Continued from this post.
An interesting fact is that my grandmother had the same pen pal in England since they were young girls, writing to one another for almost sixty years.
Once we picked up our luggage at the airport, we headed for a tram that would take us to the train station so we could go and visit her dear friend. Somehow, I left one of my bags on the tram, but my grandmother hopped back on, grabbed my bag, and hopped back off in record time, just as the doors were closing. It was impressive. Needless to say, I learned a very valuable lesson when I was nearly separated from my suitcase.
The train ride south was beautiful. The train had a buffet car where I ordered hot chocolate. We sat and watched the English countryside pass by. Then, we hopped on a ferry to take us to the island. Our dear friends picked us up from the dock and drove us to their beautiful, historic, three-story home at the foot of a castle. Here I am, a ten-year-old girl who has just left Texas for the first time, and I am suddenly staying in this amazing cottage and staring up at a castle. It was unreal.
They took me up to my room, where they had left a bowl of “sweets” for me to enjoy. At that point, the jet lag had taken its toll, and I was out. That was some of the best sleep I’d ever had.
While on the island, we visited the beaches. I played British games and collected shells. We climbed up the hill to the castle and played on the castle walls. There was a little stream–a fjord–down the road where I would lay on the footbridge above and try to catch the little minnows.
We had picnics in their gardens, amidst the fragrant flowers. The postman would come in for a cup of tea while on his bicycle delivery route.
I loved having afternoon tea, mostly because of the cookies.
The way of life was so much slower. It was a magical land of flowers, seashells, streams, and castles.
The food was very, very different. When served a white sauce for my salad, as a young child from Texas, I’m going to assume it’s Ranch dressing. No, it was mayonnaise. I ate it all to be polite, but that is a salad I will never forget. I loved the small, buttered potatoes from the garden. Then there was spam. Back in those days, I still ate meat, and I thought it was funny-tasting ham. After the fact, I learned about spam.
Everything in the house was smaller. The doorways, the rooms. There were no closets, only wardrobes.
When it was time for my grandmother and me to head back up to London for the remainder of our trip, both of the women cried. I had never seen my grandmother cry. But, an only child, it was almost like she was leaving her sister.
To be continued…