Monday, July 9, 2012

Strangers on a train

Ah, the train. It’s a lovely way to see the country, catch a quick refreshing nap and catch up with the news.
Scotland offers wonderful views in between its ancient and majestic cities. These views often featured lots of sheep.

Those specs of white are sheep. The paper is in the reflection. This pretty much captures the first leg of the trip from Edinburgh to York.

At one point we also saw the shape of a woman being built into the land – her face and um … bra jetting out of the landscape. A local on the train pointed it out and said a rich landowner is having it sculpted onto his property for some reason. (Sorry, we weren’t quick enough with the camera to get a snapshot).

But the best part of the train is getting to talk with people.

We met a lovely couple from Wiltshire -- Peter and Kit Tate, who shared our booth on the train.

Our new friends kept us company on the train. 

Mr. Tate, a Briton, turned 17 in time to serve on a ship bound for the South Pacific in World War II, where he would spend some evenings sitting in brand new jeeps from the United States. After the war, he knocked on the door of the Range Rover plant and got himself a job painting the undercarriages with gray rust-proof paint. He then worked as a salesman of women’s undergarments, although he said his mother was never quite pleased with him travelling across England for the job, preferring instead to tell visitors he was an engineer like his father. A mystery enthusiast and fellow Columbo fan, Mr. Tate offered numerous recommendations for movies.

His wife, Kit Tate, is an American whose father, a Russian immigrant, was co-author of the Ellery Queen chronicles that were stories in the 1930s then became radio programs in the ‘40s. Mrs. Tate is now a modern day Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, having grown up in the Constitution State and becoming an English citizen 11 years ago when she married Peter Tate. The two met while Mr. Tate was working as a custodian in a museum north of Stonehenge while Kit was visiting with her brother on holiday. Both Kit and Peter had lost their spouses years before.

They were wonderful company and taught us a few new phrases, such as “carrying coal to Newcastle” – meaning doing something unnecessary, considering Newcastle was known for its mining. Cheers to the Tates. 

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