This time, the Ryanair flight from Brno to Stansted was on time. This time, I arrived at the scheduled time and skipped through immigration without issues. I found my hotel and had an early night after all, it would be a long drive the next morning. After a British breakfast (a treat!), I went for my rental car – now this was a slight issue and I will only say this – do NOT rent from Easirent (difficult and expensive rent is more apt I think). Finally, I left the Stansted area around 10 am – an hour behind schedule but no matter – I was in good spirits.
Now, the drive from Stansted to Seahouses looked doable. Google maps told me 5 hours and if I factored in a couple of breaks, I should arrive on time around 4pm. I forgot about British traffic and more importantly – roadworks – but, I duly arrived at the meeting place just 30 minutes late. Before I even got the hotel door, Sue and Stu emerged to greet me – they had been watching out for me.
This was the third time I had met Sue – a very good friend of the last umpteen years. She and I have been through a few things and used email, telephone and thought messages to help each other. She had even put up with a call during which I managed somehow to consume quite a lot of gin to the point that when I awoke the next morning I did feel quite worse for wear and somewhat embarrassed…. Stu I had met one time before and we had got on like a house on fire. As importantly, it was Sue’s birthday! One important reason why I had made the trip frankly.
After a cup of tea – I skipped the scone and immediately regretted that – we headed for the beach where the leader gave us some thoughts while pointing out the magnificent Bamburgh Castle. There was some discussion of how on a previous Silent Eye weekend, it had rained and everyone got wet. Sure enough, it rained and we all got wet – I suspected this was a part of the induction process after all. As I told Sue, I didn’t mind except that was my only pair of Jeans ….. Sue plainly couldn’t care less as walking back, she waded through the thrashing post-squall waves while we all admired the light and took photographs. The Sun after the squall. It seemed an apt start somehow.
A bit later, the party re-assembled in a fish and chip shop, still wet but in good spirits and I polished off a rather large haddock, mushy peas and chips. Surely, I had died and gone to heaven? Especially, since Steve suggested we wash this down with a pint at the nearby pub.
The content of the weekend has been well covered by the other participants so I won’t cover the same ground. What I will say is that I had a great time. The location was marvelous. The weather perfect. The company magical. It was a weekend spent meditating on myself as a castle – thinking about the walls I have built over my life and I guess my thought was just how intimidating a castle can seem to one who has never had the pleasure of sitting before its warm hearth (heart?).
Some special, moments for me would include the visit to Lindisfarne (a first), having birds feed from our hands there as well as the windy, song-ridden (seals apparently) farewells, discovering that I and another party member were born on the same date, but a different year (now isn’t that a strange coincidence?), Meeting Steve and the others for the first time proper, spending time talking mysteries, myths and stone circles with Sue and Stuart – as well as sinking a glass or two, and realizing that I’m not so strange – there are at least 5 other people like me.