After six years as a producer for the show Good Day, Sacramento, Mister up and followed God out of California to Nashville, Tennessee. Over Christmas, the prodigal returned for a visit and showed off his new arm candy (me) with many exclamations of, “I knew you’d meet a girl out there!” It was my first time behind the scenes in a television studio, so I documented it, expecting others would be equally interested.
I am back in the States and visiting California for Christmas. Today the posse went geocaching in blue skies and strong winds. The cache was well concealed, but I spotted it. None of us had a pen, so we couldn’t add our names to it, but I put in my Marie Curie Cancer Care pin to leave a bit of my heart in the hills.
On Sunday a sweet friend walked up to me and asked if there was anywhere I’d like to go before flying back to the States. Up until that moment I’d forgotten I’d prayed and asked for an opportunity to visit the Angel of the North, the world’s largest angel statue that’s watched over the Northeast since it’s erection in the late 1990s. This past April, we passed the angel frequently en route from Newcastle to Sunderland. It seemed important for my heart’s journey to visit it before traveling home. I will miss its bold, declarative presence on the horizon.
After an intense week at the HOP, some friends and I decided to have a “fusion dinner” and visit Durham to see the Lumiere light display. I found okra at an African shop in Sunderland and fried it up with rice flour – which received high praise from Southern Americans and Northern English alike. Sweet potato casserole and biscuits were also a hit, and English pork with pavlova for “pudding” made the perfect compliments. Thankfully, a 30-minute drive to the Durham park-and-ride, followed by a few minutes on the top floor of a double-decker bus, gave us time for our stuffed bellies to settle before navigating the crowds to the light exhibits. We queued, we watched, we laughed, took secret passageways and ran into friends. Then we dubbed it “Silly Saturday” and hoped the pictures would turn out!
Mein Gott, this city is beautiful! Recently I spent a girly afternoon with two of my favorite ladies. We savored the delights of a hipster-posh coffee shop, market shopped, and played paparazzi for one another along the River Wear. Autumn colo(u)rs peppering the landscape and a bright moon over the castle left little space for conversation, so enchanted were we with our surroundings. My heart expands in this city.
I went for a ramble on an overcast morning, determined to find a sandy Sunderland beach. After crossing the Wear, skirting the National Glass Center, and cutting through the yacht club, I arrived at my destination!
An order of chips from a beachfront shop, complete with salt and vinegar, made an appropriate lunch.
I wandered back through the city, popping into thrift stores and avoiding the off-again, on-again drizzle. Altogether, my ramble brought me home 5 hours after setting out – a proper walk indeed!
A-hiking we did go! We noshed on wild blackberries on our way up, lunched among the heather on the ridge, and ended the excursion with a properly delicious scone (my first since being here)!
With the exception of the blackberries, none of the above photos have been edited. Truly, it was that beautiful!
I write from the bus on my way to Sunderland this morning!
Settling in this first few days has been quiet and homey. I’ve been getting to know my host family and community, enjoying the sun when it appears, and generally having little jet lag. Yesterday my host mama and I took the bus into Durham to do some errands and look into the Lindisfarne Gospels, on exhibition through the end of the month. We were surprised to find it booked solidly throughout the weekend!
Not to be dismayed, we went on into the cathedral. It was austere, lofty, all those words one usually uses to describe cathedrals. Scarlet banners evoking the carpet pages of the Gospels, along with each book’s name, sparkled with sequins and embroidery among the columns of the nave. Silent worshippers sat reverently, contemplatively on wooden pews. Cathedral personnel – were they volunteers? Lay ministers? Nuns? – arranged flowers in various chapels and alcoves.
I chose to pay the £5 to climb 300+ stairs to the roof. It was worth it, despite the dizzying spiral and slippery stairs. There is something I love about being in high places! This was no different, and the view was – well, see for yourself.
The rest of the day was practical: getting a local phone number, procuring fruit from a local purveyor, becoming more confident with the bus system. In the evening, after a meeting with the leadership of the House of Prayer, I joined the rest of the interns for about three hours of fiery prayer and worship.
This morning I’m headed back to Sunderland to join two other interns for a hike. The weather looks to be a joy, and we will take advantage of the sunshine. Next week the last of the other interns arrive, so it has been wonderful to enjoy this peaceful, easy transition.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into my new life thus far! I look forward to reporting many more adventures!
Friday was my last day of work. Saturday I moved out of my house. Sunday I went to church with my family, said goodbye to beloved friends over tea and (Southern) biscuits, and had one last evening with that certain someone. I think this is the best way – going straight on through. For all the tears, the love, the joy, the encouragement, the blessings and farewells, I am finally feeling the beginning twinges of excitement. One flight down and two to go. My seatbelt is securely fastened for the ride of my life, ’cause Honey, I ain’t seen nothin’ yet!