Cause for Celebration

My stay in England is at an end, but I’ll always remember the stories. One in particular has stayed with me.

The last two nights in the land of tea and crumpets were spent at a lovely little hotel just a few minutes away from Gatwick International Airport. From my hotel it was a ten minute walk into the quaint town of Horley where one night I enjoyed a meal, shopped at the local Boots pharmacy, then stopped in at a pub where I purchased an excellent cider.

The weather that evening was lovely, so I took the cider outside and sat by myself at a picnic table, enjoying the music and watching people. One picnic table was filled with a fun loving group. They waved me over and I thought, “why not?”

When I introduced myself, they knew instantly I was an American and asked about a jillion questions which I answered as well as I could. They were still confused as to how Donald Trump was ever elected president and I apologized on behalf of our country.

This group was full of good cheer, but I couldn’t help but think there was something else going on.

“So, what are y’all celebrating,” I asked.

The beautiful woman seated across from me didn’t mince words. “Cancer,” she said, brushing a strand of blond hair from her face.

“Oh?” I asked.

“Yeah. I’ve got it. Incurable.” She shrugged.

Her friends sobered.

“We just found out today,” the woman next to me said.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

The pretty woman smiled. “Don’t be. I’m not going to be sorry for meself. I’ve signed up for a trial. Help others, you know.”

We all drank a toast to her. She laughed and said something bawdy and everyone laughed with her. And I said a prayer for her. That she’d be comfortable when the time came.

I walked away that evening feeling the weight of her disease and the wonder of her acceptance. Truly beautiful.

Cheer, people.

The Traveler’s Dilemma

Today I’m leaving England. I really don’t want to go, but at the same time, I can’t wait to be home. I miss my husband and my cat. My bed. My shower. My water aerobics class, too.

I’ll miss the people I’ve encountered here, though, like the Canadian couple I dined with two nights ago at this cozy little hotel in Horley, near Gatwick airport. They’d come to England on a teacher exchange program many years ago and come back for a visit. They once met Princess Diana’s mum in the basement at Harrod’s department store.

Then there was the elderly gentleman who regaled all the guests in the hotel’s common room last night with stories of his adventures. He’s heading to Vermont today to see his great grandchildren who he’s not seen since the start of the pandemic. I didn’t ask his age, but I’m guessing he’s in his eighties. Lovely man—the son of an American soldier who, after returning to the states, never acknowledged his English son.

And most of all, I’ll miss my friends, Shirley and Mike, and their son, George. The trio had me in stitches most of the time I was here—either from laughter or exercise, and sometimes both at the same time. They’d take me and sweet Rosie the wonder dog, on long marches through the countryside. I’d huff and puff while Rosie frolicked, running hellbent for leather hither and yon across fields and through the woods.

They introduced me to crumpets for breakfast, then fed me beautiful meals every evening to restore any weight I might’ve dropped during the long walks. I’m afraid to step on the scales when I’m back home.

Okay, I need to finish packing so I can catch a plane. But first, one final crumpet please.

Peace, people!

County Kent

I’m currently visiting friends in Dover, England. They’ve taken me all over county Kent: Folkestone. Deal, Sandwich, and the county’s seat of government, Canterbury. If my WordPress account would allow it, I’d share photos, but I’ve done something to piss off the powers that be, so I will just have to give you my impressions.

Every experience has been incredible. I’ve seen homes and buildings so ancient that it blows my mind. Established in 1559? Yep. And these can be found sitting adjacent to modern structures that might fit into any city in the world.

I walked into the Canterbury Free Library. This venerable edifice appeared to be straight out of a fairy tale. Yet inside was a state of the art library. Fascinating. The marriage of the old to the new works nicely here.

My friends have spoiled me rotten. They’ve fed me like royalty and treated me like family. On Wednesday, I’ll leave County Kent for a couple of days in London, but County Kent has my heart.

Peace, people!

At Least I Speak the Language

In a very few days, I’m heading off on a grand adventure. Alone. To a foreign country. My emotions right now run the gamut from pure excitement to abject terror.

Mostly excitement, though. You see, I’m going to England to hang out with a couple of dear friends I’ve never actually met. Via FaceTime, the three of us have assured one another that we’re not axe murderers, and honestly, I’m positive they aren’t.

We’re keeping our plans fluid because I know how annoying I can be and they might want me gone after day one. I can also be charming, though, and in that case, they might want me to stay forever. In either event, I’ve booked a few days at a hotel in London and a return trip because at some point Studly Doright is going to miss me.

I leave on Tuesday and would love some good travel vibes—luggage that makes the trip with me, smooth flights, pleasant seat mates, on time arrivals, etc. Oh, just for the record, I’m leaving my axe at home.

Peace, people!

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