Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Holiday in England 2018 - part 1/2

We spent the first half of September in England, four years after our previous visit. Our trips to England combine the following: meeting family and friends and their pets; visiting places of natural beauty and historical interest, and places related to animal rescue and welfare; eating (too much) delicious food; and some shopping. This time we had fifteen days, which is a substantial time for a holiday. It also gave us an opportunity to reconnect with our Englishness and to fantasize about what our lives would be like if we could live in England. We do this with other places we visit, such as Greece, but moving to England somehow feels more natural, as we have citizenship and relatives living there. It's unlikely to happen, but still fun to imagine.

When I arrived in England, I immediately drank in the soft, green nature and the calmer atmosphere. Spending time in nature is good for the soul. Trees, fields, rolling hills, bird song, the sea. The towns and places we visited were also full of a specific English character, or, more accurately, reflected various aspects of being English. We stayed in the south, and only one day was spent in London, in contrast to many overseas visitors who never leave the capital.

Some general comments about England. We noticed the growing number of wind turbines and solar panels creating non-polluting energy, and every shop assistant asked whether we needed a bag instead of thrusting one on us and us having to refuse it, as often happens here. In this respect there seems to be some improved environmental awareness. However, the supermarkets were full of over-packaged processed food, sometimes packaged in small quantities, which makes it even more wasteful. Some types of packaging are recycled, but reducing packaging is more effective than recycling.

Another thing that hasn't changed from our previous visit is the reluctance to accept fifty pound notes (bills), with some shops displaying a sign saying that they won't take them. In other countries, notes of equivalent value are accepted without problem, and I don't understand why English shops have a problem with them. However, the world is moving to a cash-free economy, so eventually there won't be any notes and everything will be done digitally.

This report will focus on the places we visited. Our first week focused on the central and western parts of southern England.

Our first trip was to Odiham Castle, a ruined castle built in 1207 by King John. We walked along the Basingstoke Canal and explored the remains.

The next day we visited Winchester. A flower festival was being held in the Cathedral, with flower-based installations inspired by the Winchester Bible's illuminations.

Winchester itself is very beautiful, and I like the statue of King Alfred.

The next day we drove west. After a brief stop near Stonehenge (which we visited on a previous trip), we spent some time at the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth. We enjoyed seeing the happy rescue donkeys in their fields and shelters.

We continued to Plymouth, where we met up with Ivor's best friend from school after 40 years. His part of Plymouth was very green and had excellent views of the countryside.

After staying overnight in Plymouth, we continued to Cornwall, a place where my family has spent many holidays over the years. We went to the beach at Mawgan Porth and on the cliffs at Carnewas.

Then we walked around Padstow, which retains much of its character despite becoming increasingly touristy.

No comments: