We have been driving from Heathrow Airport to Canterbury, a tiny little town in the county of Kent. They call it The Garden of England due to abundant flowers scattered across the town.
I was sitting on the back seat and was lost in my deep thoughts about what I was seeing at that moment. I was looking at roads, houses, people, air, grass, trees… I finally arrived in England.
Two years back before I headed for my first abroad trip, my parents, sibling and me were taking a promenade in a park when I heard my parents talking about England. I got so much excited about that word!! I immediately asked them if we would go there. They didn’t give me any positive feedback, though at the same time there was some enigma in their intonation.
A basket of sandwiches and a thermos with English tea – my first introduction with Miss White. My father, in beige trousers and a grey jacket on, was standing and waiting for us with the basket in his hand. Miss White sent us some sandwiches and tea with milk so as we could have a bite before riding to Canterbury. I still remember the taste of those sandwiches with butter and cheese and tea — there was the flavour of warm welcome.
Who’s Miss White?
« My governess was quite a strict woman. So, I could not refute when she made pease porridge for me which I didn’t really enjoy. I had to eat up everything that was on my plate. When she saw I finished my meal she thought I enjoyed it and gave me more porridge», once Miss White was telling me about her childhood.
By the time I have met Miss June White, she was 77 years old.
She was a true English lady with the respective manners and interests. She adored painting – the house was elegantly covered with her water-color pictures. They very much suited white, pinky, and bluish walls.
Miss White had a beautiful two-storeyed semi-detached house that she shared with my family for a while. There was a small pool in the backyard where she kept two fishes, a black and an orange one. Me and my sister loved spending our time in the backyard circling around the pool and feeding the fishes. We also enjoyed having tea there when it was a sunny weather.
Every Sunday she attended a catholic worship. She was very much concerned about charity as well. For example, She provided charitable organizations with clothes.
Miss White was very much fond of the Royal family of Romanovs. No wonder why. She even travelled to St. Petersburg in 1998 to commemorate the anniversary of the Royal family.
My first true teacher of English
Miss White was very strict to me and my sister in terms of the English language and I am extremely grateful to her for her precious contribution to my education and personal development.
She devoted 1–2 hours of her time each day to teaching English to us. We were very lucky to have such a educator. I even could call it a life time experience for kids of 5 and 7 years old.
Together with Miss White we kept my first diary in English! I still have it, and it’s very precious to me as it reminds me the trip that somehow predestined my goals in life, interest s, undergraduate major choice, and my character overall.
Once, me and my sister were left at home together with Miss White. Since, my English was still very poor, I was always carrying a tiny pocket dictionary with me. I can’t recollect what I was exactly trying to tell to Miss White, but I definitely remember that I was in search for an English equivalent of the word «река» («river») when talking to her. I remember how I was pronouncing the word to her and she could not understand me at first.
For the next month Miss June White became my teacher of English and educator, thanks to her I learned a lot about England, and myself. She helped me discover English culture through her life, experience, and British attitude towards life.
Miss White loved socializing, she often had her friends in the house. They had tea in the back yard. She even invited some of them to my birthday party that took place just right before we left for Russia. I very well remember her friend Patricia who spoke French and was always smiley and sociable. I loved her a lot for her sunny lively smile and positive attitude towards people and life. We often travelled together about the county of Kent. For instance, we have been to some Medieval type tiny English village where we enjoyed an English picnic. Once, she took me and my family to some factory open day where I enjoyed pony riding like a true English lady. Patricia took us to a typical British public school, where I met my English peers, enjoyed their company and saw how British education is organized.
Miss White efforts to cultivate my love of the English language and culture gave fruits immediately. English was my favorite subject at school, I have chosen it to be ma major, I know history of the U.K. better than the one of my home country.