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London After 20 Years: Things I Forgot About

London After 20 Years: Things I Forgot About

Aug 18th, 2002, 04:53 PM
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London After 20 Years: Things I Forgot About

We just got back from a too-short week's trip to London, my first time back since 1980 and my fourth trip in all. Funny how you forget about some things that come rushing back to your memory, or at least that's what happened to me.

I forgot how much more "work" it is to be there - we rented a house, and walked everywhere to get to tube stations and sights within London. No wonder the average Londoner is in such trim physical shape - I'm sure I would have dropped at least 10 pounds if we'd stayed a bit longer.

I forgot how food shopping becomes a once-every-two-or-three days kind of thing there. The stores like Tesco or Sainsbury's that we shopped at certainly had a great variety of things to buy, but who wanted to, or could, *walk* all those bags back to the house? With five of us staying there, we settled for more meals out than we planned rather than continuously wind up at Tesco's buying more bread, another carton of milk, or fruit. Reminded me vividly of being in a junior-year-abroad program in the '70's and having to go to the food store all the time. (Yeah- Americans are an awfully spoiled group, at least those of us living in the suburbs with cars.)

I forgot how common smoking is - and STILL is - over there. I was amazed at how many people still smoke there, though there were certainly many places labeled non-smoking.

I forgot how I start thinking to myself in a British accent once I've been there for about 6 hours! I'm sure if I'd tried to speak out loud with that accent, it would have sounded pretty lame, but in my head it sounded smashing.

There's other things I'm sure I could mention, but won't for the sake of saving space. Anyone else reminded of things that they'd forgotten from earlier trips there?
Aug 18th, 2002, 05:28 PM
Morning Giggle
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Marcie, I remember the grocery shopping thing well! When we lived in an English village in the 1970's we had to shop every day, going from the greengrocer to the butcher to the bakery to the wine merchant, and making sure not to buy more than we could carry, because the walk back to the car park was so long!

When we lived there in the 80's they'd built a big Sainsbury's, and now when I go back I find a huge Sainsbury's and a Safeway, both with actual parking lots!

When I go to London now, I lose weight while stuffing myself with double cream, just because of the walking!

Thanks for bringing back memories.

Aug 18th, 2002, 07:26 PM
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I was in London for the first time in 1980, and every moment of it is vivid in my memory. Every time I go I'm reminded of something that first struck me that visit, or of a change. The smell of the place, for instance--the exhaust in London is different than in America (where I'm from, must be something about the fuel and the mechanics of how the cars deal with it, but it's utterly distinctive in my experience.

The big difference I notice these days is how much less grim everyone seems; in 1980 the coalminers' strikes were on, unemployment was soaring, and there seemed a general air of anger and hopelessness. I had several natives ask me why anyone would want to visit the UK.

One other little thing -- or not so little. I'm continually amazed at the huge numbers of people (mostly men)in suits crowding into pubs and standing outside them at lunchtime on weekdays, knocking back those big pints of beer. I could never do that and ever hope get anything useful done back at the office in the afternoon!

Aug 18th, 2002, 07:26 PM
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I lived outside of London in the early 80's in Beaconsfield, a really lovely little town. Sainsbury's built a store, and I couldn't believe they charged you to park there while you shopped! I also remember always having fresh flowers because they were so cheap compared to what they were in the US. And I loved Freesia's. Whenever I see them here now they remind me of my stay in the UK.
Aug 20th, 2002, 11:16 AM
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Walking?? shopping 2-3 days?? Once a fortnight for me! and then whats the internet for ladies?? shopping at Tesco, I believe..
(a little silly english sense of humour))
Aug 20th, 2002, 01:21 PM
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Egnlishgirl, back then, the Internet was only a twinkle in Al Gore's eye.

A little American humor...
Aug 20th, 2002, 01:27 PM
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I'm not sure we're spoiled living in the suburbs and buying food by bulk, because we have enormous gas-guzzling cars. So much of our American lives is spent consuming. So much of our food because it is not fresh, is full of preservatives. One of many reasons that Americans have gained so much weight.
Aug 21st, 2002, 01:02 PM
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I’ve never lived in Britain but I’ve made many extended trips there (France as well). I enjoy the marketing and having things very fresh. In the States if you want lettuce you may find two or three types, but generally it is uniform, “manufactured” iceberg lettuce, kept refrigerated and drowned periodically in a spray of chlorinated water. Really it is more texture than taste, but it is uniform.

I like the fresh food available at the green grocers much better.

I like fresh milk that hasn’t been “cooked” and which still comes in glass containers. (Yes, milk, like beer and numerous other beverages, tastes better from glass than plastic.)

I love the fresh bread and made-daily pastries, going to a butcher and have a bit of meat cut for me, just the way I ask, rather than having it put out on display in a Styrofoam container sealed in plastic.

I was raised in the Midwest in the 1950’s and we went into the nearest town once every other week and stocked up on frozen items and canned items because that’s the only way we could keep it. We had fresh milk only once ever two weeks, in other words.

There is much positive to be said about daily marketing, though I’ll agree it can become a bit of a hassle after a hard day. I do think it sad, actually, that each time I go I see more and more Americanization in commerce. Now, god help them, they have Wal-Mart, Starbucks, and Barnes & Noble (or so I hear).
Oct 8th, 2005, 10:16 AM
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Yet another Morning Giggle post from pre-registration, for those who doubt that she's a long-time (though not addicted) poster.
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Oct 8th, 2005, 10:48 AM
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This was funny to read and I agree with marcie, once you are accustomed to the way we do everyday things in the States, any European city can be an adjustment, but for us, one that we love to make.
We do much the same thing now, living in a city.

I know Morning Giggle and she is my friend. What in the world is this about?
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