…And All The Other Places

Great Britain

Writing about London is always a pleasure, but I feel increasingly bad about not covering the rest of the country.

Here, though, I am at a disadvantage. Nobody in the history of our family, barring my mother’s missing relatives, came from anywhere other than central London, so there were no trips to the family homes of other relatives in Hampshire or Shropshire or Devon or East Anglia. They remained place names on railway boards and advertisement hoardings, or were encountered in novels. The furthest away that anyone resided was an uncle who lived with a nice young man in Earl’s Court, a handful of stops on the District Line.

I fantasised about visiting these places but could not imagine checking into a strange hotel and pottering about by myself even when I had a vehicle (I gave up my car five years ago because I never used it).

By the time I was eighteen our family had visited Brighton and perhaps three other Southern England destinations that could be reached by car in a day with the guarantee of getting us back by nightfall (in summer, so 10pm). When I left home I immediately went to…Europe. At 25 I finally visited Cornwall (one wet weekend) and Norfolk (one wet weekend). To this day I have been to about six of the UK’s 48 counties. Nearly all of these forays have been for work. I imagined the English countryside to be like this.

Rather than this.

I once attempted to picnic in a field and was thrown out of it by a ranting red-faced farmer. I have been to Newcastle once for a few hours and Blackpool (one wet weekend, emetic and grotesque). I have a skewed view of Scotland because every time I’ve been to Glasgow it has been scorchingly hot, and on the few occasions I went to Edinburgh it was snowing hard.

I’ve never been to the Lake District, the New Forest or any other forest for that matter, once to the Cotswolds (horrible, full of braying trust fund creeps and invasive tourist coaches) and twice to Wales (Cardiff only, quite liked it) although I have a vague memory of being driven through fields where there were signs saying ‘Do not get out of your vehicle and touch anything as it may explode and kill you’.

I enjoyed a trip to Manchester but was horrified by the architectural vandalism inflicted by its underfunded council. I went to York for a day and Sheffield overnight and to a disgusting hotel in Nottingham for a festival. I’ve briefly been to Oxford and Cambridge for prestigious literary festivals, but never for recreation. You zoom in, do the job and are zoomed out again by publicists. I did another in Bath, gorgeous (one afternoon, literary festival) but that’s it.

Whereas I’ve been to every country in Europe, over and over. My French is passable, my Spanish rudimentary but I have no idea what people with heavy rural British accents are saying. There was one trip to Dublin to give a talk at the university, loved it, never really got a chance to sober up long enough to appreciate it – but Dublin felt more like a sophisticated European capital so of course it was enjoyable.

I suspect I missed the best of the British countryside, when there were still wooden signposts and carthorses and duckponds and everywhere looked like this.

Whereas in my head they looked like this.

And there were others who agreed with me. Stewart Lee’s monologue about city folk who move to a country village contains a line that goes something like;

‘It’s great, come and visit, we have a one-way system and a Pizza Bella. Please come. Bring coke.’

It was a reciprocal state of affairs, of course. When once we ventured out of London and ordered a drink in a Kent pub, ordering a Bloody Mary, the landlord said, ‘This isn’t a fucking cocktail bar.’ And when rural folks think of where I live – or dare to think about visiting – they imagine something like this.

King’s Cross spent a century with the prefix ‘seedy’ attached to its name, and since its redevelopment is now grudgingly referred to as ‘formerly seedy’. But the neighbourhood I see, now largely devoid of prostitutes if not drug dealers, is this.

Prejudices form quickly and remain. No place deserves to be judged on the evidence of a single visit years ago. The American cliché about the British having bad teeth arose from the UK postings of US airmen in WWII, when there were few dentists operating, and the idea seemed simply bizarre to me growing up.

There are clearly problems with the ‘Other Places’, especially from the government’s disgraceful dismissal of the North. Underfunding by endlessly rezoning vast areas of the country is the sleaziest of tactics. Arts grants were rezoned to reduce expenditure until the North could no longer rely on central government for anything. Yet children who grow up visiting Britain’s local theatres are more likely to have a classical education in theatre than Londoners. London is filled with tourist musicals, while Chekov, Ibsen and Shakespeare tour continually.

The carving up of towns by giant supermarket chains has damaged local economy. For a country with an extraordinary amount of coastline and pasture it appals me that we have hardly any small fish shops or butchers.

The UK’s reduction on the world stage (and America’s) as power devolves toward China and South East Asia may yet prove a good thing. Lockdown has made us think about who we are and why we should care more for each other on the home front, whether we’re from town or country. Never live in a country seeking international attention. It always ends badly.

48 comments on “…And All The Other Places”

  1. Peter Dixon says:

    You should get out more.

  2. Mary Rutherford says:

    What Peter said. I read this and thought, he’s feeling down again.
    England is not the Home Counties and RP (earlier post) is not all about being understood, there’s much more class distinction woven in than that. Of all the places I’ve lived in, London was my favourite for its energy and variety. Now I live near a river in a National Park and I swear, I saw more badgers, bats, hedgehogs, fieldmice, owls, migrating birds and grass snakes when I was living in Manchester under a flight path by the roaring A6. But this is more beautiful, I admit.

  3. Daren Murray says:

    Blackpool is where I moved to 15 years ago, after 15 years in London. It was a very poor choice (based on low house prices and a thriving gay scene that was still important to me at the time). Things have declined dramatically over the last 15 years. It has had some considerable re-development of the seafront recently, but as Bill Bryson memorably stated it is now absolutely lovely, just as long as you only stare out to sea. Grotesque is a fair comment.

  4. BarbaraBoucke says:

    Thank you for this. It has produced a lot of thoughts but I’m not sure how to word them and you don’t need a rambling narrative here. Every summer we went on a family trip for a week or so, but none of them left California until I was
    age 14. I wanted my Dad to stop by the large road sign that said You are now entering the state of Oregon (or something like that) but he just smiled and shook his head “No”. I’ve never seen all the “Other Places” here – the country is too big, and now I wouldn’t. My last trip to England was in 2008 and I’m sure things have continued to change. London was not the picture postcard one sees on a rack in Euston Station or however postcards are sold now, but there still are many wonderful images in my head – sometimes just moments with people. I read your comment about “tourist musicals” and I freely admit to seeing Les Miz and Phantom and whatever else was playing then. But I also saw Dame Maggie Smith – twice – which were moments I won’t forget plus Antony Hopkins, Michael Gambon, Sir Nigel Hawthorne – the list is too long. And the Thames never failed to just be a place i wanted to stand on one of the bridges and watch what was happening. I’ve been to the Lake District more than once, Oxford, Cheshire, and Edinburgh – twice – which I loved. Goodness knows if what I’ve written makes any sense. My cat keeps poking me because he wants attention, so I will stop. Thank you again for this new set of thoughts.

  5. snowy says:

    ‘Do not get out of your vehicle and touch anything as it may explode and kill you’

    You would have been passing through MOD land, specifically a firing range. We don’t set traps for Townies any more, [not since they banned trip guns and gins].

  6. Brian Evans says:

    Looking out of our bedroom window was just like the view in the first pic on here, until recently, as the farmer retired so we don’t see the tractor in the field anymore. Skylarks make a nest under our roof, and tbh, they are a sodding nuisance.

    We still maintain a flat in Judd St, Kings Cross, where my partner (until the virus) used to spend a week a month. He still loves London, and esp the British Library just over the road. I just don’t like it there anymore, esp the hell hole called the Euston Road.

    Admins snap of his bit of Kings Cross brings back very happy memories. It is just by a pub frequented by-how can I put it- ahem “flamboyant bachelors” and I have spent many a happy hour in there getting absolutely legless. Obviously, I only went there to be sociable as I didn’t want to come across as stand-offish. I just went to help them out a bit when they were busy.

    Admin, could you please let me know where the Kings Cross drug dealers you mention hang out, as I have never managed to find any.

    .

  7. admin says:

    Snowy, it was indeed MOD land – like Withnail, we had ‘gone on holiday by mistake’.

  8. Brian Evans says:

    Whoops, I mean the view out of our window is like the second pic on here.

  9. Bernard says:

    I grew up in Yorkshire, went to university in the South East, worked in London, and took most holidays in the Lake District. None of Christopher’s impressions resonate. However, I was always simultaneously amused and annoyed when driving out of London on the A1(M) by the motorway sign with an upward arrow labelled “Barnet and The North”. There ought to have been a sign on the A1 near Leeds with a downward arrow labelled “Barnsley and The South”.

  10. Bernard says:

    By the way, there is something amiss with the clock which gives the time stamp for comments here. I posted at 3:17 pm UK time but the stamp states it was 8:17 am.

  11. Peter T says:

    Where do you find the real England? My upbringing tells me that it’s in those industrial heartlands, like my Black Country, where you find people who can make anything, the people who made Britain. But those places have almost disappeared.

    Then, there’s the City of London, home of the Bank of England, and our ports and the Royal Navy that also made Britain, or paid for it, and have also been eaten away

    What’s left? The countryside, a few little guys still beavering to make things and Oxford and Cambridge, just about surviving, in spite of the efforts of their own graduates that entered politics and government. Chris, get a nice old car, award yourself some freedom, and make grand road trip of the British countryside, most of it is wonderful, even in the wet!

    Teeth: l’ve lived in the US and, though our teeth aren’t what they were when the NHS took care of them, compared with many Americans, they’re ivory towers.

  12. Paul C says:

    Thank you so much for using the phrase ‘other places’ instead of those highly patronising terms ‘the provinces’ and ‘provincial people’ which us northerners find incendiary.

    I enjoy London enormously and often wander around for entire days but there’s a lot more to the UK than the Great
    Wen. Aside from the places mentioned above, I’d strongly recommend Durham which is a stop on most London to Edinburgh trains – a small jewel of a city.

  13. Mike says:

    Since I retired we travel all over England to get books signed.
    Gives a bit of purpose to going away for a few days. (that should be GAVE a bit of purpose)
    Stuck at home mostly now, my collection is suffering. 🙁
    Thankful that Goldsboro Books exist.

  14. Brooke says:

    “…I feel increasingly bad about not covering the rest of the country.” Why? Will it contribute to your writing, historical knowledge…?

    In the past, I’ve teased you about being London-centric and, like Peter D,, urged you to see more of the UK. I take it all back. Before this second wave of the virus, I had invitations from UK friends to visit again and tour. After conducting some on-line digging about my favorite places, I realized how much tourism boards have taken over, homogenizing, industrializing, commercializing things and/or turning areas into “ye olde.”

    And the mood…can’t imagine what it’s like under BoJo government and partial, on/off lockdown. Same here in US; I can’t and won’t visit friends, dear to me as they are, in southern and midwestern states.

    But still very fond memories of Edinburgh, Glasgow and wondering around islands; also Gloucester, York, Durham, Norwich, Bath and Exeter. Wish I’d taken time to visit Leeds, Birmingham etc.

  15. Wayne Mook says:

    Bryant and May suit London so taking them somewhere else would be a mistake, like one of those soaps doing a special in Venice or somewhere. On second thoughts they could be invited to an Unusual policing Conference in Amsterdam with something using the canals for nefarious gain or even set it in Paris and the catacombs, or Barcelona I’m sure you could think of something there.

    No B&M are London books, it would feel a little out to supplant them elsewhere.

    Your other books leave London, I enjoyed your trips to Spain and the Middle East.

    As to Manchester your comment, ‘I enjoyed a trip to Manchester but was horrified by the architectural vandalism inflicted by its underfunded council.’ Yep that’s about right, enjoyable but they never stop messing it about, always have as I’ve mentioned before. If you wan tan update look in the BBC I-player and have a look at Manctopia.

    If you were going to do a tale here it would have to involve cranes, old building being slain or repurposed, and we do have the current urban myth of ‘The Pusher.’

    As to an idea of England it never really existed, the different accents show that, as they fade and we share more we come closer together and then we’ll probably find something else we can all be different about.

    Wayne.

  16. snowy says:

    I’ve been puzzling over pic 2, it seems to be some odd amalgam of a bits and pieces drawn by somebody that has never been to the country. But if you want to see some old boy cutting wheat I can probably show you something like that.

    “We’ll cut through the Cemetery, there are a few of them London types in ‘ere, that one there, he was a pathologist in a lunatic asylum and those two little ones with crosses on were nuns that died nursing the sick during one of the local Cholera outbreaks.” “The direct route is up Slipp’ry Hill, but we won’t go up that way, not ’cause it’s haunted, it’s still a bit muddy and it’ll mess up those fancy shoes of yours.” “Ghosts? Yes, well it’s very steep and carts would run away down the hill, it could get a bit messy, if the wheel caught on that tree the driver would be pitched in to the air.” “They found one with his ‘ed impaled on the Cemetery gates, took three blokes to get him off, and a crowbar.”

    “We’ll wind our way up this road instead, it’s all late Victorian villas, a bit of money came into the town then.” “There was this ‘orrible weed that grew in the local river, well river come sewer and it kept having to be cut down and pulled out.” “They tried feeding it to the pigs, but they turned their noses up at it.” “Till one day some chef in a fancy hat in London, decided that it was the ‘new vegetable’, and suddenly people couldn’t rip it out fast enough.” “It didn’t last long, there were a few… deaths, as supplies dwindled people were bulking it out with other related plants, one of them had funny effects on some people, they saw faeries for a few hours and then went a bit scream-y and then a bit blue and then died.”

    “Let’s look at those pictures of yours, stone wall, nope none of them, that’s mostly up North that is.” “It’s all blackthorn hedges round ‘ere, nature’s barbed wire, yes, just unhook your jacket.” “Elderflower, yes over there, you can’t see it, it comes out late Spring lasts 2 weeks and then sets fruit, you’ve missed it.” “Dog Rose, yep, all the petals fell off weeks ago mind, it’s that spindly thing with big thorns on it.” “Swallows, no… you see that dirty white patch over there? Looks like somebody burst a cushion, well before it was reduced to its component parts that was a pigeon.” “Percy would have been flying along quite merrily, wondering where he was going to get his next bit of pizza crust with grit on it, and WHACK! he’s ‘ad his spine ripped out by one of those hawks circling above that oak tree over there.” “Swallows wouldn’t last long, especially if they were carrying anachronistic coconuts, or make much of a meal, more of a starter.”

    “What’s left? Gatekeeper butterfly, nope, Meadow Browns, closely related but not nearly as pretty, 2 weeks in June and then they disappear.” “If we cross over this stile into this cow meadow; watch out for that… well I’m sure it will wipe off, you might need a change of socks if it’s got down inside.” “Just up there over that hedge is the wheat field, should be lovely and ripe by now, just like your picture.” “There you go… Oh! he’s cut it. Bugger!”

    “What was that other one, the photograph, Pagan sacrifice?” “No, we never had any of that nonsense, what strange ideas you city folk ‘ave.” “Plenty of Christian ones though, you see that clump of trees half sunk into that hollow?” “That’s where they used to burn dissenters, there was quite a lot of that at one point, here and over in the next valley.” “You didn’t even ‘ave to ‘ave a pointy hat or even look a bit ‘Witch-y’ “You just had to question the teachings or power of the Church and whoosh! ‘Heretic onna stick’.”

    [A tale from the Countryside, the facts are true, well mostly, though the geography has been very slightly compressed.]

    The ‘Countryside’ is a very diverse place, as are the people in it, you have to spend quite a long time in it to figure out how it all works.

  17. snowy says:

    Bernard, the timestamps come from the clock in the computer on which the blog physically exists, from memory it’s in the US. Hence it lags, there is a setting that will force it to display local times but it needs to be turned on.

    [I think he keeps it on LA time, because he’s, as we all know, part of the ‘International Jet Set’. New York – London – Paris – Munich, Everybody talk about…. etc.]

  18. Helen Martin says:

    Well, let’s see what time it shows when I post, since I’m on LA time. It’s actually 10:18pm.

  19. Helen Martin says:

    It would seem that, as usual, you’re correct, Snowy.

  20. Dawn Andrews says:

    Glad you enjoyed Dublin admin, if you ever think of reading Ulysses again remember it’s one giant pub crawl through that labyrinth. The very air is 80% proof I’m sure. Also love Glasgow, beautiful city with some fantastic art galleries, and the most Gothic art school in the world. Cardiff is also a great city. Do Celts have more fun do you think?

  21. Liz Thompson says:

    Snowy, you’ve got the “country” talk to a T. I was brought up in a small village, and can easily recall similar rambling conversations with friends/relatives from more urban settings. It was quite a shock leaving 900 person agricultural village in Northamptonshire to move to Leeds as a student. Good shock though, I’ve lived in West Yorkshire ever since.
    NB We didn’t burn dissenters. The 3 Catholics were collected by mini bus every Sunday and returned intact from their rites. Church and (Baptist) chapel co-existed and even cooperated over Remembrance Day. Pagans and other non observers kept a low profile, though we had rousing harvest festivals, with sheaves of wheat in the church and specially decorated bread. There may have been unorthodox activities in the pubs, especially after closing time had been achieved, whether official or unofficial, but the main source of antagonism was the weekly bell ringers practice. We did our best, but…….

  22. Daren says:

    I know that you’ve been to Dorset admin, I sat next to you in a cinema way back in 1991. Not sure how much of Dorset you’d have seen given it was a 24 hour plus non-stop film festival. Being a former native of Hampshire I can really recommend the New Forrest.

  23. Martin Tolley says:

    Dawn, I have happy memories of Glasgow as a post-graduate student in the late 1970s. Unfortunately the wonderful Art School Mackintosh building was destroyed by a fire in 2018. Folk were trying to re-construct it (!), but that effort was also hit by a fire. Sad.

  24. Martin Tolley says:

    Liz, as a Dorset lad now exiled in a South Northants village, I can say that one of the only benefits of the mad times we are going through is that the blessed campanologists have been muffled. Mrs T is a churchwarden and has been able to keep them locked out of the tower. I have taken the opportunity to hide the key where I hope she will not be able to find it.

  25. Dawn Andrews says:

    How on earth did I miss that piece of news Martin? I’m shattered, I loved that building so much, the library was a work of art in its own right. As for reconstructing it, fat chance.

  26. Peter Dixon says:

    Read Peter Tinniswood’s ‘Uncle Mort’s North Country’ if you can find a copy. It’s pretty spot-on about Yorkshire and Lancs. And absolutely hilarious in a splendidly deadpan way. Its all about Carter Brandon and his aged Uncle Mort spending a week driving around the North and usually ending up in pubs.

    ‘In the good old days of my youth the North stood unique and solid. It hadn’t been polluted by the South,’ said Uncle Mort. ‘They was real people then. People created in the image of what God intended man to be – bronchial, unpleasant company and congenitally rude to strangers.’
    He sighed deeply and continued:
    ‘I blame the telly for most of our ills. It’s made us all the same. All these bloody weather forecasters. All those women news readers getting divorced right, left and centre. All those incessant Royal Weddings with their big ears and receding chins.’

  27. Helen Martin says:

    The Glasgow Art School fires. We were standing on the window wall end taking pictures when a local lady came by and commented favourably on our activity. “We’re so proud of this building,” she commented, almost patting it as she walked by. When we heard about the project to repair/rebuild I was on the point of sending money to the fund when we heard about the second fire, which did a more thorough job. Can anyone say what they have done to provide an art school location since then? Not that anything could physically match that incredible place.

  28. admin says:

    I have both of the Uncle Mort books. They are delightful. I think I have most of Tinniswood’s output; a Northern original.

  29. Jan says:

    I know I’m well past my job sell by date now but the formerly seedy Kings X had back in the early noughties sidled a bit up to the north. I think it might have been in the direction of Wharfdale Street/Road or somewhere. You know where the old cattle market clock and gates were left in situ in the middle of some blocks of council flats which which were on one side of the road and some floodlit 5 a side football pitches were on the other. Up the Caledonian Road somewhere. Not pleasant. A good way past the original UK Backpackers up that way on. Spent far too many hours of my life up there. Bloody draughty old place and it seemed to be raining about 75% of the time. Was like a red light area microclimate.

    Here I’ve been to the New Forest today. Was still raining but the autumn colours of the trees were lovely. Found some amazing roof bosses transplanted from their church roof /ceiling in the early part of the 20C and transferred to a display case. Don’t think a anybody had cleaned the glass of this display cabinet since but these things were fantastic.
    There was a proper green man in amoungst them! I was well impressed.

    You know with all these air travel restrictions this is the time to be tottering around the UK looking for displaced roof bosses, and tracing the routes of Leys and generally becoming a bit of a nutter. It’s very enjoyable. I took a few photographs of some extremely oddly shaped mushrooms growing up from a (very old) Grave.

  30. Jan says:

    I saw a very rude cartoon that featured the mushroom/ grave motif once. Was v funny.

  31. Richard says:

    You could probably have a vicarious tour of the country via us lot. We could put up 2 minute YouTube films of the best and worst of our local areas, with particular attention to the sort of odd stuff you like to include in your books.

  32. Dawn Andrews says:

    Helen, I can’t imagine how they can be coping, the campus was always a bit spread out but the studio spaces alone would be hard to replace. There was a stairwell, curved like the inside of a shell, that was a great place for thinking. It felt like a privilege to just be there.

  33. Jan says:

    That’s a novel (!) Idea Richard if you aren’t competent enough to work the camera filming thingy or if it’s proper old + a bit rubbish could you just send in a photo? Asking for a friend.

  34. admin says:

    Dear God: ‘Chris’s Blog – The Movie.’ Filmed in all civilised parts of the country, and some of Wales.

  35. Kevin says:

    I’m sure that one time in Glasgow for “Aye Write”, it was raining all day. I don’t think I’ve ever been in Glasgow when it’s been scorchingly hot!

  36. Brooke says:

    Dear Chris: Once again you’ve lost control of this lot. For your sins…
    God.

  37. Dawn Andrews says:

    A meandering road movie, given to sidetracks and unexpected collisions with odd characters who leap out along the way, waving madly. It could be a cult classic.

  38. Martin Tolley says:

    Dawn, I think you’ve just described this blog perfectly.

  39. Wayne Mook says:

    Then we can drink curious wines and spirits with our Turnip mystery dishes after the premiere.

    For Manchester as Ian has pointed out there is a great you tube sight for hidden Manchester, Martin Zero.

    Wayne.

  40. Jan says:

    Read what Wayne’s written above about the perhaps unique relationship between B+M and their home city and totally agree. In a sense London or some of its best bits has almost got the status of a character in these stories. It’s more than a back drop its more than scenery it’s -daft as this might seem-
    more like a character in a sense.

    If you ever do get a transfer to the small screen( and you never know ) the show should reflect this special status. I don’t mean in the sense of the big beautiful pictures that flash up during Nigella Lawsons cookery movies (Like why? I’d really love to see her cooking in your average family kitchen in say Burnley with pictures of the local buses and the Co Op projected into the screen every now and again. That would be fantastic for Red Nose day or something similar.) The little locations like Postmans Park or some special sites along the Thames and evidence of its tributaries should feature with B+M on the telly I think that would be grand.

    Saying that in many ways my favourite B + M novel is “White Corridor” which is part set in a different country and with the lead teccies functioning at a distance from their team. I don’t know why that novel works so well for me but it does.

  41. Richard says:

    Jan, love your reply to my comment! I’m sure photos would work just as well. For your friend.
    I think a blog road movie sounds hilarious, especially if it cheers us all up as a lockdown project.

  42. Helen Martin says:

    Alright, who is willing to edit/organise it? Could we just set up a notional framework with squares numbered in a circle so we could travel round the island and environs (all those skirting islands, you know) and then an odds and sods section for the non-UK people, including Eire. Each person to then post to their number, which would automatically put their work in its proper place. Does Utube allow this sort of thing? I assume the framework would be found here rather than there, or could it be set up there and you just find your place with a “post before” date so we actually finish the thing.

  43. Ian Luck says:

    The only parts of the country I’ve not visited over the years are Northern Ireland – or, indeed, The Republic of Ireland, I’ve not been to The Isle Of Man, either, come to think of it. I’ve also not seen Orkney, or Shetland. That’s about it. I used to enjoy going off on my own, but as I’ve got older – I can’t really be bothered, to be honest. That must sound dreadful, but it’s true. A holiday just not going to work, is fine by me.

  44. Jan says:

    Cos of going to Australia in in 2018 I gave going to Orkney to see the archaeology a miss. Still regret it let a mate down by not going and would have been loads of us in a big hostel or someone’s house. Still regretting it…..Just shows you, you never know what’s to come and you should just do stuff. Numptiness not to.

  45. Helen Martin says:

    Was Australia that much of a disappointment, Jan? My aunt was not impressed but that was in 1943 and she was in the American army at the time.

  46. Jan says:

    No not at all Helen Australia was amazing! My dad went there in the war, he was in the Fleet Air Arm, and same as your sister he wasn’t overly impressed with the place I must say.

    It’s just that I didn’t have the dosh for both outings! Getting up to Orkney from this way on is massively expensive as opposed to the relative price of getting along down to Oz madly enough. Air or train tickets up to the Highlands were just crazy money when comparing them to the selection of international long distance deals you could get at that time (- perhaps never again mind you! ) Then paying for accommodation and the actual hols once up there in Scotland. Too pricy for me to do both.

    From what friends who had been there years ago said about the Aussies I didn’t know what to expect but I really liked them. If they interact with dozy tourists (like me) with such enthusiasm and to share the history of their nation it’s such a plus. Met some very inter people Was a great place.

    I dunno if I am going to get that much time to ponder over your lovely italics stuff for a day or 2 H. Or to read the stuff Snowy kindly left. Getting pulled into work a fair bit at present.

    I will do – though just later on.

  47. Jan says:

    Interesting people.

    This spellchecker is such a big numpty

  48. Helen Martin says:

    Spell checker, now that one is a numpty. I don’t know whether to say lucky you for having work or commiserating because it’s probably very wearing. I’m just glad I’m retired so I don’t have to deal with all the masks/student cohorts/outdoors as much as possible teaching stuff. Outdoors! in November’s rain?! Mind you, it’s bright and sunny today & through the weekend but when it rains it’s miserable. There’s a poem about that.

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