Isle be right in the UK
Trip Start Feb 14, 2006
27Trip End Dec 15, 2006
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Have things changed. Last time I wrote I was about to head to Mexico and now I am saying good bye to the UK. Louise and I finished off the end of our Mexican odyssey in fine style. We ate a Taco.
Seriously, we spent time in the great city of Mexico and saw the pyramids of Teotihuacan (3rd highest in the world). Time, however, had come for us to bid adios to Latina America and vamos our asses out of there. We jumped on a plane, gave up Spanish, and got ready to immerse ourselves in British culture (I got drunk on the plane just to get ready).
The UK has always been somewhat magical for me. My dad is an ex pat from Aberdeen, Scotland and I have always loved the ideas of internationalism, living in the very center of the world and... good British manners and pronunciation (Pronounced pro-nun-ci... you get it). However, last time Louise was in the UK she had a terrible time (possibly due to the fact the lived in the MOST DANGEROUS suburb of London. Even the criminals were scared). She had found Londoners could be more than a little rude, the food not quite up to Melbourne's level and the lack of the colour green more than a little depressing. I think we were both interested to discover how we would relate to London.
I LOVED IT!!! I suppose you can blame global warming for the wonderful weather but we found almost everyone to be polite, the transport system WORKED (compared to where we have been) and people spoke English (and RATHER well, as they pointed out). We spent our first week in inner London, Louise's sister Robyn kindly putting us up. We explored and took in the major attractions as most tourists do. A real highlight for me was visiting an amazing exhibit of Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks at the V&A museum. That man was truly gifted. His combination of mathematical and artistic ability was extraordinary. Looking at his sketches (such as trying to graphically solve Pythagorean theorums in 3 dimensions) I had, for about the first time that I can remember, a deep desire to become mathematically literate. My current level is 3 + 4 = APPLE so I think I need some work. I also loved the British Museum (where I got to fondly stare at the Rosetta stone - I suppose THE IMAGE for anyone who loves learning languages - it was the tablet that allowed us to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics). Japanese and Spanish continue to tempt me.
After a couple of days in London we jumped on a plane (actually we MISSED our first plane and had to buy a ticket for another, and we didn't actually jump either - Louise walked and I sort-of sauntered) and flew up to Edinburgh. If I was in love with London I became truly enraptured with that city. It was charming, historical... just wonderful. I also got to meet up with some family relatives who told me stories of my grandfather that I never, ever knew (he seems to have been a charming old chap who was a brilliant linguist and partook in highly dubious entrepreneurial activities - such as breeding turkeys in the family castle - and by 'in' I mean in the living rooms). They also presented me with his old sporrin (a part of traditional Scottish kilt) which was a pretty emotional experience. It was actually his old piper's sporrin and so I hope my brother (who was once a great bagpiper) gets it.
3 days later we were back in England, this time staying with Louise's other sister (who also put us up) in Luton. I got to visit both Cambridge and Oxford over 2 wonderful days. Unfortunately going to those universities was somewhat akin to being taken to the nicest restaurant you can imagine but only being able to smell the food. It made me wish SO BAD to study there that it hurt (the fact that I didn't use the proper adverb in that last sentence may explain 1) why I didn't get in and 2) why I don't have that many friends). It also rekindled some old embers about returning to Trinity college in Melbourne university in a tutoring role. Hmmm... will do some more thinking.
The last 2 days, in some ways, have been the best. Louise and I stayed with another relative of mine, Will, who lives in the very ventricle of London. He is a man who seems to have truly succeeded in life. A linguistics graduate (he speaks around 7 including tricky ones like Portuguese and Russian) he is now a private investment-banker with interests in skiing and horse riding. His apartment, there is no other word for it, is heavenly (or so I imagine, having not been there for a while). Right on the Thames (I could have dived into the water had I been so inclined) and truly breath-taking. He drove a motorbike (too cool) but kept a V12 Aston Martin Vanquish just for fun. The most terrible thing about him though was that he was completely charming, well balanced and incredibly hospitable. He also has photos of me in a superman-costume from when I was 5 years old (from when he visited my family in Australia). This, admittedly, will guarantee that we will never be equals in any future dealings. And he plays the trumpet... well.
Enough sycophantic drivel. It is time to go to Italy.