Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Back home

Rover and I are home safely and apart from an athletic looking slug who has left a trail all over the carpet in the lounge all is well. Rover is my suitcase (its red so Red Rover, we have been roving and like a dog we have been for long walks). The only casualty has been my rucksack which has lost its bottom and the Washington guide book I left outside the Capitol.

The trip was amazing and that was mainly due to the fantastic people who were prepared to put up with me, answer my questions, show me their traditions and welcome me into their homes and way of life. Thank you does not really seem enough but your welcome and help was fully appreciated.

Sarah asked me what the best part of the trip was and I couldn't answer because the trip was so varied that no one point stood out more than any other but I thought I would share a few things not already covered.

Funniest moment - well two really both at the Kansas City baseball match. The first occurred when a ball was hit in the stand two or three rows away from us. Most people were on their feet trying to catch except one lady who remained seated. The ball with unerring accuracy picked out her neighbours glass of beer with the ball sitting in the bottom of the glass and the beer like an alcoholic tidal wave reared up and splashed the poor lady from head to toe. The second occurred when the Kansas City mascot was using an CO2 style gun to shoot promotional hot dogs into the stand. He/she/ it thought it would fire one on to the top tier in the stand only to shot it in into a concrete cross beam 6 feet above his head squashing the hot dog flat.

Most embarrassing moment - getting on the subway train in New York to find it empty. As the doors closed I realised it was at the end of the line and going to the depot. In my haste I had got on the train on the wrong side of the platform. Luckily it went back into service 10 minutes later and let me get off.

Worst decision - deciding to walk from the station to the hotel in Philadelphia in 90 degree heat. It felt like three miles uphill.

Guy the mini-celebrity. At the camp meeting service the pastor asked who had travelled the furthest and yes it was me by about 5800 miles. At the end a succession of people introduced themselves and told me their England story which made me feel very welcome and then the pastor in charge told me all about his Doctor Who fascination and the TARDIS door key ring.

Biggest disappointment - American football game. A let down after all the effort that we went to.

Language issues - in a coffee shop I thought I had ordered two coffees but ended up with three. Must be the accent! Secondly was asked if I wanted pickle in a sandwich. I said yes expecting Branston but got a dill pickle.

Strangest apology- Someone apologised for the American Revolution and becoming an independant nation. Interesting to see what would have happened if there had been no Revolution (didn't do Canada, Australia or New Zealand any harm after all).

On a similar topic most vilified man - George III who during my travels was described as evil, tyrannical and cruel. I am not sure that taxation without representation is any of those and with causalities about even at 50,000 for both sides he is hardly a tyrant. It could be noted that Washington DC (and other areas) currently has taxation without representation!

Weirdest thing - Sales Tax. In the UK Sales Tax (VAT) is in the price that the shop put on the goods. Could you please do this so I can get the correct money ready in advance and not hold up the entire line will I try and sort the dimes, nickels and quarters. Being in 8 states didn't help this either as they are all have different rates.

Most over-rated food: Philly cheese steak - cheese on a steak, its ok but not as amazing as they would have you believe. Hoagies, such intriguing but it is a large sandwich on a baguette roll.

Sarah also asked what I was most looking froward to when I returned home and I struggled to come up with an answer. Usually it is home cooking or sleeping in your own bed etc. but I have had times on my own, in a pair and as part of a family. I have eaten out and also had home cooked delicacies (biscuits and gravy most noticeably), the hotel rooms have ranged from dismal to superb with much more comfortable beds than my own. Access to the Internet has meant I have been able to keep up with the UK news and sport (Go Luton Town:2 wins from 2 games.) I saw my family just before I left so had caught up on all the gossip and plans. I had seen a wide variety of scenery from the coast in New York to the rolling mountains of central Missouri. The one missing ingredient has been my friends but with a lot of them away on holiday I am not sure if they are in Norwich. This lead me to think about what I really like about England. If you asked an American which is the best country in the world most by reflex would say the US but I would ask in what context do you mean best. The UK has it good points and it has its faults. I think the answer it is that I know how it works, what the law in a certain circumstance is, what my rights are and what it all means so that I am totally at ease in situations. Being abroad requires constant thought to achieve your goals and targets whether though language, custom or religion differences whereas being at home does not require the same level of thought (in New York it took me a while to realise that I could use the yellow pages in the room to find what I was looking for; in England that would be the first place I would look). And of course the beer in England is a lot better. Maybe I need to go away more often to help me appreciate that fate.

Results day tomorrow for my A Level kiddies. I will let you know how they get on.

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