Latin, Bagpipes and Blister Plasters

I am aware I haven’t posted since I first got the blog, and for that I profusely apologise. As I said, I’ve been away, and since I’m struggling for a post topic I can complete with little research (I have a lazy streak), I will dedicate this one to describing to you exactly where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing (well, not ‘exactly’, because that would become unnecessarily dull).

My first trip, mainly in June, it must be said, took me to Cambridge for my brother’s graduation. The ceremony was mainly in Latin, and was described by my parents as ‘unusual’ (I, never having been to one before, am not qualified to make a judgement).

The ceremonies at Cambridge take place from the Thursday to the Saturday, throughout the day, in the Senate House. There are thirty-one colleges in all, to date, and the students graduate according to college. The most prestigious three, King’s, Trinity and St John’s, go first, and are thereafter followed by the other colleges in order of foundation—Peterhouse, then Clare, then Pembroke, and so on.

In each ceremony, which lasts approximately twenty minutes, around sixty graduands graduate—in the case of Clare, two ceremonies were held in order to accommodate the graduations of a hundred and twenty graduands. It’s very quick, nevertheless–kind of walk in, walk out, all done, let’s go home kind of thing. Except we had a picnic instead with all the families of my brother’s friends–a strange thing, you can imagine, since he knew his friends so well, but none of the parents had ever met!

If you’re interested enough in the Latin and all the strange gestures involved, which have been going on in the ceremony every year for the past seven centuries, I suggest you visit another website. Not that I’m not interested, but to my sorrow I was never granted the opportunity to learn Latin.

Cameras were forbidden and I’m a rubbish photographer but let it be said that I tried.


My second trip away consisted of a weekend to the island of Sark/Sercq for the annual Folk Festival held there. And it is truly the best setting for a folk festival there could be! Why, they have dusty tracks instead of roads, and horsedrawn carts instead of cars. The Avenue, the Sark equivalent to a High Street, is possibly the dearest lane imaginable. And La Coupée, the causeway suspended between two cliffs several hundred feet up, is one of the most terrifying places I have ever been. But last year I was forced to ride a bicycle down it at midnight, with no lights on my vehicle, so this year I was grateful to be spared such an ordeal, and crossed it on foot in the daylight.

I have never seen a place quite like Sark—and never will, I expect. It seems so completely and utterly untouched by anything and everything that make up our poisoned society today. You think Guernsey’s primitive? From Sark it looks like a metropolis.


Yet the contradiction involves the Barclay Brothers, who own most of the island and are always hungry for more power. Many an ode to power hoarders was dedicated to the Brothers that weekend! Still, I pray the island remains as perfect as it seems; and if it were less impractical, in matters such as transport and shopping, I might consider living there in the future, if I ever had the means to set up as a professional author.

As for the festival, folk fiends will be jealous to hear that Seth Lakeman headlined. Personally I preferred Hat Fitz and Cara Robinson, and the bagpipes on Saturday night, the cider and the dancing…

Seth Lakeman

My third and final journey was to Snowdonia in Wales. And about this one I was frankly terrified. Not merely because to get there I was forced to take the overnight boat in a recliner chair, and a six-hour coach journey the following day, and, being an awful traveller, either of these things would be enough to strike terror into my heart.

No; because this was to be a weeklong camping trip, and I’ve never camped in my life, especially far from home. And because the aim of the whole trip was to walk fifty or sixty kilometres in three days with a pack on my back that weighed more than half my own body weight, and, on top of that, in heat of twenty-nine degrees, being used to less than half of that down South.

This was my Duke of Edinburgh Silver practice expedition. And I didn’t do Bronze. I had no idea what to expect beyond all this discomfort, and members of my group who had done Bronze doubted I could make even one day, due to my slightness of size and blatant lack of physical strength.

Yet as it turned out, even this, which I honestly thought would probably kill me, wasn’t the greatest of my problems last week. I am prone to blisters, whatever shoes I wear, and I acquired some rather spectacular ones before I was halfway through the journey. However, due to a multitude of reasons which would take several thousand words to tell sufficiently to make them reasonable, I told no one the extent of my affliction.

Such when finally we completed out expedition, and I took my boots off, my companions howled with revulsion and disbelief. My feet were coated (besides with several layers of Compeed) in a thick yellow pus that was described by one of my friends somewhat inelegantly as resembling earwax.

I was scolded for my reservation by teachers who, if they were at all impressed by my endurance, well concealed it, and transported directly to the Accident and Emergency section of the nearest hospital, where my plasters (and in the process, my skin) were ripped off by a kindly nurse, bathed in antiseptic, and dressed more carefully than I could do in the dark with everyone else asleep.

The next two nights were terrible, for once the adrenalin that had seen me through the past days began to wear off, my feet began to give me great pain. But that is trivial, compared to what I underwent over the course of that walk. And that trivial, too, when I think what others have undergone in similar situations. After all, I could’ve dropped out if I’d told anyone—would’ve been forced to do so, moreover.

In that event I apologise for how I rave about my own petty ‘achievements’!

But now everyone who was with me knows that I may be slight, spotty and shy, but for the first time I can be proud of something physical.

Sorry; down on good photos. If someone uploads a better one I'll swap it.

Sorry; down on good photos. If someone uploads a better one I’ll swap it.

And amid all this, I have been attempting to do CampNaNo! My goal is only 25,000, what with the fact I’ve spent three quarters of the month off-island and much of that with no time or means for writing, but it is a goal nevertheless, and one which I am determined to meet.


So that is where I have been and what I have been doing. If I have sounded very stilted in this post, I apologise (once again), for I have recently been lost in Austen, and she has a marked effect on my style.

I hope to get back into blogging after this, having fired my enthusiasm once again in writing this post. But then again, as I mentioned, I ought to be concentrating on NaNo so far as writing goes…

14 thoughts on “Latin, Bagpipes and Blister Plasters

  1. “If you’re interested enough in the Latin and all the strange gestures involved” – makes me think of the film ‘Dead Poets Society’, have you ever seen it? – “which have been going on in the ceremony every year for the past seven centuries, I suggest you visit another website. Not that I’m not interested, but to my sorrow I was never granted the privilege of learning Latin.” And just what website would you suggest, Miss Woodall? Tehehe 😉
    “I have been attempting to do CampNaNo! My goal is only 25,000, what with the fact I’ve spent three quarters of the month off-island and much of that with no time or means for writing.” I hear ya! I guess, ironically, no specific goal but to write is still a goal. Compare notes in two weeks? xD
    Oh, and don’t you worry about the tone of the post. I wish more writers wore Austenian hats.
    Good to hear all about your journeys and stuff. I love reading your posts.
    PS. You may be interested to know that I’ve been reading up on the RCIA website. When I move to Reading – I already know of a large RCC there – I intend to make a proper star of my conversion. It’s scary!

    • Um…Wikipedia??? The Source of All Knowledge Which May or May Not Be Reliable… 😛
      Indeed merely the act of writing is a goal, when we have so many distractions in front of us. Okay! I see on your blog that you’re writing the sequel *squee*!
      I think I softened the tone for this post; I sent two most outrageous emails to a friend the day I wrote the post, but her teasing roused me to mellow my enthusiasm. I wish there were a modernday market for novels written in Austen’s style (not merely hers, of course, for they’re already established). I’d have to work on my sarcasm, but that’d be a dream come true!
      And I yours. I’m gratified you’re commenting on mine though you’ve been back mere days, whereas I still have Protag comments to reply to from October. I admire you.
      Baz/Lillie/whatever people are in the habit of calling me at the moment 😉 xx
      PS Oh! how wonderful to be finally making the step! All my very warmest wishes to you. I’ll begin my prayers for the process right now. And good to hear there’s a big RCC – I imagine that’ll help you find potential friends straight away.

      • Tehe, indeed. I do get stupid amounts of my info from Wiki.
        You see. On my blog. *squees herself* You know, you should comment or like my posts. I like to see that you see 😉
        From October! *gasp* xD Take whatever time you need, my dear. Never feel you even have to reply. Mere days! At my rate, I should be commenting more (…or maybe writing more). You know I can’t shut down. I tell you: I arived in Heathrow Tuesday 7am. By 9/10am, I was back home. I can’t remember what I did in the morning, but I had my I Have Returned post up by 3 in the afternoon, and was already commenting and liking blogs. By 9pm, the world swayed, but still I didn’t go to bed ’til 10, as I had a chapter to add to.
        I worked it out: I didn’t sleep for 39 hours (not taking into account the -/+2 I should be fiddling about with for the time-difference), as I can’t sleep on planes.
        PS. Yes, praise the Lord! I’ve wanted to since your year, but seriously considered it at the end of last year (when a schoolfriend got CoE confirmed (I don’t understand the logic behind that, but I’m not going to complain)). You know me; I’ve been acting as if I converted months ago, but, actually I never have yet. If I get back in contact with a Catholic I know in Reading, I’m hoping he’ll help me. Otherwise, you’ll have to be my sponser 😉

      • Yes, I should. I don’t know why I don’t. *lengthens nose in guilt*
        *gasp* *gasp again* ghashgfjgfhdgjh Short circadian rhythm or not, HOW??!!
        PS – Still, I’ve always heard it said that the non-Christian who acts like a Christian is more a Christian than the Christian who doesn’t. Discipleship is a way of life rather than a title. (Though there are plenty of arguments to dispute that.) Well, if he can’t or won’t, I’d be delighted to comply 😉

      • ! I love how you remember I have a short Circadian! (And disruption of circadian rhythms, eg. jet-lag, was actually the Biorhythms and Sleep question in my exam!) I dunno. And this is me, not drinking tea or coffee and abandoning coke for two 1/2 weeks (they didn’t have Diet in Uganda and I don’t drink regular coke)! Who knows? I went to bed at 11.40 last night, woke at 7, fell asleep again and woke at 9. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
        PS. That’s indeed true. Better to be a living Christian with heart than a Christian intellectual. Though, I fear I am still rather the latter. (There are? I think the Bible is more in favour of the former, certainly.)

      • Hehe.
        PPS. It’s kinda off that we’re the ‘rarest’ and, yet, a lot of the people I know are INFJs. So true, though. I could quote so much of it! You know, I always used to think that I have a low psychic field. Yeah, that’s unlikely, but nowadays, it’s more likely due to my emphathy. And I’m seeing it in relation to my writing as well, the way I craft my ideas and absorb new ones. And you know what the last movie I watched was: Bringing Up Baby. A black and white with Katharine Hepburn. And I loved it.
        Okay, I’ll stop quoting without quoting. Reading that article, I think my Latin tutor may be an INFJ. And I know my mother certainly isn’t! She may be an I, but she’s no way an NJ, she’s an S definitely. Thanks for sharing!

      • Yes! I find exactly the same. I was doing tests for my characters one lonely lunchtime at school last term, and the girl next to me who I knew slightly saw and decided to do a test for herself. She rushed through it in five minutes and came out as an INFJ. Fortunately the bell rung then, so I didn’t have to show any half-hearted enthusiasm that we were the same.
        Maybe we’re the ‘ideal’ type in everyone’s dreams. (Though life would seem a lot less complicated if we were, say, ESFPs. Possibly. How could I know?!) I think they’re mainly Ss in disguise, but pretend they’re N because they like to be seen as people who more easily see the ‘bigger picture’. Who knows? Maybe I’m one of them.
        My own mother used to think I was psychic. She’s an ISFJ, hence the occasional difficulty in communication between us.
        I haven’t met your mother, so I couldn’t judge. 😉 But if my stats are right and three in four people are Sensing types, it’s more likely than not.
        Whew, I could talk about this stuff for days XD

      • So many comments! not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I need a better browser ’cause I have to find each comment individually to reply to it.
        Mmm, I’m doing it ‘by ear’, really. I wouldn’t say she uses her intuition. Then again, intuition is a very personal thing. Ah, if I ever told my mum I am psychic/empathic, she would simply laugh at me. I don’t think she fully takes in how psychotic I am, either.
        I think we just did!

      • IE8, but it’s running on a Windows XP, if that makes a difference.
        Quite likely! My uncle is the same. We went to see them yesterday and he was not very polite to my grandmother, who’s more like me.

      • Is that where you can’t update to IE9 because it doesn’t run on XP? Their way of trying to phase out XP or something. My dad’s ancient work laptop (I used to write on it when I could) has that problem.
        STs and NFs…we seem to get on one another’s nerves somewhat. Completely mismatched functional stacks.

      • No. I don’t update because I’m afraid of change. And a part of me likes being at least an operating systembehind. But, to be fair, I changed to 8 and 7 from their previouses pretty soon after they came out (I had to for Protagonize).
        Interesting problem, though.
        Mm, that makes sense.

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