|Last summer we had an easy time getting onto the Internet, but it was hard to find time to write. Now that we are not driving at all, we have plenty of time to write, but we are still having challenges getting onto the 'net. Most of our access has been thru dial-up connections, as our ISP has access numbers all over Europe. As we pointed out in our arrival message, the "cyber cafes" are useless if you carry a laptop. Anyone who knows anything about computers should know that accepting a laptop into a cyber-cafe's network should be a trivial issue. But with the exception of one place in Glasonbury, none have been willing or able to provide this service. The lady at the I-station in Chester was quite rude about it. "We can't do it," she said. "Is it because you don't know how to do it, or that you don't know how to do it? Because I know how to do it. It's easy," said Obbie. "We can't do it," was her only answer. Inquiring at Tiny Computers, a store down the street, resulted in the donation of a modem cable compatible with British phone jacks (Thank you!), and the owner of our guest house was gracious enough to allow access to a phone line so we could dial in. That was how last week's email and web site updates got out.
Since you're reading this, we must have managed to get on line once again.
We haven't talked yet about the food we've been eating. The Brits seem to be big on rich fried food, as well as things like pasties and pies and sausage rolls. Breakfast is usually eggs (they like them soft), bacon (not the greasy American style bacon, but something that's a lot more like ham), sausages (the good ones are like small bratwursts, the bad ones are kinda dry, but bigger than the breakfast sausages we know), beans (kinda like canned baked beans), coffee, juice, and toast. We have found some "greasy spoon" type cafes - especially around London - that were a good deal for the money.
The pies are what we call pot pies (there's no pot in the pies), small pies filled with a stew of meat and vegetables. Pasties are like the pies, but the crusts are folded into a wedge to make them easy to eat by hand. A nearly identical pasty is common in the old mining regions of northern Michigan. We haven't tried the sausage rolls yet, but they look like sausage rolled into the same type of pie crust. One of our favorite foods is what they call jacket potatoes - a baked potato, usually cut up and smothered with melted cheese and assorted other tasty enhancements. And of course there's fish & chips, one of the best food values around here. Like all deep-fried food, they can be kinda greasy, but you get a lot of food for your money. At the end of the work day, you can see people passing on the street carrying their fish & chips home in a bundle wrapped in white paper that looks a lot like a 5-pound pack of meat from an American deli. There's also a wide selection of ethnic food: Indian, Chinese (rice is extra, unlike in the states), some Middle Eastern, and Italian (pizza and pasta).
We've also been meaning to bring up the issue of language. When we got to the airport, we loaded our rucksacks onto a trolley to roll them about. If you hire a car, drive on the left side of the road, and use the motorway if you're in a hurry. (BTW, petrol is 75p/litre. Do the math, and it translates to about $4.35/gallon. That's why most people take trains, and most cars you see are little.) You need to get the hang of driving thru roundabouts, give way when you see the red triangular signs, and leave your car in a designated car park, or you may get clamped. If you forget to lock you car, you may get nicked. If you travel by train, you must first queue up for tickets, and before you join the train you must make sure that it calls at your destination station. If you have a dog (pronounced dohg), keep it on a lead; and if it fouls, you should pick up the waste and put it in a nearby dust bin. If your room is on the first floor, be ready to climb stairs. Burgers are served with chips, and crisps come in a sealed foil bag.
The lingo is the easy part. The accents are another story, as they've been getting thicker as we've gotten further from London.
purplearth 2001 europe oddyzee index