England

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Damaged in Newcastle

I’m talking about my poor brolly at least, that took a fair amount of beating in the blustery winds and heavy rains that accompanied my visit down south to Newcastle – a less than perfect backdrop for the famous 7 bridges across the River Tyne. Newcastle, suspiciously run-down and dreary from the train on a sunny day, looked like an industrial wasteland whose construction was abandoned in the 1800s after the Revolution in the rain and cloudy weather. But a step out from the Central Station and onto Grainger Street where the urban centre begins and the atmosphere as I imagine it would be minus the bad weather, would have...

Wandering (part of) the Black Country

I found out not too long ago from a quick perusal of the trusty Lonely Planet Guidebook that the Black Country was another name for the West Midlands area of England, the blue collar championing area where the ‘real’ people toiled and laboured at work before celebrating hard in a pub with tons of beer, and spoke (according to some websites that had forums) with the ugliest accents. A last-minute journey required me to go all the way to Walsall via Birmingham and I practically pounced on the opportunity to do something else other than travel the eastern Coast as I’ve been wont to do so much these days. The...

Elitist Boundaries

The airport bus was late, so the irate faces of the would-be passengers told me. The driver however, did apologise for the lateness, on the grounds of “people not being able to drive properly”. And then it was yet another 50 minutes from London Stansted to the town centre. Cambridge seems to typify the posh bit of the so-called ‘Englishness’. I found that its open spaces achingly beautiful, its grounds almost sacred (almost like Edinburgh with Hyde Park built in) but infuriatingly elitist, its city centre small and after a while…dare I say..boring.Punting is the highly-rated pastime and the order of the day. One punter tried to imitate a Venetian...

A better version of London

The Travel Companion (TC) was with me once again this month, and we decided to make the 5-hour train journey to London from Edinburgh. I was adamant that he should be the one to write this entry because our last trip to London last December was pretty much accidental. My own memories of London spent in the summer of 2007 were exceptionally good, and I had desperately hoped that TC would have at least enjoyed that same privileged experience which I had. This meant packing a heck of a lot of activities in the 3 days we were there (the majority of them consisting of visiting galleries in the day,...

Englishmen in (Old) York

I decided that England is a dreadfully dismal place to be in the whole of God’s cheery earth, as the National Express East Coast wound it way southwards towards York. Clear skies in Edinburgh soon became a memory as the train chugged through England – and fog intuitively seemed to roll in at the Scottish borders after Berwick-upon-Tweed, hugging the coast line and passing Holy Isle en route to Newcastle, Durham, Darlington and finally, York. Even the weather hates the English, I thought childishly. Thankfully the 2.5 hour-long journey to York was mostly without incident, save for screaming children who got excited over sheep and inconsiderate parents sitting in the...

Winter of (Dis)content

TC and I congratulated ourselves on the relatively fuss-free and brilliant KLM internet check-in procedure as we were ensconced in the Airport Shuttle (also pleased that the driver found the pick-up location) en-route to Edinburgh Turnhouse Airport, replete with our bagfuls of gifts and other stuff sitting behind us. Once more, the security checks and baggage drops seemed effortless, as we found a nook adjacent to the gate that had reclining chairs on which no one seemed willing to lie. Near-slumberous repose overtook us, until an announcement for our flight woke us into anticipation, and catapulted us into dread and unprecedented panic as we were told that this flight to...

The Tale of a Country Bumpkin

I came, and saw (Les Miserables at West End with John Owen-Jones a.k.a. God) and fell into raptures. Bought the Les Miz ticket at Queen’s Theatre Box Office and got a restricted view but first-row seat, with some of the set reaching past the few rows. Call it a true experience when you get to see the much more than the going-on in the foreground. I was close enough to claw him into erotic submission each time “God” sang, but decided to restrain myself at the last minute for fear of losing some dignity. I think the compelling force of the Les Miserables story (besides John Owen Jones who actually...