It was the morning to go to the East End of London to visit the Jack the Ripper sites. A bit morbid and grusome for me, but the others were into it, and Paris had done an assignment on it at school so was all for it. Another early beginning; bit sick of kids up at three and watching repeats of Friends, but what are you going to do?
I love the stiff upper lip of the English. At the tube station, there was a beautifully written sign that read: 'Please note the next Chelsea FC game is on November 20. The station will be rather busy between 1400 and 1600 on that day.' NOT 'Beware of scads of thugs charging the stairs and head butting the walls. It won't be pretty at this station on November 20. Particularly if Chelsea FC loses. Cheers.'
Off we went to the East End. I have my bearings a little more now and I figure that we are staying in the equivilent of Camberwell. Terribly genteel and full of spas for toes and fingers and expensive supermarkets. The East End is a bit different. We got lost immediately and walked around a housing estate for a while. This is Dickensian London circa 2011. And all the buildings were optomistically named 'Collingwood House' and so on. It would have been more appropriate for the buildings to have been called 'Nickleby House' or 'Copperfield House' or even 'Bleak House'. Still, better food this end of town, with a street market and great vegetables for sale. People were great - we were idiots of course and had no idea where we were. Paris couldn't find any of the landmarks he needed for the Jack the Ripper thing. Oh well. I was happy not to see it. The tradition of valuing individuals only after their murder (enshrined in shows like CSI where anyone marginalised is ignored until dead and then thousands of dollars are spent on them determining their death. It depresses me hugely) is nothing I want to do.
We went to Paddington to get our car and then off we sailed into the West of England. Not surprisingly, we got lost, but my God, how beautiful is the countryside of England. And how barking are the names? (There is a 'Barking' in London. Sadly, we didn't get there. Next time.) Piddlehinton was my personal favourite but I'm pretty sure that that will be eclipsed. Well, here's hoping anyway.
We made it to Dorchester. Loved it immediately. Local supermarket is peppered with my kind of people - the bloke at the register who SANG to us (not really singing, but he kind of had a sing songy quality to his voice - 'here are your bags' with a kind of melody), the old lady in front of us who bought sponge cake and the biggest bottle of whiskey you could ever hope to see. Booze is cheap here (everything seems cheap, perhaps I'm losing my mind), two bottles of vodka for 5 pounds. I can see a drinking problem coming on.
Then we drove to Sydling St Nicholas. We booked this house on a whim and I was thinking it was just going to be a house next door to a pub and not much else. However, Sydling St Nicholas is a tiny but densely packed town of ancient little houses, the biggest geese you have ever seen, and a pub that was so ace, we thought about moving in. Great beer (somehow everyone whinges about English beer but this was really good), a super menu and a clientele that brought in dogs (completely unremarked upon by all but us - we were beside ourselves. Niccolo went face first into the table before his dinner arrived. The rest of us laughed our arses off and got good tips from the people who worked in the pub (called, by the way, the Greyhouse Inn). We went back to our little cottage with excellent heating and fell into dark, dark sleeps.
This might be my Dibley.
No photos today. We think we need to have the camera fixed. The photos are blurry.