misty all day, mild, temps 15
We're in England - specifically I'm sitting in the living room of the nicest Bed and Breakfast I've ever been in. It's in the village of Eye, in Norfolk and it is called Chamomille Cottage Bed and Breakfast. Stunning. Dates from the 1500's. And entire separate wing of the home for the B&B people...with our own living room, fireplace, wide plank floors, beamed ceiling. Our own kitchen with espresso maker, stocked fridge, etc...a solarium/dining area. And upstairs the bedrooms. Ours has beamed ceilings, a queen sized bed and floors our ski team could practice for the Olympics on! Very sloped...but charming. Breakfast is a choice of full english breakfast of sausages, grilled tomato, eggs, mushrooms, toast. Or scambled eggs with smoked salmon. Or kippers. Or eggs benedict.
All in stunning english gardens and walking distance to John and Moira's home, called The Guildhall.
By the time we arrived John was back in hospital. But another good friend of theirs and ours, Dick Oliver - who ran the Financial Times in Madrid - was arriving. So it was decided Michael and Dick and two of John's daughters would go to the hospital first. Then I'd follow with Moira and their son Nigel and daughter-in-law Rona.
It's been a very long and difficult day. We'd been getting mixed news before we arrived and had reason to hope maybe it wasn't as dire as we'd first thought. But when we arrived it was clear it was even worse, and it appears we have arrived on time, but just.
All the way over on the plane - overnight from Montreal to London, leaving Montreal at 9pm and arriving london 3am our time - 7am UK time - Michael read from John's diary of a seminal trip he, Michael, Dick and three others took when they were in Cambridge together more than 50 years ago. it was hilarious. Michael was laughing so hard he wept. Remembering those hellion, halcyon days. When they were young and immortal.
And this afternoon Michael and Dick went to the hospital to sit beside John. Michael kept vowing to be strong, but he was crying as he said it so I suggested he move to Plan B and not try to be strong, just be himself. Poor guy's exhausted. Resting upstairs now before dinner.
So we went in and took turns visiting with John. Holding his hand, talking about this and that. He was awake - had clearly revived at seeing his friends.
Always so moving to me, to see how much men can, and do, love each other.
It's been a long few days, but actually quite wonderful.
Started in the stunningly beautiful Vermont town of Norwich Wednesday...a really terrific event at the Norwich bookstore, thanks to owner Liza and Penny and the other people who work there. This is one of the great Independent bookstores I've been in. Vibrant, light. Amazing selection. And the place was jam-packed for my talk.
Thank you to everyone who came out. It was a rainy evening, and I know how hard it is to lug yourself out once it gets dark. I had such fun!!
Then after some sage advice I decided not to take Highway 91 back to Quebec (isolated and lots of moose on the roads. Hitting a deer is pretty bad, but if you hit a moose it will crush you - the body will fall right into the windshield, killing the moose and whoever is inside the car) So I went back the way I came - via highway 89. left about 9pm and was home by midnight. Very nice drive. Relaxing. A little fog, and was watchful of moose and deer, but that is life in Canada too.
Then Thursday morning we finshed packing, hit the road by 8:30...Michael had a morning eye appointment in Montreal. Everything is fabulous with both eyes!!! I had a 3pm dentist and a 4:30 hair appointment - and needed to buy walking shoes. By the time I arrived back at the apartment the limo to the airport had arrived...just time to go to the bathroom and with Michael we took the luggage down.
Got to the airport, got through security (ugh) - and onto the plane. Flight was packed, but happily uneventful, except when one of the flight attendents said, loudly enough for me to hear, 'I think we're going down.'
That got my attention!
It quickly bcame apparent what she meant was that we were beginning our descent for landing, but for a horrible instant it sounded like something else. But it sure woke me up.
The rest you know. As I said, this is a sad time - but there is also beauty. And simplicity.
I haven't had time to read any comments yet from the last post, but I will. I hope you are well, and happy.