Imagine four of us big Runkels in our miniature two-door Citroen

Wednesday, August 14

A cool, rainy day has arrived in southwestern England, and your travelers couldn’t be happier.  It’s just what we need. A day to renew our energies.  Let us tell you why.

Imagine four of us big Runkels in our miniature two-door Citroen
Lucy and Art

Lucy and Art arrived midday Friday, determined to make best use of their limited time. We had to shift from sitting around petting the dog and deadheading the flower garden to a much higher level of activity. Thus, we’ve had five days of travel and visiting, site seeing and catching up.  This has meant lots of driving…some of it on high speed highways, but a lot has been on poorly marked exceptionally narrow country roads. David has become comfortable behind the wheel, with me and Google as chief navigators.


Imagine four of us big Runkels in our miniature, two-door Citroen

Imagine four of us big Runkels in our miniature, two-door Citroen. Crowds began to gather when we’d pull in somewhere, eager to see how we’d disembark from what we took to calling the clown car. Well, maybe crowds were only our imagination, but we are somewhat surprised that crowds didn’t gather to watch us enter and exit. Graceful it was not. Old knees may take days to recover.

Sunday was a trip to Oxford where we met up with Linda Dale and her two delightful children,  Amelia and Alex. Our relationship with this family began in the early Eighties when Linda’s mother and Deedie were Mothers for Peace.*  Years later, Linda served as an au pair in our ridiculous household for a year before entering Cambridge.

On to Oxford

It might have been a little rude of us to ask her to meet us at Oxford, but we met up there for lunch at the Ashmolean museum. While there, we saw an excellent exhibit of woodcuts by Naoko Matsubara. If you remember our woodcut collection of Mary Hamiltons, they would be folk art to Matsubara’s fine art. Amazing colors, detail, philosophies found their way to the surfaces on which he worked.

From there, we headed to the Bodelian library, in service as a lecture room since 1043. Lucy had to see this spot that played a role in so many books she read as an adolescent. Amelia and Alex pointed out that the room we were in had been the infirmary in the Harry Potter movies.


Imagine four of us big Runkels in our miniature two-door Citroen

Stonehenge and Avebury were Monday’s destinations, maybe an hour from here.  You’ve heard of one but probably not the other, but both are sites of large stones being arranged to careful specifications starting maybe 5,000 years ago. The differences between the two are that while Stonehenge’s rocks were shaped and arranged in a neat circle, those at Avebury are ill-shaped and spread over a wide area.

The stop there, some 30 miles away, was recommended by Ashland friends who reported that it was a site of immense feminine energy.  We witnessed some attempts to collect some of that energy. One woman had what looked like a dowsing device. Lucy and Deedie primarily used their hands as vessels and left some coins in the cracks in gratitude.

Imagine four of us big Runkels in our miniature two-door Citroen

Deedie’s Birthday

Umpty Umpth Day, this year’s observance of Deedie’s birthday, took up Tuesday.  We trained to London — a six minute ride from Wokingham to Reading and 35 minutes into Paddington Station. An elegant gourmet lunch on the 9th floor restaurant at the Tate Modern followed,  which included an impromptu, unordered dessert that included chocolate tartuffes, raspberries and Happy Birthday written in chocolate. The featured exhibit was an installation by Danish/Icelandic  artist Olafur Eliasson. The depth and breadth of his curiosity, brilliance and creativity deep into your pores from every which way. So that we could all imagine blindness, he put us in a narrow tunnel 39 meters long and full of fog.

A Sunny Boat Ride on the Thames

The birthday events concluded with an hour’s, sunny boat ride on the Thames with a stop in Greenwich. Families from all over the world drank and snacked as we sailed by the pub where Dickens drank, the school Churchill attended before Harrow, St. Paul’s, St. Ann’s and the National Theatre, to name a few. Long walks to catch the right subway line at the Westminster tube station and another long walk at Paddington to get the train to Reading and then a shorter hike to the Wokingham train, and we were back to the Citroen and home and a very happy Emmy. The connections worked and we were back before sunset!

All this travel was proceeded by a dinner party here Saturday night for Stephanie, Matt and Nico Grefsheim, with most of the dinner’s ingredients coming from the garden of the house we are caring for this month. This is not the woman of a very similar name who is the White House press secretary, but a Play Group member,  the daughter of good friends from Baltimore days, Dawn and Joost.  She and Matt have been in London for 15 years and they and their three kids are doing well. 

David Plays Bridge

We must also headline the fact that David had a bridge game at Pinewood Centre, playing as Winnie’s partner. He did well using the British bidding system to the extent that he says he could remember it. A glancing, reconnaissance visit to Windsor took place one afternoon, to be followed up soon.

Pubs visited during this reporting period — 4.

Favorite product that really exists: Squirty Cream.

Favorite name of beer — Speckled Hen

So now you know why this cool, rainy day is so welcome.

Mothers for Peace

Imagine four of us big Runkels in our miniature two-door Citroen*Mothers for Peace was founded in 1982 by Lucy Behenna, a retired school teacher who said all the men she would have married were killed in the war. Inspired by a Quaker poster (the same one hangs in my office) that says, “World Peace will come through the will of ordinary people like yourself.” She decided Mums were the most ordinary people, so she invited American, Soviet and British mothers to travel throughout the country talking about their efforts towards peace. This program went on for five or six years and inspired many others. 

Imagine four of us big Runkels in our miniature two-door Citroen
Ceiling at divinity school where some Harry Potter scenes were shot

Imagine four of us big Runkels in our miniature two-door Citroen

Imagine four of us big Runkels in our miniature two-door Citroen