Today I was thinking of England, and of travelling. I am wondering if I will ever be able to visit England again.
I like England and I like the English people I’ve met. I am thinking of English creature comforts to enjoy in my physical distancing and each time I travel to England, I find another comforting thing that I would love to have in Canada.
Like many English-speaking people, even before I travelled to England, I knew it from books. I knew the countryside and its characters from The Wind in the Willows. I knew London from Charles Dickens’ books and Sherlock Holmes. The Once and Future King showed me the resilience of the English people and taught me the Arthurian Legends. You cannot possibly know England without knowing its once and future King.
If I get back to England again, I will go to the Tower of London. I go to the Tower almost every time I visit London. I know the Ravens are still there because I checked on Tuesday. I took my daughter and my husband to the Tower the first time they went to London. I’ve been to the Tower so often, I could give that tour. I could point to where Ann Boleyn was beheaded and where the two Princes were held imprisoned.
My daughter lived in England briefly, in Cambridge. I loved visiting her there, winding through the busy streets and dodging bicycles. It was then that I began to learn about the foods that my English friends consider everyday comfort foods.
Today I wondered: Will I ever have Thornton’s Treacle Toffee, Whittard’s Chelsea Breakfast Tea, Sainsbury’s granola or Marks and Spencers’ biscuits again? Will I ever go to Foyle’ s bookstore? Or the National Trust? Or Kew Gardens?
How much will travel change because of COVID-19?
I know most people believe that this time will pass, but will we ever consider travel in the way we did one month ago? As much as I love England, I would not want to be stranded there.
The English products that I love are ordinary grocery items and there are perfectly good substitutes for them in Canada – and I can probably even get the actual products on Amazon, but it’s not the same.
I think I’ll go and satisfy my English longing with London: The Novel. Or maybe I’ll watch Midsomer Murders. This longing will pass.
(These are the last 2 bottles of my favourite Tesco handwash and workwear laundry detergent. They cost 2 pounds and 99 pence respectively. I remember I was once reviewing my English shopping list with my daughter and she shook her head saying, “Mom, only you could be going to England to shop at Tesco and Sainsbury’s.”)