When we arrived in England, we were punch-drunk from jet lag and from having barely slept in two days. In this addled state we managed to successfully navigate British customs, the tube, Paddington Station, a train to Stroud, and then a local bus to Painswick. We walked up narrow winding streets through the first of many stone villages–so old! Everything was so old!
We found our B&B, where our rooms awaited us in a vine-covered cottage behind the main house, at the back of a walled garden filled with a profusion of English flowers.
Our hostess asked us what we would like for breakfast the next morning. “Would you like Full English? Or just cereals, or maybe scrambled eggs with smoked salmon? If the weather is nice, I’ll serve your breakfast out here in the garden.”
We’d been looking forward to our first Full English Breakfast, but even I was skeptical about being able to eat that much food in one sitting.
“I normally serve a selection of cereals and yogurt, or you can have porridge. Then there is bacon, ham, sausage, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, fried bread or toast, a fried egg, and baked beans.”
“Yes.” we said, and headed out to explore the town, the churchyard full of yew trees, and the Rococo Gardens.
After sleeping solidly for eleven hours or so, I refreshed myself with the tea and biscuits in my room before slipping out into the fresh sunny garden to sit at the patio table, already set with two places. Birds sang, insects buzzed. The air was full of the scent of flowers. Our hostess brought us juice, tea, and coffee. We examined the unfamiliar yogurts and cereals like Weetabix. And then our cooked meals were placed before us.
The key to having three meats in one breakfast is all in the portion sizes. One piece each of ham, bacon, and sausage is really not so overwhelming. Especially when one is anticipating a full morning of walking. Baked beans at breakfast are so English that I had to try them—just that once. My American palate insisted that baked beans should only be eaten after noon, with barbeque, from a paper plate—not at breakfast. Grilled tomatoes and mushrooms on the other hand, I could really get behind. And toast from an actual toast rack! Oh my!
So, after the first of many Full English Breakfasts, we shouldered our packs, donned our hats, stepped out the front door, and started our journey on the Cotswold Way.
“He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step onto the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.'”. –Tolkien