Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh, what a day!

"It is snowing, it is snowing!", Maya's delighted screams woke me up. I peeped out of the window to find the green grass looking strangely grayish white and the bare trees appearing as if they have got a whiff of powder on them. It was Wednesday and my last day in England.

Couple of hours later, I was in Tesco doing last minute shopping when Emma pointed out, "Look, it is snowing". Little flecks of snow were falling down. The entire surrounding looked as if skies were pouring down little pearls on earth. I gladly walked around in the parking lot immersing myself in gleeful joy, appreciating the nature's wonder.

On the way back, Chess valley had already started becoming white. The snowfall was harder now and the entire valley which was green moments earlier was shrouded in white. The roofs of houses were white and so were the roads, with track marks clearly appearing. There I was, drinking in the beauty of nature and getting ready to bid adieu to a beautiful countryside. What a perfect way to end a great vacation!

P.S. The moment I landed in Bangalore I saw a perfect rainbow and a beautiful sunset on the way back to town. Guess Bangalore was welcoming me back, trying to make me forget the perfect English winter... At that moment, I fell in love with my land. Again.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Shakespeare County - Stratford

Shakespeare's county is situated in Stratford, which is built on Avon river and hence called Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare's house has been preserved till date and is open to visitors. Shakespeare Center hosts a gallery which gives a detailed account of Shkespaere's life and works. The gallery opens to a garden which leads you to Shakespeare's house.

The house has 3 bed rooms, living room, work shop and an extension to the house. The guide explains the origins of phrases like 'Good night sleep tight' and 'I had a ropey night'. In the 16th century, the cot had wooden famework and had a base of ropes, which would be tightened every night by the servent. And so comes the phrase "Good night, sleep 'tight'". If not tied properly, it would stick to one's back and make one uncomfortable. And hence the phrase, 'I had a ropey night'.

The exit leads to the Gift shop. The shop has a range of souveniers to choose from.

It is really amazing to know that almost every phrase you use in English was written by this one man. A man, whose writings inspire millions every day and are showcased by plays, drama, movie, songs and what not.

Stratford-upon-Avon has canal built on river Avon and makes for a beautiful sight. Small boats travel through these canals all the way upto Paris on one side and to London on the other. Water levels at each stage of the canal are different. A boatsman will open up the lock at one level, which causes the water in the next stage to rush in and raise the water level of your location. This helps you move on further. Once you reach the end of that level, you would open the lock of the next level. This story continues until you reach the destination. Amazing! The streets are dotted with ultra posh shops like Austin Reed, Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, Goldsmith so on and so forth. All the buildings are from the 17th Century and have been preserved in their original form.

The way to Stratford has breathtaking scenaries which makes this trip worthwhile and very satisfying. One can spot many castles along the way which have been turned into Hotels and Spas.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Cold start, sunny spells

Cold start, sunny spells. That's what the BBC predicts of the weather today here in Birmingham. Poised to be at 6 degrees, I am about to set off for an exploration of the city of Birmingham.

Yesterday's shopping at BullRing shopping center went well. To be frank, I found stuff cheaper here than in Bangalore. Maybe the X'mas season has got to do something about it. And getting good deals on GAP, H&M, CK feels good( :-) ). All the 'super brands' that we always long for have 'Made in India', 'Made in Bangladesh' 'Made in China', 'Made in Vietnam', 'Made in Turkey' tags on them. Now I know why we Indians get a raw deal back home. All the good stuff gets exported and we get the second rated stuff which is overpriced... Just as I had always suspected! X-(

Did I tell you about my first flight experience? Well, that's a story for another day..

Peace, finally!

As this post comes to you, I am sitting on a cozy couch in a beautiful home just off Birmingham. I am here in England enjoying my well deserved vacation(that's what I tell myself anyway). I have the entire day for myself and I am here watchng BBC Breakfast and blogging away. The curse of being a software engineer!

The temperature is 2 degrees today. Its windy and is raining outside. I don't envy those who have to be outside in this weather :-). All those instructions I got back home are coming handy. Though I haven't been out in the open much, I haven't had to use my gloves so far, and that's an achievement for me. For a first timer, I am doing all right here (I guess). I have people asking me if the train stops in certain stations, and I am answering their queries... ;-). I am a natural!

I am being pampered by my hosts, being taken care of in a manner fit for a queen. And then there are two very good kids at home, especially a cute cuddly, very talkative 4 year old, who has been teaching me to count to ten in French. (Oh Yes!!). Today I am just relaxing at home and then off for shopping in the evening. Tomorrow, I plan to set on foot for some exploration on my own. So far, so good.