Off to Merry England for the next week or so to visit the village green, the thatched cottage and the country inn. For every Anglophile, England is the idyllic pastoral of happy imagination: the hard jagged geography of North America gives way to the soft rolling countryside; the predictable square city of central planners gets washed away by the organic beauty of hamlets pleasantly following the natural landscape. There is something nostalgic and sentimental about Dear Old Blighty alright, even for those of us who are not technically English.
Of course yours truly needs his castle comfort when he travels, so it’s first class on British Airways to London from Toronto and a one night check-in at the Carlton Club. The next day a switch is made to the In and Out Club (the Naval and Military Club), which is the favoured resting hole for retired naval officers longing for a return to their Neptune environment. From there, there will be sojourns to Oxford and Cambridge, there will be lunch in the Peers coffee room at Westminster with a Lord acquaintance, and some precious time in the House of Lords to visit the Throne and Chamber. On top of all this idle privilege, there will be four days in Dublin to drink in some stone pubs and a stay at Ashford Castle on the beautiful briny opposite.
There will of course be savoury dishes of British cuisine to be had, and a trip to the chip shop. Perhaps I will order some bacon and kippers, some bangars and mash or some steak and kidney pie. On the menu of choice will be some Beef Wellington, a plate of Bubble and Squeak, a dish of Toad in the Hole, and an enticing array of toothsome desserts, like the Spotted Richard or the Queen of Puddings. As for those incurable hangovers, there will always be the scrumptious full English breakfast.
Ah, springtime is good when England is your garden. As one patriot quipped the other day: the sun is shining, the bluebells are out, it’s England and it’s May. God is in his Heaven, and all’s right with the world.