June 18th, 2010

Random Violin

Dogs welcome!

No photos tonight as my internet connection is so unstable that I can't upload successfully. Tintagel and Lands End photos will go up tomorrow; instead I'd like to talk about some of the differences I've encountered here.

Dogs are people too
One of the things that's really struck me about the UK is the number of places to which people can take their pets. Most hotels, cafes etc are only too happy to accommodate man's best friend; they're welcome on beaches, in shops, at most of the tourist attractions I've visited. At Tintagel today, if you wanted to take the Land Rover down to or back from the castle, the fare for your dog was 75p. It's wonderful that they're catered for in this manner.

North is a destination, not just a direction
Yes, there are signs on the motorways pointing to "The North". Or "The South" etc. The UK seems to be divided into compass points, according to the signage.
At Lands End today we watched a short film about travelling from John O'Groats to Lands End in a day. That would get you from Brisbane, halfway up the Queensland coast. Or from Sydney to Brisbane. The distances here are so small - trips that look like they'd take half a day only take an hour or so. Which is wonderful! We get to see a lot more.

I've previously mentioned parking, so I'll let it go this time. Instead I'll mention traffic lights that go amber prior to going green. What a great idea! Don't know how many times we've had drivers hit their horn behind us when we haven't been moving prior to the green light showing, but we're just not used to this.
On the other hand, apart from the traffic lights in London, UK drivers are about the most courteous I've seen. So you need to pull over and block half your traffic lane? No problems; everyone behind will wait patiently until they can pull out and get around you. Just today a semi stopped in front of us, put on his hazard lights and proceeded to back into the side street he'd just passed, so that he could turn and go back the way he'd come. We all waited while he performed his manouver and then waved us around.
At other times we've seen cars dart out of side streets in front of oncoming traffic, which slows to allow them in safely. Cars overtaking others out on the highway are given plenty of room, even by traffic travelling in the opposite direction. No blaring horns, no wildly gesticulating drivers, just courteous people making allowances for others. It's as if everyone is aware that there are an awful lot of people sharing limited space, and that they have to all get along and be patient with each other. It's wonderful.
And talking about limited space...

Living next door to Alice
I can understand it in the cities where space is limited, I really can. But it strikes me as bizarre, when I've driven through miles of open space, to reach a town and find all the houses built on top of each other, and usually sharing common walls. Why is this? All these semi-detached houses, or rows of terrace houses. It's certainly not a shortage of land. Is it due to a lack of building materials at the time the homes were constructed? Is it a cost issue? Or are they built like that for warmth?

... have I mentioned that I love this country? Because I do. I'm not intending this as a criticism at all, rather a comparison with what I'm used to.
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