Sunday, March 18, 2018

Thoughts on Last Year’s Visit to England

Gourmet Living News

Editor’s Note:   This is a reprint of a Blog Post published a year ago on a sister site,, which documents one of our trips to Great Britain.  Slightly irreverent,  this blog post is pitched more to our family than readers of Gourmet Living.  Nevertheless, it has some useful suggestions for those travelling to the UK, particularly London.


We arrived at JFK late last week from a glorious three weeks in England.  Things got off to a bit of a rough start:

  • We eased through passport control leaving many irate passengers queued at understaffed immigration booths.  Nevertheless, JFK baggage-handlers made sure that our bags were the last off the plane;
  • The car we booked to pick us up failed to appear.   It seemed that the Ukrainian car service had gone out of business (were they deported?) and the “new” owners had just put up a new website;
  • We booked an Uber for the first time, but the driver failed to appear.  We needed to book another one, but I still got charged $5 for cancelling the service for the one that failed to appear;
  • We listened to a hilarious “talk radio” segment on the Uber ride home where a guy was convinced his girlfriend was cheating on him because he got mononucleosis.  His justification for infidelity:  “I never get sick, so she must have been kissing someone else.”

I thought I had just arrived in a third-world country.  Upon reflection, it is!

Things proceeded downhill rather quickly after listening to media and political pundits trade insults on TV and the radio.  Nevertheless, hope spring eternal when I discovered that the left and the right can get together as “Morning Joe” stars Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough announced their engagement.

Mika did have the good sense to turn down Donald Trump’s kind request to “oversee their vows.”

Christ Church College, Oxford


Frankly, things are different in England:

  • You have knife killings rather than gun killings since private firearms are banned;
  • You can listen to BBC or ITV news without spilling your “cuppa” tea;
  • They watch World Championship snooker where athletes in smart tuxedos bash balls about rather than each other;
  • The NHS (National Health System) didn’t upgrade their Windows XP system so that it could be easily hacked using purloined NSA malware (what are friends and allies for?);
  • The best hot chocolate in England can be found in a “burger” restaurant, actually it is Burgers of Marlow;
  • Yes, they have a Harry Potter tour at Oxford College.  Tour guides smile amiably, but point out that the great dining hall at Christ Church College served only as inspiration for the Potter movies.  Nevertheless, this has not dissuaded the College from increasing entrance fees from £1.50 to £7.50;
  • The “New College” of Oxford was founded in 1379.  The original Tappan Zee bridge built in 1955 is now being replaced by a $4 billion bridge to help New Englanders bypass New York City.

An American was recently asked what she thought about her tour of Windsor Castle.  She responded, “It was great, but why did they build the Castle so close to the airport?”

Despite their imperfections – like all others when one is prone to generalize – you must admire the Brits.  Keep doing what you are doing.  As Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I’ll be back!”


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