A Splendid English Summer

 

We went to London and took a boat trip to Greenwich on the day England beat Denmark 3-0. Over there, we had pizza which had generous helpings of curry powder on it... don't know why. Then we went to Trafalgar Square and saw the English football fans who didnít have the money to go to Japan celebrate near Nelson's column. The next day, we went to the Tower of London and saw the HUGE Kohinoor diamond which once adorned Maharaja Ranjit Singh's turban. We also changed the guards at Buckingham Palace because they were wilting in the summer heat, and saw two musicals... The Full Monty (tauba tauba!!) and Bombay Dreams (the Bollywood inspired, AR Rahman composed Andrew Lloyd Webber produced show that ain't all that good). And we also went to St. Paul's Cathedral and climbed all the way to the top to get panoramic views of London.

 

Then we hired a car, and drove (Vix) and drove (Sabs) and drove (Vinoo) and navigated (Anjani). The best thing to do with a car is to buy a map book to help navigate your way. In addition, try to plan your trip and travel times in advance by visiting the Automobile Association website. We first went to Bath via Stonehenge. At Stonehenge, we followed Deepika Didi's (that's my cousin who visited the UK just before we did) advice and saved valuable pounds by not purchasing tickets and bribing the doorman to let us in by whispering the code word (which happened to be "Egroup e yellasaa activity maad baeda!!"). Just kidding. Bath is basically one large tub where people have been coming to become clean for the last several centuries. The town was kinda re-architectured in the 1700s and escaped subsequent remodernisation projects because the local junta never could afford paying for them. Consequently, it is now a place where tourists like us throng by the 3 million every year... and is wonderful to walk around and take a look at. We stayed at a farm about 15 minutes from Bath that night... and had the fresh smell of gobar and dung to wake us up in the morning. Now, for city-bred folks like Sabs (Bangalore) and Anji (Delhi) that was a novelty. Not so much for Bihar / Jharkhand-brought-up-goons like Vinoo and me though. From Bath, we drove to Oxford... all of us can now casually slip the statement "I went to Oxford..." in our social conversations. Oxford is another charming town with students all over. The highlight of Oxford was the wonderful mediterranean restaurant we had dinner at... Anji and Sabs liked the food very much. Vinoo and I liked the waitresses... Uske baad, we did a walking tour with a 70 year old guide who kinda matched the antique surrounds and showed us around Exeter College and Christ Church College. We also saw the place from where Alice in Wonderland was written and also from where JRR Tolkien lorded and fellowshipped with the rings. An interesting custom in Oxford is for students appearing in their final exams to wear their full academic robes for the examination (i guess the logic was that since they were not sure whether they'll pass and get to the graduation ceremony, they might as well get a feel for what it is like to wear a robe). They also put a rose bud on their robe on exam day - I guess the logic for that is that if the girl next to them in the exam room helps them with the answers to some questions, they can reciprocate instantly with a flower. btw, we were in Oxford when England lost to Brazil.

 

The best part of going to the UK in summer was the daylight hours... sunrise at 4:00 am, sunset at 10:30 pm... this gave us a lot of bonus time and we used it to full advantage driving from place to place.

 

From Oxford, we drove to Windermere which is in the Lake District in North West England. In doing so, we took the road that skirted Birmingham, Liverpool (Way to go, Liverpool!!) and Manchester (Booo, United!!). The Lake District is thus called because it has... yes, hold your breaths, 4 lakes in that whole state (which is more than the rest of country could manage to put together. However, in terms of having a good time over there, we didn't. For one, its too much like a Shimla or Nainital... over-exploited (though very clean) and not all that much to offer beyond a point. But William Wordsworth the poet was from this region and we went to his cottage so that the poetess amongst us, Anji (she's won global awards for poetry), could get some inspiration and wax eloquent from then on... we figured this could be the only way our family could lay any claims to intellectual prowess of any kind.

 

 

 

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© Vixabs Vacations Unlimited

September 16, 2006