This Provincial Life

All right, I lied. One more post about Switzerland : ) Chandler and I were talking about stress today. And Leysin came up. How, despite the fact that Chandler was in grad school for the month we were there, it was quite possibly the most relaxed we’ve been since we met.

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And I know I had quite a few more reasons to be relaxed: I wasn’t in grad school. But somehow it was more than that. It was Leysin.

To be honest, we don’t spend a lot of time in small towns. Even in Ethiopia, my city had a population of three hundred thousand. My home town (population thirteen thousand) is probably the smallest place we’ve spent any real amount of time. And that isn’t exactly a fresh start – it’s tinged with all of my memories.

I don’t know if it was the size of Leysin, the remoteness of it, and most likely the lack of responsibilities, but it was a place we could truly relax.

I also got to do something I hadn’t done on the reg since I was a child: be around horses.

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Surprises Outside of London

Even though I could probably spend the rest of my life living happily in London, we left the city to spend a few days in the countryside. Our home base was Cathy’s family home near Dorset.

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We thought we’d spend our weekend relaxing in countryside gardens (which we did) – but there were a lot of surprises in store for us as well! First, did you know Dorset has its very own castle? Corfe Castle. Its seen better days, but as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I usually prefer ruins to majesty.

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It doesn’t take long to tour the grounds, we were there for maybe an hour, but Corfe Castle has some fascinating history.

978 – King Edward the Martyr was murdered by his stepmother Elfrida at the site of the Old Hall
1086 – William the Conqueror swapped a church for the land where he began to build Corfe Castle
1106 – Henry I imprisoned his brother, Robert of Normandy, in the King’s Tower
1199-1214 – King John imprisoned his French niece, Princess Eleanor of Brittany, at Corfe Castle (this is really not a great castle for families!)
1572 – Queen Elizabeth I sold the Corfe Castle to one of her favorites
1643-1646 – Under the command of Lady Mary Bankes, Corfe Castle twice held off sieges during the Civil War. It was finally captured due to treachery from within its walls

Plus, being on a hill (security reasons, of course), meant it has lovely views of the town. And Chandler, like always, found his shady respite while I roamed and explored.

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After that we bought some honey mead (so sweet!). It was nearly our one-year anniversary and it turns out that a full moon’s supply of honey mead was traditionally given to the bride and groom after their wedding. And from that we get, “honeymoon,” which I suppose this trip sort of is for us, since we had a whirlwind move to Accra after our wedding.

Next up was a stroll through the city Cathy grew up in and a stop at the beach, and since Europe was experiencing a massive heat wave, it was packed. We lunched on cheese sandwiches at the Salty Pig. As vegetarians, we always have exciting meal escapades.

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We could have called it a successful day after that, but instead, Grace and Cathy led us on a two-mile walk to a pub that very much felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. That, however, couldn’t have been further from the truth, given the packed outdoor space and the 20-minute wait to order.

I’ve learned that you can’t judge a place by how many cows and sheep you have to walk by to get there!

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