Postcard from the UK – 7

July 23, 2023

Continuing from the last Postcard, here is the final edition offering the readers a round-up of our splendid 3-week UK vacation.

As per the plan, Sid was to attend to his work commitments and Prerana was to accompany – rather escort – us to the Lavender Fields at Hitchin.

I had been looking forward to this visit to the Lavender Fields. I had planned to exploit the features of my camera. In addition to the selfie-stick, I was carrying the heavy-duty tripod in my backpack.

Prerana had decided to take us first to Letchworth Garden City, a tiny picture-postcard of a city. It is noted for being the first garden city of the UK. It was an interesting fact that I had left Bangalore, India’s Garden City, and was at another Garden City in another part of the world.

Letchworth Garden City

We took the Great Northern Rail from Cambridge and got down at Letchworth Garden City, a small and neat train station. There was hardly anyone on the platform.

We were to walk around the city and enjoy the sights, smells, and the sounds.

As we ambled around the city, I was struck by the city’s beauty. The city was dotted with small open-air cafes and people were sitting around and having conversations around The Wynd Shopping Village. The dogs on leash appeared relaxed too in keeping with the city’s spirit.

We entered a store and Jyothi went up to the section displaying baking items. She was at that section for a long time.

Jyothi loves to cook and bake. Lately, she has been very active on the baking scene. On one of the days at Cambridge, both Sid & Prerana were encouraging Jyothi to begin offering her baking products for sale. ‘You could always start operating on a smaller scale’, they remarked. I observed that between Sid & Prerana, Prerana was playing the role of the bigger motivator. Before we left the UK, Jyothi had made up her mind.

Update: Jyothi has decided to offer her baking products for sale from August under the name, Jyothi’s Delicious Cakes and Bakes. I am helping Jyothi in the areas of planning, costing, and communication – areas that I am good at. Of course, I am her eternal taster. Her enterprise’s logo is shown below:

I am keenly awaiting the launch of her enterprise.

I am a strong believer that one must always have big goals in one’s life and that one must keep creating new big goals as and when the previous goals are achieved.

My Quote #366 says, ‘Chase big goals in life to know what you are capable of.’

Off to the Lavender Fields

We took a cab from Letchworth Garden City to the Hitchin Lavender Fields. It was a Mercedes-Benz…again. The driver was an Indian. He gave his name as Cam. As we were being driven, I was thinking what his original name must have been that had been so ruthlessly shortened to Cam. Could it have been Kamlesh? Or Kamal? I know it is uncalled for but it bothered me a bit that I could not know his expanded name. Thanks to our need to be civil in such matters, obviously I couldn’t have asked him.

As we entered the Lavender Fields, I instantly knew that I could play around with my camera. See the pictures below:

What is considered ‘trick photography’ in ordinary parlance is so easy to execute with this camera.

When I handed over some flowers to Jyothi, she felt embarrassed. Not sure why…

We carried some flowers home. Jyothi came back to Cambridge and followed an elaborate process to dry the lavender flowers. We were to carry them back to Bangalore and they were to be placed in our closets to lend some fragrance to our clothes.

Seasoned travellers have a habit of connecting the travel dots. While we were at the Hitchin Lavender Fields, I recalled our trip to Kumeu Strawberry Farm, New Zealand, where Jyothi, Sid & I picked strawberries (pic below):

As we came out of the Lavender Fields, Jyothi felt that she was developing an itch – after all, we had walked amidst the lush fields. I commented, ‘No wonder! It says in the name itself! It is (H)itchin Lavender Fields!’ This time around, both Prerana & Jyothi simultaneously found something deeply interesting in the cloud formation overhead because both of them looked in that direction. What’s Life without humor!

Is it Trust?

I have noticed that whenever Jyothi is with me and I take a picture of her, more often than not, she appears in the picture with her eyes closed. Now, I have gotten used to quickly checking the picture, and if her eyes are closed, I ask her to pose again. Is it because her default mode is that she trusts me with her eyes closed? Just checking…

A visit to Ely

We headed to Ely, a cathedral city, near Cambridge. It is infinitely beautiful. I am realising that I am running out of adjectives to describe the concept of beauty during this trip.

Many reasons for why the city is so beautiful are the small thoughtful and creative acts as can be seen in the pictures below:

At the Ely Train Station. The station was awarded the First Prize in the Best Station Competition at one time

On the streets of Ely

At a park near the Ely Cathedral

A thoughtful touch on the wayside

The Ely Cathedral

The present building dates back to 1083 and it was granted cathedral status in 1109. The cathedral is a major tourist destination, receiving around 250,000 visitors every year. The featured image of this post with a bed of colorful flowers in the foreground shows the Ely Cathedral in the background. We spent quite some time in the cathedral.

Inside the Ely Cathedral

Near the Ely Cathedral

As we were sitting at an open-air cafe in Ely, I noticed that the street seemed to divide the two eras on either side – on the one side, it was the historical part of the city and on the other was a string of cafes and shops. I had Jyothi pose at the centre and I took a picture as if Jyothi is presiding over two empires across different eras. The picture was taken with a tripod and the AI feature of the camera made the tripod almost disappear – one of the incredible features of this camera.

As we walked around the city, we reached the River Great Ouse which was a hub of great activity. Yachts had been anchored and people were generally hanging around and having a great time.

Sid insisted on taking our picture.

We got a tourist to click a picture of all of us. It was a very breezy day and Jyothi and Prerana appear in the picture below with disheveled hair. For some odd reason, both Sid & I were completely unaffected.

A trip to Sid’s workplace

Sid took all of us on a walk on a breezy day from the Mill Pond area to his workplace, Cognition & Brain Sciences Unit, at the University of Cambridge.

I had been told that the walking route is very picturesque. Therefore, I had my camera mounted on a tripod stuck in my backpack, recording the entire walking route.

The route was indeed picturesque. To begin with, we were passing through what seemed like a large agricultural field but it was well-shaded with a line of tall, swaying trees providing effective cover. The sky was a brilliant blue wherever the white fluffy clouds had been kind enough to allow the sky some visibility. On the way, we passed some people, some on foot, and others on bicycles or on those very popular electric scooters.

On the way to Sid’s office, we spotted some cows in the Coe Fen area that were going very purposefully in a certain direction. With no one to mind them, they looked like regulars to me. They clearly knew where they were going.

Towards the end of the walk, we swung open a metal gate, crossed a small wooden bridge, and entered one of the most expensive areas of Cambridge, Chaucer Road, where Sid’s workplace is located. Timber barriers had been erected along the side just as the road opened into the tony neighborhood.

Sid’s workplace was actually one of those homes converted into a full-fledged office. I am told that the University of Cambridge owns a lot of expensive properties and that they are put to use for various purposes.

I was blown away by this entire route.

For someone who has lived all his life in big cities in India, my route to work was always meant to be suffered, not enjoyed. People in villages were sometimes surrounded by scenic beauty but there was no decent livelihood there. Now with smaller towns and even villages offering tech and back office support opportunities, things could be changing in India.

How inspiring it must be to walk this way to work! Sid thoroughly enjoys this walk.

Once inside Sid’s workplace, we went over to his desk.

I sat at Sid’s desk and savored the moment. I felt deeply proud. I suspect Sid was feeling a little embarrassed for he was looking away.

Parents are like that. But I think parents deserve to be pardoned for such ‘indiscretions’.

Full relaxation

The pictures below seem to suggest that I have a template pose for full relaxation. The picture on the left was taken in Sydney in Dec 2017 and the one on the right was taken at the Niladri Beach at Puri, Odisha, in Jan 2023.

Here’s the latest picture from the Orchard Tea Garden, Grantchester. The pattern is well established.

In my view, full relaxation happens when one lives in the present moment – no regrets of the past and no anxiety of the future. We must touch this ‘zone’ as many times as possible in a day even in normal circumstances. A vacation is meant to create many such opportunities to be in this zone.

Both Jyothi & I were in this zone for days on end, thoroughly enjoying this vacation with our son, Sid & our daughter-in-law, Prerana.

Well, if this isn’t what a vacation is meant to be, what is?

Thank you, Sid & Prerana!

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