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Category Archives: Travel Writing

Show me the money

Perhaps a country shows its true colors through its bank notes. In 1928, the US Treasury Department reviewed the portraits on bank notes and concluded that “portraits of Presidents of the United States have a more permanent familiarity in the minds of the public than any others.” Exceptions were made for Alexander Hamilton, Salmon Chase, […]

Cheeky rascals at Holy Trinity

It seemed to all be going on at Church of the Holy Trinity in Stratford-upon-Avon. Perhaps its most famous going-on is that it is where Anne and William Shakespeare are buried. I paid a “Concession” (old-age) price of one pound to get up to the front of the church with the tourist crowd to see […]

To be or not to be Anne

Anne Hathaway’s cottage lies amid gardens and fields of roses, rushes, lavender, and delphiniums, in Shottery, about a mile outside Stratford-upon-Avon’s city center. Lovely willow trellises line the walks of the cottage (actually a rather substantial farmhouse), covered with all manner of winding tendrils of vine and vegetable. And a fine tearoom across the street […]

A tale of seaside resorts

Americans may be surprised to know that England has quite a few seaside resorts. “I thought they went to Spain for that,” an American might say. But England has its Dover, Brighton, Bournemouth, Weymouth, Portsmouth, Plymouth, and Cornish beaches. All with sun, salt spray, waves, sunrises and sunsets, piers and jetties, gulls, and seaside stuff […]

Bathed in memories in Bath

I was first in the old Roman spa town of Bath, England, in 1983, with a husband and a small boy in my arms. That little boy is now married, about to become a father, has just graduated from law school, and his father and I are divorced. Nothing is guaranteed, nothing stays the same, […]

Rejected suitors take to roaming as naturally as unhived bees

“Rejected suitors take to roaming as naturally as unhived bees.” It’s a phrase from English poet and novelist Thomas Hardy (1840-1938) and refers to Diggory Venn, perhaps my favorite of the Hardy characters. If the hive is Wessex (Hardy’s partly real, partly fictionalized Dorset county in south central England) and Venn the bee, then he […]

There once was an ichthyosaurus

I was a small girl in California when I’d first heard of the ichthyosaurs. My mother had read me Isabel Frances Bellous’s poem “The Ichthyosaurus.” There once was an ichthyosaurus, Who lived when the earth was all porous, Be he fainted with shame When he first heard his name, And departed a long time before […]

Dressing–among other things–the English “chip”

I seem to have English “chips” (French fries) most every day. I’ve tried to be on a one-chip-a-day diet, but resistance is often quite futile. In England, American French fries are called “chips,” and American potato chips are called “crisps.” Both are from potatoes, of course, but somewhere and somehow the words got turned around. […]

Going to Guernsey

The bestselling literary phenom, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, was set here. Read by perhaps every book club in the United States—including mine in Salt Lake City–this book (by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows) is set during the occupation of the island by Nazi soldiers starting in 1940. Various monuments along Guernsey’s […]

And I’ll have the Spotted Dick. With custard, please.

Spotted dick is a traditional British pudding made from mutton fat mixed with other ingredients, such as baking soda, flour, molasses, corn syrup, or nutmeg. You add raisins or dry fruit to this dough and you have “spots.” The dish is steamed or boiled and served with a custard sauce. Like Scottish haggis, Spotted Dick […]