Friday, July 9, 2010

Things That Are Bigger In England Than In Texas.

Huge Dahlias in St. James Park

Things That Are Bigger In England Than In Texas.

1. The red footed pigeons, in fact, all the birds!
2. The trains.
3. The museums.
4. The flowers. They are enormous.
5. The capacity for dry, sarcastic wit.
6. The clouds!
7. The trees.
8. The amount of green grass and green trees.
9. The English sense of their size in relation to the rest of the world!
10. The size and variety of tourist groups.

Tourists and school field trips in St. James Park at 9 o'clock in the morning!

Things That Are Smaller In England Than In Texas

A Victorian Public Water Fountain!
1. The bathrooms!
2. The hallways.
3. The houses and sizes of rooms.
4. The fashion sense! Quite lacking!
5. Personal space.
6. Availability of ice.
7. Availability of public water fountains.
8. Sizes of fountain drinks.
9. Working air conditioning!
10. Capacity to realize that it is Hot and
      to deal with the hot weather.

A London laundrette
Today I sort of took the day off. The clothes dryer in my bed and breakfast was broken, so the owner, Glyn, told me where to find a laundrette. I had worn every shirt at least twice. It was time to do some laundry! Well, it's been years since I used a public laundromat, and I didn't have fond memories of going there in the first place.  But it wasn't bad. Very few people in London have washers and even fewer have dryers. The laundrette was staffed by a very nice local girl who walked me through how to program the machines. Just like almost everything else in Great Britain, the process is the same, but different. It's very frustrating.  What ever the task is, grocery shopping, flagging a cab, or doing laundry, the process looks familiar.  But actually doing it, is bewildering.  Just figuring out how to flush the toilets and turn on the water for the bathtubs is an adventure!  Who knew there were so many types of plumbing arrangements?

Well there were a lot of travelers just like me in the laundrette this morning doing their washing. I met a woman and her husband from Colorado who were half way through an Elder Hostel tour. They planned to return home to the U.S. on the Q.E. II.  I must admit, I felt a twinge of jealousy!  She was worried, however, because she had just discovered that the guests are required to wear evening clothes each night at dinner.  Can you say, "shopping trip?!?"  Then, I met a mom from Canada who was on a family vacation with her husband and two teenage daughters. She had a lot of laundry.  There was a very interesting young woman from Perth, Australia. The Aussie had been traveling around Europe for almost six months.  Must be nice!  And, finally, we all tried to talk to a young couple from Japan who couldn't speak much English. They were truly bewildered by the English plumbing!  It was fun comparing our trips and recommending places we enjoyed. It was also nice to let our hair down and just be tourist. Londoners don't really want to hear about our sight-seeing, but other travelers do!

Only "mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun."
The rest of the day I took evasive action against the heat. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it was hot today. It got to a high of 83! I know! I know! At home 83 is a respite. But here, 83 with 66 percent humidity is hot. They, the sun loving British, are not set up to deal with heat. Everything is designed to keep the warmth in. For example, hardly anyone has air conditioning, and when they do, it's iffy at best. There are almost no public water fountains. There is NO ice tea! That's our mainstay against summer heat. When you find a place that sells soft drinks, they always ask if you want ice. I have been tempted to scream, "Duh!" in the voice of an obnoxious teenager.  And then, they put in about four cubes of ice! It's almost melted before you start drinking. Maybe the English are scared of cold drinks?!?  Another thing I've noticed is that no one fans themselves except for the tourists. Maybe it's considered bad manners. I don't know, but I am fanning myself! Every pamplet for royal palaces, every freebie tube newspaper, every piece of paper of any size becomes my fan.  I found that it's coolest in the parks under the enormous Plane trees. I bet the temperature drops fifteen degrees, at least.

Miss Marple and her chilling mystery helped keep me cool.
So this afternoon I sat on a bench in Brunswick Square eating my lunch and reading my Agatha Christie book...for several hours. My hotel was stifling, and the thought of standing in a long line with a hundred other sweaty tourist made me feel claustrophobic! The bench however, was cool. At one point I looked up and surveyed the garden. All the American and French and Spanish and Indian tourists, all the people from hot countries, were sitting in the shade fanning themselves and drinking water, while all the crazy British were sitting right out in the sun drinking coffee! I don't understand!?!  Ah well.  Viva la difference!


Crowds of summer tourists in Covent Garden.

A busker drawing even more crowds in Covent Garden

More tourists than pigeons in Piccadilly Circus.

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