Only One More Mile

old man.black hat

As the tale goes, a wrinkled old peasant was sitting in front of his wayside cottage one summer afternoon when a traveller stopped at his gate. Dusty, weary, and very thirsty, the wayfarer asked the peasant for a drink and the kind peasant allowed the traveller to sit in the shade awhile and quench his thirst from the well.

After this bit of refreshing the traveller rose and gazed down the long road ahead. Before he left he turned to the peasant and asked, “How far is it to the nearest inn?”

The peasant assured him, “It’s only a mile down the road. You’ll make it for sure.”

The traveller thanked him and set off, feeling much encouraged. But he walked on for over a mile and still didn’t come to either a town or a wayside inn. He trudged on another mile, then another. Finally he glimpsed a village in the distance. Cheered up by the sight, he pressed on and reached he inn by dusk.

The next day the traveller happened to catch sight of the peasant at the village market. He marched up to the old man and said crossly, “Hey! You told me yesterday that the inn was only a mile farther — but I had to walk almost five miles to reach it.”

The peasant smiled and gave him a wink. “Full well I knew it, sir. But if I’d told you how far it really was, you’d never have made it.”

The traveller thought this over, then grinned and shook the peasant’s hand. “Thanks, old friend.”

First posted July 2016 at Christine’s Reflections

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Travel Tales from Exotic Places

BOOK REVIEW

Travel Tales from Exotic Places Like Salford

by Julian Worker

I received a copy from Story Cartel a few years back and posted this review on my blog, Christine Composes. I’ll reprint my thoughts for the benefit of new readers who may not have heard of this interesting book — which is still available on Amazon and Kobo.

You need to take your time with this book, savoring it like chocolate truffles, and it’s set up in sections so you can do that. Rather than using chronological order the writer divides his book geographically, describing spots tourists would most likely want to visit and giving directions on how to get there, as well as some encounters he’s had with the locals.

Mr Worker gives some historical background as well as thorough details of the area he’s writing about. By the time I was done reading about some of these places I was ready to pack my bags and go! His description of the soccer/football match had me cheering, too, though I have no interest in that sport. And his last few pages about his trials with customs inspectors and linguistic misunderstandings made me chuckle.

I found this book intelligently written, well crafted and well edited. The writer shows due respect and sensitivity to various cultures and customs. If you enjoy visiting other countries or reading about others’ travels, you will really enjoy this book.

I notice the author has done another travel book as well, titled Julian’s Journeys.

Multitasking Motorist Woes

Officer Chan Forbister noticed a car ahead weaving erratically and crowding the cars in either lane. Turning on his flashers he came up behind it and saw the driver writhing in her seat. A moment of panic hit him. “Was she having a heart attack? A seizure?”

But when he pulled alongside the other car, the woman straightened up in her seat and gave him an embarrassed smile. One of those multi-tasking drivers again. He sighed and signaled her to pull over.

Standing by her car, Chan eyed her critically. “Are you okay, lady?”

“Of course I am, Officer.”

“I thought you were having a seizure. What exactly were you doing?”

“This is so embarrassing! You see, I snagged my pantihose leaving the house and now I’ve a huge hole. I can’t show up at the office looking like this, so I was trying to take them off.”

“While driving?” Chan rolled his eyes. “May I see your driver’s licence and registration, ma’am.”

He walked back to his cruiser, spent a few minutes on his radio confirming the registration information, then returned, ticket in hand.

“I see you had another driving infraction last month?”

“Quite a minor offence, really.”

“Blowing up balloons while driving ten kilometers over the speed limit on a main street is minor? Now that’s funny.”

“They were for my granddaughter’s birthday party and I was running late.”

Chan put on his sternest cop face as he handed her the ticket. “From now on, lady, when you’re driving forget about multi-tasking. When you’re driving, JUST DRIVE! We don’t want to see you in the morgue.”

“Yes, officer,” she answered meekly.

He climbed into his cruiser and watched her drive away. Then he chuckled, remembering the reactions at last month’s staff meeting when Officer Vennie told them about the ticket he’d given this balloon-blowing grannie. Chan shook his head. Just wait ‘til the guys heard this one.

Books: A Scottish Holiday

A Scottish Holiday
by Sophie Mays

A short, light read, fairly standard-formula romance.

Adoptee Jillian goes to Scotland seeking information about her great-great-grands and James takes a liking to the attractive American miss when he meets her in line at a fish and chips shop. He offers his help in her search and a quick romance blooms, but no bedroom scenes.

Perhaps the author has been to the part of Scotland she writes about, but she doesn’t really incorporate much detail in her story. We don’t get many of Jillian’s impressions of this land she’s seeing for the first time ever. We meet the librarian and a few locals — but this is supposedly a whirlwind trip. So we get a bit of Scottish scenery and history but mostly scenes of James and Jillian spending time together — until an old flame turns up at a dance and throws Jillian into a frenzy of doubt about the sincerity of James’ affection.

One bit I found hard to believe: as a baby Jillian was supposedly left on a doorstep by her birth mother, who died young, yet she has her great-great grandparents’ names and the area they came from in Scotland. Other than that the story all hangs together and is well told, problems relatively simple, the characters uncomplicated, the writing clean.

Just A Clueless Tourist, Sir

Guilty As Charged

A writing exercise one day was: tell about an adventure you had while traveling, focusing on one particular scene during the trip. So here’s a scene from when I drove my daughter to Mississippi for a Teacher’s Summer Class.

Twelve years ago our daughter wanted to attend a week-long workshop for teachers — the event being held in Mississippi, no less. She didn’t want to drive all that way alone, so I accompanied her and did most of the driving. I was excited about the trip, having never been to the Deep South before. We were living in Quebec at this time, so had two long days on the road, entering the US at Detroit and heading more or less straight south on Interstates.

The second day found us somewhere in Kentucky on a nice four-lane highway and I was behind the wheel when we came up behind a line of about six cars, every one of them in the right lane, doing almost 50 mph. I found this curious, as the speed limit was 55 mph and the left lane was completely empty. I craned my neck and peered ahead as best I could, expecting to see some extra-wide vehicle causing this slower traffic. Nada. Just a line of ordinary-looking cars.

Now I was really curious. Had the speed limit changed and I hadn’t noticed the sign? Last thing on earth I wanted to do was get nailed for speeding in the States. I knew the chain gang was passe but I’d read some pretty awful accounts of arrests at gun-point and strip searches, etc. Not to mention fines and fees for a US lawyer.

A few minutes later we passed a sign: 55 mph. So why is everyone doing below 50? As the road went round a curve I got a better look at the lead car. A police cruiser. Aha! He was cruising along at a lower speed and the drivers behind were all meekly following, no one daring to challenge his authority. I joined the line and took it easy on the gas for another mile.

Would it surprise you if I mentioned here that I can be a rebel at times? As I drew near yet another 55 mph sign, I wondered,  “Am I going to poke along at 50 mph for an hour in deference to the whims of those officers? Can they arrest me if I don’t just meekly follow? Have they got any reason to stop me for driving at the speed limit?”

Nope. At least I sure hope not! So I pulled into the left lane, sped up to 55 mph, and slowly overtook the police car, making very sure I wasn’t speeding. If I was indeed committing some other social faux pas, I trusted my Quebec license plate would tell him I didn’t know any better.

They say about sheep that when one sticks his head through the fence, the others will surely follow. People are much the same. When I was some distance ahead of the cruiser — we didn’t have cruise control so I kept one eye glued to the speedometer the whole way!— I saw in my rear-view mirror that other cars had pulled out and were also passing the cruiser. I suppose they’d been anxious to see if I’d get into trouble and when no lights started flashing they decided they could get away with it, too.

Now I can say I led a mini-coup — a social rebellion of sorts — in a foreign land. I can just imagine those policemen sitting at the doughnut shop later and chuckling about it, just as I am now.

What would you have done?

A Willing Heart

The six-year-old girl eyed the young man sitting next to her in the church pew; she’d never seen him in their church before. In fact, his few words of greeting to her father before the service started revealed a different accent than the little Scottish girl was used to hearing in their town.

She was eager to “show herself friendly” as the Good Book said, and make him feel at home. But how? In her mind she rehearsed the words “Welcome here. I’m glad you’ve come,” but she was too shy to actually say it. Still, might there would be some way?

Right then a hymn was announced, number 489. She saw the stranger pick up a hymn book. On impulse she slid over toward him and whispered, “I’ll help you find it. I know those big numbers can be hard to sort out.”

“Thank you so much,” he whispered back. “I can manage alright until 100, after that it gets tough.”

So she helped him locate hymn #489 and he offered to share the book with her. She smiled up at him and they sang the verses together, the Scottish lass in first grade and the Englishman with a Degree in engineering.

Quote of the Day:

If nobody ever said anything unless he knew what he was talking about, a ghastly hush would descend upon the earth.

– Sir Allen Herbert

(Anecdote retold from an account in and old Friendship Book of Francis Gay.)