Aiming for elegance, one thought at a time

Back from the UK

Posted: July 2nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Travel | No Comments »

Just back from the UK! Talk about a whirlwind tour! Took the Eurostar from Brussels, which was brilliant. We really need proper trains in Melbourne. Brussels to London in less time then it would take to get from Belgrave to Sandringham by train. Got in to St Pancras International at 9am or thereabouts, and continued on to Heathrow where we were picking up a rental car.

Bad call. Firstly, there was the 40 minute wait for the shuttle bus to take us the 2.5 miles to the Thrifty outlet. Secondly, there was the hour long queue and very highly mediocre service. Classic case of running out of IT spend and deciding that the best course of action was to implement a “business process” workaround. Not the best introduction to Britain. Whilst in line we were treated to an excellent show of British whinging – apparently you can’t find good service in Britain any more. Thankfully this wasn’t our experience generally.

Still, once we were on the road, driving around the English countryside was perfect. Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, we took in Bath, Glastonbury, Salisbury, Avebury and Stonehenge.

We stayed near Salisbury, in a perfect little B&B called The Poplars and had dinner at The Black Horse Inn just around the corner. I wouldn’t have been sorry to have spent the whole trip there, the area was so idyllic.

Then to London, which was (I understand) uncharacteristically hot. Temperatures topping 30 degrees! Nothing much for us hardy Australians, but I suppose if the infrastructure isn’t built for it (which the Tube and our accommodation most definitely weren’t) then it will have a disproportionate effect (c.f. rail failures in Melbourne with temperatures over ~40 degrees.)

In London, we visited the Natural History and British museums, which were brilliant but really needed a week each. The museumic highlight for me was the Clockmaker’s Museum, run by The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers of London. The intense interest in clock making, as well as automatons and clockwork oreries etc, particularly during the 17th and 18th centuries is very intriguing. Having read books like Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver I can’t help but being interested in the history that in part underpins those novels.

One last thing – the sales in London! Brilliant! Those who know me will get some measure of how compelling these sales are when I say that I laid down a significant amount of plastic in my final hours in London.

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