Our hosts were themselves leaving for a couple of weeks in warmer, sunnier climes and so it was time for us to head to the London headquarters of the rest of our visit. But first, a last look at Lyme Regis and the Cobb. This picturesque harbor with its double-hulled sailboats and ammonite street lamps was featured in Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion; in the film and novel, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, by local writer John Fowles, and is the inspiration for many of John Ombler’s paintings. Just across the English Channel, the Captain pointed out, was France. Can you see it, just over the horizon? That morning it was blustery and cold so I wasn’t tempted to swim for it.
What visit to England would be complete without fish and chips by the seaside? We got some for “takeaway” (translation: “to go”). These were not wimpy mystery fish fillets but big moist planks of fresh cod in beer batter, with more chips (translation: French fries) than we could eat. An accompaniment that was offered, and which also appears as a side dish on many menus is peas. Not cole slaw — peas. Mushy peas to be exact. This dish is made of green peas that were allowed to mature and dry in the field, then soaked and simmered. Kind of a lumpy green pea soup.
Then it was on to Axminster where we caught the high-speed train to London. We sat in a clean, quiet car and watched the mainly-pastoral scenery (lots of sheep!) go by. A very relaxing way to travel.
When we arrived in London, we debated taking the Tube (translation “the subway”) to our final destination but settled on a cab, so I got to experience another British icon. London cabs are nearly all made by the London Cab Company and so they’re all the same shape — a little like foreshortened Chevy HHRs with higher profiles — although not all of them are black. For the price of a ride, we got not only transportation but also a tour (past Buckingham Palace with its gilded gates) and commentary (US and British politics). Our cabbie had made a trip to Texas and shared his experience at the Alamo.
We got settled at our motel in Hammersmith, a urban center were there are lots of Underground and bus connections and then scouted around for someplace to eat. We ended up having a wonderful meal at a tiny Italian restaurant that appeared to be staffed by a single, very busy gentleman. Then it was back to the motel where we warmed some Lyme Bay mulled cider in the microwave and finally called it a night.
Tomorrow: the Romans were here