I know this blog is about reading and writing, but since I had no time to write and little time to read during the holidays, here’s a small recap just for fun:
– Our small Victorian cottage in a village of 10 houses (and a 15th century church)… and in general, all the wonderful, romantic, golden-hued villages we passed in the Cotswolds.
– British politeness and friendliness (with extra points for the lady at the pharmacy in Broadway and the guy who helped us with our car rental reservation)
– Fan-vaulting in cloisters (Gloucester), in staircases (Oxford Christchurch) and seemingly everywhere we turned (Bath abbey)… Imagine the finest lace, but made of stone, shaped like a fan, on the highest possible ceilings. You can almost feel the pride and glee of the 14th/15th century architects and stone-workers (“see what I did?”). It is completely useless, but so beautiful you just walk around gaping and staring at the ceiling (which gives a very intelligent look, especially when you stumble on worn marble slabs).
– British fresh milk (I don’t know why it tastes so much better than French one)
– Cadbury whole nut dairy chocolate melt by microwave on toasts or crumpets: decadent!
– A nap in Oxford’s Christchurch Meadow
– Visiting Christchurch Hall just before lunchtime (and noticing that the university grub doesn’t look better than in less luxurious canteens– that said, I didn’t get to taste it!)
– Baby facilities everywhere (clean changing rooms and even free baby carriers in the Roman Baths!)
– The Roman Baths in Bath and the Pump Room, or how to combine within the same walls Victorian sense of propriety and fear of nudity and sensuality with the very Mediterranean pleasure of spending the day naked with colleagues in a steam room.
– Marks and Spencer trousers to fit everyone (given than M&S left France several years ago, I stocked like crazy for suits and formal trousers whenever we visited UK) — but I just discovered that they have opened their website to international deliveries, hurrah!
The Oh-no issues:
– Stratford-upon-Avon: just too Disneylandish for my taste… a complete Shakespearian indigestion. Why do people in historic attractions do feel obligated to fancy-dress? Why do they try to sell Shakespeare coffee, Shakespeare sandwiches? (And btw who buys them?)
– Very strong pressure for donations in churches. I know how expensive the upkeep must be, but why not issue mandatory tickets with a fixed price then, instead of putting elderly people glaring at you in front of the donation box, especially when you don’t have change? (It may sound stingy, but sorry I won’t put the whole 20£ bill in it…)
– Traffic in and out of Oxford. Like obedient tourists, we did park and ride, but nonetheless were stuck…
– The whole tipping affair: where, when, how much are all beyond me. I’m sure I committed a huge number of faux-pas, but because of Great Thing #2, people were too nice to just let me know (except with glares at the Oh-no issue #2)