Ol’ Blightey – The United Kingdom Part 1

As I gave away in my Christmas post earlier this week, I’ve been spending the holiday season in merry ol’ England, the country of my clan and lots and lots of rain. Instead of a white Christmas, I’ve had a pretty grey one; but that’s okay, being back in my ancestral home, a place of mold and rust and green, has really been quite special.

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Quite the Journey

It makes me sound like I’ve led quite the sheltered life, but getting to York from Mannheim was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. Compounding a total lack of sleep for 24 hours was the effort of finishing my last German essay, shuttle buses to the airport being late and then ridiculous airport security shenanigans. Though I ended up loosing my Amblemann pin somewhere and my heart probably beat enough to shorten my life by a few years, I made it to the gate with maybe four minutes to spare. Let that be a lesson to you, kiddos: avoid those small countryside airports if you’re running on a tight schedule.

Anywho, after a breather on the plane, I landed in the dark at London Stansted. While waiting for the bus to London I realised I’d become quite adept at wasting time. The key is to become really interested in things at stores: “Woah! Razors! Sweet, check out that box of nurofen! Those condoms look super artistically crafted…”

Already I was feeling at home, loving the accents and the weather (surprisingly). Rolling over green meadows on the bus to the early morning light totally calmed my nerves from the night before. I’d arrived!

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London Town

Though I didn’t have much time to explore, my little taste of London has left me itching for more.

The mix of lovely and ornate Victorian styles and modern skyscrapers is a weird one, sometimes not working too well. For instance, the big Pickle sticks out like a saw thumb or a ride middle finger.

The hidden away but incredibly popular Boroughs Markets were a feast for all the senses, and Buckingham Palace was just as grand and tourist infested as I thought it’d be. Other than that, I don’t have much more to say… Yet.

One thing I learned though, is don’t expect things to be cheap, and don’t get the fish and chips anywhere that doesn’t have a glowing reputation. You’ll end up with a bread-y and bland slab of grossness and some overcooked Maccas fries.

London is a bit intense though, let’s be honest. It’s a bustling metropolis on a whole ‘nother level, even at Christmas time, perhaps owing to the plethora of different ethnic groups who call it home. You’re definitely going to meet some interesting people and have your horizons broadened in London.

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The North

Of course, I didn’t come to England for the South. No, no, I’m a Northman me. Like to think there’s a bit of Viking in me somewhere (there’s red in my beard, after all!)

After an absolutely hellish bus ride across the country, sitting next to a man with two mobile phones and no sense of personal space, I arrived in Yorkshire in time for Christmas.

I spent a night with my long-lost cousin and her cats, fish and lizards before taking an quick ‘n’ easy train to nearby Leeds.

Pulling into the city was like entering a movie set. Everything around the station was rotting, a mix of colours splashed over ancient walls. A mosaic of mould and posters. That’s England’s charm innit? The damp and cold and the incredible history that came out of it.

Leeds, completely contradictory to how I remembered it, is artistic and lively, full of neat stores and beautiful buildings. There’s obviously been a lot of gentrification around, and a lot of development in the street culture. I love the book, comic and collectable stores in particular.

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Of course, I had to make it back to York before the trains stopped working for Christmas, so I left just after sundown. Saying goodbye again to Leeds, now in possession of some new markers and some ridiculous toys, I knew that I’d be back again. Yorkshire is a home away from home, something I am very grateful for… As I’ll explain in future installments! Stay tuned, citizens!

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