Monday, July 7, 2014

A Stop in Bristol

I set off for the airport by train, which is an efficient way of traveling. It amazed me that so many people could not find their correct seats and that others politely made accommodations for them. The train was clean, comfortable, and had a moderate volume of noise, which made it pleasant to read.

My only awkward experience was finding a place for my oversize luggage. I could not fit it into the small cargo space allocated for luggage and nothing fit in the overhead bin. I sat for an hour trying before I overheard someone saying that they ought to put their luggage in the luggage console. When I brought mine there, plenty of room remained for great quantities of luggage. I rode easier after this discovery because my luggage was blocking the entrance for far too long.

I was so pleased to see the enormously bright smiles from everyone. They were just so kind. People just connected humanely with others and happily acknowledged the presence of anyone they met. This was heart-warming.

The Bristol train station reminded me so much of the Harry Potter movies. I thought I would be walking down Diagonal Alley or onto Platform 9 and ¾ at any time. It was quite pleasant. I was going to set out for a taxi, but I only had a 20 pound note and I wasn’t sure if that was enough to pay for the fare, so I went in search of a Euro-Pounds exchange place.

I went from hotel to hotel to find one, but there was no place to exchange money. Nothing was to be found at the train station. I could not locate a bank at all, so after lugging my belongings from one place to another, I went back to the Train Station and hopped on the Airport Express because there would at least be an exchange counter there. The fare was 7 pounds instead of the expected 28 pounds for a taxi. Transaction complete, I set out to find a taxi, which was a little confusing but I got it all arranged. I hadn’t realized the Bed and Breakfast place would collect me free of charge so I paid 10 pounds to travel approximately two miles. Ah, at least I had arrived.

The Appletree Inn near the Bristol airport was quite an experience. For certain, it looked like I made a poor decision. The taxi driver never heard of the place and though it was listed under Appletree Inn, the locals referred to it as another place. As he dropped me off, he said, “Never dropped anyone off here before. It is going to stink because there’s a pig farm down the road a bit.”

The slight smell of fertilizer wafted through the air and I knocked on the door to enter. The door was locked. I banged louder and looked inside and there was hardly a piece of furniture. Lots of cars were parked in the lot, but no one was within site. I checked out every single door only to get the same response. One open door led to a vacant room that was in great need of repairs. After half an hour of sitting in the misty rain, I heard a noise and followed it. (It would have been far better if I called the place from the airport for free transport.) Keith, the owner, was working in the barn and came to greet me. He was a pleasant chap.
Keith was very kind and helped me to my room. When he swung back the curtains, I was very pleased as the room was immaculate and accommodating, while being very inexpensive. I slept so well in that room because the bedding was comforting. It was cheerful, nicely appointed, with a full bath en suite, and an amazing misty shower. (My shower in Amman was confining and the hot water always shut off twice each morning.) I simply relaxed because the place was restful. All the furnishings were top-notch and I rested well.

It was time for dinner and Keith recommended a place down the road. He said, “Just walk down the hill. It will look like they are closed, but they’ll cook for you.” I went inside Darlington Arms and it was a grand old pub and restaurant. Smiling faces greeted me and I made my way to a table where I could get nourished. The menu was quite fine, but since I was in England, I thought to try to fish and chips.

The fried cod was terrific, but it was huge. Since it was oil-fried, I ate much of the fish and left some batter, but I could tell that the dish was quite heavy on my system. I had two pints and just watched these people enjoy one another. Though I was alone and quiet, I was having fun just watching people enjoy good food and play with each other. The people were very kind.

The walk uphill to the Inn was not too long, but as I felt a little bloated I simply offered up to the pig farm what I had just taken in. Every last piece of cod was released. It was not that I felt sick, but it just no longer belonged. I felt great before and afterwards and I went to bed very happy and feeling nourished in many ways.

My 8:00 a.m. arrival at Bristol airport was pleasant as Keith drove me after collecting my bags. He was a very helpful, kind man. I thought to have breakfast but no coffee so I could sleep on the plane, but I was delighted to see about thirty-five people eating a full English breakfast while drinking pints or having wine at eight in the morning. The pint tempted me, but I was not ready for a full English breakfast. I laughed inside as people back in Jordan were celebrating Ramadan.

I enjoyed watching people interact in the airports. They really seem to care for and respect one another. Smiles are rather frequent and easily given. My host and I talked about kindness. I told him that he was a good man to which he replied, “I don’t know about that, but I am kind.” Indeed he was. And I got to thinking that the Lord said, “I am kind and merciful.” All these years I’ve tried to be a good man, but I think I understood it wrong. I ought to be a kind man because God is kind. It is giving me something about which to think. Nobody preaches about being kind as we conflate goodness with kindness, but they are distinct.

I spent my day observing kindness freely given to others. I felt glad.

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