A few days in the British countryside
Dear friends and family,
First of all, the Christopher Robin ditty "They're Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace" is by A.A. Milne, of course. Not sure what I was thinking and too lazy to look it up. My friend Mary Day has very gently corrected me.
We got to Waterloo Station very early. Train to Axminster. Instructions from Joy at our B&B was that we should get off the train at Axminster and take a bus to the Hunter's Lodge Inn, and she was just down the road. We decided not to drive this trip, giving Don a chance to relax and not worry about driving on the "wrong side of the road." Reached Axminster, unknown territory -- I love that. Hopped on the bus. The bus driver had to pick the change out of Don's hand as we are still very slow with the British coins.
"Hunters Lodge!" We got off and looked around. Nothing that looked remotely like a B&B, and the lodge was closed. Thank God for cell phones and sim cards. Joy said down the road in the direction of the bus. Unfortunately, it was a very narrow road with a fair amount of traffic, going at almost freeway speeds. No sidewalks. So Don and I ran down the road, pulling our luggage and thankfully all drivers veered around us.
Warmly welcomed by Joy, who once worked in the House of Commons, "in the thick of things." Brisk, friendly and organized, she runs a beautiful B&B "Hedgehog Corner" and tries to be as green as she can. We were shown to our beautiful room which unfortunately did not have a very good internet connection.
Full English, Lyme Regis, serve yourself beans on the side.
Full English, Salisbury. Those are the ubiquitous beans; think "pork and beans."
Up early for a "Full English Breakfast," which consists of bacon or rashers (more like thin slices of our ham, or what we might know as Canadian bacon), sausage, a sunny side up egg, beans, a fried half of a tomato, mushrooms, and toast. It is invariable and everywhere. Nobody seems to know when this came into vogue. One older woman (a bit older than us) said it wasn't so when she was young. They called it a fry up and everything would go into the fryer. Got into a discussion about the breakfast and then other British dishes, especially ones with funny names:
a banger (a sausage) - Just saw a Michael Caine movie (he's just returned to England, after being more or less under house arrest in Russia) where he says, "God, it's been so long since I've had a banger. I've really missed my bangers."
bubble and squeak (cabbage and potatoes fried, sometimes with bacon)
spotted dick (a cake roll with raisins)
toad in a hole (batter with sausage in it or Yorkshire pudding)
cuppa (a cup of tea)
salad cream (salad dressing)
This conversation has continued with various other British people. Just today a woman told us she thought "banger" came from during the war when they would mix more bread with the sausage (than they do at present) and it would explode in the oven. Don queried, "And does Bubble and Squeak bubble and squeak in the oven?" The guide who was with us (in Salisbury Cathedral) said Bubble and Squeak would bubble and squeak when cooking. Don quipped or was it that perhaps we bubble and squeak after we eat it? Yes, probably so, said the guide, laughing.
Took a bus to Lyme Regis less than 10 minutes away. Bitterly cold on the beach, but quite magical.
A viewing platform from another era, a Jane Austen setting. Multi-colored changing rooms added at a later time. Gardens up above.
As stated previously, Lyme Regis is on the Jurassic Coast and is famous for its fossils, which are supposedly found everywhere down past those distant houses. We decided it was just too cold to venture down there.
Lyme Regis is also the setting for The French Lieutenant's Woman, which must have been one of Meryl Streep's first movies, and which I barely remember. It's also where my friend Mary Day tells me "stubborn Louisa fell off the Cobb and broke her ankle, in the great moment of Persuasion" by Jane Austen. The Cobb is a long curved sort of pier which stretches into the ocean. It is famous, but not that scenic. You can see the beginnings of it in the upper lefthand corner of the above photo.
Had to vacate the beach for a warmer walk inland. Walked by a young fishmonger who was cleaning lovely fresh fish. We asked him if there were any restaurants in town who purchased from him and he said Hix, up the road. It was up a steep road and next to some lovely gardens. Made a reservation and then took a great walk along the Coastal Path, which is a walking trail which seems to traverse the entire perimeter of England and Wales. We have begun to develop a great appreciation for the British system of walking trails, which seem to be everywhere, and so well-posted. On our hour or so walk down the Coastal Path and back, we passed a number of different connecting paths, all posted and giving directions to other walking paths. They seem to criss-cross the island.
The locals seem to easily identify with hobbits. We saw an area called The Shire, a boat named Bilbo Baggins, a family named Underhill. Here is a magic garage, which looks as if it comes from Middle Earth.
And here is a hobbit, seen retreating, a rare sight indeed.
And the Road goes ever on and on...
Era and Don