Sitting here trying to write this column jet-lagged and sleep deprived. I just got back from England on the 10:45 p.m. ferry, drove through the night and got home in good old Port Alberni at 2:30 a.m.
Reg (Les’s father) lived in England and was one week shy of 101 years old when he passed on, leaving a dirty, messy house and even messier English red tape. Two weeks was my limited stay in Yorkshire because we left the house, dog, and cat in Lil’s care and I have an operation in Nanaimo (yuck) to look forward to. Les, however, has to stay there for three to four months for the will and probate.
England is a magical place of witches, elves, goblins and fairies; no, I didn’t see any. They seem to emanate from the very ground that I walked on though.
The scenery is magnificent: lone stone houses on windswept moors, miles of green fields with natural stone walls, narrow roads that are more used to having horse and carriage. Made me wonder, where are the 52 million people hiding?
We rented a small Vauxhall car (cost us 400 pounds or $800 in our money for the two weeks) so that we could make trips to the local garbage dump and do some grocery shopping. It was a bit difficult getting used to driving on the left side of the road.
There were a few narrow escapes when I was driving where Les would say “ No, no stay on the left”.
England is very expensive, not a country to be poor in, especially since every time that I spent one English pound I was spending two Canadian dollars. Gasoline is one pound and 8 pence per litre or $2.16 per litre in Canadian funds.
I found it very easy to forget the $2 = 1 pound rule when I was in the stores shopping around. The Pound Store is a wonderful place to shop, they have everything for the house that one would want for a pound; it makes our Loonie stores look like a corner shop.
One day we had breakfast at the British Home Store (BHS) where you could get four items for one pound 99 ($4.00) so I had two pieces of bacon, one fried egg, one serving of beans, I also ordered two pieces of toast for an extra 30 pence. The coffee is dispensed through a coffee machine.
Knowing that the English like to have more milk than coffee in their cups, I pressed the button for black coffee, the machine dispensed hot water until the cup was 7/8ths full then some very black coffee filled the cup to the top. I sat down and tasted the coffee….uchhh, it tasted like sewage sludge.
I brought it back and ordered a very milky latte instead.
Once again forgetting that the pound is worth two dollars I ordered some cigars at the duty-free shop at Heathrow. The clerk said “would you like to pay in Canadian dollars”?
Since I was paying with Visa, I said yes. What a shock when I found that the package of five Havana 39£ cigars cost $78 in Canadian funds.
Any questions? E-mail me at email@example.com or see me online at www.silverstonephotos.com.
Norman Silverstone teaches photography through North Island College and Eldercollege in Port Alberni.