We refer to it as “the most fabulous trip ever”....and for very good reason.
I was just finishing up my first year at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS when my dad called and said I needed to get home as soon as I could to help pack. Help pack? Yep! We are going to England!
To back up a little, my family had been living in a century home in downtown Charlottetown for a number of years and I was flabbergasted that the property had been sold. When we purchased it, it was my dad and I that viewed the property for the first time only days before we took ownership. The two sisters who lived there had left the home and the convenience store located immediately beside the house in the exact same condition it was the day their father passed away. In essence, the store and house were an amazing glimpse into the past. The house was so beautiful; full of original moulding, hardwood floors, fireplaces in every room, a back kitchen and maid’s quarters. We all loved this house and the history that came with it. My sister ran a very popular weaving studio and craft shop in the adjoining building.
But, a new bank manager had taken over and he “called” Dad’s loan with no notice. Dad felt he had no choice but to sell and move on. When the bank called the next day to say there had been a huge mistake and to say that the loan did not have to be repaid immediately as first indicated, it was too late. The property had sold in less than 24 hours and Dad had already moved on to the next step in his life. No regrets. Just accept it and move on. My parents secret to life.
The next 6 weeks were spent on a trip of a lifetime! We rented a flat in London, got British train passes and lead a crazy, whirlwind life exploring England! My father is a huge history buff so we were regaled with detailed and fascinating stories of what came before. Once the month was up, we all piled into an RV - all 6 of us - and lived out of it for another 2 weeks as we explored some more remote areas of England, as well as Scotland. Ahhh, the fun we had!
I know we all have our favorite memories and we still laugh over some of them. Like the day Dad took us to Kew Gardens and insisted we go to the left to find the entrance. Turns out the entrance had been only 20 feet to our right and we ended up walking the entire perimeter of the gardens in order to gain entrance! The day my brother-in-law and brother were horsing around and my brother went right through a plate glass window in the flat, backside first (sustaining no injuries except to his pre-tenn pride!). Walking the ocean pier in Brighton, playing antique penny arcade games and sampling cockles and mussels, alive, alive, ho....The day my brother-in-law and I climbed the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral and clambered out onto the roof of the cathedral to the most spectacular view of London, fog and all. Buying fresh bouquets of flowers from street vendors and sugar cookies from the bakery; we dubbed the cookies chickie/duckies because no one could figure out what animal they were meant to be! Visiting the museum in York where whole London streets of the past have been painstakingly recreated. Visiting Westminster Abbey! Seeing cathedrals built on sweat and blood and sometimes even the bodies of people whose whole lives were given to these projects. Tasting TCP for the first time for a sore throat - this syrup was to become a staple in our medicine cabinet - not a wholly pleasant or unpleasant experience. Watching my brother-in-law stalk fields and fields of sheep as he tried and tried to photograph them and was continually outwitted by them.
When it was time to leave, my parents rented 2 Daimlers - yep! the same car the queen rides around in - to take us to the airport. Our arrival in Canadian customs was a nightmare for the officers as they processed 6 of us with a total of 18 pieces of luggage. We were waved through...lol....Piled into the family car, a Pacer, we drove off. With a total of $34.00 left in my parents pockets, we made our way home to what had been up until now, our summer cottage. And 36 years later, this is still where we refer to as “home” and is where my parents live a quiet, peaceful life with no regrets, but oh, so many wonderful memories.