England 40 Years Ago — February 23, 1982, Part 2

We found the town of Delft with no problem, but would have missed the porcelain factory without Lisa’s sharp eyes. Most prices on the items for sale were not visible as we walked through the showrooms. There were pictures showing how the greenware was made, and two live artists in the middle of a room painting the blue designs by hand. Actually, the paint appears black and turns blue after firing. The artists did have a rough charcoal-looking pattern on the plates and a finished plate propped in front of them to which they constantly referred. After seeing that, we understood why each piece is so expensive. A guidebook explained the trademark – a pot with a line over it, a stylized letter “f” and the word “Delft” are on all the authentic pieces.

We had been along lonely stretches at noon and couldn’t find a cafe. At some teeny weeny town we ducked in a tiny grocery. There were as many fresh fruits as in Co-op and a cheese section as big as the old Cheese Shed in Stony Brook. I’d wager we were the first Americans ever to set foot inside there; the three people were as helpful as could be without knowing much English at all.

We had our picnic in the car in a deserted parking lot beside a school, out for vacation. We never saw another person in the whole town.

Several places we saw young trees where you’d not expect trees – on a narrow street with hardly any pavement (English for sidewalk) and outside that school where we ate our lunch. The trees were being trained to be flat! Their branches were tied to flat triangular frames, and their trunks trussed up with wrappings. I presume they wouldn’t look so bereft with a few leaves on them.

Kate with a flat tree

$ is good at putting on his own coat if it is laid on the floor facing the right direction. He thinks he knows how to do it all by himself, so usually gets it right half the time. The other times his hood covers his bum (English for that part of the anatomy which is used for sitting). In the car he put on his coat and played with Lisa’s swim gear. The picture he made with his coat upside down was so cute, but with the addition of a girl’s plain white swim cap worn slightly askew on the head, the effect was side-splitting. [I don’t have a photo of the side-splitter, but the one here shows $ hanging on the steering wheel with his coat upside down.]

We noticed that parents often hold a hand of their child or a handlebar of their bike as they roll along. John claims it’s to hold the mother up! Special bike lanes are everywhere, city and country alike. Hardly five minutes could go by without having a bike in sight.

We saw two Dutch ladies coming from a supermarket dressed in a national costume. They had voluminous black skirts, a small print apron, colourful shawls, and white lace caps. Their caps fit close to the head, though we understand in the area of Volendam and Marken caps have gull-like wings. The ladies we saw also had a hair-do to go with their dress, a big roll of hair atop their faces. We wondered how they kept it up; it looked as if there was a giant sausage roller inside. [I was trying to take the picture where they could not see me.]

We were tired and hungry by the time we arrived in Ghent, so we were thankful to get a hotel room in our favorite chain. It was the last room available and had one drawback – no curtain over the hugest picture window I’ve ever seen in a hotel. We were just careful to dress in the bathroom and scurried around in darkness like mice.

We heard the cock crow before dawn, thanks to $. He was tired of bed and climbed out. Kate and I took him to the lovely playground full of wooden equipment not far from our room, before 7:00 am! He loved the slide with a house at the top and had no trouble figuring out what to do. I was hoping the funny frozen things I could barely see were clods of grass instead of what I feared. As it became brighter, we found that it was just grass. Whew! We were certainly ready for a warm breakfast after our predawn romp.

Dutch houses that I liked:

We pushed on to Calais, got an earlier boat than we’d booked, and got home at the time we should have been boarding on the other side.

After some signs I saw today, I’m simply not going to worry about all my spelling mistakes. Somewhere in the world there must be someone spelling words like I do. The sign pointing to the capital of France said, “Parijs.” Truly! We saw it several times in Belgium.

22 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — February 23, 1982, Part 2

  1. All new places and information, though of course I have heard of Delft china. I got an apron with the designs on them at the airport, and still use it. I love the coat hood on the bum–maybe it provided a little extra cushion, while also leave your vision unencumbered. Creative!


  2. That’s funny with $ – well his bum will be warm with the hood of his coat. 🙂 So that’s how they make the Delft pottery. I did not know that – that’s quite a process, so now I know why it is so expensive to buy.


  3. Oh my goodness – what an enjoyable post. I have been looking out for it so it was so fun coming across it in my email notifications.
    I loved seeing the domestic architecture, the coat and hood upside down, (what a cutie) and the ladies in their national costume. That must have been a thrill. One I can’t say I saw!


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