First a huge and sincere thank you goes to Anna. Not only did she house, drive, feed, and entertain me, she did it so graciously you’d never know how fragile she is right now. But she is and having put aside so many of the things which sustain and comfort her to be my guide and host required courage and love well beyond the usual demands of friendship. Thank you, dearest Anna. You made this trip a joy. I love you too.
One of the things we all do when traveling is compare it to home. What’s the same, what’s different. What seems to be a better way of managing and what makes you roll your eyes and think/say, “I can’t believe you (do this specific thing so ass backwardly)!”
Over all I thought England stacked up against the US quite favorably. Almost all of the negs had to do with size and this can’t really be helped because, hello, small island with limited space. Though I do think when town planners weren’t having to deal with city centers that had been there for 900 years and pre-war housing clusters they might have made the roads wider. Nope. Aside from the motorways – the multi-lane highways where everyone drives 80+ mph in their wee little cars, all the roads in England are literally as narrow as my driveway. Two-way traffic is a constant exercise in manners. Drivers are forever having to pull off to the side to let the other guys through. Everyone takes turns and waves thank you, it was so British I got the giggles. And had the vapors imagining Americans on those tiny roads. The murder rate would skyrocket and the entire country would grind to a standstill with cars grille-to-grille and drivers out in the road nose-to-nose snarling, “No, you back up, buddy-roo!”
Other British things which amazed and delighted me- dogs. Specifically many, many people have dogs and the dogs are allowed to go everywhere. Dogs in pubs! Dogs in cafes! Dogs on buses and in shops! Well behaved dogs on leashes.
Kids on scooters! I love, love, love the scooters. Soon as kids can walk they are out of the stroller and onto a scooter. I took a lot of shit for putting Seb on a leash, which is quite stupid if you really think about it. My busy kid couldn’t bear to be strapped into a stroller, he wanted to move. And being fast and heedless and completely unresponsive to verbal commands hand holding and/or letting him toddle along on his own were out of the question. So. I kept my son leashed. He stayed safe and got to be free to walk and explore and use his bod. A scooter wouldn’t have worked for us, but it made me happy to see all the tiny British kids out on theirs. It’s a buggabear of mine when I see perfectly sound children crammed into strollers. Not babies, not even toddlers, but children. Sure, weep and carry on about childhood obesity and then keep your 6 year old prisoner in a stroller. Explain that one, please. Anyway, the scooters and all those little-uns whizzing along out in the fresh air, seeing the world, and gaining mastery over their bodies and their ability to navigate in public made me very happy.
Gardens! Holy moly. Flowers and veg everywhere! The majority of our dinners came straight out of Anna and Sam’s garden. Delish. It was a wonderfully peaceful way to begin my day with a cup of something hot and seat in their conservatory looking out at the garden. The birds squabbling at the feeders, the endless variety of flowers- always a new one to discover…ahhh. The near constant bouts of Lyme disease had driven me indoors to a degree I hadn’t really noticed before. I’d even stopped futzing with and seeding the bee meadow so really couldn’t say anything when I came home and discovered Mick had mowed it down.
I did so many things on my trip it’s still all a jumble. I’ll work on getting my pics in order and do a travelogue entry next time. Just know that England is gorgeous. Shirley the puppy is THE cutest in the entire world. And that I have amazing generous friends who knocked themselves out to give me the trip of a lifetime and I am humble and grateful.
Much love from your newly transatlantic traveling friend, ~LA