Remember me?

Possibly not. I’ve been busy busy busy. It’s not easy to change countries and lives, especially at my age. But this is not to say that I haven’t missed your madcap blogs, recipes, stories and bad poetry. Occasionally I step on the chariot only to leap off again back to the torture that is uni life. I’ve been watching your competitions multiply and morph though. Who’d a thunk it.

So what I’m worried about is: Where is Janus?

I’m living currently in the lovely and very green southwest. Freezing my Californian toes off and trying to invoke the sun. Watching the river Exe meander past my window.

33 thoughts on “Remember me?”

  1. Wot? Are you teaching at my Alma Mater? Exeter Uni?
    Bit of a shock the climate, very wet and rather unpleasantly humid in the summer compared with California.
    I have brother that farms at Ottery St Mary and a sister that retired to Barnstaple so I know that part of the world quite well. A very attractive County but you are in the most crowded place.
    Not sure what has happened to Janus, he did say he was not able to blog any more for a while, I understood him to mean he was ill in some way but could have got the wrong end of the stick. Maybe Bo or Bearsy have more info.

  2. Yikes, I had lunch in Newton Poppleford last weekend, just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Ottery St Mary. Fishcakes! Yumm! And dessert at Sidmouth. Toffee cake! Heading to Budleigh Salterton this weekend. As the weather gets better I’m travelling the backroads of Devon.

  3. It’s not so bad. But at the moment I’m reading a book on torture and war: “The Body in Pain” by Elaine Scarry. Perhaps that’s why the word came to mind! Or to fingertips …

  4. Well, Val, I’m likely to disappear soon. I have to put a paper together for a conference in York. I’m a little excited about that. I’ve never been to York. Everyone keeps saying oh, York is so beautiful. I have been keeping an eye on your photos though. Everyone’s! Very impressive.

  5. York is my favourite city in the UK. I hope you’ve given yourself a bit of time to have a look around. I travel to Edinburgh when I’m in the UK. I always try to organise a stop-over in York on the way back down south – I’ve not run out of places to visit there yet!

    I hope the weather holds for you – nowhere in the UK is lovely in the rain. But, then I speak as someone who has become accustomed to it being ‘fine today and perfect tomorrow’! You probably feel the same if you are accustomed to Californian sun.

  6. I’m giving myself an extra day and two if the conference is really dull. Got a favorite place to recommend in York?

  7. If the weather is good, and probably even if it isn’t, make sure you visit the Shambles. I don’t know what sort of ‘morning riser’ you are, but I always find it best to wander the streets early morning, before the world and his wife start rushing around. The streets in the centre are well-worth wandering around – as are the city walls.

    The standard things are probably best to start with – I’d be prepared to bet that you’ll try to get back after you’ve been once! The Cathedral, and even tho’ I’ve not much time for martyrs
    Margaret Citherow’s House is extremely interesting.

    The Jorvik Centre is OK, but the last time I went it was horrendously expensive, and there were long queues. I thought it fun the first time I went, but I wasn’t so sure that it was worth the money the next time!

    Now I’ll hide in a corner! I’m always loathe to give people advice on what to look at. My bias is always towards the ‘medieval’ – and not everyone is as enthusiastic as I am about that particular era!

  8. Yoo hoo, Jaime. I’ve been doing my best to keep the bad poetry going until you got back 😀


  9. OZ! Dear one! Doggie Supreme! And some fine photos to howl at! Dang, I should have rhymed that.

    Thanks, Boa. I LOVE the medieval period. I’m not joking. If I believed in past lives then I’d believe I lived then, I have such an attachment to it. I will definitely follow your suggestions.

  10. Yikes, Boa. There are more things is heaven and hell ….
    And I wouldn’t be brave enough for hypnotic regression. It might tell me something I really don’t want to know! I don’t think I’m brave enough for hypnosis. Of any kind … At least not yet.

  11. Hi Jaime, good to see you again! Lucky you, living in Exeter…glad life is treating you well though. I know York quite well; used to spend virtually every weekend there in 2004/5. The Treasurer’s House is worth a visit; local legend has it that a Roman army was seen marching through the cellar by a local builder some time in the eighties. Just about every pub you go into feels haunted; there have been reports of ghostly medieval children, spotted crying at the windows of houses that were said to have been boarded up, with the dying residents inside, during the plague.
    What else…? There is the Shambles, the medieval street that you can’t miss, the city walls, and the Minster, obviously, with the stone outside marking the place where Constantine was crowned Roman emperor. There’s also a circular stone building on the outskirts called Clifford’s Tower where a massacre of the Jewish population happened, some time in the 12th century. It is horrible, but nonetheless a testimony to the fact that such things have happened here.

  12. Hi Jaime! Newton Poppleford? Budleigh Salterton. Peace and pebbles. Blimey Cheltenham will seem positively metropolitan in comparison. Come up for the Lit Fest! Would be good to meet. 🙂

  13. Wow. I just put a spooky story up on the mantelpiece blog. I’m definitely heading for the Shambles. Romans are also a big favorite with me so will look for the Treasurer’s House. Thanks for the tips, Claire. So nice to hear from you!

  14. I suggest you have a bit of a read about York before going – it’s just steeped in history and so much of it is still visible.

    If you get time let us know how you get on!

  15. Hi Jan! When is the Lit Fest? I have a poet friend in Cheltenham. I only know Cheltenham as a typeface! With spring coming on I’m getting restless! But I have to get back to the grindstone tomorrow. This conference is in three weeks. Scary.

  16. I’ll let y’all know about my York adventures. That will be after the conference and I’ll be feeling free as a bird!

  17. There is a museum in an old jail there, complete with Dick Turpin’s cell, forget what it is called, but well worth a visit.
    Claire is referring to the pogrom of York, 1265ish??? Richard II ish?
    Anyway the jews lent the king money and had the effrontery to ask for it back with interest!
    So he rounded them up and burnt them all to death in their ghetto.
    One way of fixing your creditors I suppose!
    When he came back down to London, all the jewish merchants met him at the city gate, kneeling in the dirt asking, nay, begging him to accept their loans as gifts!
    Needless to say, being suitably impecunious, he did, they lived!
    Pity we lost the knack of dealing with immigrants.

  18. Hi, jaime. Good to see you.

    York is indeed a fine place and almost as good as Embra.

    We have a group of about 24 of us from Uni who meet up once a year for a long weekend reunion. Peak District this year, but it’s York every 10 years. Fourth visit in the cycle last year so I’m a bit of an expert.

    Loads of sites to visit. I personally found ‘The Maltings’ very disappointing last year. The beer was still excellent but the pub itself is always far too busy. ‘The Last Drop Inn’ is very handy for the station and gives you the chance to try the wares of the local brewery. Obviously, most of the pubs in the centre are plagued by the hordes of tourists who seem to infest the place and get between the bar and the serious drinkers, but you can still find the odd gem.

    I heartily recommend ‘The Royal Oak’ in the Petergate. Clearly a pub which had gone through a bad patch but is now being dragged up to standard by the new licensee, a former teacher, and her partner who commutes from his job with the Met to help out at weekends. Nice pint of ‘Landlord’.

    The clear winner this time was ‘The Guy Fawkes Hotel’, blue-plaqued as birthplace of the boy. Excellent beer and good food. You can’t miss it. It’s right next to this Gothic abomination called York Monster which the City Fathers have allowed to be thrown up.

    In seriousness, enjoy York and make sure that you walk the walls. Surprised nobody has mentioned the Victorian Street in York Castle Museum. Definitely worth a visit. And Jorvik has revamped itself and is back to being worth the money, in my opinion.

  19. Thanks for the information on the Jorvik Centre, John.

    I find it quite amusing the different things people suggest – I wonder why! I’ve never been in a pub in York – but I’ll keep your suggestions in mind next time I’m there!

  20. Morning Jaime. Chelt Lit Fest is October. Hay first – sponsored by the Telegraph this year – at the end of May. Not too far up the M5 and across the Severn Bridge…! 🙂 Have a good time in York. As JM says, don’t forget to walk around the walls.

  21. Jaime, nothing wrong with the Chelters or Hay events. These small, local events can be quite good fun.

    If, however, you are doing Book Festivals whilst this side of the pond, please try to make sure that you visit the biggest and best.

    I almost met Louise Doughty there once you know.

  22. This is great. I’m going to sign up for an extra day in York then to give myself some time to visit these. Not sure I can make the Hay fest, Jan, but I think Hay is one of the funnest place on the planet. Chelt might work. I’m back from the States at the beginning of October. And John, I’m giving a paper on a Scottish writer at York. A living breathing Scottish poet, John Burnside. I was in Edinburgh year before last at another conference, that time giving a paper on Alexander McCall Smith. Whom I actually talked with on the phone for half and hour and is as devastatingly charming as might be imagined. But enough of witty repartee and Scottish celebrity talk!

  23. Aye right, jaime. You’ll be turning Sandy’s head with all this stuff about him being allegedly ‘devastatingly charming’. Not that he isn’t, to be fair. Always has been ever since I first met him at the University of Embra all those long years ago. I could be wrong, but I think that our recently arrived author julietee has also met him in Embra when she won his serial novel competition. I could be muddling up MyT Julies, of course.

    Had never heard of Burnside, to my shame. Have now googled and will give him a go even if he does teach at the benighted University of Pimple in darkest Fife.

    I once debated against Norman McCaig, you know.

  24. I thought you might know McCall Smith, John. Not surprised at all. The paper was actually about his online novel and the MyT online comp. It’s sort of academic but here’s a link to it: In case you’re interested.

    Oh I think he probably knows he’s devastatingly charming. But seems unaffected about it.

    John Burnside writes very dark and bleak but beautiful poetry. Novels too.

  25. Mr Mackie, my favorite Burnside collection is “The Asylum Dance.” I think it won the Whitbred Prize in 2000. The novels are more difficult. His work is quite on the other side of the spectrum from sunny McCall Smith. Maybe The Locust Room.

    Hmmm. It occurs to me I may have put up a link for that article before. Forgive me if I repeat myself.

  26. Jaime, hi! I lived in York for five years and daughter #3 went to Exeter Uni. – read psychology like her sisters. I blame the parents.

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