My night in Bristol was wonderful. Nathalie’s family was very kind to me and I felt very much at home. When I arrived in Bristol on the train, Nathalie was there to greet me, at which point we spent the next hour and a half or so just chatting and wandering around Bristol, while I snapped pictures of various things and she was accommodating in allowing me to pose with various stuff and then take pictures for me. It was a lot of fun; we talked about Madison and Bristol and our own small hometowns in comparison, and she continued to assist me in figuring out how to pronounce things properly and different words for the same things. I tested out my “British accent” on her, just to see how I was doing after a day. “Sounds South African” she told me, to my disbelief. All of my years of theatre, and all I’ve gotten so far is South African?! (Meaning no offense to the S. Africans themselves, of course.)

By this point I was dead tired and starving with hunger, but we were going to meet up with her dad in Nailsea at about 5:00 and it was already 4:30. We decided we would go and visit an authentic English pub, and took the train from the same Temple Meads Station to Nailsea, where we met up with her dad. It was fun to be in the front-left part of the car and on the “wrong side” of the road. I told them that it was like being in a roller coaster or something; because that’s the only situation in America that you would be in the front-left part of a moving vehicle and not controlling it yourself. That, combined with the weirdness of the “wrong side” and tensing slightly while passing people on the highway, made for an interesting ride. Both Nat and her dad were great tour guides (she might not agree that she was, but I thought so anyway because she was cheerful about it) and her dad showed me a lot of stuff as we were driving.

After arriving at Nathalie’s house, I was finally able to get out of my travel clothes and get a shower as well. Upon arriving in the loo though, I remembered with some trepidation my experiences in France and Spain several years before…there was no shower curtain in the bath, and one of those detachable shower heads. Those two combined with my general clumsiness, I was worried I was going to get shower water all over the place! I was really careful though, despite my tiredness, and I managed to keep things under control. After what was essentially 2 days without showering plus the travelling and biking, I felt like a new man.

Then it was off to The World’s End pub in Taunton! I got to sample my very first bangers (sausages) and mash (mashed potatoes) and some Tanglefoot beer…legally, ha ha! The food was simply delicious though, and I told Nathalie I wouldn’t be able to let myself sample bangers and mash again in England because there was no way it could be as good as this stuff. We finished off dinner with some honeycomb ice cream…with real honeycombs in it, something I’d never seen before either.

However, because of complications in the Lake District due to a “Bank Holiday” – another thing I’d never heard of before coming overseas – I still had no place to stay for Saturday night. So Nathalie and her parents and I went over the internet and my maps for possible places to stay in Cumbria, and finally in desperation I was able to book myself (with her mum’s help) a night at a pretty expensive Travel Inn in Carlisle, where I would be leaving the next day for the Hadrian’s Wall tour anyway.

The morning came early though, 5:25 or so in order to get to the Taunton rail station in time. I got to sample some British “brekkers” like Weetabix (I love that name) and bread with both butter and jam at the same time, something I’d never conceived of before.

So far the rail ride has been uneventful, although it has continued with the friendliness that I got yesterday as well. I like to chat with people, and everyone seems to like me or my accent and enquire as to where I’m from in the States and where I’m going. Everyone has new things to tell me about different towns in the countryside and things that they’ve experienced that are different between US and UK. Only a couple hours left until I’m in Bangor in Wales!