I spent hours agonizing over how to make this announcement – the right combination of words that would capture all of the tears and excitement and pure adulterated joy. Instead, I made this! I’m an aunty, you guys! ❤ ❤ ❤
Lex, my cool brother in law has written quite an intro to this post so I will let him have the floor! “Anyway, the story behind this is that, when we visited Belfast, we took that coach tour that ended at the giant’s causeway, and on the way there the driver told one of the old stories about how it was formed by a giant making a bridge to Scotland. The Pea decided that it wasn’t a very good story, so suggested that I should write a better one. So here it is, with very little reference to any actual Celtic/Irish mythology except for featuring a giant called Finn McCool, my version of how the Giant’s Causeway was made.”
Long ago the world was nothing more than an island, a small part of the Beginning World. The true size of the Beginning World is beyond imagination, and it is ruled by a race of proud giants. When our world was banished from the Beginning World the trees and animals, and even the people who were exiled upon the world grew smaller to match their cramped space. But the blood of the giants still flowed through their veins, and in some the legacy was stronger than in others.
The parents of Finn McCool were both blessed with an impressive stature, so it was no surprise to anyone that their first son was larger than either of his parents by the age of twelve, and by his twenty first birthday, Finn had reached the size of a true blooded giant. By this time, dimly remembering the strength and wisdom of their ancestors, the people of Finn McCool’s birthplace had already named him their king.
Finn McCool lived up to all of his people’s expectations, being a fair and noble ruler and having only one vice to speak of: he had a great love of drinking mead. Due to his great size, though, his subjects could never produce enough of it to quench his thirst. Despairing, they approached him and begged that he stopped drinking so that the beekeepers would not have to labour so hard only to send most of their honey to their thirsty king.
Finn McCool was moved by the trouble that he was causing his people, and resolved that he would take no more of their honey from them, for he knew that most of his subjects had a sweet tooth. Still, he did not wish to give up drinking the mead that he loved, and spent many days and night pondering what he could do.
One day, Finn McCool awoke from a dream of the Beginning World and was inspired. He approached one of the beekeepers and offered to buy a single queen bee from him for a very generous sum. The beekeeper quickly agreed, and selected the finest queen from among his hives to present to the king. Finn McCool took the queen bee home and released it in his own garden, having first pricked his finger with a knife and allowing the smallest drop of his own blood that he could draw fall on bee.
Several days later Finn McCool was approached by the same beekeeper from whom he had purchased the queen. The beekeper begged him to do something about the giant bees which were terrorising his own hives and ravenously draining every flower in the land of nectar, so that his own bees were beginning to starve.
Stepping out into his garden Finn McCool saw that, just as he had hoped, a beehive was taking shape of a size which had not been seen since this land had been rejected from the Beginning World. Just as the beekeeper had said, he saw that the hive was being built by bees as large as a cow, and he realised that these bees would need more nourishment than the world could currently provide for them if he were to enjoy the taste of mead again. So once more he pricked his finger, and allowed the blood of giants to fall over every plant in his garden. Then, he turned to the hive and at the top of his voice, he asked the queen to confine her workers to feed only from his flowers, in his garden, so that nobody else would be troubled by her hive.
Soon Finn McCool’s garden was overgrowing with flowers of a colour and size which could only have graced the Beginning World. He thought that the queen bee would be content with this, but still the beekeepers came to him with tales of the giant bees draining the land of nectar. Before long he was being visited by beekeepers from distant lands who had travelled across seas, begging for him to do something about the giant bees which plundered their lands, forcing their own hives to starve. So he went outside to stand before the hive, which had grown to fill much of his garden, and was beginning to push his house to one side with its weight.
“Queen of the giant bees!” Finn called out. “It is I, Finn McCool, who made you the great creature you are today. It is I who provided a splendid garden solely for you. Why do you defy my wishes and spread misery where I would have none?”
“Finn McCool, if king you be,” came the queen’s reply from within the hive “then why do you not act as one? Why do you content yourself to be king of one small island, when the whole world could bow before you? Once you have done that, if you could make the whole world yours, then why not the Beginning World as well? Then there would be giant flowers aplenty for my hive to grow yet larger. For that is my wish as your queen, and if I must show you how it is to be done, then so be it.”
Finn McCool, in his wisdom, knew that this was no way to rule as a just king, and his pride was stung by the queen’s words. But even more so he was enraged by her presumption, for he was yet to choose a queen, but knew that, when he did, it would not be a greedy insect that he acknowledged as his equal. And so, with some regret, he grabbed the whole hive, lifting it above his head, and threw it towards the blue horizon. The hive sailed far through the air, and landed in the sea with a splash that sent waves washing up on far away shores. As soon as the hive touched the cold water, the honey inside grew colder and became hard, trapping the queen inside forever.
The rest of the bees fled, hoping to find their way to the Beginning world rather than face the ire of Finn McCool.
So the petrified honeycomb remained where it was forever more, where the waves breaking against it severed to hide the sound of angry buzzing from within. And Finn McCool never drank mead again.
My family is slightly eccentric. I have two aid and development workers for parents who epitomize the indie culture. So we never spent money on branded clothes, none of us have surnames, just two names that are unique to us and that cause a lot of paperwork problems. But what makes my family so weird is the bizarre and utterly random conversations we have. I have often thought of making it a series. Maybe I will.
This is an actual conversation that happened when Lex (my brother in law) came to India to meet my parents before the big “I do” As a present (it’s part of our culture to always buy presents for everyone in the family), he had picked up a lonely planet guide to England that my dad quickly immersed himself into. He loves history and geography and just random facts that no one would ever know about – like the number of deaths by shark in a year.
Dad – Oh this is great. Thank you. Is there a map of England in it?
Lex – Yes, it’s right there in the first page.
Dad – Can you show me where you’re from?
Lex – Sure, I’m from Great Yarmouth. It’s over there, in the East Coast.
Dad – East? Is it towards the North or the South?
Lex – Erm, I’m not sure. Look for Norfolk.
Dad – Oh here. I found it.
Lex – Yeah, it’s right on the coast.
Dad – Oh yes, I see. You’re from the Middle East.
Lex – What?
Me – (hysterical but trying to be serious) England only has a North and a South. There’s no middle. It’s too small an island.
Dad – (not understanding why I was laughing) You come here and look at this map. See, this is the north. This is the south. Yarmouth is right in the middle. He’s from the Middle East.
Cue death by laughter.
I wouldn’t call myself well-travelled, much as I might wish that I could. In fact, it has only been slightly longer than a year since, after thirty spent safely within the confines of the U.K. that I made my first trip beyond its borders. The half-week spent in France was enjoyable enough, but ultimately it was still work.
The second trip, only a month later, made it seem like nothing: two weeks in India, this time to meet the family of my soon-to-be-wife (clearly the visit went well.)
A year later, with the wedding coming ever closer, what do I remember most about that time?
All of those little things which didn’t just remind me that I wasn’t in England anymore, but also quietly pointed out just how far away I was.
Not to say that the bigger things didn’t move me, of course. I still fondly remember all of the wonderful people I met and the things that I saw. I remember riding on an elephant, and the view from the top of the hill that took my breath away, home cooked food that made me weigh more when I got home than I had when I left and streets full of colour and life.
How could I forget the Buddhist temple, or the tigers that I insisted that I had to see, or the afternoon at a go-kart track beating everyone there, even though I had never sat in a go-kart before in my life.
I was even fortunate enough to step out of the cities for a few days, and see the places that most visitors to the country don’t even notice, like the villages where people live with so little, and yet are happier and more welcoming than most of the people I might pass in the street here in England, and an amazing school which does so much for the children in such places.
Every day was a completely different adventure.
On top of all of that, getting on a plane for long enough to get there was a big thing for someone who still gets a little nervous when crossing a large bridge.
But those little things were the moments that seem really special in my memory. The times that made me realise how far I had travelled just to be there, and that kept me watching everything, drinking in every detail of every little revelation.
Moments like looking up into a sky a clearer shade of blue than any I had seen before and watching hawks circling on wide wings overhead, when I am much more accustomed to seeing flocks of pigeons in grey skies. Or stepping outside with nothing on my feet to find that the ground isn’t cold.
Or, the time that I looked at the clock on the wall only to be greeted with what had just crept out from behind it…
Now, in England a tiny spider on a wall is a not an unusual sight, but a lizard? While it’s true that there are wild lizards in this country, I’ve never seen one. And that’s not without having tried to spot one.
But how did my hosts respond when noticing my confusion at the guest so boldly sharing the room?
“What? It’s just a lizard on the wall. Oh, but don’t touch it, or it will urinate on you and give you a rash.”
I will never, ever forget how far from home I felt at that moment. Or how much I enjoyed the sensation.
You already know Lex from my rants about the li’l Pea. And as you’ve guessed, that’s not his real name (Which is unfortunate because it would go SO well with his badass Secret Service type look. Every where we went, when he came to visit, people would stop and ask if someone famous was around). Matthew loves video games, my sister and otters and a way with words that I’ve always envied.