England 40 Years Ago — July 28, 1980

We are about to go out to McDonald’s! John treated us to Wimpy burgers last night, and it cost over $10!! That hurts. [It’s a matter of perspective. In 2007 I’d be thrilled to feed fast food to five people for only $10, and in 2020 I’d faint at the low price.]

I wrote before about some of the things we were glad to see when our possessions arrived from the States. Only one set of things seemed to be missing for two days – the hooks that hold up the crib mattress! John carefully wired it up so that $ could sleep in it, since he’d been falling through the holes in the play pen netting. I gingerly set $ in the crib that night, and before I could turn around, half the wires gave way. He had been standing, and after it fell, $ was still standing. That baby has some cool composure! Never cried, just stood there on the floor looking puzzled.

I let down both sides of the crib, pushed the one high end next to the wall, and had an instant cage for him to sleep in. We just left the mattress on the floor. Two days later we found the hooks with Christmas decorations. Where else? Actually, the moving men had labeled it so that we should have seen it, but we missed it in all the hassle.

We’re getting used to the shopping here. After we park and struggle with the ticket system, we drag along two or three shopping bags to the stores. The supermarket is the one where the pressure runs highest to get your things bagged. The check-out girl removes the things from the hand-held basket we lug about the store, punches out the prices, and expects you to have everything neatly bagged when she asks for the money. As soon as you get your change, you are expected to quickly whisk off with your purchases. I can almost hear them swear under their breaths, “Americans!” when I bumble.

The greengrocer in Redhill is marvelous. The ladies there pick out produce for you and add up the total as they go – all math being done in their heads!

Could someone in NY please look in your cupboard and see if you have Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix please? That’s the Herb Stuffing Mix I want. Could you jot down the ingredients for me? I have a recipe I want to use that calls for that, but of course, you can’t get it here. I think I can make a reasonable substitute if I know what they use. Thanks.

Yesterday we went to church in Westerham and on to Chartwell, Churchill’s home. We really enjoyed that. [This was the first time we went sight-seeing after moving to Reigate. We learned that it was better to see only one attraction per day, if possible. We had cultural overload at the end of the day.]

Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s home

We also went to Hever Castle. Entrance fees here means just that – they let you in, but give you no free info! We bought a book about Chartwell, but just bumbled through the castle. We’re not sure whose it was or who lives in it now. [Bumbling idiots! We are now very aware of the famous people who lived in Hever Castle. Let’s wait to see if I write about our enlightenment in a future letter.] I was impressed with all the armor, and John with the high polish on the ornately carved wood. The grounds were beautiful with fancy-cut hedges and flowers.

Hever Castle

17 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — July 28, 1980

  1. Now that you have the Internet at your fingertips, do you find yourself researching the homes as you re-live your memories? BTW, I’m very impressed with $ balancing skills. A mountain main from the start.

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  2. So interesting! Don’t you find as you reread and post these, that you’re reliving it too? That’s the fun of writing memoir. When I wrote my memoir I really enjoyed it – well, most of it! …It was like living it all over again. 😀

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  3. So many differences in culture and the shopping experience – wow. The names like greengrocer are fun, but I see the experience was very trying on your nerves when you were not just there as a tourist or a visitor, but trying to get grocery shopping done as there are so many other things you have to get accomplished as well as acclimated to. P.S. – Hope you got the answer to your Pepperidge Farm Stuffing. Today, you’d just pop onto Amazon. 🙂

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    1. I’m sure someone gave me a list of ingredients for the stuffing mix. John wondered why I wanted it. He reasoned it was not for our traditional Christmas dinner, but I don’t remember what recipes called for stuffing mix. It was good I had weeks to learn how to do things before the girls went to school. Getting everyone fed and ready to go in the morning would have been difficult.

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  4. Love your account of the Brit experience. Been there, done that, and have thoroughly enjoyed our time there. My paternal side hails from the countryside East of Manchester. Awaiting this Covid thing to go away so we can once again do the European thing. It will most likely be Ireland once again. Hi John, enjoy your e-mail!

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