Sometimes a silent train ride seems preferable, especially after a long flight and impending jet lag. I thought I would climb aboard the Great Western Railroad and just, well, sit there looking out of the windows. Doze, perhaps. Dream.
For an hour, peace reigned, but I could not doze. The scenes speeding past me were too striking - the most beautiful landscapes imaginable. Why are sheep so completely enchanting, in England? How is it that British cows are so much more adorable than our own? It must be the green grasses they munch on, or something. So very pastoral, and absolutely perfect.
Then the train stopped, and from my window seat I noticed a tall, smiling lady hugging a short, sweet one. The short, sweet lady kissed her cheek and then stepped aboard, where she peered at the reservation cards attached to each seat.
"Oh! This one's mine," she said, indicating the seat next to me. I smiled, and she sat down, arranging her coat and her bag, then waving cheerily at the tall woman who waved cheerily back. The two of them were so very positive that I waved and smiled, too. We pulled away.
"My daughter," said my new seat mate, with a nod. "She's a nurse."
"How nice for you," I replied. "My son-in-law is a nurse. I think nurses are splendid."
"Oh, yes. I do feel so very safe, when I am around my daughter." I knew that feeling, since the son-in-law in my life makes me feel the very same way.
We talked all about children, and grandchildren, and the fact that I was missing mine. She asked what had given me the idea to visit Cornwall, so the conversation naturally turned (as it always does) to Rosamunde Pilcher, whose descriptions of Cornwall had drawn people here by the thousands.
"Have you read her books too?" I asked.
"Well, no," she said sheepishly, and to my very great surprise.
"Oh, then you have the most enormous treat ahead of you! Once you start a Pilcher book, you won't want to stop."
We discussed the many and varied things one might do while in Cornwall, and the fact that I would be writing books while there.
"Books!" she said enthusiastically. "Ooh, I love a good book. Where might I find yours?"
"Well, nowhere, just yet," I replied. "I am putting it out there now, to see if it might attract an agent..."
"I'm sure it will!" she said, filled with confidence in this American lady she had only just met. It was positively heartwarming. "Might I have your name? I want to watch for it!" We exchanged information, and it was then that I realized I had made a new, and very real, friend. We would be pen pals!
Just before I left the train, she confided in me. "I'll bet you can't guess how old I am," she said, in a low voice.
"No, I'm sure I can't. Do you want to tell me?" She leaned over to my ear, and whispered, "I'm 84!"
"You're not!" I exclaimed, very sincerely surprised, and absolutely making her day. We were laughing as I stepped down from the train, carefully minding the "Gap".
As the train pulled away, her window slid past where I stood. She was waving energetically, her face almost pressed to the window, grinning from ear to ear.
I guess she had found a new friend, too. It happens all the time on Cornish trains.
See you along the way!