Over the weekend, we squeezed out the last dregs of our trip to Great Britain. Instead of staying at an American hotel by the Manchester airport on Saturday, we went British and bedded down at the Brewley, doing what we could to extend our English experience.
How nice to have tea service in our room, and a most delicious dinner, not at all what we were expecting from a chain hotel. We supped on plaice, a fish that’s a lot like sole, and turkey with Yorkshire pudding and gravy. Outside, children turned cartwheels in grassy areas around the patio while grownups conversed over golden ales and white wine, enjoying the last moments of a day that was blazingly hot by British standards.
Over dinner, we reminisced about our trip, all the scenery, fun experiences and the food we so enjoyed. The Brits really know how to prepare mutton and fish of all kinds.
On my morning walks in Wales, I felt apologetic for eating lamb and could imagine the cute babies bleating, “She wolfed down Liam last night,” to their sympathetic mamas. The Brits’ soup of choice is cream of anything, cauliflower and Stilton, for example, and other offerings sure to clog the arteries. We didn’t see a single broth-based soup on any menu.
Prior to this trip we didn’t know about Victoria sponge cake, but now we’re cake-smart, realizing it’s not to be missed, airy, light layers lathered with strawberry and clotted cream and frosted with swirls of icing.
And did I mention ice cream? In a seaside location in Devon, only a small village, we counted eight ice cream parlors, several offering cones that held two scoops — right up my alley.
The next time we host our English cousins, we’ll know what to fix for them, big burgers and juicy steaks. Lots of places offered British burgers throughout the U.K., but we didn’t partake after Spark tried roast beef once that was as tough as Old Nick. I have no idea who Old Nick is but I’ve heard about him, or it, for years, another English expression I’m going to have to research.
We heard plenty of those, like “It takes a big wedge to live in Salcombe,” a gorgeous location on the coast of Devon that we fell in love with. This statement came from Colin, who along with his wife Jenny own and operate the Tavistock Railway Station, where Spark and I stayed the last week of our trip.
“A big wedge” in this case was 700,000 pounds, the price Colin said it would cost to buy harbor-side Salcombe digs, over a million buckaroos. Our American expression, a “chunk of change,” about sums it up.
Great Britain was both sweet and bittersweet. Like other memorable events in my life, when I’ve wanted to remember and savor every minute, I tried to remind myself to stay in the moment, to think about time, so the future wouldn’t come too quickly and we’d have to pack it up and fly home.
There were so many highlights, staying in our cousins’ country hotel and meeting relatives we’d only heard about, hiking the Pembrokeshire Coast in South Wales, visiting Brixam, a working-class fishing village where we ate scallops pulled straight from the sea and celebrating a very quiet and meaningful Fourth of July in Plymouth on the Mayflower Steps, the very spot the Pilgrims sailed from in 1620.
Amidst all the wonderful times, home did beckon — we missed our family, and without any phone service, only email, it wasn’t as easy to stay in touch. Parker, our youngest granddaughter, age 3, couldn’t understand where Mee Mee and PaPa had gone. “Tell them to come to my house,” she said.
And so we will this week because we’re back in Missouri, a bit foggy in the head due to the time change, but ready for the marvelous and the mundane of daily life. All good things must come to an end, they say, but I’m already thinking about a trip back to the U.K.
I’ve come home with seven pounds that’s burning a hole in my pocket. Blimey, mates, I can’t let that go to waste.