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Braindump from Leeds - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Braindump from Leeds [Aug. 6th, 2006|07:02 pm]
[Current Mood |bouncycrazy tired, but having fun]

I wrote this on the train coming up here yesterday, and I've no idea what it says. I'm throwing it up anyway because it's already written and I'm exhausted. Writing about Leeds tomorrow:

I'm typing this on the fast train to Leeds. The trains have "power points" - which those of us from the US would call "outlets" - which means that battery life is no bar to either Ferrett or I babbling away incessantly as we travel through the English countryside.

Aren't you all lucky?

One of the things I did notice about London was how brown everything was. The country has been experiencing a drought, and water levels are so low that a "hose ban" is on. Even the queen is refraining from watering her lawn, so the great expanse of grounds that comprise the backyard of Buck House is parched. Grass is a lovely and sturdy ground cover when you can slake its thirst, but inclined toward giving up the ghost in the absence of regular moisture.

Riding along through the countryside, one of the things I note is the number of butterfly bushes. We planted a couple in our yard three years ago, and I recently read that they are invasive. Apparently, this is very true. Great large ones line the track here and there. I don't know if they are native to England, but they certainly are thriving.

Of course, the older parts of England look radically different than anything we have in the US, but I'm noting that even the newer parts of towns are different. For one thing, the houses continue to be built on much smaller footprints of land, and are not so ridiculously large as the "McMansions" blighting former farmland across America. It's hard to say for certain, but it appears that new development continues to take into account needs like public transportation. They have a lot less land mass here, of course, and that forces more insight upon people. But it irks me to watch the US bullheadedly continuing shortsighted development - even as people are howling that they can't afford to drive to work, we keep building subdivisions further and further from transportation and support services. The suggested solution is, "make the oil companies give us gas for a lower price," rather than "deal with the underlying problem." Frustrating.

And today we took in the Brighton Pride Parade. (They took the word "gay" out of it so that it would be friendly to everyone in the GBLT demographic.) It was a happy, fun and (dare I say it?) family-friendly event. That sounds so weird - the family-friendly flaming fags. But truly it was. I only spotted one bare bum, there was very little suggestive dancing, no blatant making-out in the street. Whereas in the past, many pride parades have had a "we're not going to be invisible, dammit!" feel to them, this was very much, "whee, fun!" And that's great. Would like to see more casualness about such things throughout the rest of the world - wouldn't it be lovely if the GLBT Police and Fireman's Float was just part of the Macy's Parade, and no one made a big deal about it?

"We're not in Kansas" moment: we just passed by an old, two-story brick house in the middle of a field. Its roof was completely gone, and full-sized trees stood inside it, their branches at roof level. How long has some farmer been plowing around that?

The fields here look much like farm fields in the US, except still broke up by hedgerows. Scarletdemon said that the agribusiness folk want to remove them to make farming more efficient, "but they are so important to England's wildlife that there is a lot of resistance to that." Hey, they're important to US wildlife, too, Wish there was more recognition of that in our country. Everyone only worries about getting their bread for a few cents less. Grr.

Every once in a while trains pass us going the other way. They look close enough to touch, and they are just screaming by. It's a startling reminder of my mortality. I'm grateful for the efficiency of the British rail system, not letting them whack into each other.

Keep it up, guys.

Really tired, from staying up too late with Scarlet and Ferrett, winding each other up and taking the piss out of each other. It was great, but wow I'm tired. To the point where my thoughts are getting really scattered.

And I'm much more allergic to England than I thought I would be. This is irksome, but it makes tragic sense - alas, all the invasive crap that has taken over the native fauna of the US came from over here. I expect I will continue to be snuffling throughout the trip.

Clearly, it is time for more tea.

Brits really do drink it for everything. Scarlet told us about a car accident that happened just outside her house. Some drunk flew down the hill going the wrong way and wiped out another car. She said that by the time she'd called the police and gotten out there, both victims were already holding fortifying mugs of tea, brought to them by other witnesses who realized that what was most needed was a nice cuppa.

And I do mean mug. Tea may be found in delicate china, poured from a silver service, but not on a day-to-day basis. Scarlet's "tea pot" looks like a glass coffee carafe, her cups are a jumble of novelty mugs acquired over years of holiday gift-giving. When we've gotten tea in pubs and restaurants, it has arrived in sturdy ceramic, not fragile porceline. It's a real drink, neither fancy nor pretentious.

I want to live in a row house and not own a car and ride the tube and drink pots of P.G. Tipps.

And winter somewhere else. Because, dude, all that cold and wind would totally harsh my buzz.

[User Picture]From: shezan
2006-08-06 11:17 pm (UTC)
I'm grateful for the efficiency of the British rail system, not letting them whack into each other.

*from every Brit, and everyone else who's lived in England for a while*:

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From: sunfell
2006-08-06 11:23 pm (UTC)
I see that guffaw and raise you the annual autumn spectacle of shutting down the trains because of 'leaves on the line'.

You'd think that they'd invent some sort of air gun to put on the front of trains to blow the damn things off.

I miss England sometimes...
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[User Picture]From: dolmena
2006-08-07 12:36 am (UTC)
I want to live in a row house and not own a car and ride the tube and drink pots of P.G. Tipps.

Oh, me too. Unfortunately, all I get is the P.G. Tips.
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[User Picture]From: jojomojo
2006-08-07 02:35 am (UTC)
Actually...come to think of it, I'm living in the US, I live in a row house (townhouse, that is), and don't own a car, and do in fact have PG Tips from Hillers in my cupboard. Riding the tube, in Ann Arbor, possibly a little trickier...but then that's true of the non-London bits of the UK too :)
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From: fyrefairy
2006-08-07 12:44 am (UTC)
I've noted that you and Ferrett both mention the P.G. Tips - we have it at World Market in Indianapolis, so I'd imagine you can get it in Cleveland.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-08-07 09:58 am (UTC)
Ooo, World Market! I didn't think of them!
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[User Picture]From: ba1126
2006-08-07 12:45 am (UTC)
I'm loving all the updates from you and Ferrett! Thanks for keeping us involved in your trip.

I'm Irish descent and my kids joke that my blood is at least one third tea. I start and end the day with it and often put the kettle on while drinking the last of my current cup. I, too, have a large collection of mugs (about 25?). The one non-mug I drink from occasionally is a tall "Harrod's" footed china cup that my husband brought back from a business trip to England! When we have breakfast at our local spot, they know to bring a carafe of coffee for my husband and another of tea for me!!

I hope you'll continue to have a wonderful time and to share it vicariously with us. Enjoy!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-08-07 09:59 am (UTC)
Do you have an electric kettle? I will probably need to find one, once we get home.
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[User Picture]From: smldada9801
2006-08-07 12:52 am (UTC)
I love the commentary. It brings back wonderful memories of my time over there.
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[User Picture]From: katzinoire
2006-08-07 01:06 am (UTC)

Tea Please!

Oh ferrett, please bring me back some Earl Grey! I'll pay you!! I love the tea there sniff! Glad to see you guys are enjoying yourselves. :o)
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[User Picture]From: katzinoire
2006-08-07 01:08 am (UTC)

Maybe It Would Improve My Chances...........

If I asked the correct LJer for tea-sorry Gini!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-08-07 10:00 am (UTC)

Re: Maybe It Would Improve My Chances...........

I don't know if we'll have room to stuff in anything, but I'll try!
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[User Picture]From: jojomojo
2006-08-07 02:15 am (UTC)
Hang on - you live in Ohio. Is the climate really so much nicer there than in Michigan that it'd be worse to winter in the UK? Bear in mind England, at least, gets snow about once every half decade...
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-08-07 10:02 am (UTC)
All very good points!
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[User Picture]From: kathrynrose
2006-08-07 02:17 am (UTC)
When I was in Edinburgh a few years ago, a friend of mine kept pointing to buildings as we were walking around, saying, "That building is older than your country."

I think we're short-sighted over here because we think we're all grown up, and we're really just rich adolescents with dangerous grown-up toys.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-08-07 10:04 am (UTC)
There is a lot of truth to that.
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[User Picture]From: happydog
2006-08-07 03:45 am (UTC)

Ray Davies says it best

Granny's always ravin' and rantin',
And she's always puffin' and pantin',
And she's always screaming and shouting,
And she's always brewing up tea.

Grandpappy's never late for his dinner,
Cos he loves his leg of beef
And he washes it down with a brandy,
And a fresh made pot of tea.

Have a cuppa tea, have a cuppa tea,
have a cuppa tea, have a cuppa tea,
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, Rosie Lee
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, Rosie Lee.

If you feel a bit under the weather,
If you feel a little bit peeved,
Take granny's stand-by potion
For any old cough or wheeze.
It's a cure for hepatitis, it's a cure for chronic insomnia,
It's a cure for tonsillitis and for water on the knee.

Tea in the morning, tea in the evening, tea at supper time,
You get tea when it's raining, tea when it's snowing,
Tea when the weather's fine.
You get tea as a mid-day stimulant
You get tea with your afternoon tea
For any old ailment or disease
For Christ sake have a cuppa tea.

Whatever the situation, whatever the race or creed,
Tea knows no segregation, no class nor pedigree
It knows no motivations, no sect or organisation,
It knows no one religion,
Nor political belief.
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2006-08-07 09:48 am (UTC)

Re: Ray Davies says it best

We have mentioned this song at least once per day. And during our trip to Buckingham Palace I could not stop humming Victoria, and every mews we see leads me to sing Berkeley Mews underneath my breath.

The Kinks are the soundtrack to this place.
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[User Picture]From: labelleizzy
2006-08-07 07:56 am (UTC)
talkin like a Brit already...
"winding each other up and taking the piss out of each other." I also remember "taking the mickey"... *sigh*

I miss it...

"I want to live in a row house and not own a car and ride the tube and drink pots of P.G. Tipps."

yeah. but I prefer the dental care out hereabouts... other than that...
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[User Picture]From: shezan
2006-08-07 10:04 am (UTC)
You will enjoy this.

(And they don't come more English than Orwell.)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-08-07 10:47 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: nuala
2006-08-07 11:31 am (UTC)
I want to live in a row house and not own a car and ride the tube and drink pots of P.G. Tipps.

Oo! Oo! I ride the tube! But I drink Twinings, because who can resist when Stephen Fry tells you that it's lovely. ;-)

I'm loving your stories! They're reminding me of my first days/weeks here, and how I'm still finding cool things to see. :-)
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[User Picture]From: teya_uk
2006-08-07 12:06 pm (UTC)
The trains have "power points" - they do? where? I've not seen any? (but then again I'm not sure that the Metro service from Romford to London qualifies as a train ...)

The country has been experiencing a drought, and water levels are so low that a "hose ban" is on - we've still not got a hose pipe ban, apparantly essex & suffolk water are a little more efficient than Thames Water. Having said that, there are different rules for people with water meters as compared to those without. It seemes ok to water your grass as long as you're paying more for it ...

For one thing, the houses continue to be built on much smaller footprints of land - true, less land, more ppl, more cars. The cynical among us may think that developers just want to make more money by putting more houses on less land (hence the term 'postage stamp garden'). It is truly scary when you know how little it costs for the land and building costs and how much they attempt to charge for the newbuilds .. and how quickly they start to fall down ...

hard to say for certain, but it appears that new development continues to take into account needs like public transportation - if you're buying a new build in an existing town, then yes, you're ok for transport. If you buy one slightly further out, you often rely on having to drive to a station, pay silly amounts to park there for the day (if you can get a space) and then even sillier amounts for a rail card. Buses in the country are relatively few and far between. (OK, maybe an extreme view .. but based on house hunting in Braintree!!)

I'm grateful for the efficiency of the British rail system - lmao .. this was said tongue in cheek yes?

No truly, I do love living in England, mostly. Just becoming a little cynical in my old age!

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[User Picture]From: dweezel
2006-08-07 11:24 pm (UTC)
All I remember from the England countryside is all the sheep.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-08-08 12:23 am (UTC)
Not that many out there, the way we went.
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