Wednesday, December 22, 2004

...and to Totnes

My travels in the UK's west country continue.

After leaving the pleasant warmth of my brother's abode I loaded up all my luggage (seemingly getting heavier with every stop) into the rental Ford Fusion estate car and set off for Totnes, Devon.

This time I was going to stay with my room mate from undergraduate days, John Roberts. John and I met in a chemistry class at Cardiff University in October of 1970 and have remained firm friends ever since. John is a biology teacher at the King Edward VII grammar school in Totnes. He has been there for 20+ years and has taught two generations of students. Around town he is something of a celebrity and is also know for his acting, golfing and fishing activities. Three years ago John created a biology prize for the final year students. He wanted to name it after an eminent scientist but the only biologist he knew was me! Hence every year the "Morrow Prize" for biology is awarded to the student with the best grades in the subject. I make a modest cash donation.

Anyway I arrived safely and the following day gave a lecture to the A level students on developements and career opportunities in biomedicine. This seemed to be received fairly well and I spotted only I student sound asleep on his backpack. Unfortunately the Morrow Prize recipient, an apparently very bright young man, has sloped off to Sri Lanka so he'll have to receive his cheque from the postman!

Totnes is the UK's centre for alternative culture and comments about it are even made in the Houses of Parliament. After my lecture I wandered around the town. If you want to know about crystals, after-life healing, levitation, making youghurt from Yaks' milk or knitting goat-hair sweaters, this is the place! I'm actually a sucker for this kind of thing and find it very entertaining. That evening John and I went out to a trendy bistro and dined on nice English comfort food (fish pie, yum!) drank a couple of bottles of wine and reminisced about mild misbehaviour. We could have easily been back in 1972 in the Student Union. Happy Days.


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