A moment in The Crown and Cushion Hotel
Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, UK
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015
Moments - they are happening all over the world to everyone all the time. The picture above represents one I had recently. It was brief. It was magical. It was fun. Here is the back story:
I have some wonderful friends here is Victoria, BC who own an antique and second-hand furniture and collectibles shop. They are my friends. I adore them. They are kind, warm, fair people with good hearts and awesome humour. Their shop is called Charmaine's Past and Present. Check it out next time you are on Fort Street in downtown Victoria. I've had many awesome moments there - just hanging out, chatting and, yes, even occasionally buying something despite being a bit of a minimalist when it comes to possessions). Anyway, one day before I left for the UK, I stopped into Charmaine's to visit before I left the country for a month. I noticed a horse brass / bottle opener for The Crown and Cushion near the front desk and noted it to be from Oxfordshire. I mentioned to Glenn and Charmaine that I would be going through Oxfordshire at least once on my adventures and wouldn't it be fun to take this with me and bring it back to the inn from whence it had come across one country, a vast ocean, all the way across our enormous continent, with a skip across the Pacific to land on Vancouver Island! It's the kind of thing I think about ...perhaps not common or normal, but I am rarely accused of being "normal." We agreed that this was a fine idea and they kindly gave it to me and simply asked me to get a picture and let them know how it went.
I packed it in my bag and took it on a couple of aeroplane trips - back to the mainland and then back over the "pond" to the UK. Unpacking at my cousin's, I showed her the brass and told her this was a priority for me. As it turned out, we didn't have opportunity to go to Chipping Norton on our day to Oxford - one is limited by the clock in some instances - but, as it happened, my new friends, Richard and Carolyn, who I had never met before this trip, had very kindly agreed to pick me up and drive me to the Cotswolds with them on another of my adventures (to not make this post 8 miles long, I'll leave that story for another time). This meant, I realized quite happily after checking my wonderful maps.me app, that we would be passing through Chipping Norton on our way to Stow on the Wold - you have to love these place names!
I felt a bit funny asking Richard and Carolyn to stop in Chipping Norton and even a bit more peculiar trying to explain to these folks that I HAD JUST MET that I wanted to drop off this horse brass, but there is something to be said for asking for what you want / need. Anyway, this is exactly what I did and they very kindly did stop and it was AMAZING. I sauntered into the Crown and Cushion on my own while my kind transporters and new friends went to find a place to park. As it turned out, the woman at the desk (I wish I could remember her name - I think it was Mary...) is the mother of the young man who runs the place and she was absolutely gobsmacked (as they say in the old country) with my story and what I had done. I had to repeat it once for her to absorb what this Canadian hurricane of a human was saying and another time to her son who had come out of his office to meet me.They were so thrilled, so touched and so delighted that someone would take the time to do this simple thing, to make a connection across over 7,565 km, over a simple inexpensive object that has now done more travelling than most people do in their lifetimes.
A moment. Many hearts. A story. None of us know how the brass got to Victoria in the first place but now it has travelled back to where it came from however many years ago and I have met super cool people along the way and touched a heart or two by what turned out to be a simple act. The brass is likely hanging over that massive fireplace you can see in the background of the picture though they were concerned that someone might nick it and take it on another adventure.
If you are ever passing through Chipping Norton and stop at the Crown and Cushion, be sure to stop in and mention the horse brass and this story. Maybe find a way of making a contact like this on your next trip. Don't be afraid. We are all connected by moments, by stories, by our love of the magic this world holds despite the violence and the threats of terror around the globe. Laugh, love and live on in the face of it, for love will win. Love always wins.
With respect to everyone in war torn, terror-ridden nations around the world and the many moments of your lives, good and bad. Your stories are important. Write them down and share them because your love of your life will win and the pen will always be mightier than the sword. Know that there are myriad people around the globe, working for peace, for freedom, for love. Tell your stories. Send them out to the world by whatever means you can find. Let us connect through our humanity and our love for one another rather than rend ourselves to pieces in our differences.
In this moment, may we each have a little peace.
-Gillian Cornwall, c. November 15, 2015
My first view of York Minster - I hope I have captured the awe
I felt as I stood in front of this exceptionally beautiful building
Gillian Cornwall, c. October,2015