Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sipson, England

This had to have been one of the weirdest places I have ever been. For my last night in England, I wanted to stay at one of the hotels near Heathrow since I had an early flight and had to return the rental car (whose GPS died on me enroute to the airport and I had to get Internet directions from the manager of a local pub).
I gambled on Expedia's blind fare (where you accept a price but don't know what hotel you will be at). I got Holiday Inn. Sigh. But it was a nice Holiday Inn. I think I was getting it confused with Howard Johnson's or something.
I wanted to have a glass of wine but not pay bar prices, so I asked the front desk guy how far of a drive is it to a store? He told me I could walk out of the hotel, turn left and there would be a pub.
This was in itself a little odd, since there was nothing else around there besides the airport. Most airports I've ever seen are like our Detroit Metro (basically stuck out in the middle of nowhere so no one complains about the noise) and Heathrow is no exception.
So I walked literally 250 feet down the road and see the pub but I walk another 300 feet and see another pub and a small village. Mothers were picking up their children from school and walking them home, people were hanging out in front of the pub or just walking around.
It was surreal to be so close to one of the world's busiest airports and then have this scene of domesticity and everyday life.
Apparently, there was a huge controversy in this village (called Sipson) because Heathrow wanted to expand and the village would have been destroyed. They eventually won but are still bitter about it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rye, East Sussex, England

From my home base in Bexhill-on-Sea, I took a day trip to Rye, a small village about 20 miles away. Rye is the type of little village Americans think of when they think of England.
Cobbled streets, narrow winding lanes, half-timbered houses.
It's apparently the type of little village English people think of when they think of England also as it's a popular day trip from London, being only 2 hours by train.
I can't say I did anything all that special...just walked around...viewed the local church and cemetery....saw Rye Castle (which was built as defence against the French back when Rye had a harbor and the water hadn't receded).
Mostly, I was on a mission to find these dang fox and hound hunting scene coasters my stepmother wanted. I searched in every shop in Rye and found every other type of coaster but no fox and hound (yes, I think hunting is wrong and cruel but she asked for them).
Alot of shop owners even seemed quizzical when I asked for them. I guess they never got the memo that every American thinks that's all that British people do...wear riding clothes and hunt foxes in between tea and scone breaks of course.
Rye is noted for having many famous authors live there, including Henry James. Additionally I learned that Paul McCartheny lived/lives there and his children went to school there. Rye is also the hometown of Bob Marley's ancestors (what did we do before Wikipedia?).
It was definitely worth the visit, but this is the kind of village you want someone to walk around with (since that's about all there is to do) and I was solo. Sigh.
The day I went there did seem to be some kind of motorcycle rally or something which was slightly inconguous with the surroundings.
If you do drive, there is a public parking lot by the big windmill, which was so much nicer than when I went to St. Ives in Cornwall. Because there was no parking in that town and the streets wers so small and it was so crazy to drive, I just drove right outta there without stopping. And then had 3 big drinks when I finally got back to my B and B!