After a week in the London area, I headed out to Somerset to get my feet wet traveling in England. I picked Wells Cathedral as my nominal destination — I’d take a picture of the Chapter House steps like one I’d seen in a photography class. Getting there involved trains, busses, lots of walking, and two nights in the Street Youth Hostel.
This was before widespread internet and I was traveling alone, so my journals from that year are the best I’ve kept. Right now I’m having a hard time keeping up with reading them in real-time+15-years. I think I eased up once I started filming.
Street, Somerset, England, 7:30 pm
… The countryside here in south-west England is almost entirely identical to that of Vermont, but slightly different in every respect. The fields – not as big here – roll in a similar manner, but there are no mountains along the edges. The placement of shrubs, trees, cows and sheep is the same as the Champlain Valley, if you squint. But the shrubberies are a different type – thick briars instead of the thinner New England blackberry bushes – and the leaves on everything are a slightly different shape. The corn makes the same sound in the wind – the dry leaves brushing against each other. But the tops are darker and redder, and none of it is too tall. All of the cows are miniature, too. I stopped to look at one today, and she looked back with wall-eyes and drool pouring from her mouth. Perhaps she is mad.
[First cow: “Are you afraid of mad cow disease?” Second cow: “I’m not afraid. I’m chicken!”]
I dove deep into bell ringing the day I got back.