House-sitting in Whitwell was largely a success. Matt and Klara, the owners, were funny and interesting. Matt picked me up at the train station and Klara made me dinner. Rocky and Milo, two Yorkshire terriers, were the kind of dogs that magically appeared on your lap the second you sat down. The night before they left I stayed up till far too late talking about American politics and theater. Their house was awesome, big and comfortable. They left me with a ton of food for the week.
I spent a big chunk of the house-sit writing and learning mandolin. The dogs were pretty hyper, Milo in this sort of chill way. Rocky was … well, Rocky was a very angry dog. I mean he liked me, but was enraged that people would dare walk by the front window and on walks he was constantly trying to mix it up with other dogs, seriously ignoring that just about any dog in the world was two to four times larger than him.
I once accidentally stepped on his paw and he was seriously going to KILL THE SHIT out of my shoe. I just sort of stood there and held out my shoe out for him to maul until he got it out of his system. After a few angry minutes, he eventually forgave me.
So, like i said, the house and the dogs and the owners were all nice. The town of Whitwell itself … well i’m not sure the people liked me all that much. There were some exceptions. The folks in the chip shop were friendly and there was this really nice guy at the Boot & Shoe pub, but in general the vibe was distinctly “foreigner go home!”
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The worst moment was when I went to the pub across the street from the house. I literally had one of those movie moments where everyone stopped talking and started at me till I left.
There’s not really anything to do in the town and i started to go seriously stir-crazy by the end of the week. I even took a bus to the nearby towns Clowne and Worsop, but people still didn’t seem really that into me and there weren’t markedly huge things to do. The Worksop pub, which felt disturbingly close to a Denny’s, didn’t help much either. After the worst Guinness i’ve had outside of America and a DEEP FRIED VEGIBURGER (??!!?) i gave up and spent the rest of the week in the house watching movies and writing.
Once back from their trip, Matt and Klara graciously drove me to Leicester, right to my friend Damien‘s door.
Damien, as always, was awesome to hang out with. He was great host and played tour guide around Leicester, giving me a feel for local flavor, history and political vibe.
I liked Leicester a lot, but Damien says i still have to see the dark side. We spent most of the day and night talking writing and books. Unfortunately I had a house-sit to get to the next day, so I had to take a train in the morning.
In London now. More on that soon.