Tuesday, September 23, 2008


In the second of our holidays this year (hark at us, two foreign holidays and owners of an out-of-town estate for weekending. Fancy bastards. But don't be fooled. I'm still, I'm still Andy from the block) we went to England (Or Inglia as Paula calls it). Now I know England is a fancy holiday destination for many people, but you'll have to take it from me that spending a fortnight in August in guaranteed grey skies and sub 20 degree temperatures is not really my idea of a well-used summer. Still...

Good things about England:
  • It's got my extended family in it
  • Ditto some friends
  • Many free museums and art galleries
  • Indian food
  • Excellent beer
  • Pubs
  • National parks
  • Pubs in national parks
  • Beautiful scenery and nice villages
  • Pubs in nice villages in beautiful scenery
  • Public footpaths
  • Walking along public footpaths in beautiful scenery in national parks with family and friends and stopping in a nice village for a fantastic pint at a great pub
Possibly there was a little bit of repetition there.

Bad things about England
  • The weather
  • The prices of everything (except for the free museums and art galleries)
  • The weather
  • Traffic
  • The weather
  • The way that public transport is designed specifically to rip off foreign visitors (you have to buy train tickets weeks in advance in order not to need a second mortgage to travel 5 miles, you have to have an Oyster card in London, blah blah blah)
    [On the other hand, foreigners don't get charged to drive on motorways - why doesn't the UK do what many countries inc. Hungary, Austria, Switzerland do and force visitors to pay a temporary road tax? It's all a bit baffling]
  • The weather
  • The quality of the food. Now this sounds like I'm out of touch a bit, but it's true - 20 years ago, food in pubs was utter garbage, but then there was this wave of change and food in many pubs became interesting and different and well prepared. Now it seems like things have slipped back again, and pub food is just bland and a bit rubbish again. Obviously you can get delicious food from any country in the world in restaurants, but outside those things have really gone downhill. Why is that?
  • Did I mention the prices? And the godawful weather?
Anyway, we had a very good trip (despite the weather/price thing). My father-in-law came along too, which I knew would be interesting since he is a man who loves to travel, but mostly, it seems, so he can remind himself how good Transylvania is and how rubbish everywhere else is. Erika took him to Barcelona about 5 years ago, and he still regales all and sundry with tales of this terrible "tapas" that he was subjected to there. I jokingly warned my mother that she ought to prepare a couple of soups to keep him happy, but then was surprised to discover that in fact he really was freaked out by a lack of daily soup in the diet (and even when we had soup, even though it was pronounced delicious, it was the "wrong kind of soup"). I'll no doubt hear this Christmas when he starts holding court after a couple of palinkas, what other things the English do wrongly (there's no room for shades of grey, you'll understand).

The second week of our stay we spent in a house in Runswick Bay in the North York Moors - an area of the country I hadn't been to for donkey's years, and one which is spectacularly beautiful (and well endowed with great pubs serving Black Sheep, a truly delicious beer - hence it ticked many of the boxes above). The heather was flowering on the moors, the weather could have been worse (though it could have been much much better, let's not get carried away), my whole family managed to make it, and we had a great time. My father in law was particularly interested in the beach and the tides. There aren't really tides round these parts - the Black Sea and the Med don't have them, and so the idea of the sea coming in and out (a total difference in height of 5 metres between high and low tide when we were there) and the wildness of the beach, was really fascinating for everyone. Also visiting a waterfall called "Falling Foss" which amused the Hungarian speakers of the party. For me it was the roads which had signs warning you of 20%, 25%, 28% and (in one place) 33% gradients which were the real trip. They make the road coming down Harghita towards Csikszereda look flat.

Some pictures:
Multi-punt pile-up.

Most English scene ever - Morris Dancing in the pissing rain
(outside Lincoln Cathedral)

Beer arriving at one of those pubs-in-gorgeous-villages I was mentioning (Beck Hole, N. Yorks)

Whitby - deeply linked through fictional character to Transylvania
(and through non-fictional character to Australia)


Arty pic, that was in no way staged. We found the stones looking like that just as the sea washed them ashore. Honest.

Runswick Bay at lowish tide

Heather on the moors

Mad half-English child ventures into icy North Sea

1 comment:

Gadjo Dilo said...

Ah, Andy, you're bringing a tear to me eye. I spent many chilhood holidays on the bollock-freezing Yorkshire coast and on the bilberry-strewn Yorkshire moors - and enjoyed it. Going up and down sleep country roads in Volkswagen Beetle and pretending I was the captain of a whaling ship in Whitby. And Black Sheep.... I think you just ruined my marriage - I'm going home ;-)