What a day! The warmth was unlike anything I’ve ever experience before, and no pattering rain to accompany it! I didn’t dare ask for more when I strolled out to the bus-stop this morning. The journey to the library was an unexpectedly strange one- a stray baby on the bus decided it liked my earphones and refused to let go, even when we got to my stop. It finally came down to me either cruelly snatching them from his/her tiny fists or just letting the earphones (which, to be honest, could not have cost me more than three pounds) go. So, obviously, I snatched. And then ran as quickly as I could out onto the street and in the general direction of Newcastle City Library. This whole affair caused a significant quickening in my pace, possibly from shame at having effectively stolen a toy from a child (MY toy, though) but more likely from anxiety that his/her furious mother would chase me down the street hurling profanities.
As a result, I reached the library far earlier than I had anticipated. Waited for my classmate with whom I’d be working for the day, who was off printing receipts (that I had been unable to print) on her way back from work (her morning was probably a lot more grown-up than mine), and called our speaker for the day, John Crouch, incessantly while looking desperately for him around the cafe at the library. Finally found him, flushed and panicked (Me), surrounded by cups of coffee and sheaves of notes (Him). We exchanged pleasantries, and as I watched him stack beautiful, ancient-looking books into his bag, I knew the session was going to be a good one.
The turnout was excellent: we all but filled the room, and the lecture that proceeded was more *insert positive adjective here* than I could ever have thought it to be. Things I learned today:
- Most town names ending in ‘by’ are ex-Viking sites (Appleby, for ex.)
- The word ‘haversack’ comes from the bags used to carry oats in Cumbria (“hafer” being German for oats)
- ‘Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie’ stemmed from George I being called the Pudding King (It was during his reign that Britain became famous for its assorted puddings)
- The Opium Wars should really have been called the Rhubarb Wars
More than that, though, I learnt that John Crouch, our speaker has the kind and quantity of knowledge about Cumbrian history and gastronomy that makes me both awed and slightly envious. He spoke, we listened, and we were amazed. Dorothy’s recipes (her famous rhubarb pie being the star of the afternoon), his stories about the importance and ubiquity of food in understanding history and the sudden closeness we all felt to the Wordsworths by means of the recipes Dorothy cooked in their kitchen at Dove Cottage made for a great afternoon, well-spent. If there’s one thing I can hope for, it’s that John had as wonderful a time today as we did.
The talks for the exhibition are over now, and it won’t be long (July 7th) until we close. If you’re close by and haven’t come by, please do- we assure you, you won’t regret it! Details here.
Here’s a stock photograph of a rhubarb pie for you, that I borrowed off the internet. In reality, I hear, they look even better.
Goodbye for now.