Subject: Back from England
Good morning, Ziners - just returned on Wednesday from a 2 week trip to England. I might point out that there is security everywhere even when you don't notice it.

I was in the subway last Monday night close to midnight with my cousin, Sue on our way back to Twickenham after seeing Chicago. We got mixed up as to which direction we should take so we pushed the help button and a male voice said yes, ladies. We couldn't see a camera anywhere but he could see us. We told him what the problem was and he told us where to go and when I pointed out the direction to Sue, a voice responded yes, that's the right direction. So it is very comforting that you are being watched (probably not for those people who are trying to cause mayhem and destruction!) There are signs everywhere indicating the CCTV is in operation.

I felt that prices on everything were very expensive - gasoline is 2 1/2 times as expensive as in Canada. The best bargain is the all day subway/bus pass at 5.40 which is about $13.00 Canadian - that allows you unrestricted use of the subway and busses all day long within 5 zones. That is one of the few bargains left! I also bought lots of English chocolate, especially Thornton's Dark Chocolate Ginger - yummy!! The tickets for Chicago were 57 pounds or about $142 - these were second balcony, front row - certainly not the best seats in the house but quite good. That's comparable to theatres in Toronto. I'm sure we could have obtained them at a cheaper price had we gone to the last minute booth in Leicester Square same day as the theatre was not nearly full.

Fortunately, I did not have to pay for hotels or many meals, although I did pay to stay four nights in the guest room of my uncle's apartment complex at the princely rate of 12 pounds ($30 Canadian) for all four nights which is $7.50 per night. I was very comfortable - 2 twin beds, bathroom, coffee facilities and a radio to listen to. A one way train ticket from Weymouth to Surbiton (London outskirts) set me back close to $85 Canadian which would be about the same in Canada. We stopped at a service centre on the highway to Poole for tea and toast (2 teas, 1 coffee, a muffin and toast) and it cost almost 8 pounds (approx. $20 Canadian).

One of my best treats of the trip was a visit to a local eel and pie shop in Shepherd's Bush - there aren't many of these left so really enjoyed my pie and mash! I also spent a most delightful Good Friday in the company of my second cousin and her family where six children had an Easter Egg hunt in the yard and in the house which was a lot of fun, followed by a dinner of gammon (ham), wonderful cauliflower and cheese casserole, tiny potatoes and a delicious appetizer of stuffed Portobello mushrooms with fresh strawberries and Devon cream for dessert. I also enjoyed a lovely cream tea when in Weymouth in Dorset.

>From Weymouth, I took a bus to Dorchester (home of Thomas Hardy) and wandered about. I found a book of the complete works of William Shakespeare in a thrift shop with beautiful colour plates from 1933 for which I paid 30P (about 75 cents Canadian). My son is the recipient of the book - he is a teacher. I consider that my antique road show find! While there, I had a Shepherd's pie lunch in a lovely little pub.

Another bonus was being upgraded on both legs of the flight to World Traveller Plus (large seats with footrests, etc.) on British Airways - on return, I got bulkhead which was even better. And I was traveling on a seat sale for which my total fare was under $600 Canadian!

All in all though, it was a lovely break to get away on my own - my loving hubby stayed home and took care of the dog!!

Pat Ontario, Canada