In fact I didn't take an enormous number of photographs in England, compared to what I usually do when I go away. We were only there for two whole days, and I wasn't able to enter my usual leisurely gawping and clicking mode because I was being a bossy tour guide, which wasn't really compatible with it.
I was accompanying a small group of my very grown-up English-learning students, with their attendant spouses, on a whistle-stop tour out of Southampton to visit places of touristic interest in Hampshire and Wiltshire. In fact they didn't really need me bossing them about much at all, since they are, as I say, very grown-up and quite capable of self-direction, and were also very good sports, drinking tea with milk every afternoon and eating bacon and eggs, with gusto (waiter, can I have some gusto with this please...?) every morning. However, they did occasionally need a bit if chivvying because they were just so busy enjoying everything, or fell in with people there who were so interested in showing them things, that I sometimes had to tap my watch and shoo them along, when the estimable Paul the Minibus Driver had already been waiting on an unauthorised taxi rank for a while or was needing to get to his next airport pick-up job.
But I took a few pictures and, happily, others took plenty, notably Hervé. Hervé is a personable, quiet chap who is married to Madé, whom I teach. He carried a mean-looking and powerful camera with him at all times, which I noticed at first but quickly stopped noticing, as while he used it a lot he didn't make a fuss about it. Within a couple of days of our return he had sent round an on-line album of beautifully edited, lovely photos, which he generously said I could help myself to. Some of his architectural and landscape shots were so gorgeous I was tempted to nick the lot and pass them off as my own, but I resisted and just borrowed a few.
So, as I say, I had to be a bossy tour guide,
that's me in authoritarian black with the waggy finger, trying to get the order for lunch sorted out outside the Cassandra's Cup tea rooms in Chawton. The disembodied hand counting to three in the foreground is that of Bernard, who was being of great help in marking down the exact number of quiche, jacket potatoes, apple crumble, lemon drizzle cake etc required or desired.
I think one of the reasons I've been stalling a bit about blogging about this trip, is that there are so many people and things I want to express my appreciation of and admiration for, that I haven't known quite where to start, and I fear posts that end up resembling Oscar acceptance speeches. For one reason and another the organisation of it wasn't without stress, but over and over people when we got there were kind and helpful and conscientious and enthusiastic.
So perhaps I'll just try to do a string of little posts, and gush freely about what and whosoever.
Left to right, me - pulling what Tom calls my funny photo face - my lovely sister Helli, who joined us, kept me company, picked up my stuff after me and generally cheerfully fitted in with whatever I had to do, and Madé, who's married to Hervé', who's taking the photo.
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