broad green leaf, common to Italian cooking.
Venturing a guess I said, “Baaaa-sil”? (like a sheep would say)
“Yes! It’s “BAAAA-SIL”, not “Bay-sil”. I bet you say “Or-ray-gan-oh” too, don’t you?” he crowed.
“Let me guess, it’s really “Or-ah-gan-oh”, isn’t it?”
It was an AMAZING feast. And Mrs. Noobs and Dilly finally joined (or got a word in edgewise) with Mr. Noobs and me!
And may I say? Mrs. Noobs' cullinary skills are PAR EXCELLENT! She trained as a caterer – which has served her well – as she has some dietary restrictions.
THE DESSERT we ate. SO YUMMY I cannot tell you what it was.
But YUMMY – and GONE!
In like TWO SECONDS.
THEN! It was GIFT TIME!!
Mrs. Noobs is the BEST GIFT PICKER-OUTER on the planet.
Plus a red-feathered choker ...
(I’m sure it was meant to cut off my airway, so I’d be easier to stuff into the freezer, BUT! I bulged out my neck and saved my life!) ...
And there was a red furry “opera-clutch” style purse, a small teakwood broach … and the BEST, MOST BEAUTIFUL, WOVEN pashmina /muffler EVER. (It appears in almost EVERY PICTURE following our visit).
In return, I gave them a CD of the North Carolina Chocolate Drops.
After the three of us posed with Erica , I crept upstairs to bed.
The next morning we departed for a quick tour of some Charity Shops (do not take Dilly – she is a “touchy-feely” person. Unless YOU like shopping! Then? She is a shopper EXTRODANAIR!) … where I found a smashing brown chocolate, shawl-collard sweater for Dilly – and joked around with Mr. Noobs some more.
All too soon, it was time to meet back up with Mrs. Noobs (who’d had an mid-morning appointment), drink a cup of …"CAW-FEE" … and head to the train station.
And now, more than a month gone by – I still dream of sitting at that table.
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THEM!
Not to mention their outstanding hospitality … IN THE MIDDLE OF HOLY WEEK!
Get it? A minister – and we were crashing at their house … the week of Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday … AND EASTER SUNDAY.
Talk about being great hosts.
Mrs. and Mr. Noobs. High, high on the list!