Tag Archives: UK
Sun blazing down on us, a bitey breeze keeping things cool, it was one of those perfect British days where you drink in the freshness of the air and turn your face up to a lightly white streaked sky.
Marching across the green grass fields of Gloucester towards a spring festival at an alternative education centre, I felt cheery being back in the UK. If I’d known that within a few minutes I’d be playing the moon in a zodiac demonstration and introducing D-man to my yearly childhood practise of maypole dancing, then maybe there would have been an even bigger bounce in my step. Maybe.
England, my sister said, was showing me its best side, a gold explosion of dandelions and sunshine, new life bursting out of branches and the otherside of a wintertime, warmth finally giving all its inhabitants some vitamin D therapy after two long, wet summers.
England, my sister told me, was persuading me to not give up on my home country, totally.
The following day brought more moments in amongst the greenery, this time within the grounds of an imposing country manor. We walked off a locally sourced Sunday lunch and played poohsticks on a trickling stream where swans and cygnets persisted to paddle against the current. We ambled up past crumbling stone buildings and into yet more green fields, nodding good afternoon to other walkers.
And it all felt, well, quintessentially British countryside. Far from the rugged and somewhat aimless adventuring I’ve been doing in the last two years, it was not without charm.
It was a fun way to start this trip away, spending Sunday morning bouncing across a bit of chop on a little speedboat. Out at sea you get such an alternative vista of the world – of the land at least – back towards Poole and the surrounding coastline. You step outside your norm, you observe and escape at the same time.
But which is the best way to go about doing it – under motor or sail?
I don’t really know the politics, but have observed quite a split in opinions. If I had taken my Day Skipper teacher’s advice, I wouldn’t have stepped on to a boat called Delirium, but I wasn’t going to start getting funny with friends. I’ve noticed how often speed boats seem to take on more hedonistic, dangerous names whilst sail boats rely on more romantic, playful names like Restless or Kids’ Inheritance. These names seem to be an extension of the differences between sail and motor.
Whizzing along in a speed boat is fun – the wind whips your hair into a knotty, exciting mess, the spray blasts into your face, you feel alive. Speed boating is thrilling and naughty; you burn fuel, you create excess noise, and if you’re honest, you pose a bit (or a lot, in some cases). In terms of sailing, physically interacting with the elements and successfully harnessing the breeze gives you a huge sense of achievement.
Sailing is often viewed as being much more smooth, real and rugged; there is dignity in sailing, – something upright and honest about its nature.
My hippy side pulls towards the hard graft and reward of sailing, of a communal effort to get the yacht moving, of the peace created by nature carrying you over the water; but don’t get me wrong, I do get why people love their speed boats.
Driving a bus all day isn’t everyone’s ideal career, but don’t take it out on the customer!
Having left Middlesbrough a little late, we still made it to Leeds in good time. Just as the leaving announcement blared out over the tannoy, a lady turned up at the door. ‘Is this the bus to Birmingham?’ she asked, ‘Yes, but you need to be here 15 minutes early, you could be refused entry on this bus, you know?’ he barked. She protested, he reiterated his point and wouldn’t let it go. Even as he loaded up her bags he repeatedly shouted at her, pitch rising each time he outlined the potential delay she had caused. Her child clutched a little rucksack and looked bewildered. On board people bristled and muttered, and a toddler started to cry. ‘Make sure you fasten your seat belts’, he pointedly instructed before booming it out again as the bus pulled away.
I tried to understand him, tried to imagine the annoyance of late comers, of having to drive all day, of the monotony. But something in his tone, in his manner seemed harsher with this woman than it had been with others and I couldn’t help but sense a bit of a racist undertone. Driver No.2 was perfectly cheery, and suggested that as Driver No. 1 was from Manchester, he would have of course been moody and short. Discrimination lives on.