Saturday, 7 February 2009

"Interview" Part 3

DocSly asks what is worth seeing if she should ever visit the UK, and whether I've ever been to the US.
Visitors to the UK are besotted with London - certainly a beautiful city reeking of history, and locals always sound puzzled as to why this should be. I think it's good "placement", as they say in the advertising world: not just in English-speaking countries, but also Europe, South America and as far away as Japan. Your education has included the images, the films, the nursery rhymes, the kings and queens, Henry VIII and his wives, the changing of the guard, Buckingham Palace, the present-day gossip about the Royal Family, Wimbledon, The Beatles (if you're of my generation)... so when the visitor arrives in London, they can at last see 'the real thing' - it's not just the old buildings: the Tower of London isn't just an old fortress, it's where history happened which you already knew about before you came - to give just one example.
But there's so much more to see in the rest of the country. For history there's the big cities, not just London, but also Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Brighton, Bath. For quintessential pretty British countryside (often in the rain, why else do you think it's all so green?) there's the Welsh valleys, the Cornish Peninsula, Devon and Dorset, Somerset - for the cute villages to die for there's the Cotswolds and the Midlands, Kent and not forgetting Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon. All at its best in springtime. I've visited Northern Ireland three times and can say that it's about time everybody, English included, discovered what a treasure it is. It's the way England used to be when I came here for the first time in the seventies. Quiet, sedate, conservative, charming, with a stunning north coast - but a lorra lorra rain...
If you want to get behind the pretty façade visit the northeast or the Welsh valleys and learn about the gripping and sad history of the coal industry, or the Midlands and the northwest for how the industrial revolution made Britain the country it is today. Above all, talk to the people, learn to understand their accents and how they differ from one region to another, learn how they think. See the enormous cultural mix and understand how it happened, it's good and bad influences - i.e. leave the rose-tinted spectacles behind if you want to see what modern day Britain is really like. I guarantee you would return home understanding why the US got such intense support at the time of 9/11.
I was born and brought up in Argentina, and at 18 visited the US for the first time. I was immature and a bit timorous, so I stayed with relations in Maryland and went as far as five hours driving would take you in a day, with my uncle and cousins. (Richmond, Harpers Ferry, Washington, from memory). I loved it all. I spent a day in a typical American school with my cousin of similar age, and I loved that - I had seen so many films set in high schools... (Example of the reverse of visitors to London described above - I was seeing the real thing only read about in books or seen in films!). And don't get me started on the first time experience of hamburgers... Sigh - which brings me back to the reason for this blog...
About ten years on I was living in the UK, married, and my then husband and I went to Vermont and Rhode Island for a holiday - and the scenery took my breath away. I'm sad to say I've never been back. I'd love a long holiday criss-crossing the country, not forgetting Hawaii one day to take pictures of waves and surfers, a long-favourite photographic subject of mine.
You can wake up now, I've finished! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to say all this.


Dawn said...

Thank you Caroline...I didn't even realise the Uk was this beautiful. I also love our changing seasons. I enjoy not knowing if I need to take a jumper, a raincoat or a teeshirt with me - what ever the time of the year. I've visited a few places... mainly Cornwall, which is beautiful with it's grey granite and I love the Lizard with it's red and green serpentine. I lived in Devon for a few years and love it's red soil and sheer 'chocolate box' beauty. I love the Yorkshire moors, which can look and feel really scarey. The lake district in winter is fantastic when you are curled up in front of a log fire in the middle of a snow storm. And I have really fond memories of holidaying on the Kent coast and building sandcastles on the beaches...

It's great to go and visit other countries, but I always love coming home.


Nola said...

I loved your description of everything!!

DocSly said...

Oh, Caroline, what a written travelogue. You must come to the US again as we are as geographically diverse as your British Isles. Thank you so much for the description.

Lonicera said...

Thank you for your very kind comments!

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