Hello from the tower, aka my room. In case I haven’t mentioned, I live on the top floor, down this little hallway with some extra stairs going up, so I have nicknamed it the tower.
Anyway, where did I leave off the other day? Ah, yes. The weekend. I have a story about that, but I’ll tell it later. One notable thing to mention, though, is that I met and went to church with my British family from the Meet a Family Programme, or “scheme,” as the Brits say. Everything’s a scheme with them. It’s funny, because I think of a scheme as something dubious and underhanded, but here it’s used to mean a program.
So on Sunday, Veronica picked me up and gave me a lift to the small church service held in the Town Hall at Barrowby. It’s actually a church plant from Grantham Baptist, which I visited the first week I was here. It was a really cool service. I liked how informal it was. The pastor would start praying, and then he opened the floor for just anyone to prayer right there where they were standing, and quite a few people did. And when I say “quite a few,” I mean like 5 or 6, because this church was tiny. Tiny, but very nice.
I met Veronica’s husband, Stephen, when I got there. Both he and Veronica do music at the church.
Stephen and Veronica are very nice. They invited me to their house for lunch: chicken, potatoes, cabbage, stuffing, and some very lovely cake. Afterward, we watched British TV, played some board games (Stephen and I got pretty competitive at Boku), and played with the cat, Jasper, who is black and looks like a tiny panther. It was a delightful afternoon. They also have a 22-year-old daughter named Rachel, who I have yet to meet as she was in London that weekend. I am supposed to officially meet the family tonight at the reception here at the manor, but Veronica can’t attend tonight, so I met them early. Still, Stephen will be here, and perhaps Rachel, and I got them a box of chocolates and a cat toy for Jasper. And since it’s a reception, I’m looking forward to an excellent dessert.
So what else has been going on this week? Well, Tuesday night was Burns Night down in the Bistro. It was a celebration of the poet Robert Burns and all things Scottish. I tried a bite of haggis! Yep, that’s right. I ate guts. And it wasn’t bad…It would have been better if I hadn’t known what it is. Very salty…yeah….
So after Burns Night, our Christian fellowship group, BASIC (Brothers And Sisters In Christ) had its first real meeting, which went well. Then, we all went out on a quest to try to see the Northern Lights. It was a rare chance, but we were supposed to be able to see them from here. Someone did end up seeing them around 3 am, but it was too cloudy when I was out. I did see some full moons, though…
There is a tradition at Harlaxton of running the mile-long stretch of the driveway, from gate to gate, naked. That is what is known as the Naked Mile. Four young ladies whom I will not name decided to have a go at it Tuesday night. So, like good friends, a group of us hid and shined a flashlight on them as they ran by naked as jaybirds. That got them squealing and running faster, and let me just say, it was a hilarious night!
Anyway, now I’m going to tell you the weekend story, but it’s a secret story, so shhhh!
It was a dark, damp, chilly night in the countryside of Lincolnshire. The wind was howling; I could hear it through the thick stones of the manor. Two friends and I roamed through the grand old house, bored. Most of the students were off on weekend excursions and the manor was relatively empty, and very, very still. We ambled into the dim entryway and sat down on a pew-like bench, debating what we should do next. All of a sudden, we heard an unsettling rattling noise coming from our right. Even in the poor lighting we could see the door under the staircase moving ever so slightly. The noise repeated itself, beckoning us closer. We took a few steps and hesitated, the ghost stories and tales of an eccentric past tenant’s séances fresh in our minds. But we proceeded, opening the thick, wooden door with a creak. We were met by darkness and dust, but when our eyes adjusted, we could see a conglomeration of pipes, old chairs, and random unused items lying around, and a longer stretch of a tunnel off to the left. Nathan and Kenzie descended into the tunnel-esque space, guided only by the light of an iPhone. I stayed a couple of steps back, as we had decided it would be quite unfortunate if someone were to close the door on us while we were in there. I heard their footsteps proceed a little way, then stop.
“We found a note,” Kenzie said with excitement, emerging from the tunnel. I took my turn to look in there while she guarded the door. It was small, but mysterious and exciting: just a little area carved into the wall underneath the stairs. We all left the tunnel, closing the door behind us, and rushed to an area with enough light to read the note. It was somehow etched into the paper as to give the impression of a blank sheet of paper at first. The instructions, written on the reverse side, told us to put the note in the freezer to make the words appear. Although we could sort of read it anyway, we put it in the freezer. It turned out to be a letter of advice written by former Harlaxton students, basically encouraging us to make every moment count, not stress, and keep exploring. And also to leave a note for future students to discover. It was totally the kind of thing that you guys and I would do. I loved it. And you know what the best part was? It was signed, “DFTBA Nerdfighters!” (That’s don’t forget to be awesome, for those who don’t know.)
So in conclusion, Harlaxton Manor falls in the realm of Nerdfighteria, and we will not forget to be awesome! The end.
P.S. I’m going to Scotland this weekend! WOOOO!!!! I get to stay in a hostel!