For more than 60 years,
a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
Today is October 4, 2022

Grin 'n' Bare It

Southern hospitality meets its match

Kay Grafe
Kay Grafe

    A visit to our nearest allies across the Atlantic gave my travel companion and me another perspective of cultures that speak English. It makes life much easier than using sign language with strangers who don’t particularly like Americans. We knew we liked London enough to go back, but didn’t know about their close neighbors.  
    Who would have thought that Mississippi and her southern sisters inherited their hospitality not only from the English, but Wales, Ireland and Scotland. These countries are good humored and also have innate friendliness and kindness. The people we met have a genuine affection for Americans.   
    That was our impression when we recently took a 12-day tour. Many of us claim ancestry from the four countries, especially emerald-green Ireland.       
    Mr. Roy gave me one bit of advice before we joined our travel group in London: “Don’t invite anyone to come see us.”
    On a trip abroad five years ago, we invited Brian and Beryl, a couple from Australia, to come visit us. They took us at our word. Yes, they have been here three times. In the South, “come see us” flows smoothly off our tongues.
    But that’s OK. I’ve learned a lot about Australia from them. 
    When they left, Brian laughed and said, “Y’all come on down.” I think they learned a few things from us too. One big hitch: Australia is extremely down under for me. Gravity could fail momentarily and off we’d go to another galaxy.    
    My companion and I were flabbergasted when we joined our group of travelers on the tour bus. Like a magnet we sat next to an Australian couple. I looked at Mr. Roy, raised and dropped my shoulders and grinned at him. During our tour of the countryside we hung out with the Aussies, a mother and her 21-year-old daughter from Canada, and a couple from California.   
    In London my traveling companion and I enjoyed the British Museum. I wanted to see the Rosetta Stone and ancient sculptures from Greece and Egypt. We loved Westminster Abbey.
    We left London the next day with our tour group on a fast-paced trip to Wales, Ireland, Scotland and then back to England. We saw many memorable sights, but I’ll just touch on a few.
    First was Stonehenge, which has baffled archeologists for years, then the Roman baths at Bath England and the Cardiff Castle at Cardiff Wales.
    In Ireland we visited the famous Waterford crystal factory at Waterford, Ireland, and then to beautiful Dublin and Belfast Ireland.
    Our tour crossed the North Channel to Scotland. Edinburgh, Scotland has so much history, but the centerpiece is the Edinburgh Castle and the crown jewels.
    Back in England our group traveled through the Northumberland National Park to the walled city of York and then to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare, and finally back to London.
    As we sat in our seats on the airplane and were finally able to catch our breath, I asked my Mr. Roy what impressed him the most. He thought for a minute and then said, “I thought all of the cities were very clean and pretty, especially Edinburgh and Dublin. The more I see of London the more I like it.
    “I had always wanted to see Stonehenge. But what impressed me the most in all four countries was the beautiful green countryside. I had no idea that England was that rural and had so many farms. And the same can be said for Ireland and Scotland. Another thing that impressed me was the friendliness of the people, even the taxi drivers.”
    Then he asked what I thought. “I agree with everything you said, but I will add the play ‘Jersey Boys’ that we saw our last night in London. I loved that.”
    Finally, I asked him a hard question. “Was it worth the expense?”
    Roy said, “Don’t you remember the little old lady that we met one afternoon on the famous street in York, England, named The Shambles?”
    “Of course I do. That was the afternoon we walked back to our hotel. An old English lady stopped us. She could tell that we were Americans and we could tell that she was lonely. She told us that she loved Americans and had visited the States several times. You asked her questions about growing up in England during World War ll.”
    When we started to part, she recited a phrase her mother used to tell her in old English. But we didn’t understand.
    With a smile she said, “You can’t take it with you.” And then she added, “Remember: Enjoy every day to the fullest.”
    Then she turned and walked away.

    Kay Grafe is the author of “Oh My Gosh, Virginia.” To order, send name, address, phone number and $16.95, plus $3.50 S&H to Kay Grafe, 2142 Fig Farm Road, Lucedale, MS 39452.

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