This whole trip started with Rob’s desire to travel around England with his Dad, seeing where Grandpa had grown up (apart from his years in India), gathering family stories, meeting as-yet-unmet family.
Moving on from being a mere dream, it became a mission: “Singapore to London and beyond…overland all the way” meaning the goal was no longer simply England, but more specifically London…and we’re not going to make it there until we have almost circumnavigated the whole island, taking in Wales and Scotland as well (and touching on some of my family history too as we do so). We also knew that we would go further but had no idea *where* hence the “and beyond”, which we now know to include (hopefully) France, Italy, Poland, Romania and Turkey (and maybe Spain or Slovenia, and Austria and probably somewhere else in transit, which is another way of saying we have more of an idea now, but no definite plans yet).
But all that aside, today we crossed the millpond-still channel from Oostende
(where we heard the tail end of the most magnificent organ recital I have ever heard; the music pulsed through your whole being, leaving you standing, almost trembling, in absolute awe)
….and are now in the long-awaited England. It will take some adjusting to.
Driving on the left is familiar, but at the same time, not quite right. Us drivers should not be sitting next to the curb, you know! And for some reason it feels wrong to turn left around a roundabout.
It’ll take some getting used to hearing English….coz they speak it so funny <wink> Actually a German couple pulled into the carpark tonight and came over to speak with us. It was not until the conversation was over that it occurred to me why she had explained away her speaking German….we are in England. We should have been expecting to hear English!! But in reality, German sounded not-unusual. (And when Grandpa went to the service station to change some paper money into coins, the obviously-attentive-to-number-plates attendant broke out in German. These number plates are branding us, and will continue to do so – plenty of people will speak German to us in days to come!)
It will take no adjusting to seeing signs in English though. It’s so refreshing to be understanding absolutely all of them. Now I just need to switch my brain off and give it a linguistic rest. No need to think, “That would be geschlossen in Germany or geslotten in Holland – and Belgium for that matter.” There are no Ausfahrts or Uits, not a bruecke or brugge in sight, just exits and bridges. The PECTOPAHs from Russia have been replaced with pubs and inns.
All over the world, every journey has been different.
Here as we pass through rows of brick houses with peaked-roofed-wooden-entranceways standing to attention behind grassed front gardens, Grandpa, who has not been back for half a century, comments, “It’s just how I remember. BUT these old towns aren’t unlike the lovely old towns we’ve been travelling through this past month. They are exactly how they were when I was growing up, but I didn’t think of them as old towns then! They were just how it was.”
The rows of Ramsgate give way to countryside curves. No more long straight roads of Central Europe. We wind our way – around corners, up hills and down the other side. Tall trees stretch out across the lanes creating green leafy tunnels. Hedges enclose both gardens and farmland. We had thought we were in fairytale country in Germany, but oh my goodness, Canterbury-country is no less so. Whitewashed shuttered thatched cottages hug the road, red geraniums spilling out of window-boxes. A tudor style house still holds itself up next door. We pass a pub, an inn, farmhouses, a village green with its Sunday afternoon cricket match in progress, more of the impossibly delightful character-filled homes poking out of cottage gardens, and eventually the square dominance of Canterbury cathedral itself. It’s hard to draw the line between fact and fiction. No wonder Chaucer managed a tale or two.
(sorry, no cute photos of the trip - we were too busy concentrating on driving and trying to stay on the
right left side of the narrow lanes, but this is where we ended up for the night)
Time on the road: need to check Jboy13′s record!
Distance covered: 156km
Tags: book, housing, language, postcard: England, transport