• The excursions from the Leeds conference are really great. I saw Gawain country and two fourteenth-century manor houses (one restored, one ruined), plus Ripon Cathedral and a small chapel with fifteenth and sixteenth century effigies.
  • Ripon has some great misericords. I like the fox preaching to the poultry, the bear playing bagpipes, and St Cuthman wheeling his paraplegic mother about in a wheelbarrow (at least, that’s the story about that carving that I choose to believe).
  • But some of the memorial tablets there are distressing. For example, two women who died in the eighteenth century, in their early thirties, after nine children apiece. One was 33, with 4 children surviving. Bad. One was 31, only 2 children surviving. Worse. What were their lives like?
  • At least one well-known medievalist from this side of the Atlantic needs a closer acquaintance with at least one of the following: (a) soap; (b) deodorant; (c) laundry detergent. Honestly, I am much less picky about body odor than many Americans. One or two of the above would probably be adequate. But dude, your research is teh awesomest but I totally don’t want to smell you from four feet away kthxbai.
  • But then, maybe he’s teh awesomest because he spends ALL his time on research and very little on effete wastes of time like showers and laundry. No wonder I am not teh awesomest.
  • I like English desserts because they’re not too sweet. Tonight the dining hall had meringue with a dollop of sweetened cream and summer fruits (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, red currants) on top, with pureed strawberries around the edges. The fruit was fully ripe. The meringue was crisp and melted fizzily. You could taste all the flavors, and enjoy all the textures. I don’t usually like meringue, but this was outstanding.

I guess this isn’t so random. There’s a definite sensory theme running through the whole thing. But I certainly haven’t the energy to make it either more or less random.