Nearing the End...

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's very hard to believe that this time has come.  We're actually leaving the UK.  There were a few days where I thought we'd be stuck forever!  But after just over 2 months on the road we're at the end.  It took quite a bit longer than first thought, but overall we're happy with our journey thus far.  We didn't end up seeing everything we'd first had on the 'list', but we saw a lot of things weren't on the list either.  Over 3000km have been clocked on the bikes, 3 countries have been covered, met many interesting people, seen many interesting things, overcame countless obstacles, and have whipped ourselves into shape.  I think we've done well.  Mission accomplished.  Now onto phase 2...

Part of me always thought that traveling through the UK was a bit like cheating.  I've always been interested in traveling through countries with different cultures than my own and learning about those differences.  The UK always seemed quite similar to my culture in Canada.  Of course there are differences, but in many ways they're not huge.  It was a great safe introduction to our travels and we learned a lot!

A few thoughts on England specifically while we pull out of the ferry port on an overnight crossing to France. 

I completely admire your attitude towards the weather!!!  While Brian and I would be down and out, locals simply laugh and revel in the 'unpredictability' of the weather, admiring the weather-reporters for 'trying their best' but not in the least upset when it's wrong.  Nothing stops you from going out and enjoying the outdoors even when it's completely miserable. 

Pub culture is something very interesting as well.  From dogs being allowed in, to strange spoons hung in every one.  This is the place for everyone to be.  Interesting to me was the 'self serve' and pay in advance aspect.  Most commonly you ordered your drink at the bar, but many times you also ordered your food there.  The most extreme example I saw was a pub where you picked up your own menu from the pub and it came with an order book and pen.  So you filled out the food you wanted, and added your table number, and delivered it to the kitchen yourself!

Some images that will forever remain 'English' in my mind:

-sweet cottages with beautiful gardens
-food wrapped in pastry and deep fried
-hand-pulled real cask ale
-pub names:  The Black Swan, The Cross Keys, The King's Arm...
-wind screens on the beach
-ever changing subtleties of accents across the land
-toad in the hole, ploughman's, spotted dick
-purple heathered heath
-old men wearing socks and sandals, but no shirts
-hedgerows and stone walls with brambling blackberries

It may have not been a severe shock to my cultural system, but we've both learned a lot and feel better for the experience.  Cheers!
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