I just got back from a trip to England, and let me tell you, I enjoyed every minute of it! Exploring the many lovely formal gardens, smelling the wild heather as I hiked along hillside trails that overlooked lush farming valleys, winding my way on slippery stone paths alongside waterfalls. England was wonderful!
My traveling companions were a teacher and her architect husband from Minnesota. All along the way she made comparisons between what she was seeing and the landscape from her growing up days in Iowa, flat and bleak by the tropical English cottage garden standards. She was enraptured by the beautiful flowers and bushes in various private gardens. Thankfully these are open to the public at certain times of the year and we took in as many as possible.
Early one Sunday morning we took a small back road to the tiny village of Piddinghoe, intent on observing the Lewes Sheepdog Society trials. These were being held on a grassy meadow in the Sussex Downs. Finding the place was a challenge with only a couple of hand-painted board signs to guide us. But watching the dogs in action herding sheep at the whistled commands of their trainers was well worth the half-hour drive on a narrow grassy lane up a steep ridge.
Mind you, not every part of our trip was pleasant. Not used to the damp English climate, we were chilled to the bone in “economy class” English hotels, with their tiny rooms and “shared bath” somewhere down the hall. Beware of letting some US travel agent book you into budget beds in Britain! But after several miserable lodgings, we splurged and stayed at one luxury hotel in London with a super view overlooking the Thames. Talk about posh; this place would rank with the Waldorf-Astoria!
I travelled with this couple on half a dozen trips actually. The wife said she’d always longed to go by boat, but toured a huge liner at the dock in New York one day and decided that no, romance of sea travel notwithstanding, she never would stand the long trip over the ocean. So we experienced the hustle and bustle of Heathrow every time.
The most exciting part is that my travels cost me only $1; my hosts paid for all the rest. Can you believe it: $1 bought me all this adventure! Since this is the season to count our blessings, let’s give thanks for those writers who, through their vivid word pictures, can take us along with them in their travels, make us shiver in their chilly accommodations and rhapsodize with them at the floral displays. And also that their writings can be found at the Used Book Sale for only $1
Christine Goodnough, October 2010
The book is My Love Affair with England – A Traveler’s Memoir
© 1992 by Susan Allen Toth, Published by Ballantine Books
Reblogged from Christine’s Collection