Leaving Cherbourg, France, we drove onto the ferry last. I'm told it's a five hour trip. I don't know, I took a nap.
We exited the ferry first at Portsmouth, England. It's true, if everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane. "Left, drive left," my sister yelled as we clumsily emerged into traffic. Disoriented, I drove right through the middle of the first roundabout. Flat bricks in a circle didn't mean a thing. Fortunately the locals stopped.
Getting the hang of it, we made our way along the coast. The map says there is a place called "Land's End," but we didn't go that far. At home, "Land's End" is a clothing catalog.
Near Dorchester we found a thatched roof B&B. After stating our given names our hosts asked our family name. Being of mutt heritage, half Swedish and a mix of English and German, we haven't placed a lot of emphasis on our "family name," but the English do. It determines where a person can and can't go. We paused, thought, and said Grandpa's innocent name, " Williamson." Wrong! They were the rowdy border folk (between Scotland and England), always making trouble. (We wouldn't be "doing" the living room.)
Shocking! Our sweet, gentle, always ready to rescue us, Grandpa wasn't rowdy. He was fun, tricky, asking Grandma at every meal if she wanted milk. She hadn't drank it since childhood. At the table he swiped bread and jam from his neighbor, and felt disappointed if no one swiped his. His favorite trick was squeezing the cake in our hand, but rowdy he wasn't.
In spite of our "low birth," they invited us to stay, and made sure we always had a tea tray and water in our room. Our host served a breakfast of cereal, coffee, toast, jam and honey, and his wife graciously allowed us to do laundry. We did our best to stay mild-mannered, polite, and quiet in their home.
At the local pub we ate fish and chips and laughed with two English couples. They said, "You're a bit rowdy." Either there's no escaping our heritage, or they'd already heard about our "family name," maybe even thought it was a joke. Whatever, we're still proud of our Grandpa Williamson.
copyright 2005 Red Convertible Travel Series