I Once Met…Margot Fonteyn

I walked to the gate for my flight from Miami to London, holding the hand of my two-and-a-half year old daughter. It was late winter of 1984 and I’d been visiting my parents who’d retired and moved from New York to Miami Beach. My three-week-long welcome escape from the English chill and damp was over and it was time to fly back to my husband and home in West Sussex. (more…)

Real Spain

‘Paddy’s Irish Bar’…‘All-day English Breakfast’… ‘Guinness on tap’.

Any guesses where we are?

Downtown Dublin? Delightful Devon?

Give up?

Welcome, amigos, to the Costa Blanca, Spain! (more…)

A Heated Discussion

Whenever we near the end of British Summer Time and are plunged back into GMT, I know that the battle with my partner, Alan, over the thermostat will soon follow.

Maybe it doesn’t help that I’m American – and consequently used to houses being kept nice and warm in winter. I’ve lived in England longer than I lived in America so I really should be adjusted to the grey skies, penetrating damp and debilitating cold. Somehow even the double-glazing isn’t enough to counteract the elements. (more…)

The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

50 years ago – 22nd November 1963 to be exact – the 35th president of the United States was assassinated as he rode with his wife in an open-topped car in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. That date is indelible to every American of my vintage. We all know where we were, what we were doing and how we heard this terrible news. I was in senior year of high school in Pleasantville, New York. We were having a history lesson when students from the physics lab across the hall came charging out, screaming that President Kennedy had been shot. They’d just successfully completed their project which was to construct a radio – and as soon as they tuned it in, that was the first thing they heard. The news spread round the school like wildfire. (more…)

Hurricane British Style – memories of the Great Storm of ‘87

A candlelit supper. Romantic you say? After eight consecutive nights of it, not to mention eight early morning breakfasts of it, as well as several dark, rainy (remember, this is England!) days of it – romantic? NO!

By some bizarre quirk of fate, this basically urbanite, art-and-culture loving American married an open fields-and-bosky woods-mad Englishman, and ended up living in rural Sussex in a cosy old country cottage.

Enter: One large hurricane.

Exit: Electricity and telephone for eight long days and nights. (more…)

Leg of lamb vs Leg of Spider

Charlie and Jill, our National Trust warden and wife, became our good friends. They seemed to have an infinite knowledge of the English countryside – and even my country-bred Dave learned from them. In the spring Jill acquired three adorable little lambs which she named Daisy, Maisie and Gracie. I kept finding excuses to visit over the succeeding months as it was such a treat to watch their playful antics. One October evening when we were invited to dinner, Jill served a garlic-and-rosemary seasoned leg of lamb with all the trimmings. ‘Genuine South Downs lamb,’ she announced as she made her entrance. I looked at the sizzling platter, my stomach suddenly in knots. (more…)

Not Dead Yet – a visit to a retirement show

It was a typical Sunday morning. We’d had our breakfast, listened to the Omnibus Edition of ‘The Archers’ and were immersed in our reading of the Sunday papers when Alan interrupted with a news flash.

‘Have a look at this. There’s going to be a Retirement Show in London. The advert says there will be more than 70 stands. Do you fancy going?’ (more…)

The Holiday from Hell – something ABTA couldn’t tell me


Moules! Frites! Fromage! Vin!

A recently divorced neighbour had invited us to join him in his beloved cottage near the picturesque town of Cahors in southern France. It was July – and (surprise! surprise!) cold and wet in England – so we were really looking forward to basking in the reliable sunshine of Le Lot. It had been a trying time for Bill since his wife had left him, and as Michael and I had been particularly supportive, this holiday was his way of repaying our kindness. (more…)

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