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English Rendezvous – Final Chapter

Fields of barley. They were all around us as we made our way to the little civil parish of Hannington, Hampshire England. (If you have Sting’s song, Fields of Gold, I recommend turning it on right now as you read this post. You can find Sting’s version of Fields of Gold on iTunes. I also recommend this other lovely cover version by Eva Cassidy.)

You’ll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You’ll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in the fields of gold

Two days earlier we were in Bath and the Cotswolds and the previous day we spent at Oxford where we picnicked on the lawn overlooking the River Thames and watched people punting. As we wandered around the campus we walked by a group of students playing cricket—my first real-live experience watching cricket, even if just for a few minutes. “They could be there for days,” Steve explained. Apparently cricket is a long, arduous sport. Where you wear sweaters.

But the barley in Hampshire—the Fields of Gold, Sting wrote about as a love song—caused me to take it all as a sign that there was something indeed magical happening right at that moment. (Some people call it falling madly in love, I suppose.) It was the perfect way to wrap up my two weeks in England: the solo week I had in London, the wonderful days in Bath, the “I Love Yous” the grief, the joy, the perfect photo together. That’s a lot to pack into travel. You don’t get all that backstory when you see the stamp in my passport unless, well, you’ve read this blog, I suppose.

So she took her love
For to gaze awhile
Upon the fields of barley
In his arms she fell as her hair came down
Among the fields of gold

We were in Hannington because Steve Hannington is the man I was with and his family settled this part of the English county of Hampshire back before the 11th Century. I had never met anyone who hailed from a namesake town, so if Steve’s gallant nature from the previous days wasn’t enough to impress me, being a Hannington in Hannington sealed the deal for me.

Steve Hannington in Hannington, Hampshire England

Will you stay with me, will you be my love
Among the fields of barley
We’ll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we lie in the fields of gold

It didn’t take long to walk around Hannington. There is a little square in the middle of the town—more of a park—right next to the ancient All Saints’ Church. I found a post box right at the side of the lane and dropped in my postcards, though all except one, which I had intended for Jessica before I knew she had passed away. I still have that postcard and today it is pinned to my bulletin board in my home office, right above my desk.

Hannington, Hampshire England

See the west wind move like a lover so
Upon the fields of barley
Feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth
Among the fields of gold
I never made promises lightly
And there have been some that I’ve broken
But I swear in the days still left
We’ll walk in the fields of gold

This was our last day together before I flew back to the U.S. Last time I left Steve it was Scotland and I cried—no, I sobbed. But I was out of tears this trip. I spent the last two days grieving the loss of my friend, Jessica and now all I had left were dry eyes and this soundtrack of Sting’s Fields of Gold playing in my mind. We took time to have dinner at the one restaurant in Hannington—a little pub called The Vine and we had fish out on the patio as we watched a dog play on the lawn, performing for all who were dining.

Time to leave. We left Hannington and the sun was beginning to set as we made our way toward Gatwick airport where we would find accommodations one last time in England.

Fields of Gold

Barley is simple and rather plain looking when you look at it individually. But all laid out in a field it takes on a collective sense of golden-ness. As we departed, going down a narrow lane toward London, we had the fields on both sides of us. Like when I walked through those doors at immigration and customs in Scotland and felt my life about to change, driving through the Fields of Gold also felt a little baptismal. This entire journey to England was a collection of individual experiences (exploring London solo for a week, the death of a friend, saying, I Love You) that combined, had cast a golden hue on my future, which I saw in those fields.

Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
Among the fields of gold
You’ll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in the fields of gold

Fields of Gold, lyrics and music by Sting.

Find out where we meet up again.

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