It’s Five O’clock in England

I didn’t grow up with a yearning to travel. My sister Bec was different. From the time she was a teenager, she knew she wanted to experience life outside of our town of 10,000 or so citizens. Not me. I was content to be at home.

Having said that, I think that I have had one of the richest travel lives an ordinary, middle-class person could have. I have been to 46 of our 50 United States (though it’s true that a couple I mostly drove through, perhaps stopping at the Phillips 66 to use the ladies’ room). The exceptions are Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, and Ohio. How did I ever miss North Dakota? I could practically walk there from Nebraska.

I’ve also traveled in most of western Europe, and have dipped a toe into Mexico and Canada. We hit most of our European country visits during our three-month adventure back in 2008. The furthest east I’ve been in Europe is Strasburg, Austria. Our travel plans to Budapest didn’t pan out.

I received my first passport in 1993, when Bill and I traveled to Great Britain. We traveled with three of our four children and a future daughter-in-law. We were novices, believe you me. Well, I should say Bill and I were novices. By that time, two of our four kids had traveled in Europe and knew a thing or two. The fact that we were amateurs was evidenced by the fact that we took two gigantic rolling duffel bags that contained so much food and “essentials” that you would think England was a third world country. We were certain everything we bought would be unavailable. Who knew London had showers? Most of it was never used, not once. We learned our lesson, and our next trip included backpacks only.

One of my favorite things about foreign travel is learning the customs of the country in which you’re traveling. Of course, Great Britain is much like us (or am I supposed to say we are much like Great Britain) in many ways. They drive on the other side of the road and have a queen. That’s about it for the differences.

Oh, and they have tea. Tea was one of my favorite things about traveling in Great Britain. That’s odd, because I’m not even a tea drinker. But every afternoon, no matter where we were, we would stop and order tea and treats. It was entirely civilized and pleasant. I swore I would continue the practice when we returned to the U.S. I didn’t, of course, not even once.

It’s really too bad, too, because if my British mysteries are to be believed (and would Inspector Morse lie?), tea is the go-to under most any circumstance. If you have a brush with death, you fix yourself a strong cup of tea. If the detective inspector arrives at your home and tells you with a solemn face that your twin sister has been brutally murdered, your detective constable quickly goes to the kitchen to turn on the kettle for tea.

However, I have noticed that if you are the murderer, and that same detective inspector comes to interview you, you make a quick move to the glass decanter for a pour of whiskey. It doesn’t matter if it’s nine o’clock in the morning. A slug of whiskey is in order. It’s a tell to which I think Detective Inspectors Lynley, Morse, Foyle, and Stanhope should pay attention.

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