Thursday, March 22, 2012

On Bucket Lists

Everyone talks about Bucket Lists - the list of things you want to do before you die. For me, it's never about the things you check off your list, it's about the delightful surprises you discover along the way. The things you could never have predicted - the play of light and shadow on the grass; or the funny guy on the bus who showed us where the 0 meridian is; or finding the remains of Ashdown Forest next to a car park en route to somewhere else.

A case in point: Royal Tunbridge Wells. I have wanted to see the Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells since I was a teenager - I guess Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer must have mentioned it somewhere. When we were living in Brighton, in the 1970's, we actually set out to go there, but had to turn back because it was snowing in the Downs, making roads impassable. Naturally, that only increased my desire. So, this visit the COG and I finally got there. And this is a picture of what we found. I don't think the picture accurately expresses my feelings of 'that's it? I changed 3 buses to see this?

At this point you may be wondering what a 'pantile' is. So I'll tell you: a pantile is a paving block made of local clay. Some 18th c. Queen visited the town - it was a Health Spa like Bath. She got her feet muddy while shopping, but felt much better after drinking the waters. So in gratitude, she gave money to pave the shopping area with pantiles, which apparently was really special in those days because people are still talking it up for the tourists. True, in 1793 the pantiles were replaced with stone. So what we saw was a paved shopping arcade called The Pantiles, which lacked actual pantiles. But the point is that I was able to cross it off my list. Been there, Done that. What's next.

However, there was a moment when we saw the cat in the window above The Pantiles. That, for some reason, was a highlight of the day. The delightful moment that happened on the journey, but which had nothing to do with the item from the Bucket List.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Caro ~

I just wikipedia'ed "Pantiles", to see if they're akin to Medieval tiles.

On the Wikipedia page for Pantiles is a photo taken in 1895 just a few feet (my guess) from where you were standing last week !! It looked pretty spiffy in 1895, and you'll want to look at Wikipedia definition/links to compare and contrast.

The 1895 photo:…trialsanderrors_-_The_Pantiles,_(Royal)_Tunbridge_Wells,_Kent,_England,_ca._1895.jpg

According to Wikipedia: "The pantiles used to pave the Upper Walks should not be confused with roofing pantiles. The paving installed here comprised one-inch thick square tiles made from heavy wealden clay, so named because they were shaped in a wooden pan before firing." Laid down in 1700 (so not Medieval tiles by date/definition, but same method of manufacture. I've never heard of out-door medieval tiles before, but why not?) Covered over in 1793, and I wonder if they're still there, under the stone. I also wonder if they had a pattern on them...

...And all that said, your flip of 'on Bucket Lists' is really zen-wonderful. You're right - one remembers the incidental, the modest outlier.
~EM Forester: "Rome...That's where we say the yellow Dog." (Room with a View)
~E Bishop, and her birdcage in Brazil. (in the Filling Station)
~You, a gray cat on a low wall (an old letter from you years ago focused on that.)
~Kate, and her French cats (do they meow the same in French?)

~ Talking geographic theory, it's the distinction between 'place' and 'space' - place is on a list, no linkage to the viewer. Space is intimate, linked by something personal, living, to the viewer. Often this is an animal (the Moose by Bishop, your Gray cat in Worchester, now a white cat in Tunbridge wells . A Dog or a bird in a birdcage.) Odd, and tonight it seems wonderful to me.