I owe you an email about Mid-term break in Hastings!! I came back nearly a week ago already but hit the ground running with the last week of the term and all that came with it.
Hastings was such a blessing. Just to go away for a week into a state of relaxation-- not to worry about assignments hanging over my head or research to be done on papers coming due or even schedules. It's not that we sat around all week. We did all kinds of things. But we did it on our own time, when we felt like it, rather than at the beckoning of a regimented schedule : )
I stayed with Marge and her parents in their century-old, hilltop house and was welcomed in with only a slight amount of the traditional British reserve. Marge's father was really precious. Very soft-spoken and kind but endowed with a fantastically brilliant sense of humor that twinkled out through his eyes even when he wasn't employing it. Her mom was gracious hospitality itself and must have baked a spectacular English dish every night just to introduce me to true, traditional, English family life. She was especially keen on "puddings"-- which is a general term for desserts of all kinds here and made things like, "Queen of Puddings", "Strawberry Povlova", and "Apple crumble with Custard"-- Doesn't that all sound just terribly English??
Hastings won my heart from the first sight stepping out of the train station to see the ancient ruins of the Hastings Castle of 1067 crumbling majestically on the highest hill overlooking the town-- In American terms, Hastings is very much a "city" rather than a "town", with over 60,000 people and well-spread out. But in England what constitutes a city is a cathedral and Hastings, though it has many beautiful, ancient churches, doesn't have a cathedral... It's built right on the seashore and the original village which was started sometime before 1066 is nestled cozily between two cliff-like hills. The modern-day town has stretched out and been built up all over hill, cliff, nook and cranny. There is an Old Town and then the more modern day part of Hastings. I was captivated, of course, by the Old Town, the bit between the two hills and right up next to the sea (English Channel).
We walked down to the town numerous times a day, sometimes, and then back up again-- to a height of 400 feet above sea level in about a mile's walk. I suppose that's how we earned our "puddin'" each night : ) In the Old Town we'd nip into quiant little shops-- art galleries, antique shoppes, chic home furnishing stores, old-fashioned seaside candy shoppes, fish markets, clothing stores, and on and on the list goes. We visited museums, took a vernicular lift to the top of East Hill overlooking the city, spent Saturday night at a music festival on the victorian pier with a friend from college who came down from London to see us, had a games night with a bunch of Marge's lovely friends from her gorgeously welcoming church, had lunch in a picturesque country pub built in 1532-- dried hop-blossoms hanging from the low beamed ceiling-- with Marge's family and neighbors, ate ice cream cones on the sea shore, explored the fishermen's net huts which are hundreds of years old and still in use and built on the shore in a style unique to Hastings only, went to "chippies" (itty bitty restaurants scattered liberally all across the country where you can get fish and chips-- big, fat french fries, basically-- wrapped up in newspaper-like packages. So very English : )), and as a "family" went to the cinema to see the new "Wallace & Gromit" film because the British love their Wallace and Gromit... We didn't get across the Channel into France, I'm afraid, but I did have my first traditional English cream tea experience and it was lovely-- in a tiny 17th century tea shoppe served with dainty, pink flower-bedecked china and Cornwall clotted cream.
It was such a blessing to be invited into a family and treated like a daughter-- even though it did tend to make me a bit homesick for the first time since I've been here...
Now I'm back to the daily grind and Monday starts a brand new term so many classes are turning over. I'm thick in the midst of a job hunt-- so far what I thought would be the best place to enquire have been dead ends and I'm wondering what exactly my God is up to in that area : ) I've just today sent away a woman who has become in two short months my very dearest friend here at college as she was only here for a short course and finished up her term. I hardly know what I'll do without her but it would seem that God is intensifying other friendships for me all throughout the school to perhaps fill the relationship gap made with Sarah's leaving... So, I am blessed and well provided for by the Greatest of Providers.
His hand is so evident in just everything...
More to come soon! Blessings on you!
p.s. Pictures of Hastings to be found at www.xanga.com/OtobeinEngland