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Feversham Lodge, © Feversham Lodge, York, England

June 21 – The Longest Day of the Year
Feversham Lodge, York

On our original itinerary we had planned on walking into York after checking in at our bed and breakfast, grabbing a bite at a pub, and then touring the Minster. I had requested the single room during our stay at Feversham Lodge, knowing that I was bound to be in zombie mode by the time we arrived and I definitely am.

A quick check-in, the ritual signing of the guest book, and a very kind proprietor called Nick who hauls the heaviest of our bags up to our rooms at the tiptop of the Victorian manse, but I am in such a trance that, at first, my surroundings barely register.

Feversham was converted from a 19th century Methodist Manse to a guest house. The mosaic tile entry way, stained glass front door panels and Italian marble fireplace are just a taste of what is to come. I take a good look around the lovely room to which I've been shown. The double bed is draped from the ceiling with netting, the duvet is fluffy, flowered and feminine. I feel like visiting royalty. Robin kindly steps into the shower and goes over the instructions on how to operate it, asking if I have any questions. She then leaves to settle into her room. I hope, but doubt, that a quick shower will help me catch a second wind. (Oh ye of little faith.)

I pull the cord to engage the hot water heater, flick a switch to adjust the pressure, turn knobs to adjust the temperature, strip out of my travel worn clothes, open the shower door ... and am greeted by monster spider – a sizable house spider who is apparently none too pleased to be subjected to an impromptu baptismal ceremony.

(I later identified this spider in a British Wildlife book I purchased in Melrose. "A large, hairy, long legged spider," the entry reads, "often found in and around houses. Can look rather intimidating when trapped in the bath or scurrying across the floor." No kidding!)

Second wind caught, adrenaline pumping, I am suddenly awake – very awake. Of course, I have to share this discovery of indigenous British wildlife with someone, so I hurriedly dress. I tap lightly on Robin's door, crook a finger and say "C'mere". She follows me back to my room, without question. I ease open the shower door and present my find: "Look".

They say that a picture's worth a thousand words, and it would take me nearly that many to try to describe the look on her face. It's priceless. This spider is huge, compared to typical American house spiders, and very, very active. "I can't believe I was in there!" she whispers as we giggle together like schoolgirls. Then, "Let's go get Dana".

Dana pays homage to the spider with oaths of her own device as Robin heads down the stairs for Nick, who kindly removes the offensive arachnid from the premises with a newspaper and bowl. "It's just a little spider." He shakes his head in amusement as he leaves the room. Easy for him to say!

Braveheart lives. I undress again and step into the shower long enough to wash the funk of 3000 air miles from me. I do, however, keep a very close watch on the drain, from which I suspect the spider had made its way into my presence. Quickly dressing again, I take my first look out of my window. I can see the spire of York Minster from my aerie. I can also see that it's beginning to rain again.

I grab my rain jacket and umbrella, knock on Robin and Dana's door, and give them the five second weather update as we thump down the three flights of stairs. As we walk out the front door, the rain stops. I stow my umbrella in my mutant purse from hell.

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