The Best Thing About England

Here is my friend Liv and her dog Coburn in their English garden. She refuses to be photographed without makeup.

And here is an old wheelbarrow in her backyard.

I love the fresh clean air of the English countryside. It is serene and so green. There are lots of places to discover near her home. I’ve always loved this old graveyard by the church down the road and on a hillside.

A little further down the road is an area called “The Hythe.” I had to return a rental car there once and was scared shitless to go there just because of the name. I imagined cloaked rippers and ghouls down fogged alleys, glowing eyeballs in the darkness…

Everytime we’d see a sign for that place I’d hiss at the girls in my Jekyll voice, “The Hythe, heh, heh, heh.”
But the scariest things about The Hythe are the roundabouts on the way there. One is so big it is a roundabout in a roundabout and the people who know how to drive in them must be psychic. A roundabout is circle for an intersection instead of stopsigns. In England they move clockwise. In the rest of Europe they move counterclockwise. I squeal while driving through them with my fingers crossed.

No matter what sort of place we’ve stayed in England, and we’ve been to some dives, there is always an electric kettle with tea bags and instant coffee. Funny, we have ice at all our places here, they have boiling water. Maybe it is the difference in weather. Liv’s neighbor has an American fridge with an icemaker in the door, unusual for England, not that I saw it, just heard about it. I asked Liv to tell her I knew about the fridge and still didn’t go begging for ice even though I was jonesing for it pretty badly.

This is for AJ, a band she told me about that we saw at Download and enjoyed trememdously, Wolfmother. Everyone liked them.

Picadilly Square in London is my favorite spot in the city. There is a Virgin MegaStore (record store) there that I go in and get lost for hours. Four floors of bliss.

See that sign for the Underground? Years ago Sweetpea was scared to death of riding the subway there. She’d do okay in Paris and other cities with a subway system. I kept calling it the “Metro” or the “Tube” and didn’t understand why she’d kick and scream not to go in there. Until she drew a picture of “The Underground.” It had scary bent up fingers with long claws coming out of tunnels and the word “underground” written in spooky letters. Doh.

Sweetpea has a good eye for things interesting. She took this photo of a tricked out bicycle:

One of my favorite things about walking London are the endless reminders that they drive on the other side of the road. You wouldn’t think it mattered much to pedestrians. Think like that and you could get run over quick.
So it is printed on the streets.

Seems stupid, but it is helpful. I look right, left, right, left, OCD style because I’ve seen too many “ghost cars” come out of nowhere on my first trip there.

One of the best things about England this time? Leaving there. Here’s why.

On the Eurostar from England to France I had an empty seat next to me. In front of me, a woman tapped this guy and said he was in her seat. When he stood up, it nearly stopped my heart. Gorgeous, tall guy with beautiful hair. I thought some people have all the luck, why couldn’t that guy be next to me? The Gods must have heard me. He was on the wrong row. Plopped himself in the correct seat right next to me. He told me he was a male model headed to Paris for a photo shoot. Since I fell asleep on that train can I say that I…? No. Better not.

Okay, the very best thing about England was seeing my friend Liv. Dear friends like this don’t come along too often and I am grateful to have her in my life. She is not English but Norwegian and she’ll be after me if I don’t mention that. She just lives there and that is mainly why we go.


23 thoughts on “The Best Thing About England

  1. I meant to keep a list of strange sounding things while there but didn’t. I went to a town called Braintree. Does that give you an image of something really strage?
    There’s also Bury St. Edmonds. Guess who is buried there?
    I’ll have to ask Spanky if she remembered all those strange names.
    But the Hythe. I worked that one good.

  2. Thanks for putting me on your blog Kitty. NOT!!!!! Coburn (the bighead) is pleased. Up to 10 (or less) years ago, the Hythe was a place you didn’t go to. There was a pub there with a bad reputation. Now it’s being redeveloped so you never saw the old Hythe. About strange names, the area around here is called Prettygate. It’s not all that pretty, and as far as I know, there’s no gate. Might have been a few hundred years ago.

  3. “The old Hythe.” Now that will give me nightmares.
    I find your area very beautiful. I’ve been meaning to ask about the gate. I do love that name.
    Thanks again for such a good time and all the laughs. Funny how we just pick up where we left off as if we’d just seen each other yesterday, huh?

  4. Anita Marie, say it in a hoarse, ragged voice while rubbing your hands together, “the Hyyyyyythe.”

    Liv, have a great time at the concert tomorrow. I’ve set my machine to record the event. Hope you are safe, the news today from there is upsetting.

  5. That trip of yours sounds most interesting. What got my full attention (and me being me I guess you’ve already guessed) is “…He told me he was a male model headed to Paris for a photo shoot. Since I fell asleep on that train can I say that I…?”. So, Ms. Kitty, you slept with a model? Where’s Spanky and Sweetpea? I need to talk to them.

  6. I know, security has been upgraded to “critical” for airports and crowded places. As princes William and Harry, as well as a lot of big showbiz names, on stage and in the audience are going to be there, the word “target” springs to mind. If I get blown apart by some lunatic’s bomb, I’ll be pretty pissed off that I just stopped smoking. I could have enjoyed this past week instead of climbing the walls.

  7. Soph, LOL! All Sweetpea could say about it was that I didn’t deserve to be in that seat since I’m married. Spanky was not so aware of who was next to me. She kept complaining about these obnoxiously loud people behind us and I said, “Spank, sometimes you get unlucky about who sits near you, other times, (and I was signalling with rolling eyeballs to my side) you have all the luck.

    Liv, that would totally suck. Totally. LOL.

  8. Oh he has a beard in that photo! Or at least the beginnings of one. I have only ever seen him clean shaven. Gotta love that fro!

    Also, we also have the “look left” or “look right” on our major city roads.

  9. P.S Those signs can be important you know. German looked the wrong way in the UK and got his foot run over by a courier van. LOL

  10. Yeah he does have a beard. He is a funny guy too while performing. He laughs a lot.

    I was wondering if you had those signs there too and if you guys almost get run over here since we don’t paint the streets like that.
    I also wonder if visitors think that is for the locals, which way to look? LOL.

  11. Two things about England, two things oh so typical and funny, is the road signs and the infamous “Mind the gap”. You gotta love them both.

  12. Funny thing is, those “Look Left” ‘Look Right” signs are all over residential and distinctly NOT touristy parts of London. They seem to be for locals as much as tourists. For the locals it has to do with all the one way streets and the fact that different neighbourhoods are extremely different and unpredictable than the ones with which one might be familiar and it’s so easy to get off at an unfamiliar Tube stop and just look the wrong way because you’ve never been there before..

    I think the fun thing about it is that it’s all part of the centuries and centuries of bureaucracy in England – the layers upon layers of pedantry based on the assumption that people need always be told the rules lest they be forgotten and there be blood!

    Hythe is a great word. And I met a lovely Norwegian woman when I lived in London. Never made it to Norway but between my Elisabeth and your Liv, I’m thinkin’ well of the place [smile].

  13. What startles me most about England is how people there are willing to wait in long lines for things without getting cross. Someone there told me that is because they believe that anything good is worth waiting for, if there isn’t a line, they don’t want it.
    We’d better not get those two Norwegian women together, they would burn the place down.

  14. I am only now catching up with blogs, and I’m going at yours slowly.

    I thought you were going to say you slept with that gorgeous dog, and he’s a model.

    Boy was I surprised to find out who you were REALLY sleeping with.

    And the first b&b we stayed in, I heated the water in the plastic electric kettle thingy and put the tea bag in IT. I wonder what they thought when they found it.

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