Been spending time with Nigel Slater. A Valentine gift from my dear husband. Impossible to read Notes from the Larder without being transported back to another time and place. I was in a graduate program at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford a lifetime ago, but the images remain sharp and true.
As Emily Dickinson famously said, ( and I learned to avoid teaching to Middle School boys) “There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away.”
I can still see and hear and taste:
Mrs. Brown’s boarding house down Warwick Lane.
Pitcher of hot milk on the table for “white coffee.”
The rack with its soldier-like row of toast.
“Egg and bacon” “Ring you up before 9.”
Holding one’s fork in the left hand and knife in the right.
Mandatory afternoon tea.
Even better, “Cream Tea,” with lovely clotted cream and jam.
Reading on a blanket on the bank of the Avon.
And yes, there were swans.
Seeing play after play at the Shakespeare Theatre that looked strangely like a shoe factory.
The membership at the club with its comfortably shabby leather chairs.
American students “studied.” Our European friends “read.”
Could that be why they knew so much more than we did?
Poetry geeks with kindred souls.
Heady with the feeling of belonging. We weren’t tourists after all.
We directed people to Anne Hathaway’s cottage on our way to class.
I remember shandy and pasties at the pub.
The rolling hills of the Midlands and the sheep.
And the way my eyes filled with tears when it was time to leave.