It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood here in Durham, England. After home school the four of us set out on a walk. On Mondays we take a walk to the Crusty Bun Bakery to see our friend Kate. We stumbled upon this little haven on one of our first days in Durham. The Crusty Bun is a small, family-run operation near a church we’ve quickly come to love. Kate loves to hear our Southern American accents and we love to hear about all things Geordie. (The people of Northeast England are known as Geordies.)
On the way, we went past the Church of St. Mary Magdalene. St. Mary Magdalene’s is an historic, Anglican church that sits in a fork in the road. The church yard is in a triangle shape and the yard contains grave markers from the 1700’s. There is a sidewalk that goes around it, and a path that cuts through the middle. Meg and Joshua were racing each other–one going around, one going through. Joshua raced down the sidewalk to try to beat Meg to the spot were the two paths reconnected. A older English gentleman, complete with his flat cap and cane, stepped to the side as Joshua ran passed. Joshua and Meg surprised each other at the corner of the stone wall and both screamed out and laughed. Meg beat him by just a bit. The kind gentleman smiled and laughed and said, “You’d have won if I’d not been creeping along in your way.” He heard our voices and said, “Where are you from because you’re certainly not a Geordie?” It doesn’t take long for people to figure out that we are new to the area. He asked us where in America we called home. As often people do, he told us where he had friends in the USA. 99 times out of 100 it is somewhere that is no where near us. This time it was different. We told him Alabama, and he remarked that he had a friend from Paducah, Kentucky. Rob was born in Paducah, so that began a lively conversation.
Mr. Ray, I remember his name because he was such a ray of sunshine, gave us some things to add to our list to go visit while we are here. He noticed that we don’t have a car and that we travel about England by Shank’s Pony (that’s a cool English way to say “walking”). He gave us his phone number and offered to drive us to one of the museums he had suggested. Such a kind, sweet spirit.
We hurried on our way so we wouldn’t miss our friend at the Crusty Bun. She smiled brightly and gave us a big, “Hey Y’all” which is so charming mixed with her sweet Geordie accent. We love to see her each week and she teaches us a new Geordie word and we teach her a new Southern word or phrase. Today we learned, “Eye dihn nah” which means quite simply, “I don’t know”. We taught her to say “Fixin’ tuh” last week which in the Deep South of Alabama means, “I am about to do just that”. This week her new Southern phrase was “‘Jeet jet?” Some of you are laughing while some are just trying to decode that Southern slang classic for the phrase, “Did you eat dinner yet?” She got a kick out of that one then tried to remember all we’d taught finally grabbed a paper bag for wrapping pastries and had us write it all down. We love to pop in and get the kids a small treat but mostly we enjoy our delightful Geordie friend and our walks out and about.