Impressions of Old England.



Rothwell Church

I am writing this from an unseasonably warm part of the English midlands, a forecast of +12C today compared to a bitterly cold -15 back home in Ontario.

My mother celebrates her 90th birthday next week, it’s why I am here in the village of Rothwell in Northamptonshire. It has been five years since my last visit.

England is different to Canada in many ways, from driving on the other side of the road, the food, accents, houses, language, narrow streets.

Rothwell was a market town, its roots can be traced back to the Roman era. The church is an impressive building of moss covered weathered brick, built in 1100, headstones in the graveyard date back hundreds of years. Many of their inscriptions illegible from centuries of exposure to the weather.

I am sitting in the library which has free WiFi access, it is built on the site of the first grammar school built in 1538. This area is steeped in history, I took a photo of the town council building, originally built in 1577 as the market house. Unfortunately it is on my camera and I have no way to transfer it to this tablet.

It has been five years since my last visit, not much has changed, some new houses on the outskirts of the village, newer models of cars on the roads.

The streets still seem impossibly narrow. Especially when cars have to stop to let large trucks or farm equipment pass. Some roads are too narrow for two vehicles to pass, a game of chicken to decide which proceeds first. Streets lined with cars parked half on the pavement (sidewalk).

What are my other impressions?

  • More small cars.
  • Very few overweight people.
  • Many traffic roundabouts which speed up traffic.
  • Still many small, traditional shops.
  • Fewer fast food outlets except in shopping malls.
  • Rich mix of old and new buildings.
  • High cost of fuel (almost double).

Different accents, different words and a different way of using English, all add to the experience.

Surprisingly, for a small island crowded with 60 million people, there are bigger farms and open spaces here than in South West Ontario. It is possible in some areas to drive for more than a mile without seeing a building.

An overriding feeling in this quiet village with its ancient buildings is that of stability, a reminder that the human race has survived adversity and turmoil for thousands of years. Despite the current upheavals and disruptions in society, the past shows that we will survive these too.

I will return home on the 24th, blog posts could be spasmodic until I return, not everyone has WiFi.

Inserting a signature using this tablet is proving technologically challenging.

Peter Wright.


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  2 comments for “Impressions of Old England.

  1. Roberta
    December 14, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    In addition to visiting with your mother what a wonderful and historic town, Rothwell is. Nice to be there. Think I might have been there once. If not in Rothwell, close. Would have to dig my diary/picture book out and look up. But it is in garage. Too cold to do that tonight. Like you I was also struck with the larger farms and bigger open spaces in GB. Would like to know how the British do that.

    Your thoughts of ‘stability, and ‘survival’ and ‘adversity’ are good points to ponder, especially in light of everything gong on in USA and the world today. Would be a great conversation over a cuppa coffee.

    • December 31, 2013 at 8:53 am

      Visiting your part of the world for that discussion over a coffee is definitely on my bucket list.

      It’s probably one of the benefits of detachment that one gets from being away from one’s daily environment, enhanced in my case by the abundance of old buildings and sense of history, but my visit did give me more hope that a lot of what is going on in the USA and elsewhere, will pass.

      Having just read the post on a “proper” computer, I realise how unsuited a tablet is for serious writing when used by someone with limited patience and large fingers! It will be edited and the photo re-aligned.

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