I have read English literature, or had it read to me, since before I could talk. I've always been somehow fascinated and charmed with English place names mentioned in books. They always made me feel that I'd like to visit them. Names like Surrey, Devonshire, Kingston, Doncaster, Spudlington on Cam (OK I made up that last one, but it sounds like a lot of real places!) I've been fortunate to travel to many European places, and although I came close a couple of time I never actually made it to "Merry Olde". (An overnight at Heathrow does NOT count!)
A month ago I finally did make it. There wasn't time to visit many places, but since my return, I realize that my life has changed. The other day I was re-reading Agatha Christie's "The Mysterious Affair at Styles". The setting is in the county of Essex. BING!!! Ooh, now I've been there! Call me an old idiot, but that just felt good. But wait, as the adverts say, there's more.
Last night I pulled out at random Jerome K. Jerome's "Three Men On The Bummel", which I had read only once, ages ago. And right in the first chapter, what do I encounter?
"...the yacht was lying off Harwich." BING!!! I've now played music there! And the fish & chips were to die for. And a bit further on:
"We had some tea and watercress at Dovercourt..." BING!!! I've been to a couple of very pleasant small dinner parties there, at which I had a dram or two of Scotch that Harris himself would have approved of. And a bit further yet:
"We passed another day in Harwich, and that night and the next, the wind still continuing in the south, we slept at the 'King’s Head'."
That particular inn is no more, but I saw the house on Market Street where it once was. It's a private residence now... but then everything in old Harwich that isn't a pub now either used to be a pub or a brothel (according to reliable local sources). And there is still a King's Head Street - down which I have now walked. BING!!! Sorry, but you must endure one more:
"We put in that night at Aldborough..."
The spelling of the name has changed since Jerome's day, but no matter. I had an amazing tour of the Britten-Pears estate, led by the head of the new archive, and with my shanty-mates I knocked back a pint of excellent bitter at a genuine English "Ye Olde" pub by the sea.
BING!!! yet again. And it feels so good!
Where have you visited that you first read about in a book? Leave a comment!