Thursday, May 22, 2008
Hovering in England....
Well....I'm still in England. I have found almost too many connections and new friends here to hang out with and I've been hesitant to move on. Since my stay in the Hostel on the 12th and 13th I have bummed around from friend to friend and somehow avoided hotels and the like. I realized today that I've only spent about $100 on lodging since I left home. I also realized that it's been over a month since I rolled out of Austin. Man time flies.....it really feels like I just left.
In London I wandered about and realized that my travel style is the lazy style. I like wandering with only the occasional glance at my guidebook to get me to a neighborhood that sounds interesting. I've continued my wandering all over southern England.
When last I blogged I was at Helen's flat in North London. That day I rolled out to meet up with Sam Lovegrove in Netley Marsh. Sam is an old friend of Miles, a friend of mine in Austin. Sam restores and collects vintage bikes and cars out near Lands End here in England, but was trading motorbike parts at Netley Marsh for the weekend. He invited me to hang out with him and friends and take a look at how the junk collectors over here do it, so I took the opportunity to get out into the country for a bit.
After a long ride of lane splitting, traffic battling and realizing there is a difference between Netley Marsh and Netley, I finally got out to meet up with him on Friday afternoon. It was perfect...I rode up and dinner was waiting on the grill. Yum....I never thought grilled chicken cooked in a car wheel could taste so good. I hung out with Sam and talked about bikes and the obvious differences between my home and his. Since he's been to Austin before to visit Miles and he's a damn smart fellow, it made for a good chat. We stayed up drinking his beer and laughing at the "concert" that came about in the exhibitor's tent near our campsite. I tried to post videos on Flcker, but only pics came through. I'll get that worked out later.....it was DAMN funny. Just imagine Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" being wrung out by a hysterically bad Karaoke drum machine kind of cover band in a tent with 30 old drunk British men dancing together and loving every minute of it. Priceless. It was a truly unique evening for me and I finally got the chance to break out the tent and sleeping bag. It was perfect. I slept great except for the hole in my sleeping pad.....errrrr Hot Rod Marc's sleeping pad. 30 minutes of comfort and suddenly I'm on the hard ground again. I'll be patching that later...
I also posted pics of the Netley Motojumble and of the nearby Beaulieu "Autojumble" that had amazing things to see. Thanks SO much to Sam for making it a damn great weekend. I intend to head out to see him again during this trip at his place. He's invited me to come out for a proper vintage motorbike ride through the English countryside. How could I turn that down?
I also went to Camberley to visit my old friend Lee McGoldrick. He worked in Texas for a year and we met through our mutual friend Mandy in Houston. He and his wife Dawn visited Austin too....hard to believe that was 8 years ago! Anyway....I looked him up and FINALLY got to hang out with him again this past week. I stayed with them in their beautiful home between Netley Marsh and London and had a great visit. I intend to come back to see them as well.....
I went on to Southampton after Camberley to visit my new friend Frankie. I met Frankie in NYC's Jewish Museum, of all places, after she and I were kicked out abruptly at closing time. She was an intern at the MOMA and is now back in the UK searching for a job in London again. Frankie and her parents were amazingly welcoming and nice enough to let me crash in their guest room. I was so thankful to have them looking after me with home cooked meals and more than a few Britishisms that I'd never encountered. I tried a proper British Sunday roast, Cornish Pasties, Baked beans on toast (breakfast), Scotch Eggs, Tea, , Fish and Chips, Tea, INSTANT coffee, Tea and Scottish Salmon, Water Crest, ....oh and did I mention GREAT Tea? Her father was also kind enough to teach me a few of my American English wobbles. I had no idea I was so far off the mark. He did seem pleased when I told him that I occasionally revert back to my Canadian spelling of colour.
Frankie and I headed off to Portsmouth on the bike one day and DAMN it was COLD! She says I'm a wimp....I think she's just lucky she didn't have to ride up front where the cold wind just blows right through me. We also found time to ride up to Winchester to the Cathedral there. It amounted to the coolest piece of Architecture that I've gotten a chance to catch here. What an amazing place....and it finally felt truly British. We even sat for a choir session and service. Yes....I went to church and loved it. The sound of the Winchester choir in a thousand year old cathedral easily brought goosebumps.....totally cool.
From Frankie's parent's place in Southampton, I rode to Newbury (where I am right now) to stay at another friend's place from Austin. Courtney "Sabre" Hubbard lives here now on transfer with her job and I caught word and came to visit her.....only she's in London today! :) I decided to stay here today and catch up on some work/online business and just relax. It's turned into a day of chillaxin and laundry....along with eating everything I could find in Courtney's house and some. FUN. She's back tonight and in the morning I'm getting up to make breakfast tacos with stuff I found at the local grocery shop.
Tomorrow I intend to head to London and see a bit more of the town and stay with my friends Jay and Cathy that I met at Hannah's wedding in Austin. I'm thinking of finishing up a few last pieces of business here and heading to France next week. From there I think Spain beckons with warm weather and CHEAP things to do. The high price of everything here is killing me! I'm told France and beyond is a veritable bargain in comparison.
On a personal note, I'm having a rougher few days. I'm feeling more guilty for being on holiday and more tempted by opportunities that present themselves job wise. I truly believe that finding work might be as easy as filing work permit paperwork and job-hunting. That makes me feel lazy....and tempted at the same time. Paradoxically I feel a bit homesick. I miss my old friends and my old haunts. I'd kill for a coffee at Jo's today and a movie with Tony, Ulf and peeps at the Alamo tonight.
I feel like opportunities abound most everywhere I go......and yet it's my selfish concern of opportunity cost that has me troubled. It's like I'm in the best position of my life that has suddenly turned to the whole "be careful what you wish for" scenario. I'm here...I'm getting what I wanted and I suddenly want to sit in my manroom and watch movies without interruption or the real world interfering and forcing me to face the fact that I might not be living up to some dream or potential I have. ....yeah...blah. This isn't fun to read, so why babble on about it?
I'll leave it light. I'm enjoying England, my new and old friends and I'm moving on to France regardless. From there I hope to find warm weather and some serious camping and fun. I'll try to take better pics soon. Thanks for reading my all too infrequent posts....more to come.