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May 23, 2006 > Across the Pond

Across the Pond

by Frances Payne

Explosions shatter the air! People topple, mortally wounded. Newark's re-enactment of the Civil War...or...members of our Government toppling like ninepins following scandal after scandal in the last couple of weeks that's seen the great British Public registering their jaw dropped amazement in local government elections throughout the country? Just a taster of life here, the other side of the Atlantic in Newark on Trent England.

Greetings fellow Newarkers and all other friends across the sea. In my columns, I'll be giving you a taste of life in "Little old England," not that we view it as "little." Indeed, some locals regard the twenty mile journey to Nottingham as a pretty exciting adventure involving lots of preparations and provisions.

So, back to the explosions. In Newark one thousand people flocked to the brilliant re-enactment marking the three hundred and sixtieth anniversary, in Newark's castle grounds, of the town's final siege in the Civil War, when Royalist Newark supporters of King Charles fell to the Parliamentarian supporters of Oliver Cromwell. Alongside the jabbing with pikes, firing of muskets and cannons, groans and screams; on the other side of the road, a contrasting scene - Newark's May Fair - also full of shrieks and screams and loud complaints of local councillors who wanted to know who'd put up the posters advertising the event without permission.

Newark and district has ancient buildings a plenty for those wishing to photograph, enjoy the grounds or just poke around. Nearby Rufford Abbey is a much frequented venue for me and droopy basset hound, "Daisy." We wander around the well stocked lake, sometimes bravely dodging swans and 'honky' geese, who regard "Dopey Daisy" as fair game. Then it's through the Abbey grounds in a constant state of repair, improving all the time and steadily regaining its pre Henry VIII's days of splendour. A final walk through the woods full of  rabbits, squirrels and bluebells and we're at the shop selling herbs and flowers and all manner of outdoor things from Wellington boots to windmills, and very friendly staff who always find a 'Bonio' for Daisy, and let her dribble and drool all over them without complaint.

Next, back in the car for the journey home, and through the ford which varies in depth and effect from a gentle splash on the side of the car to-over the top and through the sun roof drenching, which always seems to delight the ever-present bystanders on the bridge and cheering children.

So what of the larger stage on these shores, where we've just seen the Health Minister booed by nurses, the Home Secretary admitting to 'losing' enormous numbers of criminals who should have been considered for deportation and the Deputy Prime Minister who's 'shenanigans' with an office minion made the Clinton/Lewinsky situation look like a noble pairing from a Shakespeare play?!

Quite fortuitously for those wishing to show they do care about health, law and order and moral values, the local elections followed just days later. And did the British public let them know?! Newspapers have been full of lots of frantic shuffling and miserable faces. Cartoonists have relished the opportunities and themes thrown up by the antics of the Deputy Prime Minister, now called by some, 'Pants-down Prescott.' Oh dear. Not very British is it?

But here in Newark, the sun is out, the Farmer's Market is bustling with shoppers on the cobbled market place, people are strolling along the banks of the River Trent.....and all's well with the world.

Over the coming months I'll paint a picture of life in Newark, and the bigger picture of characters, places and events too. I'll welcome requests for certain topics and will ensure that you all know at least one person from Newark, England.

Warmest wishes across the sea from Frances.

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