A Chat with a Sojourner
Marcia Hecker of St. Louis, MO joined us for The Great Castles of Britain in October of 2015. We contacted Marcia recently and she was kind enough to share her thoughts about the tour with us.
What was the most memorable experience on the tour?
My most vivid memory is standing atop the wall walk at Harlech: The sun was bright, the wind was blowing off the water, I could see almost far enough to note the curvature of the earth—and we were terrifyingly high off the ground. It occurred to me that the conflicting sensations of strength and fear were probably close to what the original inhabitants felt when they stood in that spot.
How did you find the lodging/accommodations?
Some of the lodgings were luxuriously comfortable, some of them were quirky and interesting, and some of them were both! I found the staff members at every hotel impeccably courteous and helpful.
Did you enjoy the signature picnic?
Yes, Indeed! John and Samantha did a wonderful job with the provisions, and having the whole group sitting on blankets in the sunshine gave us a chance to have fun and be silly.
Did you enjoy traveling with a small group?
The group was a perfect size–not so big that you felt like an invading force wherever the bus decanted you, but big enough that there was plenty of people to get to know.
Did you find traveling with a tour leader useful?
Paul Remfry was to the tour as wine is to a meal—he elevated the experience from mundane to something really special. It was fabulous, to me, to be able to ask (and have answered) any question that occurred to me, and the historical anecdotes and stories of his own experiences in the study of castles and their history were in turn, spellbinding, illuminating, and funny. (A word to the wise: Don’t ever go into battle with Paul.)
How has this tour inspired your life once you returned home?
It’s really fun to read books and think, “I’ve been there!” So I’ve been reading a lot of medieval history and historical fiction. But more importantly, I’ve been trying to keep the memories of the trip fresh in my head, and hang on to the sense of wonder and discovery I experienced while on the tour. I heard someone say that the trip made her feel like a new person, energized and refreshed. But for me, I think the trip gave me back my old self—reintroduced me to the person I am without the demands, responsibilities, and pressures of daily life. I’m going to try to be as enthusiastic, curious, and playful now as I was when I was a youngster. And I’m going to try to take another Scholarly Sojourns tour in the near future.