June 27th, 8:30 a.m.
I came down to the empty Anchor dining room to sun flooding one table, so that’s where I sat.
• Anchor full English Breakfast egg, bacon, sausage, fried bread, tomato, mushrooms and baked beans.
• Lowestoft smoked haddock with poached egg
• Scrambled egg on homemade brown toast
• Local kippers
• Choice of fresh fruit, Suffolk pressed apple juice, organic orange juice, cereals and muesli
• Selection of teas and fresh ground coffee
• Anchor made white and brown toast. With homemade jams, honeys and marmalades
I chose Lowestoft smoked haddock with poached egg and added in fried tomatoes and mushrooms.
It was divine!
The Daily Telegraph handy, I picked up the morning copy to see what English newspaper writing was like while I ate. Here’s a sampling:
Professor Raphael Loewe, who died on May 27 aged 92, was an influential scholar of Jewish studies and a poet, as well as a translator of medieval Hebrew verse.
“The ghost of Ibn Gabirol over my shoulder as I wrote!” Professor Raphael Loewe said.
Twenty thousand pounds to train as teacher…The brightest students will be handed 20 thousand pounds to train as teachers under Government plans to improve state education standards.
Middle class families are being priced out of traveling by train.
Ahem…English priorities a little more civilized, perhaps?
In my aloneness, I looked about me. Six English children were huddled over a book smiling and communing excitedly over pictures of some sort. It was hard to see the book from my spot, but I enjoyed the chirpy POLITE TONES to their voices.
A little later, I went over to their table and asked, “What do you like about this book? What’s it called? They chimed in, “Top Gear, Where’s Stig?” Then one girl immediately took up the leadership. “It’s all about finding Stig. See here,” she said pointing to a cartoon page of funny looking robot-like people, thousands all busy doing something relating to current events. She looked very hard at all the faces and figures, but couldn’t find him. “One of the other children said, “He’s the one who’s different.” So we all looked like mad with no luck. So another kid said, “Turn to page 28. We know how to find him in that one!” So we all looked again. And there he was hiding behind other robots on a balcony…the little bugger!
I returned to my table. I suddenly or maybe not so suddenly felt quite old…more of an observer than a doer. But, I remember when we gadded about all day on our bicycles to Major Bug’s stables, to the village green, down to the ferry, across the marsh to Southwold and back to the beach where we jumped cement blocks, out to the old windmill. It was our village back then. Now it was everybody’s village. I sighed. The kids had put away Stig. Five of them were now eating sausages, but one was eating fish. They all had chips.
No family members live in the Walberswick village anymore, so I had booked a room at the largest of the local pubs called The Anchor.
Rodney deposited me in the gravel driveway of the pub on this partially sunny Sunday in June where some sort of “tapas” was going on to the left side of the entrance; smoke emanating from grilling meats with freshly made salads already laid out on a welcome table. It looked and smelled very good, but I wanted to get settled in my room.
And what a room…a light filled room on the top floor of the pub overlooking the Anchor’s garden with the North Sea in the distance.
After setting in, which meant putting down my suitcase and immediately taking iPad photos before I messed the room up, I walked up the village street to see what I could see. Oh dear, it is the same, But SO NOT THE SAME. Once a remote retreat, it now bustles on a Sunday in June with lots of walkers, bicyclists, and zippy expensive cars; school is not out yet. Walberswick has become positively trendy and moneyed! But still with a lovely away-from-the-city to the quaint English seaside/country village feel. Adrian Tierney Jones writing for The Daily Telegraph said, “The village is so pretty it hurts: roses around the doors, a pristine village green, waves gently lapping against the beach.”
Up the village street, I did not stop long to look at our old cottage; all of its simplicity in architecture has been altered to do something modernized and rather ghastly. Its old world 500 year-old unique charm GONE!
Suddenly, I was hungry and thirsty.
Back at The Anchor, I found a table on their back patio and ordered a pint of lager and fish soup with rouille and croutons. I was alone. Everybody I could see was with somebody. I sipped my pint a, dipped into the delicious soup and was somewhat revived.
I’ve been working on the first draft of a little book. My mornings have been devoted to that, so no blogging.
OVER THE ATLANTIC OCEAN TO CHASE GHOSTS turned out to be England, France, and Norway. So I thought I’d begin with a few “ghost” scenarios from England.
Traveling by train from London towards the village Walberswick in Suffolk, East Anglia–where we used to own a cottage–familiar stops greeted me differently than I remembered them because nothing seemed as lush somehow. The vista seemed more flat, although after Ipswich the sun came out to at least brighten up some views of the shore with sailboats and millions of yellow flowers laid out in the fields. After Saxmundham trees appeared that looked like giant bushes with their tall round tops. As I watched from my seeming rolling seat, they started to sway in the wind. Ah, a breezy, partially sunny day in the English countryside in June.
Rodney Fosdike, whose service as a taxi driver I found on the Blyth website, was nowhere to be seen as I alighted from the train at Halesworth Station. I trundled my suitcase bumpily down the cobblestone street to a pay phone, but couldn’t figure out how to make it work. Two oldish English ladies with large patterned flowered dresses came down the street. I asked, trying to sound friendly like the English, “Do you have a mobile with you? One said, “I do, but I haven’t used it before, so I don’t know if I can make it work.” She carefully pressed in Rodney Fosdike’s number from my piece of paper and handed me the phone. It rang and rang but, alas, there was only voice mail so I left a plaintive message and paid the lady a pound. She gave me change and said, “It doesn’t matter that there is an extra sixpence over.”
Now what to do? I turned round and headed back up the little street towards the station and just then down the road came a teency weency car. I hoped and hoped, turned my head round and kind of peered through my sunglasses to see if perhaps there was only one person in the car. And there was! And it was him! 20 minutes late! Whew!
My cousin Dorothy recently sent me a photo of a pastel painting by our cousin Annie Heller. It shows the back of what was once our family cottage—Thorpe View—in Walberswick, Suffolk, UK.
The painting made Dorothy cry. The painting made me cry. It is so lyrical and emotional in its rendition of a beloved dwelling. The pigs lived right next door over the stone wall. On rainy days, the smell of pig manure would permeate the air. We got used to it. Thought of it as part of the aromatic atmosphere. Okay, maybe we lit out on our bicycles on “those” days, farther away from the pigs, to catch tadpoles in the marshes. We took in a different earthy smell, one with squishy grass—lots of it—and if the sun chose to come out, that grass would light up, a bright Kelly green.
At Thorpe View, when the weather called for it, which it often did, there would be a constant coal fire burning in the fireplace. When you looked out the living room windows, you could see who was coming and going in the village, there being only one main street. I liked to be in that room and hear the horses clop by, and glance out to see who was on top.
At Thorpe View there was a long rectangular wooden table in the living room where we ate meals and played games. It had all sorts of little nicks and notches in it, which gave it character. I liked to feel the grooves with the tips of my fingers, imagining how they got there.
When you went out the door of the cottage, you would find yourself exactly in the place my cousin Annie painted.
Here is her pastel painting of Thorpe View: