Sunday, September 21, 2014

Yorkshire: proper brews and barred schools of magic

Jerry: We hopped a train over to Yorkshire on Monday, where we spent the week in Sheffield as guests of another writer friend, Catherine de Mornay

Some rivalries never die.

Jerry: I know far more English history than I do about modern England, so that picture is funny to me. Despite the fact that I'm perfectly used to municipal seals on public property, it's still surreal to see red and white roses stamped on things as mundane as dumpsters.

Laura: Pay note to Yorkshire Tea's slogan:

"Let's have a proper brew." 

Laura: This is, without doubt, the most British thing to ever happen. Besides this police box:

This is a real thing. It exists. And it is in Sheffield.

Jerry: Catherine lives on the outskirts of Sheffield, at Meadowhall. We took the tram into city centre and spent one afternoon wandering around. The Festival of the Mind was just starting, and although we sadly only caught one day of it (if we'd known we would have planned differently!) there was a cool exhibit at the Winter Gardens and we got to check out the Millenium Gallery. We spent a couple hours poring over the metalwork collection in particular. Sheffield has a long history in metalworking (from being the definitive source of renaissance cutlery to being a major steelworks in WWII) and you know how I get when history meets art.

Laura: Jerry is such a history nerd. I'm pretty sure I've never seen someone so giddy about a collection of spoons before.

Jerry: Actually, I think the coolest thing was the ch√Ętelaine. I didn't even know those existed until now. The word means both a woman in charge of a large household (masculine: ch√Ętelain, the french equivilant of "castellan") and refers to the device that holds her keys and everything else she might need. It's like your faire belt, except small and elegant and orderly. It's illuminating to be reminded of which items used to included in the same "bare minimum necessity" category as "wallet, cell phone, keys" today, such as the household seal. And that well-made scissors were costly enough to be kept strictly on the the lady's person.

Fabric scissors  are STILL a closely-guarded asset.

Laura: My favorite part of the week was discovering England's array of premixed cocktails. Premixed cocktails are generally really depressing. But since public drunkeness is such a thing here, they need ways to discreetly and portably get through their daily commute. Thus, our discovery of cans of Pimms, traditional or with elderflower and blackberries, premixed with lemonade. There were also precanned gin and tonics with cucumber. England knows the way to my heart. 

Pimm's: drinking in the park like a CLASSY hobo.

Jerry: We did spend some of our time in parks not drinking. Catherine lives almost at the top of Wincobank hill, just below an iron age fort. This has taught me two things. One: archeological ruins are way easier to find in documentaries, where they highlight and explain them with CGI. Two: Hills are some kind of goddamn Sisypheun torture device.

Laura: Even by my standards it was pretty torturous. And if there's one thing San Francisco toughens, it's your calf muscles. 

Between this view and those houses: THIRTY MINUTES OF DEATH.

Jerry: Other than that, it was a fairly quiet week of catching up on writing. We had some great face-to-face brainstorming with Catherine, who'd just come back from a writer's confrence full of ideas. Happily Ever After has a whole new list of changes now, and we fleshed out a whole magic system and creation myth for her world.

Laura: They were both very productive. I spent most of the time reading crime-fiction and watching the first episode of American Horror Story (by the way: that show gets better right? I'm not the only one who watched the first episode and thought it was completly ridiculous, am I?)

Jerry: And Catherine's six-year-old daughter, Elle, made us bracelets, which we are both totally still wearing.

Friday we went on to London. Next installment coming soon!


  1. That view of the hill is lovely.

    Sounds like you guys are having a fantastic time.

  2. Uhhh Loom bracelets. My daughter love those.