England #1 (Arrival) 5-13

May 31, 2013

We have crossed the big water and we are now in this strange country called Great Britain. Strange indeed. They do speak English — sort of. The steering wheels on cars are on the wrong side, and if that wasn’t enough to make you nervous, they insist on driving on the bloody wrong side of the road.

It feels like we are learning a new language: Americans know about the British lorry and the bonnet but you park the car in – what else – the car park, in a restaurant you ask for the toilet, a train station is a rail station and an emergency call button is a help point, just to name a few. It all makes perfect sense.

Our home away from home is a luxury apartment over the carriage house on an estate near the small town of Godalming, Surrey, about 30.5 miles (49.1 km) southwest of London. In the United States, if something is over 100 years old, it’s historic. Godalming was founded around 600 AD, that gives “historic” a different meaning. An old friend of Monika’s is the manager of this beautiful estate. We were invited to stay as long as we needed.

The main house is a wonderfully restored English mansion situated on five acres of landscaped grounds. Facilities include a swimming pool, a tennis court, a sauna and an exercise room. Our apartment has all the comforts of a modern condo, including dishwasher, clothes washer, a full modern kitchen, high-speed internet and a big-screen TV with Netflix. The ultra modern bathroom is bigger than our camper!

The bus stop is a ten-minute walk away and the trains run frequently. Nothing is cheap. An English “pound” (GBP) is about $1.56, so a cup of coffee will set you back $3.90—no refills. If you’re homesick, a jar of Jif peanut butter is going to run $8.50 or a bag of M&Ms $10.18. (Eat them one at a time.)

When the sun comes out, we take advantage to explore the nearby Winkworth Arboretum with its lake and miles of walking trails. The famous English Bluebells create a colorful carpet in the open forest and the azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom at the moment. The latter are the largest we have ever seen in our lives. On the lake, the cute ducklings are busy learning to catch bugs and they pop out of the water like little fire crackers. People are friendly and greet one another when passing. Our short “hi” is usually replied to with a more formal “good morning” or “good afternoon”. It’s a peaceful place to be.

For security reasons, this not the home we are staying at, but very similar in style and size.

For security reasons, this is not the estate we are staying at, but very similar in style and size.

9.9 oz of almond M&Ms.  $10.18 Better eat them slowly.

9.9 oz of almond M&Ms cost $10.18 Better eat them slowly.

A pound of Jif peanut butter costs 5.45 pounds, or $8.50, so spread it thin.

A pound of Jif peanut butter costs GBP 5.45, or $8.50, so spread it thin.

English Bluebells carpeted the forest floor.

English Bluebells carpet the open forest floor.

When the park was created many years ago, these azaleas were planted.

These azaleas were planted when the park was created many years ago.

These are the largest rhododendron we have ever seen.

These are the largest rhododendron we have ever seen.

The lake is stocked and fly fishing is a popular sport.

The lake is stocked and fly fishing is a popular sport.

If you look the top of these fern you understand why they got the nickname fiddle head.

If you look at the top of these fern you understand why they got the nickname “fiddlehead”.




2 Responses to “England #1 (Arrival) 5-13”

  1. Gary & Monika,
    So glad you made a stop in England before moving on to the Continent. I was surprised when I read that you are now staying in the GODALMING area. I was born there 70 yyears ago at #10 Ormonde Road. During WW II My father was with the Canadian army stationed near there and my mother came from Nottingham. In 1944 we sailed to Canada. My folks are gone now but I have made mahy trips to England. The latest being Sept 2012, and Godalming still has a special place in my heart. I look forward to your reports on this your latest journey.

    Lorne Cooper
    Vancouver Island

  2. Hi Guys,
    Firstly, we all missed you at the Expo. Secondly, the land that gave us Shakespeare, doesn’t speak a “sort of English” 🙂

    I hope you get the chance to visit the North of England, Northumbria and Durham are wonderful places and the Lake District will be quiet at this time of year (though it does see more tourists that Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Colorado National Monument and Death Valley – combined).

    A short while ago I wrote a quick document of my favourite places in the UK, I’ll see if I can dig it out for you.

    And finally, you’ll find that it’s the right side of the road… 🙂


Leave a Comment