in whych gentil rederes write unto me, Sir John Mandeville, with questiouns of travel

Hi, Sir John:

My husband and I both grew up in the Southwest, and this summer we’d like to explore a different part of the country. One of my co-workers has offered us the use of her summer house in Upstate New York, near Cooperstown, so we’re going to spend three weeks there in July. Any suggestions on what to see or do? A quick Google search tells me about the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Ommegang Brewery, but I wonder if there are any out-of-the-way wonders I should see.

-Amy in Berkeley

Deere Amy:

Ah, the southe-weste! I knowe of yowre village, Berkley, the which place is in Somerset. Or scholde I seye Zomerzet? I drynke zyder in Zomerzet! Whirr be gwain to? Tiz getting dimpsey, zo cummin yer an wet thee's whistle. Yer, which o they jars is owern? Thicky ones yourn, inner? Dang I if there ain’t a gurt big wapse innun.

O, forgyve me myne japerie! The speeche of Somerset is swete to myne eeres, and I do love to here yt. Any-waye, I trowe that yow are drynkynge a draught of moist and swete cyder—there beeth nat no towne of coopers in York-shire! Ymagine thatte, a whole towne of barrel-makeres! Whatte nexte? A towne in whych all the folke brewe cyder? As for oddities, I have two: the grave of Charles Piazza Smyth in Sharow, the whych thing is y-shaped lyke unto the pyramid in Aegypte, and the work-shoppe of Robert Thompson, the Mouse-Manne, in Kilburn.

My Dear Sir John:

With the introduction of European Union pet passports I am at long last able to travel abroad with my darling baby, Reginald, a five-year-old spaniel mix. Where might a gentleman and his beloved canine relation find welcome over the summer?

-Clement of Soho

Sire Clement, am I to understond that yow have unto yow a child who ys a mix of manne and dog? Verily, I have y-seen swich creatoures before, yn the isle of Nacumera, in the whych place all the folke have the heads of dogs and the verray bodies of men. Yow will be welcome there.

Dear Sir John:

I’m being posted to Mozambique on a diplomatic assignment. Anywhere I should eat in the capital?

-Nelson, Johannesburg

Nelson: Costa do Sol, a seafood restaurant on the Marginal. But drynke nat the greene wyne, for yt is lyke unto turpentine.

Dear Sir John:

I’m a big Elvis fan, and I’m planning a pilgrimage to Graceland this August, on the thirtieth anniversary of the King’s death. Any suggestions?

-Elmo in San Jose


Verily, myne suggestioun is to buye myne booke, in the wych noble tome yow may easily fynde the waye to Jerusalem, the destinacioun of any pilgrimage to grace-land. And get your historie ryght: the laste kynge of Jerusalem was nat a Saxoun yclept Elvis, but was Henry, secounde of that name, who passed thys lyf sixty or mo yeeres ago.

My Dear Sir John:

Norma and I wanted to thank you for your excellent travel advice. I found Adelaide’s Museum of Economic Botany every bit as thrilling as you described! Too bad there weren’t any Little Chefs in Australia, but we fared well enough at Red Rooster, thanks again to your advice. We look forward to having you round for dinner soon—and, of course, seeing you at the Oval.


Sir John Major, KG, CH

Dear Sir John:

I’ve always wanted to visit my ancestral homeland, Ireland, and it looks like now I finally have the chance. My visit will start in Dublin, and I wonder if you can recommend a clean, inexpensive hotel.

-Mike Hogan, Cleveland


All lodging in Yrlonde is inexpensive. Though that I have nat crossed the Yrysshe See, my freende, Henry Crystede, a gentil equerry to Kynge Richarde, accompanyed our tres puissant lorde to that isle, and he hath no goode thereof to sey. Henry telleth me that the Yrish lyve in holes in the grounde, lyke animales, and that they weareth nat no breeches and have rude maneres atte borde. Go thither if yow plese, but neglect nat to brynge with yow a tente, or at leeste a sleeping bagge, as yow will, sans doubte, slepe uppon the grounde.