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March 19, 2008 > Across the Pond: Newark happenings

Across the Pond: Newark happenings

The bedroom shook. The house shook. Ornaments and artefacts rattled and fell on the floor. An earth tremor had hit Newark. Wow! Of considerable intensity it had radiated out from its epicentre in the neighbouring area of Lincolnshire.

Some people ran out into the street, and some people, like me, sat up in bed and thought, "It's an earth tremor" then went back to sleep. I confess though that the next day I did wonder if there was perhaps something a little lacking in my response mechanism system. However, in my defence, anyone past a certain age (me) will have experienced the odd shake in the previous decades. The first I remember was at age 10 at school when I was nearly shaken off my chair. Imagine being the teacher and returning to Kings and Queens of England on that day!

Mentioning adjacent Lincolnshire, I recently visited a work colleague who lives at one of the many Air Force stations in the very flat county, where her husband is a pilot. It is possible that some of you readers have memories of time spent at one of these stations. Certainly during and for some time after the Second World War, American servicemen added a fair bit of dash and glamour to the bases.

Being a little unsure of exactly where RAF Waddington was, I decided to enlist the support of my little used satellite navigation system; plugged it in and off I went. As I neared the end of the road, the instructions I was given were completely different to the route I would have chosen. I decided it would be good for me to venture out of my comfort zone and head off into the unknown. What an exciting life I do lead! Hence I found myself motoring through a newly discovered array of the prettiest villages imaginable with spectacular scenery of green fields as far as the eye could see. So far so good...until a sheet of paper fell on the satellite navigation. And after removing it I saw the screen had returned to start mode. So there I was in the midst of I didn't know where, with no suitable stopping point on the long winding country road ahead, and meeting deadline looming (an important factor when being greeted by armed servicemen at a specific time when entering the base). Well out of my comfort zone now! Finally finding a suitable stopping and turning point, the disembodied voice returned. Oh joy...I hadn't been deserted in the deep unknown depths of Lincolnshire.

Following a great catch up session with colleague and her new baby I found myself in another classic satellite navigation situation on the way home. Classic I suspect only in England with its winding, narrow country roads and associated idiosyncrasies. I followed a motorist up the front driveway to her farm home after being directed down a closed road by Mrs. satellite navigation lady. Said motorist appeared to know what she was doing and where she was going, which of course she did. Pretty route home though, completely unknown and through a forest, but very scenic!

Closer to home my wonderful extended family celebrated two significant birthdays over the weekend. Celebrations began with a family versus family match at Nottingham's bowling alley. Each family had its share of stars and handicaps (e.g. me). Twin babies, Henry and Maisie, were passed from hand to hand with jokey threats of using Henry as an additional bowling ball (he's a bonny lad). Afterwards we sat around a huge table at nearby Frankie and Benny's diner, exchanging presents, singing "Happy Birthday" and generally making merry. It's not a quiet place, in case you're wondering.

The following day, a smaller group of more immediate family continued celebrations at Newark's smart Italian restaurant of Zizzis. Ideally placed overlooking the river Trent, it occupies a beautiful old Tudor style building which started its life centuries ago as a coffee house; the brainchild of a refined and revered Lady of Newark who wanted to discourage the consumption of alcohol. Only in recent years in fact, during one of The Ossington's many re-incarnations, was it finally granted a drinks licence.

Newark is full of so many historical buildings with a tale to tell. It is a town full of character and individuality. Only in Newark can you take a Sunday morning stroll, as we did, across the huge cobbled market place, down to the riverside, and come face to face with four perfectly and authentically dressed Cavaliers from the 18th century nonchalantly walking the other way. How or why I know not...but it was great to see them.

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