Oh England, My England

2nd August 2015

Ooops, should be ‘my Wales’. Ne’er mind eh, same island innit…..

Oh my green and weathered England,

Your welcome, cool summer comforts this heat-worn traveller.

Blackberry-tangled hedgerows profuse with berries sustain the weary

And border gentle downs of harvested wheat fields twixt leafy glades.

By chance, a glance through forested copses reveals a distant, old and grand manor

And soon, a cluster of thatched-roofed homes grown round an ancient church appears,

The graveyard’s tottering headstones declaring an age long gone.

And lo, behold the welcome low-roofed weathered inn

Within which one finds comfort and cooling sustenance.

Ohhhhh . . . forsooth, I wander lonely as a clod . . .

And yeah, behold a host of golden yokels just back from ‘the Costa’.

(Alfred ‘Lord’ Cedric)

Uncle Fred - Stoke Bruerne UK 2015

After our roasting in southern Spain and Morocco the visit to my Uncle and Aunt’s (Fred and Sue) up in Buckingham, England was a welcome relief (we even made use of our jackets) as well as being fully rewarding and entertaining. Our reluctance to visit the UK is purely on economic grounds; it is truly a beautiful country in the right season (this was) with wondrous ancient architecture in its villages and seaside towns that will warm the cockles of the most cynical heart, but . . . for someone using the dollar from down-under, it is shockingly expensive. Fred and Sue were able to show us some more of their beautiful Buckinghamshire countryside and canals, while Rachel and I managed a good day’s walk between rustic villages (Buckingham to Gawcott to Preston Bissett and return) – a mini pub crawl. ‘Twas all gawjus!

Canal Boat - Stoke Bruerne UK

Stoke Bruerne UK Canal Boats

My Uncle’s story has yet to be told. A uniquely interesting tale of struggle and survival of emigres from Gibraltar during wartime (2nd WW), he and his mother (my Grandmother) with no financial support from his deserting father or the government evaded bombs and hostile landlords in London to not only survive but to handsomely succeed through effort and ingenuity. My Uncle Fred’s story is an exemplary tale of the underdog, the forgotten, and of thriving against the odds. As always, in talking with him and his lovely wife Sue I am inspired and am better educated. Rachel, too, loves their company.

Well-fed, watered and having had hours of stimulating conversation we cantered off south on Brit’ Rail for a brief two-night visit to our friends Syd and Veronica in Eastbourne. It was, though brief, equally rewarding and in their company we took in the fantastic Victorian architecture of that seaside town and its neighbouring fishing village of Hastings – that of the historic battle of the same name, 1066 and all that. The whole region just oozes ancient historic events, and because of many still-standing buildings, inns, coach houses, houses and pubs, it is not difficult to actually get a feel for it. This is, of course, the same throughout much of the UK. Syd is a friend of mine from the 60s when we were both working in Gibraltar. Before that he was on tankers running to the Middle East and has subsequently worked in the Middle East and Barbados. We go back a long way, as do my Uncle Fred and I.

Syd & Cedric Hastings UK

Local Pub in Hastings
Local Pub in Hastings UK

Syd is a ‘Jag’ man – shown below is a local Jaguar restoration workshop
Jaguar Workshop - Buckingham UK