Two return trips to England since relocating to the U.S. from
London in 1997 reminded me that you never stop collecting useful
tidbits when traveling.
Last year, I revisited Winchester, the town that might have been
the Camelot of legend and definitely was King Alfred the Great's
capital and home of the Domesday Book.
I ate in the refectory (dining hall) on the cathedral grounds.
Discreetly hidden behind a medieval wall, it is a modern facility
serving low-cost meals buffet style.
I mention it partly because my lunch of sausages and mash was
served on a trencher, which is a piece of thick bread that in
medieval times served as the plate. It would have been more fun
(but messier) if my trencher had not sat on a 20th century
My hosts then led me to Winchester's St. Cross Hospital,
Britain's oldest charitable institution, dating to the 12th
century. It is noted as the only place in England that still
provides the "wayfarer's dole," a source of sustenance intended for
You must ask for it ("May I have the wayfarer's dole?"). The
payoff is a bit of bread and a small tumbler of ale.
Last month, back in England for World Travel Market, I was
picked up by a London cabdriver who saw fit to describe common
practice for dealing with cabbies there.
First, he said, you stand at the window and advise the driver of
the intended destination, then you get into the vehicle. At
journey's end, you stand outside the cab at the same window to
But this "is not the law," he said, just the way it is done. And
I was thinking, "In a downpour? No way."
I do not doubt my driver was describing what your average
Londoner would do, but, amazingly, during my 18 months in London, I
never heard a word about this.
Another thought provoker had to do with air travel. My ticket
covered air to Strasbourg, France, for the ASTA congress and from
London back to New York. In both cases, I was ticketed on the
nonoperating carriers in code-share pacts, and this was clear on my
The outbound coupon was plated on Sabena with service on Delta.
I went to the Delta counters first (they were closest) but was sent
to Sabena, a long walk if suitcases are not on wheels.
However, for check-in at Heathrow, I was sent to Virgin
Atlantic, operator of my "Continental" flight. Does it occur to you
that maybe those code-share disclosure statements passengers get
these days should also advise where to check in for such