Dublin - Ireland
I am counting on at least a few of our days in Ireland being exceedingly dull so I can catch up with myself! And thank you to all of you as always for your kind comments about the Logs- I'm glad to be entertaining others besides myself and Marlon with these epics.
Before we continue with the Reunion, I need to mention that I am writing you from the mecca of vegetarians and vegans (and those that are neither but consider there to be more than two food groups on the planet and like to partake in them once and awhile), "Juice" Restaurant / Juice Bar / Free Wi-fi Spot! We washed up here like 2 castaways on the shore of a tropical treasure island, exhausted and nearly drowned by Dublin's roiling sea of grunge and grime, and goblins in the form of confrontational street Weirdos. (And me with a chest cold after our nightmare experience on the over-nite ferry, surrounded by unfortunate individuals hacking and coughing moistly.) I nearly fainted away in the street when reading their menu: fresh squeezed juices, smoothies, dishes and dishes of vegan options, and- what do you know!- there actually are other teas in this part of the world besides English Breakfast! And Bob Marley on the stereo. Thank you Lonely Planet. :)
On with the Reunion:
Day 3 dawned clear and sunny to everyone’s relief, as we had weather-dependent activities that morning: Marlon was off to a local activity center for quad biking, skeet shooting, archery and reverse steer buggies, while Devon and I were headed over to the Jill Carenza Equestrian Centre for a “hack” (trail ride).
The Kesslers are a historically horsey family (Raoul Dufy paintings of Oma, her siblings and parents on horseback hang in the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and the Tate Gallery in London, respectively!), but I was still surprised by the large number of us signed up for the ride: 16 in all, a veritable cavalry! The staff at the stable outfitted us with compulsory helmets and “back protectors,” which resemble bullet proof vests at best and life jackets at worst. (Considering that ordinarily I don’t even bother with a saddle, let alone body gear, I found it all a bit fussy- however later on when we were careening down narrow lanes between 1-foot thick stone walls, I admit it was a comfort). I was paired with “Captain,” a huge, graceful dark Thoroughbred who took his name very seriously and attempted to race to the front and lead the charge at every opportunity!
We passed through the picturesque village of Stanton and climbed up into the hills, crossing fields scattered with sheep and overlooking a breathtaking quilt of emerald, gold, russet and lavender. And we rode. We rode like the Nazgûl were chasing us, galloping up hills, whipping along narrow country lanes bordered by grass as tall as our horses’ shoulders, and diving into woods so dense that branches flew at our faces. It was positively thrilling, and well worth the saddle sores! (Unfortunately Marlon’s experience at the activity center was not quite so thrilling due to bitchy archery instructors and boring tracks, but at least he and his cousins bonded over the disappointment, not to mention the humorous retelling of their exaggerated yawns while they rode quads around in a circle like kids on a pony ride.)
The event that many had been most anticipating, and which there was perhaps most discussion about, was the traditional Family Football (soccer) Match on the morning of Day 4. Apparently an important part of this tradition was for the English, Dutch and Costa Ricans to kick the sorry bums of the “Yanks,” however considering that there were only 6 Americans signed up and none of them had played since the Holland Reunion, in my opinion this would not be much of a testament to skill, let alone sportsmanship (and I said so). Besides, wasn’t part of the whole point of the Reunions to bring different nationalities together and develop relationships? (And the excuse that “mixed” teams would diminish competitiveness was a lame one, as the teams for Quiz Night had been mixed and there had been what I would go so far as to term a juvenile amount of competitiveness in that activity.)
After a fair amount of controversy in the days leading up to the match, the official announcement was made at the Formal Dinner the night before: the teams would be mixed. (This was met with about 5 seconds of stunned silence, and then a solitary pair of hands rang out in applause: mine. I was on my own for another agonizing few seconds, and then others trickled in and gradually the room filled with clapping.) And everyone had to admit, it was a truly exciting match! All four teams (each with 11 players and a variety of nationalities) were fantastically equally matched, and every game was won by only one point (with the exception of the first, which was a draw).
(...I am tempted to order four more rounds of my apple, carrot, beetroot and ginger juice, but at €4.50 a pop, I should probably refrain...)
That afternoon was another thoroughly speculated about event (those Kesslers like to end with a bang), the “SURPRISE” activity. Right away the coach driver got fairly lost and drove us all out of the way for which he apologized profusely, but we assured him this only added to our sense of suspense! Finally we pulled into the narrow, tree-lined gravel drive of a private estate.
And there, set up picturesquely in the middle of a green field, was our very own circus.
(Actually it was Giffords Circus, an English company renowned for their vintage themes and theatrical storytelling, as well as serving high quality food with fresh local ingredients.) Friendly people in period dress greeted us with trays of champagne and appetizers, and for the little ones there was a cotton candy booth and essentially a carousel ride, but with swings. Shortly atmospheric music by the phenomenal band lured us all into the big tent, where tables had been set up in a semi-circle around a circus ring with a superb stage set. Every detail- from the vases of marjoram on the tables to the hand-painted dishware to the artful banners and murals- was exquisite, and enveloped us wholly in their world (perhaps another place in time, perhaps another dimension). Best of all, naturally, was the show: an imaginative circus-style telling of Tolstoy’s classic “War and Peace,” replete with a clown, fire jugglers, an aerial silks performer, a knife thrower, a death-defying gymnast and live horses! And in the middle of it all they served us a wholesome meal, followed afterwards by ice cream from a local Cotswolds creamery (where, I should mention, the cows spend their days happily grazing in idyllic Cotswolds pastures).
It was the perfect culmination of a perfect four days, but it was bittersweet as we all understood that the unique magic that brought so many individuals together from different parts of the globe was coming to an end. The activities and events had been extraordinary and I had actually been brought to tears on more than a few occasions by the humbling privilege of the experiences- however I have to say that above all what made the Reunion such an honor to attend, was the people. Every single one of them friendly, warm, witty and interesting to talk to, and gracious yet refreshingly non-chalant about all of the fanfare and luxury that was part of the Kessler experience (at least as often as every three years).
Now Marlon and I were off to start our romantic duet portion of this European symphony, which we were looking forward to but which nonetheless felt strange after being part of a grand orchestra for so many days. How odd that from now on the other guests in our hotels, the other diners at our meals, the other passengers on our coaches, would be strangers (at least to begin with)!
I will leave you there. Next up: The Southern England Mystery Tour!
With lots of love, Arielle & Marlon
Vibrational alchemist, writer, artistic mystic, pack mama and spiritual adventurer living in The Goodland - Goleta, CA. Creator of Lioness Energetics.
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