Our bags are packed…

We are preparing for the next leg of our winter journey, and looking back over four months in England and Wales. You’ve read about the places we’ve walked, the attractions we’ve seen, and the new food and drink. There’s more.

A lot of normal, day-to-day experiences stand out as different from those in our life in Canada. Living in family homes, caring for animals, & exploring neighbourhoods give us a different perspective than staying in hotels and following the guide books.  I don’t mean to offer sweeping generalizations, and this isn’t a travel guide; I’ll just throw out a little insight from our experience.

On our first day in the UK, we hopped on the absolutely amazing, fantabulous, easy-to-navigate, get you anywhere quickly-and-quietly underground.  The Tube. Love love LOVE The Tube!

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Do you hear that?  No?  That’s because it’s quiet.  All of these people moving efficiently, silently toward their platforms.

Bigger Canadian cities have rapid transit systems, but I doubt any can compete with this marvel.  Of course, London’s population is greater than that of Canada’s three prairie provinces combined, never mind the estimated 30 million international tourists who visit each year. A lot of public transportation users!

This population density bring me to another point.  Space.  There isn’t any.  Not like we have in the good old Canadian prairies!

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The roads are narrow.  They’re narrow in the city, in villages, and in the country. It doesn’t stop anybody from getting around, but it did give us a few near heart attacks!

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Here we have a wide enough street, but check out the parking!  This was not out of the ordinary in London.  This is every day parking, and it takes skill.

The houses stand out, as well.  Terraced houses (connected for the entire length of the block) and semi-detached (duplexes) are quite standard.  Very narrow houses are fairly standard here, as well.

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OK.  Just goofing around.  Had to throw in one cheezy tourist picture with The Smallest House in Great Britain in Conwy, North Wales (I am SO sick of this jacket!  I digress).

The houses are different inside, as well.  When we were securing our house sitting gigs, friends repeatedly warned us to make sure there would be central heating (not all houses in the UK have it).  Here’s what we found in every house we were in: radiators.

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We quickly learned that these aren’t only heaters, they double as clothes dryers (not all houses in the UK have clothes dryers, either; this also seems funny when we so often had wet clothes). Another handy spot for “drying your smalls” can be found in the bathrooms of many homes. Oh, baby, hello hot towels (and dry jeans).

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While we’re in the bathroom, try to find the light switch. Nope. You won’t. The lights are on pull strings. Light switches aren’t allowed in the bathroom. Oh, sorry, in the ‘toilet’.

While at home, minding your own business, you might look up to find someone cleaning your windows.  This is a very normal thing in Britain.  Not in Canada, Get yer ladder out, grab a pail or the hose, and get cleaning!  By the way, these are the windows of the conservatory being cleaned (pronounced conserve-a-tree), also fairly common.

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Moving on… time to leave the house.  I hope you left your keys in the door when you locked yourself in.  Our keys were ALWAYS left in the door (too worried about searching for them in case of a possible emergency).

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One final stop on our tour.  We went to the car wash frequented by our fabulous home owner/hosts.  We pulled up to the parking lot and the team waved us over to the perfect spot, then proceeded to hose, soap, and chamois the car.

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You knew I’d squeeze in one more picture of Ozzy, the Wonder Dog, didn’t you?  We all watched in amazement.  I’ve never even seen a car wash like this (unless you count the kids in the church parking lot raising funds for their next band trip).

This report would not be complete without mentioning the weather. Friends thought we were off our rockers for going to the UK for winter. Frankly, I thought the same thing, but this was my idea, so I had to stick to it. I’m a prairie girl. Where I come from, it’s too hot in the summer, and too cold in the winter, and one thing we are used to is sun.  Lots of it.

The weather wasn’t nearly as bad as I had anticipated.  My imagination had me rolled up in a ball, watching the rain pelting down, listening to the wind howling for days on end. There were more than a few times when I would repeat my mantra, “I will not complain about the rain; it’s all part of the experience.” Boy, did I feel better when I was told that it’s very British to moan about the weather!  Horrah! I can whinge about the damp without feeling like a bitchy tourist!

Now that I can say I got through monsoon season in the UK, I’ll admit something.  I need sun.  It’s a very real need. Even though the days are getting longer, and we’re having less rain, hmmm… how do I put this delicately?  We’re outta here!

We’re off to Spain!  To be more precise, Costa Del Sol. We are looking forward to tapas, Spanish wine, sun, olives, driving on the right side of the street, and new pets to care for.  Did I mention the sun? Yeah, looking forward to that.

UK 20151224_133311Farewell to United Kingdom from me and comedian, Eric Morcambe.

{Update: they’re calling for rain in Spain!}

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24 thoughts on “Our bags are packed…

  1. I am so jealous of all this traveling! XD I do have one question… how are you funding this? I mean, I gather you’re saving money by house sitting, finding cheaper travel arrangements, etc. But, do you have bills you still have to pay back in Canada? Are you going through a savings or retirement income? Are you lucky enough to have a remote job that brings income? Tell me your secret! lol 🙂
    As is, I’m hoping after I get through the next 2 years of grad school and, hopefully, find a job in a school, that I’ll be able to use summers off to travel.

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  2. Do it! Do it! Do it!

    Stop saying, Ï´m hoping, and start saying, I´m planning.

    Thanks for asking, by the way. I do plan to do a post about this very topic, so will go into more detail, then.

    My short answer is that we are both retired, living on one (decent, but not over-the-top) retirement pension.

    We made early retirement and travel priorities through our working years. We lived beneath our means, we saved, we invested, we made decisions based on our priorities, not those of other people.

    I track our expenses and we are able to live on the same budget at home and away. House sitting is allowing us to live without accommodation costs, but for 2 years, we travelled in our RV in the US and stayed on budget. It takes effort.

    We do not have any work income. That would involve working, and we are both strongly opposed to that!

    Thanks, again, for asking. I promise more detail in the future.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Haha, yeah, it’s definitely a plan. Travel has long been a goal of mine. More than anything I want to spend time in India and in Turkey. My career goals have always been planned with the desire to balance travel and the reality of bills and life here at home.

    It’s so nice that your husband shared your goals and that you both were able to save and travel together! Unfortunately, I cannot say the same. My boyfriend prefers to stay home on the couch, lol. Won’t stop me, though. I’ve no problem going halfway around the world on my own while he sits at home 😛

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  4. Thanks for sharing your experiences. So interesting and excites me about going over there to pet sit this summer.
    In Spain be sure to try the chocolate con churros – it’s decadent! It’s hot chocolate that you dip churros into and the hot chocolate is more like a melted chocolate bar than our version of the drink. You gotta love chocolate, though.
    You’ll love Costa del Sol : )

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  5. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying seperate interests. Sometimes, it’s a good thing! Karen is my wife, by the way. We are lucky we have always been on the same page with the long-term travel plans.

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  6. We passed a cafe advurtising churros on our morning walk. It is close to our house, busy, with sidewalk seating. Looking forward to a treat while people watching.

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  7. Looking forward to more! Enjoyed your summary of impressions. And yes, maybe Saskatchewan gives us a life long commitment to sun.

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  8. Leah, I read the comments of Aikifox85 and your response. My second cousin has been travelling around northern India for the past several months, down to Australia and now in the far east, Viet Nam, Cambodia, etc. She travels on her own as having an unwilling partner is like dragging an anchor with the tines dug in. Aitifox is too young to be handicapped by her boyfriend and should spring herself free. In fact, reading cousin Debbie’s blog of her travels, warts and all, I’m coming to the conclusion that it is the women who are setting their own agenda and have the initiative to travel, while us guys have become ‘stick-in-the-muds’. For the men, career and money seem to have taken precedence over broadening horizons and following dreams. I have to take my hat off to my cousin’s initiative and guts and hope this young woman sets her own path. Dave

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  9. David, thanks for this insight. I would love to have the link to your cousin´s blog. I will try to make sure@aikifox85 sees your words of wisdom.

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  10. Wonderful photographs! I’m looking forward to following you through sunny Spain. At least, I hope the rain stops soon. Incidentally, the ad server seems a little bonkers this morning. It’s showing me URLS instead of ads. A momentary glitch perhaps?

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  11. Thank you. We plan to enjoy it to the fullest.

    It’s funny to see which of things I found unique to the UK also bring back memories for others. We each notice so many different things, don’t we?

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  12. The forecast was wrong (imagine!) and we’ve had no rain, yet. Any minute!

    Ads… bah! I wish they weren’t there at all. Oh, well. Hard to complain about what happens with the free blog service, heh?

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  13. I’m sure it was no co-incidence that Eric (and Ernie) Morecombe signature hit was “bring me sunshine”

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