Was unable to post my blogs while I was away–no time to even look at a computer, and difficulties getting internet access in many places anyway–so it’s catch-up time! We arrived in London late in the afternoon of May 11 and, much to our delight, took the driverless pod to our hotel. The next morning we hired a car and after circling the round-about near Heathrow car rental offices at least four times we became reasonably acquainted with the GPS and headed towards Oxford.
England brought a number of surprises. The GPS was surprise one: the machine proved to be very different from the one we have at home but I’m beginning to suspect that any GPS is designed to keep drivers in their place by making them feel not only incompetent but totally stupid. Surprise two: we discovered that five minutes or so out of that great confusing international airport, Heathrow, there is open country–small-holdings, farmlands under cultivation, and ever-changing skies.
To my eyes, accustomed to the vastness of Australia, everything seemed to be on a miniature scale. The island is tiny, you can literally drive through several counties in one day. I’ve been told by a few people that you can actually drive from the top to the bottom of the country in three or four days if you stay on the main roads. But who would want to do that when there is such a wonderful and fascinating world to explore just off the motorways?
Surprise three: I am so in love! Everywhere you look in England there are trees, green spaces, parks, forested areas large and small, and picturesque villages. Even though I’d seen England and its towns and villages on television and in photos, and read about what is like, it wasn’t until I saw and experienced England for myself that I gained a sense of the country and the beauty of the place. Now that I am home again, Escape to the Country and Grand Designs has taken on new meaning. Every time I look at a photo or watch a show about England it comes to life for me–I recall the atmosphere, the feel of the place, and fall in love all over again.
England is a green, forested, Lilliputian place steeped in history and literary greatness on an unprecedented scale. Everything and every place seems to tumble together. But with all those green spaces, parks, forests, and cultivated land, where do the millions and millions who populate the country live, I wonder ?