Tag Archives: England

Ahoy, a London Fatburg!

You can learn a lot about a place by what it denies is floating around its sewers. In New York, where I live, there are rumors of alligators lurking around our poop canals. They originated, according to believers, when in days of yore parents purchased tiny, adorable reptiles for their children, only to discover (quite read more »

I Might Be on the FBI Watch List

I’d like to go ahead and clear up why I once delayed an international flight due to a misunderstanding about smuggling pistols. If you’re a regular reader do press on, but this post is primarily written for whichever federal investigator handles the yellow sticky notes in my file folder at the FBI headquarters. In 2004 read more »

The Truth About Archaeology

There are a dozen reasons you might want to go digging around somebody else’s land with a shovel and a vaguely communicated purpose. If so, spare some hassle and call yourself an “archaeologist.” You can still dink around with a garden trowel in someone’s petunia garden if you want, but uppity neighbors might accuse you read more »

The Royal Ascot

Shy of getting hopped up on Earl Grey and plundering India, visiting the Royal Ascot is the most English thing you will ever do. Ascot is a staple of the English social and fashion year, and the diverse ecosystem of lady’s hats routinely swamps the papers in its wake. Ostensibly convened for the purpose of read more »

The Royal Wedding

For reasons unanswered the British document the lives of their royal family through commemorative plates. What they do with these plates is a mystery— I’ve seen them in antique shops and grocery stores, yet I don’t recall ever spotting a single commemorative plate in someone’s home. I think perhaps Britons buy them, then stash them read more »

The Curse of Carlisle

Carlisle is the flip-flopper of Britain. Alternately Scottish or English, depending on the century. Because of its strategic value on the border it possesses a long military history and a big castle. Bonny Prince Charlie seized Carlisle on his march into England, and his ancestor Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned there before ultimately heading read more »

The Bolton Piranha

There’s something refreshing about waking up on an alien couch with a slight hangover. It’s a reminder that life has not yet solidified, that I am still young enough to do such a thing without being forced to purely by sub-prime mortgage loans. The more surreal the better. A rabbit lives in Claire’s kitchen, as a pet, read more »

Brighton and the “Pink Pound”

Brighton is what London would be like if London were friendly. It’s vibrant, artsy, young and possibly a misplaced suburb of Warsaw. But, unlike London, I never felt that pedestrians were trying to make my crotch catch fire using their weird telepathic death-ray vision. In fact people were all around pleasant. Just a lot of kindly coast-dwellings read more »

Kiss Me, Hardy

The HMS Victory is the oldest ship in the British fleet. It’s never been decommissioned, which means that, in theory, it could still be deployed to Iraq. Not terribly likley, though, as the vessel was first launched in 1765. It’s kept in dry dock at Portsmouth today as a living monument to the Battle of Trafalgar. The Victory was read more »

The Majesty of Obese Falcons

The courtyard which greeted me at the Cotswold Falconry Centre felt particularly eerie. There are twenty or so birds all perched on logs, tethered to the wood by means of a leash. For the first few moments they all stared at me with silent appraisal. Hawks, eagles, falcons and the manifestly ominous owls all blinked read more »

Medieval Muppets

I woke up Monday morning to discover what appeared to be a Muppet clad in Medieval clothes perched on the edge of my bunk. I’m incoherent for the first… six or seven hours after I wake up in the morning, so the visual was perplexing. The Muppet coughed to get my attention. That’s how he read more »

Yorvik!

I’ve always wanted to see York, but I went there last weekend specifically for the Viking Festival. How could this in anyway possibly go wrong? We’re talking about large groups of people dressing up like Angles and Saxons, very likely drunk, then pretending to wail on each other with axes and swords. Neato. It goes read more »

York

Shambles Gate is now a collection of tea shops and chocolatiers, but if you keep your eyes pealed you can detect its origins. The name comes either from the type of tables butchers used for their wares, or is a mutation of “flesh animals,” also hearkening back to its birth as a street of butchers. read more »

The National Railway Museum

My first question was, “Why on earth does a train need a life vest?” The National Railway Musuem has two hangers of complete trains. While peering into the window of one from circa 1970 I noticed instructions reminiscent of airplane safety brochures, featuring a smiling maiden putting on an inflatable vest. I couldn’t dislodge this read more »

Sugar Cubes & Lies

Port Meadow is about nine minutes from my home. It’s 440 acres which managed to survive the Enclosure Movement, which you should recall from high school history class. It’s never been plowed. Probably because the large, scenic pond in the middle is in fact a gigantic puddle which swells whenever the Thames overflows. Magistrates are read more »

The Eden Project

The Eden Project is like Al Gore colliding with 2001: Space Oddysey. Located in St. Austel, Cornwall, where some intrepid enviornmentalists decided to make something out of a gigantic crater rendered by mining operations in the countryside. Now that crater, once a collosal divot of industrialization, is home to gardens which spiral down to meet two read more »