Four weeks to go until I fly home with the Boyz! (Assuming no additional volcano-erupting, that is.) I can scarcely believe that I will be coming home just 2 days short of exactly a year since I left. This year in the UK has not gone much like we expected. But until you do something like this, who can really know what it will be like!
One thing I do not have any longer is only a fantasy-novel impression of Great Britain. It really is not a land of perfect little ivy-covered cottages down picturesque lanes… villages with been-there-forever antique shop, stone church, pub, and interesting bookshop… ruinous castles or at least an earthworks on every high point, sheep in gemlike green pastures between stone walls or hedge rows… a riot of green plants and flowers everywhere, divided by secret little streams with geese, swans, and ducks and crossed by arched stone bridges, accessed by a large network of public footpaths and bridleways complete with horse riders… buildings and house styles which haven’t changed for a couple centuries, hidden behind lichen-covered stone walls you’re dying to climb up just to peek at what’s there… stuck-in-time fishing villages beneath dramatic cliffs framed by aqua-blue ocean…
Oh WAIT, it IS all that!!!
Well… PARTS of the UK are like that. There is also a lot of this country that is not any of that.
And really, why should we expect any place to stand fixed at some idealized point in their past? As a devotee of history I am all for historical preservation, yet it is such a tourist-conceit to expect that Italy should be stuck in the renaissance or all of England should look like Henry VIII still rules. Of course people have contemporary lives here. They want industry, jobs, office parks, football stadiums, leisure centres, shopping malls, and new roads in order to have an enjoyable life and a viable economy, just like we do. It is my observation that the UK may have to move more from their somewhat rigid reliance on the-way-things-have-always-been-done in order to save their country from becoming inconsequential in the larger world. It is hard to tell where they are going, especially after this last economic recession. Yet how much of the fantasy-England (their incredible heritage) will they have to sacrifice to have a prosperous future? That is quite a question.
It seems like very few can afford to live in the fantasy England anymore (as usual with so much of the world). Most people live in the non-fantasy parts. Which honestly I didn’t like all that much, probably BECAUSE I was coming from the tourist-England expectation. But once we’d been here awhile we found that day-to-day living is just plain more annoying than in the US. And I do have a pretty dim view of American culture!! So it is fascinating to me that after living here for a year I much prefer the USA way of doing things (however imperfect we may do it, ha). I guess that’s probably true for most everyone; you just prefer your home, warts and all!
Tourist that I mostly was this past year, I will indeed miss the fantasy England (and Wales and Scotland). I am so grateful that I saw as much of it as I did. My artistic soul is filled to bursting with visuals that are going to come out in some form or another eventually! We will treasure the experience our whole lives and especially the mind-broadening and world-view-expanding we received.