Those Were the Days, My Friends. . .
As we headed towards North Carolina, our future home, and not far from the Virginia border, I saw billboards announcing the upcoming attraction: Mount Airy. Hmmmm. The name sounded familiar. Ahhh, yes! Voted an “All-American Town”, it was chosen as the setting for The Andy Griffith Show, and, coincidentally, the star himself grew up here. Above, you can see a mural painted in his honor.
We drove through, then later wandered down the main street, with it's many storefronts reminding us of another era. I felt like a child again, sitting cross-legged in front of my black and white TV, twin antennae sprouting from the top. Although I was a city girl, something was mesmerizing about Andy, who never got ruffled and took everything in stride. And Aunt Bea? Well, goll-ee! What kid wouldn't want her bustling around the house, cooking and cleaning, giving sound advice, and offering milk and cookies hot out of the oven after a hard day at school?
Even the Townsfolk Played the Part
The visitor’s center had two seventy-something folks giving us helpful advice—what to see and do in one hour, since we had to drive to the coast that day, and had very little time. Although we didn't visit the museum, we enjoyed our stroll, chuckling at the signs and peeking in windows.
Supposedly, Andy Griffith worked at this soda fountain in his youth. So, we decided to check it out. Wow. Talk about going back in time! We met Gina, another 70-something lady who made quite an impression on me. Even though she had many health issues, and had to stop driving, it didn't dampen her enthusiastic spirit for life. She found a way to make it work. . .
Of course, Gina offered to take a photo of us, so we obliged!
Out on the street, we found many references to Mayberry and the show. . .
And look what drove down the street, obviously slowing down as he passed, hoping I’d take a photo. . .
All in all, it was well worth losing time on our journey. Since I am moving towards rebranding myself as "historical" (silver hair and all), it seemed appropriate to stop and drink in the nostalgia.
Have you visited a town used as a movie set? Ever visited Mount Airy? If you are a Baby Boomer, did you watch The Andy Griffith Show? If so, who was your favorite character and why? Let me know below!
I began this post a few years ago, and decided now was the time to share it. I wasn't keen to blog about covid-19 again, so it seemed like the perfect time for a Q&A. Some of these answers you may be aware of, and others, not.
Here goes — enjoy!
My wanderlust posts are winding down. This Fall promises to be extremely busy for me . . . I have school visits and a coffee shop book signing, but more on that later. Today, I'm reliving our trip to the Yorkshire countryside (Think: All Creatures Great and Small). Come join us!
We couldn't believe all the surprises in store for us. The day began with a wasp sting, as I tried to remove him with a Kleenex. The fella had stayed in our room all night. No redness or swelling. . . God's grace.
A couple at the guest house offered to take us and our luggage to the train station to pick up our car. Another surprise.
Olivia and I prayed for wisdom, attentiveness and safety before starting the engine of our rented Vauxhall. I drove out of the lot (yes, the driver's seat was on the right side) and onto the York city streets at rush hour. I took to left-hand driving with all its turnabouts with aplomb. And oh, did I tell you that a garmin was waiting for us, an hour earlier than expected? Grace upon grace.
We took off as our GPS instructed us. The voice had a lilting British accent, gently instructing us as we went along. I was thinking of a name for her. Of course, it had to be literary. Then it came to me - Mary Poppins. Perfect! "Take the second exit at the turnabout and, while we're at it, let's go fly a kite!" You get the picture. Olivia and I began singing that song as we gaily drove down the road.
I had been admiring these brilliant yellow fields along the way, which I am told, are Rapeseed, used in industry. Hard to believe such a sweet fragrance, almost like honey, could come from a flower used in such a way.
Our itinerary was full. I wanted to take time to visit the coast, but was having a hard time fitting it in, since it was in the opposite direction to our Brontë tour. But, the thought came to me to head there today, and to focus on Whitby. It has a literature connection as well (naturally), as the Whitby Abbey inspired the novel, Dracula. Not that I have read it or endorse it, but, I am always fascinated with where writers get their ideas. See for yourself in the slideshow below:
We had to pay for parking everywhere, but each time, we were able to see the sights in the allotted time. Here is the charming town of Whitby.
We then took some time to park and walk along the Moors road. So beautiful and wild. The wind was mournfully blowing across the landscape, searching for Catherine and Heathcliff. Now isn't that a fitting name for someone who wanders the moors??
This is what heather looks like in the spring. It doesn't bloom until fall:
Then, we headed for our lodging near Ripon, but first we needed a good cup of Yorkshire tea (strong, full bodied, but not bitter. . .such a pleasure to drink!) Well, we learned something these past few days. Afternoon tea begins and ends in the afternoon. Don't dare go into a tea shop after 4:30pm, or you will be sorely disappointed, or worse. . .turned away.
Two of the shops were closed by 4:30pm, one had just closed, and the fourth was just turning the 'open' sign around when I quickly walked in and asked (actually pleaded) for the owner to sell us a cuppa. I told her our sad story. Well, more grace. She agreed! And after we had paid, and I thanked her most profusely, she said with a smile, "Well, I've done my good deed for the day." And I'm grateful she did!
We made it to Ripon safely, and stopped for a bite to eat. Olivia noticed pigeon on the menu, and said she'd like to try it. I told her I was 'game', too. (I hoped they weren't imported from Chicago.)
Ta da! It actually tasted almost like duck, but tougher, similar to the texture of beef. So, as we chewed, I bit down on something hard. I extracted what looked like a BB pellet. When we asked what it was, sure enough, the waitress said nonchalantly, "Oh, that's shot. They can't use a large bullet, because it will tear the bird apart."
Like it was no big deal to find a stone in your meat! I'm just thankful I didn't break another crown. Another sign of grace today.
We arrived safely at this charming 1300’s (believe it) farmhouse called 'Mallard Grange'. I thought I was transported to France. So idyllic. . .even the smells were present. Wish we could have stayed for more than two nights!
Maggie, the owner, was explaining the marks on the sheep. She said they identify the mothers with their babies, and their date of birth, in case they are parted from one another. The herders search for them if lost at the end of a day. We caught a couple of lambs sneaking under the fence to cross the road, but skipped back to mother when we drove by!
Look at our adorable room. . .
We had a restful night, and an elaborate homemade breakfast. Because of our food intolerances, the owner prepared a portion of fresh salmon for us. What a treat! We were refreshed to move on, resting in God's grace and mercy.
Hope you were refreshed, too, by our travelogue. A change in scenery always inspires me. Do you have a location you love to visit? Tell me in the comments below!
If you've been following my blog this summer, you know that I am plagued by wanderlust. So, to relieve it, I'm posting one of my favorite trips to date. My daughter and I took a self-guided "Chasing the Janes" tour, visiting the homes of Austen and Brontë (Jane Eyre) and the movie locations of our favorite film versions. Of course, we couldn't leave England without visiting Bath. This was the setting for Austen's Persuasion.
Still sharing my memorable trip to England four years ago! Come join me for a literary tour. This day we headed to the Charles Dickens Museum. Dickens was 25 when he moved to this home in London with his wife Catherine:
Don't you just adore a good love story? Since I am drawn to British history in particular, the fantabulous (no other word for it) Victoria and Albert Museum was high on our list during a literary tour of England a few years ago. And this, being the season for holidays, I am infected with wanderlust. Since travel overseas is not possible right now, I will live in the past with my memories, which I'd like share with you!
As we move into June, I am reminded of my idyllic childhood vacations. Since both my Mother and I followed the school holiday schedule (she was a school social worker), each summer we would take off in one of the cardinal directions to visit family and friends. I remember a red Ford station wagon in the 50's, a blue Rambler wagon in the 60's, and later, a white Rambler Marlin with red interior that Mom let me choose from the used car lot! Heading out west we would camp along the way. Any other trip we would stay a night in a motel.
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuted in 2019 with Ambassador International.