Saturday, July 3, 2010

Country living

It happened. Much to my astonishment I am now a bona fide resident of a small town on the south coast of the UK. It is beautiful. There are however a few little culture shocks that I am still adjusting to.

1. Talking to strangers
When people pass you in the street, they smile and say hello regardless of whether you know them or not. The day after we moved in a woman practically threw herself in front of my car and banged frantically on the window. I thought I'd run over her and/or her cat. Turned out she "just wanted to say hello" to her new neighbours.

A lady in the local shop this morning shared her life history with me. I only went in for a pint of milk.

In London this sort of behaviour would get you stabbed/arrested/sectioned.

2. Shopping
The clothing stock does not change. Last week's maxi dresses (which are also in fact last season's) are still in stock. As they were the week before, and the week before that.

The bread and butter of the tourist town however is gifts. Candles, fudge, straw hats. And gollys. I thought they were illegal, but the little black teddy bears that I believe are almost universally offensive are still freely available here. Has nobody told them yet?

3. Hills
It doesn't matter that the fashion trade is so lacking because practically the only footwear I've worn since my arrival are my trainers. The hills are killers. We're talking full-on cliff-top peaks and troughs here, and there's no avoiding them. I have calves of steel already.

4. Driving
People down here don't drive - they meander from a-b at a pace so frustratingly leisurely that sometimes the transition from 2nd to 3rd gear feels like a Grand Prix moment. And that's without the tractors, farm lorries and occasional cattle that also get in the way.

I've already learned that a safe bet is to double whatever time the satnav suggests is the length of the journey. On the plus side, petrol goes a lot further when your average speed is about 20 miles an hour - and that's still more than I ever managed to reach along Marylebone High Street.

I do love it here though. There's so much space - and there is nothing more relaxing than a sunset stroll along the beach after work. Just as well really - it takes 11 hours to download stuff from the internet sometimes. Am quite sure there's not much piracy going on down here. Noone's got the time.


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