So I finally went to Meeting! Ruth Caplin, a longterm co-worker currently managing the Cottage, picked me up at Bracken on Sunday morning. Already in the van was Charlie, Matt, and Celine. The drive to Great Ayton was beautiful, but basically everywhere one drives around here is bound to have some gorgeous scenery. A cute little town, Great Ayton once played host to a large Quaker school. The school has closed down and been turned into flats, but the Meeting house remains.
It's strange how across an ocean, Quakerism remains a constant. I'm sure it's like this with most religions, but I was awe-struck by just how similar this Meeting was to ours at home. I mean, the people were just British versions of the people in State College! There was such warmth in that place, in the people's eyes and hearts. The building structure was completely different than any meeting house I've seen, but the feeling, the vibe, was certainly..."Quaker flavoured."
After a few introductions we went into the Meeting room and spread ourselves out among the benches, which had one thick cushion at either end, and foot stools underneath. The benches could easily fit more than five people, but since there are so few people in attendance (usually 9 or 10), there are only cushions for two. Floor to ceiling windows made up one wall, looking out into a graveyard with dozens of identical graves, none of which had any writing on them. Huge trees full of personality and character loomed over the yard.
Two women spoke, but I didn't quite understand what the second message was about. The first was about the BBC and its coverage of Israel/Palestine and how sometimes when we try to cover things up they end up being more obvious than before. I thanked this woman for her message afterwards and we got to talking all about the meeting and Quakerism and just how Quaker am I and oh the trees are beautiful and oh yes I think so too but people are getting in such a twist about them and I'm on this committee to sort it out and oh yes those Quaker committee's take ages don't they and oh dear let's go get some coffee before it gets cold. This lady was great. Portly with a puff of grey hair going white and a face full of make-up. And a brightly colored outfit to boot.
After much socializing and coffee-sipping with the members, we departed with many a "do come back!" and "we certainly will!"
Then we drove back to Botton, picked up two villagers from Ruth and Matt's house who would otherwise be without Sunday lunch, and drove to a local pub called the Blakey. The Blakey sits at the highest point on the moors and is often referred to in conversations about the weather. "Ay, 'twas nigh minus six upata Blakey! Bloody 'ell ya shoulda seen the snaw, twas up to me bleedin' ears! And the wind was blowin' sommat ferocious!" No I'm dead serious that's how the locals talk. I love it so much.
I'd never been to the Blakey before, so I was really excited; and my excitement was appropriate! The place is amazing. Stone walls, room after room after room through so many passages and turns, all filled up with tables of people and a bar with all the trimmings and candles on every table and oriental rugs. And the food. There was so much food. Nobody does food like Yorkshire. The portions are enormous, even the "child sized" Sunday lunch would satisfy the appetite of say...Cody Abbot. Weird example, but I was trying to think of someone who eats a lot and loves meat, and Cody came to mind. Anyway, the prices are amazing too! The Sunday Lunch Menu had a few starters (Yorkshire pudding, melon with fruit, soup of the day, prawns with sauce, etc) and below it the main meals were as follows: Lamb, half a chicken, pork roast, beef steak, or nut roast, all of which come with two vegetables plus two kinds of potatoes. The child sized portion cost £8.50 and the normal size was £13.50. I went with the child-sized portion as I was told it would be more than enough, and I got melon and berries for a starter, followed by a giant chicken leg with two kinds of potatoes, beet root and mashed parsnip. And then Matt and Charlie gave me some nut roast. Oh, and at the bottom of the menu is stated, "Help yourself to the dessert table." So I did. There were custard parfaits, cakes and muffins and puddings and fruits and after my first piece of tiramisu cake I said, "Um, does 'help yourself' mean you can go back for seconds?" We agreed that is does, so I had some key-lime cheese cake minus the crust since I didn't want to OD on gluten. And I wasn't even grossly full, I was nice and contentedly full! Which I found a bit bizarre since I hadn't done anything but sit all morning. I suppose all the spirituality exhausted my body or something.
So that was that. The rest of the afternoon I hung around at home and ironed my clothes and prepared supper and chilled out.