Somehow, a detailed description of a week in England just wouldn’t come, so here are some random thoughts.
Overall, once the airport idiots were history, people seemed much friendlier than I remember. OK Tube etiquette dictates no eye contact, but how can you resist commenting to the owner of a super-cute French bulldog about how much you like it? Response? Friendly- probably relieved I wasn’t moaning about having a dog on the Tube? I come from the North of England, where, tradition has it, folk are warmer, but not my experience on this trip.
Surprised how little coverage the General Election is getting. Weird, in fact. OK, yes, it was on the news, but very few posters in windows, billboards, discussion unless you mentioned it first. Is this because people are apathetic or sophisticated? The few posters in windows I saw …. 100% Lib-Dem. Should be interesting!
Spring is most definately sprung – obviously I lived in a seasonal desert in the North West, because I always thought Spring much overated, but in London and surrounds I could see it was luxuriant, vibrant and very pretty.
The London Marathon ROCKS!!! From the Expo to the (divine) Richard Branson news conference to the day itself it was an exhilarating, eye-opening, inspriring and awesome event…..and I was only a (partisan) spectator!
It is, according to Virgin, the biggest charity-venue-generating event in the world. Now, with that many people with good in their hearts how could it be bad? I didn’t realize until much, much later that I had lost my voice in cheering on the ones who looked on their last legs, the wheelchair participants, the ones who were joking and winding up the crowd. Guy’s presence was a matter of minutes for me, so it was the general atmosphere which had gotten me going!
And, afterwards, struggling down the Tube, waiting for a taxi, everyone seemed to be carrying the red bags which marked them as runners. OK – please don’t be cynical – yes, it’s great publicity for Virgin, and they freely admit it. So if they do well they will be able to sponser next year, if they don’t turn a profit ? What? Warm fuzzies knowing my son was greeted by strangers on the street with a thumbs up, asking his time, saying “Well done”. Marvellous feeling of community!
Food? Less expensive than expected. Likewise hotels and hostels with the exception of the NH Harrington Hall, which bumped up its price from the advertised 97 pounds a night to 150 pounds per night for the experience of resting my head on one of their pillows overnight (no time for breakfast!) , because it was Marathon weekend. Part of me thinks “They are trying to survive a crisis”, but the other part of me? Simply couldn’t really afford it. I know it’s central London, but it really wasn’t anything special. No way would I recommend it. I would recommend the good, old YMCA in Guildford, and also Ibis Hotels from whom I got good deals in both London and York (cheaper than the B & Bs I looked at – whilst B & Bs (especially somewhere like York) have a lot of charm, there is also a lot to be said for the convenience of low-cost hotels.
Trains? Great! Scored good deals on London to York and York to Manchester Airport. Clean. Pleasant and helpful staff. Sorry can’t remember which company ran each line. I understand that if you book last minute it is expensive, but you qualify for advance booking only two days before the date of travel. York to Manchester Airport was less than half of what I used to pay.
Manchester Airport? Hate the changes. This is my “home” airport, the one from which I have flown most often, so I kind of liked it the way it was – thanks Osama, I put the changes down to you, with the exception of the dive through duty free one has to make to get a cup of coffee, but that, I suppose, is the times.