Tuesday, August 2, 2016

England - Then and Now

Fifteen years ago it was, that I lived in England for a year. Here are some impressions about what's changed, and what hasn't.

A woman Prime Minister!
Cycle mania. London is being overtaken by cyclists. Rural train lines are being closed down and replaced with cycle ways. Bike shops are big business
Smart phones - and the mobile networks are running slow, slow, and even slower; down to no reception at all at times in London
Fewer obvious homeless and not so many people begging. Where have they gone?
Pop-up food, south american street food, food market revival, cheap and cheerful eating outside (BYO umbrella)
Self-checkout machines - in Boots, W H Smith, every supermarket. Banks and banks of them
Flat Whites. Everyone's favorite coffee.
The London skyline. Very Dubai with all those new high-rise.
Train destination boards at Waterloo were actually working every time I was there!
Public libraries staffed by volunteers
Falling house prices - well, so they say. Having risen astronomically over the past 15 years, does this small decrease post-Brexit really count?

Same old
Traffic congestion (but this time I don't have to take a thermos with me on the M2 because I'm one of those cyclists getting in the way of fast cars and slow
Crisps or chips with everything
Young overweight girls smoking while pushing prams around dismal council estates.
Sandwiches made with tasteless, soft and textureless bread (they might call it ciabatta or granary but it's all the same pap)
The English love of Englishness
Familiar favorites in every high street; Boots, Costa, Nero, Pret-A-Manger, Waterstones
Family-friendly pubs that serve teas, coffee, and meals (compulsory chips and mushy peas)
Charity shops full of decent cheap books and clothes - why would you bother to shop for new anything?
Travelling by Tube - convenient but overcrowded, stuffy, with broken escalators. And heaven forbid that you might TALK to someone.
London Eye
Finding an unsigned, uncelebrated 12th century church in the middle of ugly suburbia
Huge baskets of flowering plants brightening up the streets (especially around any ye olde pub)
Pharmacies chock-a-block with sweeties and crisps

But I have to say, it's great to be back.

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