So… I had so many things to write… I just never wrote them. But instead of apologizing and such, I’m just going to get right into it.
On day 4, we headed “into town”, which is the main part of Peterborough. It was very quiet, but just like London, I loved the feel of the place. We walked through a shopping mall, to get to the town square, so it was an interesting juxtaposition: modern clothing store a few streets away from super old cathedral.
We checked out the Peterborough Museum, which documented the development of Peterborough from the world’s first prisoner of war camp, Norman Cross prison camp, to the bustling town that it is today. I loved how interactive the experience was: there were recreated prison beds (disgustingly thin mattresses and blankets included), as well as other bits and baubles, like a objects from an early 1900s kitchen, an old diesel engine, Victorian bed linens covered in blood from ill-informed doctors, who didn’t care much for the comfort of the poor. In addition to all that, there were many written pieces along the walls explaining the history of everything.
On the ground floor, they had a braille floor map. Now, I completely forgot the layout immediately after I stopped touching it, but it was still quite cool. It made me wonder if the written sections had braille counterparts, but I didn’t think to ask about it until the writing of this post… about a week later.
We had McDonald’s afterward, because my aunt was starving. And guys. WordPress. World. Let me tell you: It was delicious! The burger tasted like a burger, the chips were delicious (see day 1), and the drink sizes were small. I got orange juice (which tasted pretty fresh for something bottled), but Zu had a Coke, and first, it tasted just a bit different, but it was also not an undrinkably large size. That may also be because, in the US, we like our drinks iced with a side of liquid. (Ice isn’t a thing they do here. Water either. The prisoners only drank ale because the water was unclean, which I’m pretty sure was a problem faced by all, so the tradition of not drinking water just continued.)
That night, we had shepherd pie, homemade. And it. Was. Scrumptious! Afterward, I continued my research. I found a potential way to apply for British citizenship (the various visa options were getting too complicated) but… it costs money. Like, a lot of it. So I think I’m going to stick ! studying abroad first before I go making thousand pound commitments.
Day 5 was church. If you don’t already know, I’m not a huge fan of church. They always insist on praying for me. I know, complete a holes, all of them. My thing is this: by asking God to “give me my sight back” your questioning His wisdom. If He does everything for a reason, then why are you trying to change it?
But, it ended up not being so bad. They were overly polite (so basically, very English): offering “cheers” and “blessings” left and right. Some people came up to us, introduced themselves, and didn’t really seem to care about our names (after they found out that we were there with my aunt, “such a lovely woman”). I even joked with our assigned babysitter, a woman, who, in the spirit of British culture, I could totally imagine drunk, not enjoying church.
The church was a Pentecostal one, so I was extremely interested in seeing how the Brits handled such high energy. And it was definitely something. The choir was upbeat, as was the clapping and the pastor made his sermon delightfully interactive (having his son be the David to another church member’s Goliath) yet, though they were definitely invested, the congregation remained subdued. It was like when Zu and I watched Jeremy Kyle, all of the flare and drama were there, with the audience reacting appropriately, but they didn’t have t… gusto, that I find in America. The energy level was just different.
The rest of the day was quite chill, with Zulay and I on our respective devices as my uncle watched TV, my aunt bustled about the house and my cousin popped in every now and then to spice up the conversation with his entertaining insights.
To conclude my English adventures, I skip to day 7, as on day 6 Zu had a headache and there was another one of those intense thunderstorm showers, so we opted to stay inside, catching up on correspondence and doing laundry. But on day 7, we took a trip to Leicester, to visit the Leicester Cathedral where Richard Iii, of York’s bones are on display.
This was another fun museum experience. There were stone re-workings of objects like books, a scale, etc, that all held some relevance to Richard’s life. So that in itself made it exciting, interactive and, most important, blind friendly. There were also videos sprinkled through out the exhibit—as in the Peterborough museum—that added to the experience along with the scrolls of text along the wall (I forgot to ask about braille versions again) that my aunt read to us.
After the museum, we asked around for a good Indian restaurant. We were directed to Mem Sab in the Highcross Shopping Center. I highly recommend that place to English and tourists alike. I had chicken tika marsala, mushroom pilaf that I shared with my aunt’s friend who’d driven us there, some divinely good garlic naan—it was buttery and soft, and a criminally small (but tasty) duck samosa. The flavors were blended well, the sauce was creamy and slightly spicy. It was just delicious. People complain about English food (yes, I’m aware that I’m talking about Indian), but I enjoyed all of the things I had.
It was interesting to experience a restaurant setting. I mentioned earlier that the europeans don’t use much ice. (Ice was something the rich used, but it fell out of fashion, and was too expensive a habit initially. You can read more about it here.) So we were given ice in our drinks while we waited for a table, but not once we were actually seated. Also, portion size, it was enough to fill me up (I was stuffed, actually) but there were no leftovers.
Looking back on this week, I really enjoyed myself. Checking out the tube, finding braille in unexpected places, getting used to the backwardness (a light switch being up meaning off, rather than on)… or is America the background one, since we’re younger? Huh. Things to ponder. But I will definitely be returning next year, if I’m approved for study abroad to see if I could really envision myself living there.
Stay tuned for the rest of the saga, when our European adventures continue in Switzerland (working on those posts now)