The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 12, 1976 · Page 140
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 140

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 12, 1976
Page 140
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Page 140 article text (OCR)

1 The Palm Beach Post-Times Travel Books Theater SUNDAY, UKCEMBhK 12. 1976 SECTION r ouse Swappers Couple Finds Two Weeks In England a Real Trip -3. " .IMIIHIIJ" I' '"I'l'""" t I-O I. Is J t A l ilk. l' : i i mum-.. Irf: 1 il.-f w m m h " I mtr ' I n; u h n ri n h "i i a ri I u n y i if ;; - 2 tl ' A s iv. ""t , Our Country House in Garstang of house exchanging. The old saying, "the best of both worlds" sums it up nicely. We were glad of the opportunity to spend time in two different nouses. One was a typical London townhouse, the middle unit in a three-dwelling structure, the other a large detached house in the country. We felt that living in them, even if briefly, gave us a fair understanding of the lifestyle of a British family. Our biggest disappointment was not meeting either family. But we did feel we learned quite a bit about them by corresponding with them and talking with their friends and relatives. We even got some impression of the mens' physical size when Jack borrowed a belt from Rick Holdsworth and later a jacket of John Dodd's which barely met around his middle and had sleeves 3 inches too short. We also enjoyed learning the features of the houses that were new to us. The wall plugs, for example, have OX-OFF switches. The fridges (never called refrigerators) are small, necessitating frequent shopping and the washing machines have final spin cycles activated manually. One appliance I saw in every home was an automatic electric teakettle. I so enjoyed using these that I determined to bring one home. I finally found one in Harrods, London's prestigious department store, and it is now a treasured possession. Just as I had never heard of heating water in an electric teakettle, the people thera had never heard of heating it in a kettle on the stove. During our stay in Garstang we had a fine opportunity to spend several days traveling through the Lake District and into Scotland. We had been invited to Dunfermline, near Edinburgh, by a family acquainted with our older son, and had accepted with pleasure. We planned the trip so we would spend one night in a hotel, one of only two nights during our entire stay we did so. We did not think the lakes in the Lake District anything extraordinary, but the mountains were quite spectacular. At the suggestion of a man in the Tourist Information Center, we took a steep, narrow road over Honister Pass where the Turn to SWAPPERS, G2 said, "But all Americans have hearty appetites." She was also sure all Americans had the habit of drinking whisky, though their biggest surprise was our preference for tea over coffee. The next morning we ventured into London. We took the No. 207 Shepherd's Bush bus, a double-decker, as Colin had directed, and changed to the underground at Ealing Broadway with the help of the conductor and a fellow passenger. Those names became familiar in the ensuing weeks. Our first look at London was on ';: two-and-a-half-hour Round London Sib'..-Seeing Tour. It was a little confusing because there was no guide and the tourists were pointing out the landmarks - not always accurately - to each other. However, it was a thrill to see Big Ben, Parliament, the Tower of London and other famous places. Our next step required a little of the boldness already mentioned; we had to retrieve the car the Dodds had lejt for us in a central London hotel garage. This was our introduction to driving a right-hand-drive automobile, on the left, in London traffic. To add a bit more excitement the gas gauge read empty. We made it across Piccadilly onto Park Lane after going a iund one roundabout twice because we missed the proper turn, and found a petrol station. Here we received a mild shock when Jack had to pay $25 to fill the tank. Our house was small but comfortable. We stayed there more than a week, going into London almost every day. One night we went to a pub. When we felt we were ready for a change of scene, we tidied up the house and headed for our country home in Garstang. Garstang is a lovely little village, with narrow streets and sidewalks, and the usual specialty shops. We got used to the fact that when you wanted fish, you go to the fish shop, for pork you go to the pork shop, and for a newspaper you went to the news agent's. This is not to say there are no supermarkets or department stores, but the small shops are more prevalent. As in Hayes, part of the time we felt like tourists, part of the time like residents, and to us that was the best aspect By RUTH CHAMBERLAIN Special to The Post House swapping is not for the timid. It takes a certain amount of sangfroid and a devil-may-care attitude to travel to a foreign country, move into a stranger's house, drive a foreign car, attempt both to live like a native and explore like a tourist. But my husband Jack and I recently did all that in England, and we were captivated by the experience. There are two ways to become involved in home exchanging. One is to list your home in the directories. The other is to buy the directories without including any listing of your own. We chose the former method. Since there are a number of things that need matching - such as vacation time, location desired, house size and so on -a good many letters must be sent out. A printed letter is advisable, and I started by mailing about 50. These produced no real possibilities so I sent another 50 which resulted in several probabilities. Finally, we ended up with two exchanges. We were invited to occupy the Holdsworths' house in Garstang, in northern England, while they rented a cottage in Wyoming, (we would "owe" them two weeks sometime in the future). And the Dodd family from Hayes, a London suburb, offered an exchange when a previous Florida exchange fell through. It sounded perfect: we could spend a week or so in London and a couple of weeks in Garstang. We would have the use of the Garstang family's cars. On Sept. 10 we flew to London. We were impressed with the ease of clearing British Customs. We were waved on through, pushing our luggage on a trolley. The taxi queue (note how quickly I learned to speak 'English') was rather long but the wait was only about 20 minutes. Cranborne Waye proved to be almost around the corner and in a few moments we had arrived at our house. Phyl Cox, a relative of the Holdsworths, showed us the house and invited us to her home for dinner. It provided some insight into British beliefs about Americans. When Phyl served me an enormous amount of food and I protested for fear of wasting it, she -7. ,.-., , -4 f tl 'V !'. Sign Tells Story on Steep Road 5 ? f; ; v r 1 f ' Ammo" . . V ' v '-2 ' I i S i lit rill jTL ' '5 ' II I ',1 1 1 . lf A - " . - . i i'i '', - i , - I H 1 Photot by Ruth Chamberlain Main Street of the Village ftfc-.wW. mm Staff PhoTo by vvuig Avdumg Chamberlains With Electric Teakettle from London Only in London Can You Rent the 'Good Address' and as inflation makes even rented elegance expensive for many average upper-middle-class Englishmen, the firm is turning to companies for business. "Naturally one does not mention customers' names," said a Searcy's man, but an American cor poration took the house for a week during the auto show not long ago, and corporate clients are not unwelcome in an age when the private clientele fades slowly if elegantly away. Searcy's provides a reconstructed 18th-century mansion in Knightsbridge, which, for less than $200 at present exchange rates, is yours for the evening, plus 40 cents per person. Weddings, balls, birthday parties: the house fits them all. at least you can hire it for an evening, and besides, he won't tell anyone what you've done. "It is still important to some people to have a good London address," David Physick said. He should know, for he is the maternal greatgrandson of John Searcy, a pastry cook for the third Duke of Northumberland and, by 1870, confectioner to the Prince of Wales. Physick, who represents family continuity in the firm, is now one of its five directors. In his own lifetime, Physick has seen royalty retreat and upper-class townhouses chopped up as their owners, burdened by real estate taxes on income and death, flee the city and regroup in the countryside. But some of them still want to come to town, and Searcy's is there to greet them. What Searcy's provides is a reconstructed 18th-century mansion at Pavilion Road in Knightsbridge, which, for less than $200 at present exchange rates, is yours for the evening, plus 40 cents a head. Weddings, balls, children's birthday parties: the house fits them all and adjusts rapidly to what the next day will bring Searcy's, which also performs the same magic trick in the countryside, will supply food, drinks and servants, including the traditional English butler in black coat and striped trousers and the rest of the upstairs- By ROBERT B. SEMP1.E JR. (c) New York Times LONDON - One can still employ a butler in Britain, although renting is easier. One can even rent a house for an evening to put the rented butler in. And why not? Despite the general grayness of the British scene, there is energy and eccentricity here, more of both than one might suppose. The Knightbridge catering business booms, with or without footmen. The wine bar - a sensible, medium-priced solution to the lunchtime scramble - flourishes and expands. Devalued pounds play lovely tunes on the cash registers at Harrods. You do not have to search in London for advice on how to improve life. There are plenty of firms that cater to the people who need catering to. There are conglomerates of cooks and maids, and there are couples with cute French names who buy the food and rent themselves out as cook and bartender. And then there is Searcy Tansley Ltd., which not only runs a wine shop and a restaurant, but also a catering service that operates on the premise: We know that it is impossible to own the good life anymore; but "The continental shopping marauders" w;is how the livening Standard described them, and other papers have had less kindly epithets to apply to the Belgians. French, Dutch and other foreigners who have come to London to buy things made cheaper by the vanishing value of the pound. Tables full of scarves have literally collapsed under the weight of this eager polyglot horde, and simple episodes quickly become legend. The other day, six Germans bought luggage, not for itself, but to have something to carry away their purchases in. A sheik from sunny, oily Kuwait bought 36 pairs of women's hoots, which was not surprising except that they were fur-lined. Turn to CATERING, G2 downstairs regalia. A man named Morss was there the other day, getting ready for a luncheon and, true to Searcy tradition, keeping quiet about the identity of the hosts and guests. "Ce'ebrities feel safe at No. 30," said one Searcy's executive. "And so, for that matter, do the help. Most of our butlers are people like off-duty policemen, even salesmen, whom we carefully screen. But some are off-duty footmen from Buckingham Palace. We make sure that we do not use them for a party which royalty may be attending. Prince Philip, for one, does not like to see the help moonlighting." Searcy's has done well by not fighting the times,

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