OUR TRIP TO ENGLAND


| January/February 1969



Threshing with the hand power

Courtesy of George Shepherd, Museum Curator, Western Development Museum, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Doing it the hard way. Threshing with the hand power groundhog at Museum.

George Shepherd

Museum Curator Western Development Museum Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

This is a brief summary of the four weeks Irene and I spent in England. We got back to Saskatoon May 23rd. We made the return flight by jet leaving the vast London airport at 1:00 p.m., and arrived at Saskatoon at 9:00 that same evening, going through seven time zones. It was four thousand miles in one day. It took me longer than that to ride the fifty miles from our ranch on Battle Creek to Maple by horseback a few years ago. It's a far cry from driving oxen in the homestead days. We are sold on flying by air.

We made our headquarters with our son Gordon, and his wife Marian, who were in England on a Sabbatical Year. This made about half the trip. We also stayed with my cousin Horace and his wife Winnifred. That made about the other half of the trip. Between the two of them we got to places the average tourist would never see. Gordon's boys and our niece Barbara who was in England with them just love their English Schools.

Gordon and his family were at Guildford and Horace at Canterbury in Kent county, known as the Garden of England, and the country is lovely. The people are wonderful too. There is no spirit of defeat in England. The spirit that carried them through the blitz is still there, and London, Canterbury, Guildford and Ramsgate give the impression of busy bustling times. I kept sending back little stories of our trip to our local Saskatoon daily and they printed most of them. I also did a 25 minute tape for the British Broadcasting Corporation in their enormous building and they sent me a cheque for ten guineas. That worked out at $26.60. Then, of course, there's the prestige! Since returning I have received several letters speaking very nicely about my two talks. Gordon and Marian head it and said I appeared very relaxed. And why not?

Although I knew about pounds, shillings and pence I never really got used to the currency. I simply paid what was asked and let it go at that. The weather was quite cold. They said it was the coldest May in 30 years. There was quite a bit of rain too. Fortunately I had some good heavy Saskatchewan clothing with me and wore the same clothes I wear in January in Saskatoon and wore a sweater under my suit coat most of the time. Meanwhile those English school kids, both boys and girls, were running around bare kneed and in light jackets. No wonder the English are a tough race brought up that way. And the mini girls seemed to thrive on cool weather. The girls' dresses were about two inches shorter than in Saskatoon. Its open season for girl watchers in England, land of the free and home of the brave, and engaging mini mini girls.

The roads around Canterbury and Guildford are narrow and winding and they post very few signs. When you do see a curve sign you can be sure that is it a right angle turn. The pedestrians seem to have very few rights. As a consequence they make their own rules and dash madly across the streets against the red lights and in the middle of blocks. Pedestrians are in two classes -the quick and the dead. If you are not quick you stand a good chance of being very dead. Kent is just full of old stone churches, many of them 500 or a thousand years old, or more. You feel a sense of awe gazing at the reclining figures of knights and saints, who made history and have been buried for hundreds of years. There is some talk of removing many of the illegible, leaning, and moss covered headstones and replacing them with brass plates and sowing the graves to roses. I much doubt if they will do it. We got to Fordwich where Gordon photographed me in the town stocks by the side of the 500 year old town hall. The heavy log got jammed and Gordon had to unlace his Dad's shoes and take them off before I could get out or I might be there yet! There was a Ducking Chair there by means of which disorderly women and shrewish wives could be slung out on a crane and ducked in the River Stour. Irene declined the honor but during Queen Elizabeth's Coronation festivities the vicar's daughter offered to be ducked and was nearly drowned before they got her out! The English are not a soft race.