I was searching for the ferry when I saw him. We were both stepping along a narrow lane in our search, and I could hear him thinking out loud as he went. It was something about expenditures. I caught up, passed, and then went on ahead toward the edge of a river.
I knew there would be a ferry boat landing, because friend Rosie had told me about one. I wanted to see it, and to ride on it. There would be a superior view of the historic quayside of King's Lynn, and I was ready. The usual daily 10 miles had already been walked, and so some sight seeing seemed in order. Soon I came to the river's edge, and the ferry.
The elder gentleman then came along, in deep conversation with a kindly lady carrying numerous packages of shopping. "It was the best 25 pounds I ever did spend," the man exclaimed. "Never a better."
I was wondering what he had spent it on when he continued, "Oh yes, 49 years ago next November I laid it all out at the registry and bought myself the National Trust."
"How did you buy the National Trust! I asked.
"25 pounds it was, laid it all out at the registry, and got meself and the wife a membership. We never go anywhere unless they have a National Trust property,"
This was interesting news. Every time I had wanted to visit a National Trust property it was hugely expensive. For two, it was more than this man's 25 pounds, I can tell you that right now. "You mean you have a pass that is for a long period of time?" I asked.
He became animated. "Oh yes, oh yes, this pass I now have (and he began to dig for it) "is pure GOLD. It is an original Life Time Pass!"
The lady with whom he had been chatting now joined back in. "Ooh, that's lovely! A Lifetime Pass. I wish we had one of those. They're far too dear, now for me..." This excited our narrator even more. "No! No one can get them now, not for 25 pounds! Not even for a thousand pounds! That was the best 25 pounds I ever spent."
At this interesting juncture the ferry made its approach and we began to board. The ferryman maneuvered us all safely on, then away we went for the five minute journey.
More conversation took place (mostly surrounding the expenditure of pounds), until we reached the other side of the river. We had about 20 minutes to walk down a path to view the lovely cluster of ancient buildings that formed Old Lynn. This I did, and as I walked back toward the ferry, the elder gentleman came along and paused next to me.
"Are you going to visit any National Trust buildings?" he asked.
"Ah, well I would certainly like to," I acknowledged. "Is Hampton Court one of them? I've always fancied going to Hampton Court."
It turned out that Hampton Court was exactly the ticket, in his opinion. "Oh YES!! I have been there. It is the highest of quality, that one is."
"Is it perfectly huge? I've heard that it might be."
"Immense! You had better be ready for a lot of walking, and a lot of steps. And, it's DARK, Miss, very dark."
I asked about this. He explained that too much light tends to fade the furniture and the wall hangings, so the light is muted.*
"A lot of National Trust buildings are dark, you will find. They keep them all dark like that. Be careful or you might just trip and fall."
I made to walk onward, as the ferryman was ready to start. "Well it was nice meeting you," I said.
"And you!" he said cheerfully. "I hope to see you some day at a National Trust. I'm 78 years old now, and 49 years ago next November I scraped together enough money to join. Maybe you will join..."
He began to walk on, his final words fading as he went ... "It was the best 25 pounds I ever spent..."
I looked back at him, reflecting upon the one pound fifty cost of the ferry. It was actually the best one pound fifty I ever spent.
See you along they!
*it is also true that those ancient buildings had fewer and smaller windows, due to the 'window tax'.