Friends and Family

We have not left Melton, or at least Leicestershire, since we returned from Spain.  Technically it is spring and just recently the weather has begun to cooperate.  In fact, three of the last four days have been clear and sunny with only light winds.  Hey, this is something to celebrate around here.

Fulbrighter Visit

Rebecca Smith, Fulbright teacher from Woburn Sands via Georgia, USA, came up to visit us for a long Saturday.  She arrived in time for eggs benedict and plenty of catch up conversation.  We took her around town for the day.

Rebecca checking out the chickens for sale.  On this day we saw peacocks and turkeys being sold as well.  The cattle market is now only happening on Tuesdays, so it is just birds for sale on Saturday.  There was also a small knickknack market going on and we saw a beaver fur top hat from around 1850 for sale.  It still had its original label, having been made in Manchester.  Price was 150 quid!

Rebecca checking out the chickens for sale. On this day we saw peacocks and turkeys being sold as well. The cattle market is now only happening on Tuesdays, so it is just birds for sale on Saturday. There was also a small knickknack market going on and we saw a beaver fur top hat from around 1850 for sale. It still had its original label, having been made in Manchester. Price was 150 quid!

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Woburn Sands is a mid sized village, whilst Melton is a town.  Downtown was the usual Saturday hustle and bustle of vendors with their fruit, veg, meats, and so on.  We worked our way over to the church and went inside.  Once there, I caught sight of one of the bell ringers I met in Waltham on that night I went ringing.  He caught my eye and we found ourselves in conversation.  His name was William and, with his friend Wendy, they met the five of us.  Then William asked if we wanted to take a tour of the bell tower!

William is very knowledgeable about bells and bell ringing, and told us all about St Marys church and its belfry history.

William is very knowledgeable about bells and bell ringing, and told us all about St Marys church and its belfry history.

Next he took us up one more level, to where the clock tower is located.  Zachary stayed in the belfry as he does not like cramped quarters, and the stairway up is very narrow and very dark.  Luckily Ms Smith had her iPhone, so she let him play games on it.  We are rubbish parents!

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The current clock mechanism is actually not that old.

The current clock mechanism is actually not that old. Maybe 50 years?

This vise, on the other hand, looked really old (and impressive).

This vise, on the other hand, looked really old (and impressive).

William told us that the bells are not accessible to tourists as it can be dangerous up there.  But, he said our next stop was the roof of the church!  We kept going up and the stairwell was so narrow that I just fit through it.  The steps were all worn and the feeling that something really special was about to happen came over me.  At last we came to the roof and were able to see 360 degrees around Melton.  It was sunny and pleasant and unbelievable.

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Melton Marketplace.

Melton Marketplace.

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Top of the church bonnet.

Top of the church bonnet.

On top of the church is a bonnet, which is like a giant cone made out of lead.  Taking a closer look I could see that it was covered with graffiti, but unlike any I had ever see before.  Check out some of the dates.

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We saw many shoe outlines that looked like this, including the nail holes.

We saw many shoe outlines that looked like this, including the nail holes.

153 steps from the top to the bottom, and the stairwell did not get much wider than this.

153 steps from the top to the bottom, and the stairwell did not get much wider than this.

William got a kick out of seeing us react to just how old this bonnet was.

William got a kick out of seeing us react to just how old this bonnet was.

We took Rebecca out to my school and the village I teach in, to a favourite pub, and then she stayed for dinner and we had enchiladas, something she had not had in a long time.  I was a bit envious of her since she is by herself, as she has been able to get together with other Fulbright teachers quite easily.  With a family we are the traveling unit, so just packing up and going somewhere is a challenge.  Rebecca had jetted off across Europe and England with other teachers, soaking up the sights and having a good time.  She comes across as very intelligent and personable and I hope that our friendship extends past this year abroad.

Leicester Tigers Rugby 

I went to another Tigers game, this time with Mr Linnett, who is Annika’s Year 6 teacher.  It was him and two of his mates, Clem and Rich.  Now this day felt like a day in Portland!  Four mates watching some live sports, having some pints, and plenty of male conversation.   I really miss hanging out with my guy friends and on this day I got a taste of what I have been missing.  Tigers won, beer was cold.  A great day was had.  If the Tigers play in the Championship in London I may be joining these gentlemen for that game as well.  Go Tigers!

Toby Linnett and I.  Notice my new 6 Nations rugby shirt.

Toby Linnett and I. Notice my new 6 Nations rugby shirt.

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We stood pitch side.  At Tiger games there is a whole side of the pitch with standing room only.

We stood pitch side. At Tiger games there is a whole side of the pitch with standing room only.  You could hear bones crunch from where we stood.  Rugby is a very rough sport.

Tigers are one of, if not the, best rugby teams in England and they have a lot of trophies in cases.  I have grown fond of the sport and will miss watching it upon my return, since it is never on the telly in America.

Tigers are one of, if not the, best rugby teams in England and they have a lot of trophies in cases. I have grown fond of the sport and will miss watching it upon my return, since it is never on the telly in America.

After the game we visited a bar underneath one of the grandstands.  There was a live band and fans of both teams mixed and mingled, hoisting pints and singing songs.  I told them that in America you have to leave the sports venues after games, but here the bar stays open late and it was massive and crowded, even on a Sunday.  One of the Tiger players  came down and took photos with fans.  Clem, one of Toby’s mates, called him over and had him stand for a photo with me (taken with Clem’s phone, and I hope to get a copy).  The player wanted to know if I thought American Football players were tougher than rugby players.  I said that I respect both sports and players who play hard.  I think he wanted to debate which is tougher, but some ladies drew his attention away from me.  He was about 6’8″!

Janet and Karen

Rebecca’s mum, Janet Sanders, came to visit us with her friend Karen Prine.  Both of them are taking a cruise along the Mediterranean for about 4 weeks but decided to visit us before the cruise left from Barcelona.  They stayed at a B&B near us, as our home is just not big enough.  Again we showed them basically what we show all our visitors (see above half of post, without the church rooftop).  Our car seats five (barely), so we were unable to go places altogether that did not involve some walking.  I stayed home one day so that Rebecca could take them out and see the countryside.  There was a lot more I wanted to show off to them, but it was nice to hear that they really just wanted to see us, the kids, and talk.

We ate in and made Chicken pie one night and Cottage pie another.  Janet took us all out to Apurba one night, which is a nice Indian restaurant in town. Karen had not really had Indian food before and loved everything she tried.  So did our kids, which is always a nice thing to see.   It was great to see them and to share our stories and hear theirs.  Funny how I miss the company of an American accent.

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Karen, Rebecca, and Janet at the Melton train station.

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2 thoughts on “Friends and Family

  1. We are all loving these great reports from you! They are very much looked forward to. It does make one want to book a flight!

  2. wonce more …wow! what great experiences, photos, and text. I mean it when I say, Rick Steves, look out! Bruce the Bald

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