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The Western-Eastern Couch

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Meeting people from the Internet ^_^
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So this was my second time I went on the road (or rather in the air) to meet a group of people from the internet, which is still a thought I have to get used to. I didn't write anything in anticipation, but I was very, very nervous because I only knew three of the present persons, my oral English skills are much, much worse than my written English skills, I probably drink a 1/3 of what the average BWB member is used to (^_^ ) and my shyness increases proportionally to the numbers of persons. However, I undertook  the adventure, and I don't regret it. ^_^

My post comes without pictures, because I used my normal camera, but luzisrighthand  and zoeiona  have posted wonderful pictures.

Before coming to York, I was already found by luzisrighthand at Kings Cross. I knew that he had to take the train half an hour after mine, so when my train was delayed, I started already wondering when or if he would be present. And there, he was, recognising me despite my old facebook picture. We had time to exchange a few words, before my train was finally announced. That said, the announciation system at Kings Cross was one of the first fascinating discoveries of this travel: It's rather amusing how everyone is crowded in front of the giant screen and once a platform is announced, it leads to a veritable stampede in that direction.  

I arrived in York rather late in the evening, so I missed the famous ghost walk which zoeiona  mentioned in her post. However, I met the co-inhabitants of my flat in the Pizza Hut, one street away from our actual street, and there were even two slices of pizza left over. It was a bit of a shock, after a long and lonesome travel to face a big group of 10 people, and I was a bit overwhelmed at first. After pizza, I could get a first look at the Riverside flat, booked for a group of 9, and find out that the sofa in the living room was too small for two persons, and it was more convenient to share the penthouse bedroom with three of the guys which had a rather large futon. After the sleeping decisions were made, we went to the pub to join the others. And suddenly meeting more than 20 people at the same time was really, really, scary, and I was so intimidated, I forgot to make the round and introduce myself properly to everyone. *very embarassed* And so, I never caught all the correct real names and board names. Anyway, I had a pint of real cider and stayed until we were asked to leave, because the pub was supposed to close at midnight. (That's another very English thing I really needed to get used to.)

The next day, zoeiona , Slick Mongoose (Chris), podrick  and me went to the races. I only made the final decision about it on the morning, because the Jorvik Viking Museum was another contender, but since the other flat people had made other plans than the viking museum, I thought I would give the races a try, and there, we met with the others. Seeing and experiencing something, I have only read about or watched in movies was another fascinating experience. It had everything: hats (lots of hats), dresses (long, kneelong, short, shorter and shortest), men in suits or at least in ties, a man dressed as a giant bird (with a tie), a man dressed as a giant horse (without a tie), old men with newspapers trying the perfect bet and a horse called Nosferatu which won the first race. I only bet once, but I found it interesting anyway, because I didn't know before what kind of different races happen during one afternoon. (Now, I feel like reading Dick Francis whom I havn't read for ages.) After way too much time in the unusual sun, we spend the last hour in the shadow.

After the day at the race, we went back to the flat, and later to the great pub called Mason's Arms. This pub did not only look like a typical old English guesthouse, it also had very impressive food even for someone like me who rarely eats meat. The portions were so generous, I had to leave the additional nachos and I could only eat two spoonfull of the rhubarb crumble that was shared at our table. I just should never try whiskey, without finding out the details, the too smokey whiskey, I took at a whim, was absolutely not my thing, and I did feel ill for a moments. Regarding the pub, I just regret a bit that since the flat people were a bit later than the others, we had separate tables, which led to a group divide. And I also wish I would have stayed a bit longer with the bigger group, because the surreal cheesy Chinese disco sounds like fun, but the first two nightclubs we passed were so expensive, that's why I was a bit discouraged. 

After returning to the Riverside flat, we played real life mafia until 3 am; the majority of the flat people are regular participants in the mafia games on the Westeros boards. 

On Sunday, we slept for a very long time, then we went to buy some food for the planned dinner, and then it was already 3 pm, and I started to get somewhat irritated and restless, because I hadn't seen much from the town yet. At first, I wanted to do a tour on my own, but after all, I stayed with the entire group for the whole time, which later also included  williamjm  and luzisrighthand . As far as touristic attractions go, the York Minster alone was worth the trip. I have hardly words to express the awe I felt face to it, from the outside, from the inside and from the top. Even though, I'm pretty much a non-believer now, church buildings really get to me and move me, not only because of their structure and dimension, but because of the amound of work that went into them. When we went up to the tower, we could even see some of the gargoyles and someone discovered sculptures doing signs. (if you can not log in, the password is Eloisa). The crypt contained a fascinating exhibition about the history of the place and building and you could literally walk through different layers of history (parts of the Roman fortification and officers house, parts of the Saxon church and parts of the Norman church), and it also contained a doomsday stone (which podrick  activated ;)).

The most interesting details, I have retained from the interior of the church are the line of the kings and the seat for the "Magister scholae cantorum" in the choir: The line of the kings is a big sculpture from the late 15th century, containing the English kings from William the Conqueror till Henry VII.

.... Except for Edward IV. and Richard III. They were simply eradicated from history. History really written by the winner, since Henry VII. had defeated Richard. If you consider that York was actually the town of Richard III, and that the town had had a good relationship with him, this sculture is an in-your-face provocation that must have been really hard to swallow. I find this a very interesting source for "damnation of the memory" (damnatio memoriae) by omission, especially because memory and being remembered in the prayers of the future generations was such an important fact for the people of the late middle age. 

After the minster, we went back to the flat, to help Sophie and Zoe with the dinner and/or playing wii tennis. (It was my first time using the wii device, and like everything that is not impacted by almost 30 years of being programmed as a right handed person, I spontanly did it with the left hand. And it's really interesting how liberated I always feel when this happens, I'm much less tense and nervous. It's the same with using chopsticks. ;)) The dinner was most delicious, and Zoe had even thought of buying free range pork meat for me. (*Thank you so much*) We also had a birthday to celebrate. The dramatic climax was the big Crumble Fire 2009, but even so the apple crumble was very tasty. After two games of mafia, we felt tired, and I went ot bed around 2.00 am, because I needed to get up at 7.00.

So, I had much fun, even though, I was overwhelmed at times. I would have liked to stay a bit longer to see more of York, but it was a good first impression of England.




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my oral English skills are much, much worse than my written English skills,

Your English seemed perfectly good to me.

Regarding the pub, I just regrett a bit that since the flat people were a bit later than the others, we had separate tables, which led to a group divide

That is the problem with the large meets, it is difficult for everyone to fit round one table so it's quite easy to end up not talking much to some of the people there. In Galway last year, I don't think we ever managed to get everyone at the meet in the same room at the same time.


"Your English seemed perfectly good to me."

Oh, thank you. I just feel very self-conscious about my accent and I have rarely the opportunity to talk english, so at times, I had the feeling to stumble over my tongue.


I'm glad you had the courage to go through with it! It sounds like a great time and hey, it's the only way your English will improve. Cheers!

That's certainly true. I hope meeting you as well some day, and talk about beautifull old books. ;)

Glad to hear you had a good time. Sorry I missed out on meeting you, but I'm sure there'll be other occasions :-)

Yes, I hope so too. zoeiona distributed leavelet for the British SF convention next year. And I will see if I have time to go there, that would be a good opportunity (or the next big Euro meeting ;)).

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I felt the same way about the train station, not something I was used to. In Austria and Germany you always know the platform, they don't announce it moments before departure.

Haha, yes, I think it's a specialty for Kings Cross. I have only seen something similary in Polonia, but there the choice is only between the two sides of a platform.

The Minister was rather interesting and I enjoyed listening to the stuff you knew about the kings and the mason signs. You rock. :)

Aww, thank you. It was also fascinating for me, as you can see in my post, but then I do medieval history for a living.

I wanted to sacrifice pod at the doomsday stone but for some reason he did not like the idea. ;)

I guess he had a different idea what it means to activate it. ;)

Sounds like you had a great time! I wish I'd been able to go.

What Peadar said. It sounds like you enjoyed yourself. I so wish we had been able to make it.

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