Our next destination was Portsmouth with Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory. We toured the shipand discussed afterwards, that we needed a plan to reconnect if we got separated, which we had done around Dorset. Somehow, we didn’t do it——and when we left Portsmouth, we DID get separated.
We stopped off at Arundel Castle, another BIG house! Then we journeyed on to Brighton, with no sign of the other three. We stayed overnight here and toured the Brighton Palace, that Victorian meringue of Asian fantasies. Interestingly, our car had Bob’s suitcase and my suitcase was in the other car.
The next day we thought that maybe if Burt waited out on the highway he could catch the other car and we could be together again. Although he waited for about three hours, he never did see their car.
While Burt was waiting on the highway, Jeanne and I went into the very grand Grand Hotel to have tea. It was early in the day so nobody was in the large bar area. Jeanne asked the maitre’d if we could have tea, and he nodded yes, and gestured for us to go in. We seated ourselves in the first area (we were alone) and didn’t see any wait staff. Thinking we were in the wrong area of the large bar, Jeanne decided to ask the maitre’d if we should sit in another area, and he said, “Fine!” We still waited some more and still no wait service. Now Jeanne thought it would be nice to sit by the window, but not being sure of getting
wait service, she again went to ask the maitre’d if it would be OK to sit by the window. An exasperated maitre’d waved his arms and said, “It doesn’t matter, Madame!!!” punctuating each word with elaborate gestures of his arms.
When Burt returned from the highway with no luck spotting our friends we pressed on. In Eastbourne we saw Brits playing boules on a beautiful lawn; further along we came to the place where during the Battle of Dunkirk in France, the British, and other Allied forces were evacuated during World War II. Every boat available was pressed into service to cross the channel and save the soldiers. 338,000 men escaped aboard 861 boats.
And soon we were in Canterbury. This city, was founded around 200 AD by the Romans, later became the capital of the Saxon kingdom of Kent. When St. Augustine came to England in 597 AD, his base of operations was here. After Thomas Becket was killed here, it became the most important pilgrimage center in northern Europe. This inspired Geoffrey Chaucer to write his “Canterbury Tales,” which I remember reading in Freshman English in school. It is still a town with many students.
The Canterbury Cathedral is spectacular edifice with every nook and cranny boasting some historic story. One suchis the place where Thomas Becket was killed, and is the most sacred place in the cathedral, with its perpetually burning candle.
We decided to finish our tour at Canterbury and head back to London. We assumed that our compatriots would again stay at the Muralyn (that was our plan) and so we telephoned the Muralyn from Canterbury, asking if our party had returned. They said they had not! Well, we figured they must be doing the same thing as we were thinking to do, so we left Canterbury, heading back to London.
Arriving back in London, our party WAS there, and the receptionist at the hotel that we talked to wasn’t aware of that. Well, all’s well that end’s well. We soon learned about their adventures—-given Wolfie’s interest in little trains, they had taken the 11-mile Kent and East Sussex Railway train from Tenterden to Bodiam village, which is very near Hastings. They had also dealt with not having Bob’s suitcase and stopped to pick up toiletries for him. They had stayed near Rye at two B&Bs as there wasn’t enough room in one, and when Gisela and Wolfie came to pick up Bob the next morning, he was having such a good time over breakfast with the children of the family that it was hard to tear him away!
The next morning Gisela and Wolfie left by car for Berlin, and we took a London cab to the airport to go home.
Now we’re home, thinking about what an action-packed 10 days that was! One could spend years in England visiting all of the historic spots.