The Same, Yet Different


The summer of 1997 was the last time I visited England. It was the first time for my two daughters. They agreed with me how much it was like America, yet different, a foreign country. The fact that we generally understood what people said to us, and they understood us, was, I’m sure, a big factor in how familiar it seemed.

Certain words are different over there, as anyone who has watched any BBC shows will recall. Lift, boot, flat, arse, and fringe. Fringe means bangs, and I have read some near violent opposition to our word, bangs. Possibly because it sounds violent. Crash! Thwack! Bangs!

The Avon River in Bath.

When we left London I rented a car. They drive on the left side of the road, opposite from us, and their driver’s seat is on the right front, also opposite from us. One gets used to it rather quickly. Fear of crashes and all that. So one daughter sat to my left and called out whenever I got too close to the left side, where curbs and parked cars lurked. The other daughter sat in the back and navigated. The daughter to my left quickly learned I didn’t need a sentence saying I was a little too close and perhaps I needed to… So it was soon,  ‘Close.’ or ‘Close!’

They must love round-abouts over there, because they have so many. Traffic circles. Navigator daughter (and they took turns because sitting next to mother wasn’t always fun) had to decide which turn I needed to take. One day I really did go around and around the circle until it was decided exactly which ‘kind of to the left’ exit we needed to take. To us, some of them they really did look as though they indicated, go kind of this way or maybe kind of that way.

We stayed a few days in Trowbridge so we could make day trips. I was never, ever, able to quickly find the exit I needed to return there each day. Unless they were humoring me, both daughters agreed it was very weird that each day we should have so much trouble finding our way home to our B&B. But we were near Stonehenge and Avebury and the B&B was wonderful.

One of the proprietors always inquired, “And where has Mother driven today?” when we returned. I think by then he realized I wasn’t satisfied with one half inch of Grande Marnier in my glass when I plopped down after finally getting back. I got the bottle. I believe we amazed him by all the places we attempted to visit. Certainly amused him. Tintagel was the farthest I’d driven in one day, but oh so worth the miles.

Avebury is huge. They say the ditch was dug out with antlers.

The standing stones are huge.

One day we passed a large sign that said, “Cats Eyes Removed For Free”. There was a silent, collective, W.T…..? in the car. We knew it couldn’t mean they removed eyes from cats. Or could it? Was there some trouble with their cats that their eyes needed to be removed? Some disease? We’d seen the affection the people over there had for their pets, taking their dogs with them on their day trips, water bowls always included. We puzzled about cat eye removal all day. That night, after a good laugh, the proprietor explained that cat’s eyes were those round yellow, reflective, metal things on the road. They sometimes got stuck in tires. Which was another thing to worry about.


Obviously, visiting such ancient places had my writer’s mind whirling with new ideas, and making adjustments to old ones. As I mentioned in a previous post, I Know What I Know, I happen to know more than my ancestors knew, mainly because I went to school, our knowledge of the physical world has expanded, and I read. So it makes me more determined that I get it right when I write about times past. Their world view, beliefs and customs. They were different. They were also the same as us.

Which will lead to another post on that subject.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to The Same, Yet Different

  1. Judy says:

    Those pictures are absolutely beautiful and the lingo is …fun

  2. What a fabulous trip, Gerri! Thanks so much for sharing the sights and “sounds” with us!

  3. angelyn says:

    I adore Corfe Castle. Its stone construction and high foundation is so unlike most of the early Norman fortifications in England. Thank you for that wonderful photo, Gerri!

    • Gerri Bowen says:

      You’re welcome, Angelyn. The brochure I received, and still have, showed the earlier and later lines of the curtain walls and buildings. It was a site that had a definite effect on me, especially walking up to the entrance. I took so many pictures, and didn’t want to leave. Another place I want to return and explore for more than a day.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Angelyn.

  4. atsnider says:

    What a beautiful post Gerri!

    I love the UK, almost as much as Scotland. I definitely get to go there more often because that is where all of my mother’s family are. In Yorkshire England.

    Boy were you BRAVE to drive over there! I’ve never had the courage to try. Since my dad does all the driving anyway, I really never had too. Did you encounter any of the kamikaze pheasants that just wait along the motorways to jump out in front of you the minute you drive up? Oh, they are fun too!!

    Too funny about the Cat’s eye removal!! LOL

    Sounds and looks like you have a wonderful time!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Gerri Bowen says:

      Thank you, Andrea! Looking back, yeah I was brave to drive. I don’t think I’d do it again. On our last trip, which was to Ireland, I did encounter sheep and cows that liked to stand in the road and pretend no one was there except other sheep and cows.
      We did have a wonderful time. I want to go back.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Andrea.

  5. Love the pictures. I’ve only been to London (so no driving was necessary), but we did visit Ireland when I was fifteen. Again, no driving for me, but my mom had a time of it, so your story made me laugh.

    • Gerri Bowen says:

      Thank you, Ally. I could spend all my time in London, just visiting the museums. I wouldn’t though, because there is still so much more to see and revisit, so I’d take trains to wherever I wanted to visit.
      Driving in Ireland was also a challenge. Animals, backing down one lane mountain roads. Okay, maybe not a mountain, but it was high, the road steep and I had to back down.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Ally.

  6. Guida says:

    That must have been one fantastic trip. It looks like you guys had fun and how wonderful of you to take your daughters to see such abeautiful country. Thank you for sharing your experience and for the pictures. Lot’s of humor : )

    • Gerri Bowen says:

      It has been a few years since my daughters and I have had a road trip. Grandchildren. But it was fun for me to take them so they could see, and we all had a great time.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Guida.

  7. What a wonderful adventure to share with your daughters. A priceless memory that they’ll relate to THEIR grandchildren some day. Thanks for sharing your trip, Gerri!

  8. You are a braver woman than I, driving on the left hand side of the road. Yipes! All the same, it sounds like a totally wonderful trip and the pictures are great. Tintagel must be something to see. Even the name enchants me!

    • Gerri Bowen says:

      I was also younger, Miriam! On my next trip, I will gladly let someone else do the driving.
      Tintagel was better than I expected it to be. The ruins of the castle, the view, seeing ‘Merlin’s Cave’…wonderful.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Miriam.

  9. Love the blog post, Gerri! And the pics are superb! Appreciate your sharing the trip with us. Can’t wait to go to Scotland. Planning to visit the Hebrides where some of my clan hails from before hitting the Highlands.

    I’m looking forward to future posts from you!

    • Gerri Bowen says:

      Thank you, Runere. The land is so beautiful, you can’t help but get a beautiful picture. I’m hoping to get to Scotland one day. Some of my family came from there as well, near Perth.
      Have a wonderful time when you go, and thank you for taking the time to comment, Runere!

  10. Cera duBois says:

    Beautiful photos!!! Sounds like you had a lot of fun!

  11. Gerri, thank you for sharing the visual tour. It was absolutely fabulous!!!

  12. Vladimir says:

    England is so green and beautiful /when it is not raining, of course 🙂 /
    Great photos and tour.

    • Gerri Bowen says:

      Yes it is. The many shades of green I saw was a surprise to me. The rain! We took our raincoats everywhere, but the rain never lasted too long.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Vladimir.

  13. I’ve been to England and loved it!! I have to make a mental note to visit the places you went to, they seem magical. When I first saw them I thought it was Ireland. Great pictures!

  14. Gerri Bowen says:

    Thank you, Hildie! It was a magical place. So many shades of the color green. We also went to Ireland and that too was magical for us.
    Thank you for taking the time to comment, Hildie. I hope you get back there soon!

  15. Sounds like a fun trip. I’d love to see England – language and driving habits aside. thanks for sharing your trip with us.

  16. Gerri Bowen says:

    Thank you, Louise, it was fun. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  17. LOL – I confuse my editors with my NZ/British speak all the time. That part of England is really pretty.

  18. erinsromance says:

    Gerri, I loved your blog. As a writer of historical romance centered partly in Britannia and partly in Éire (5th C AD), I too long to track over the marvelous places I write about, etching them into my tactile senses as well as my memory. I would probably have gathered up a few of those “cat’s eyes” as souvenirs!

    • Gerri Bowen says:

      Thank you, Erin. I wish I had the time and money to travel all over England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. It really is different. Thank you for taking the time to stop and comment.

  19. I think this is the most beautiful blog sites I’ve ever visited. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s