Saturday, September 16, 2006

Scouting Mission #1 - part two

On Sunday we had a slow breakfast and watched a bit of TV before heading out for the day. I do have to admit I used to be a bit of a TV addict before moving to Germany, and so the idea of thousands of English-speaking programs does hold a certain fascination. Some German TV is pretty good, but lots of it is absolute crap. Plus the fact that it's in German, which doesn't allow me normally the "turn off brain" feeling means I don't bother watching much of it. Hopefully I won't get into the habit of watching crap English TV just because it's easy to watch. Please please please, don't let me become a Big Brother addict! But on this particular Sunday, it was another type of reality show that held me captive in front of the screen - the Antiques Roadshow. On a continent far far away, I used to watch this show on the American public broadcasting channel regularly. The idea of having a teacup that you picked up at a garage sale for practically nothing being worth hundreds of pounds always fascinated me. It still does; I made G. sit through 2 back-to-back episodes of the show before I was ready to hit the road. (Just between you and me though, G seemed to enjoy it as well.)

We headed off in our rental car with me doing the driving again. It being a Sunday, it seemed an ideal time to have an inexperienced, slow and slightly haphazard driver behind the wheel. We took the scenic route from Wendover (am I the only one who thinks that sounds like Bendover with a speech impediment? Don't get me started on Maidenhead, maybe in another post) towards Cookham. We went through Amersham, Beaconsfield and Seer Green on the north side of the M40 (one of the major highways in England). These are also possible places to live, but as we haven't really looked at any houses around here, we didn't stop to look that hard. On the other side of the motorway, we went through Taplow, Wooburn Green and Bourne End before stopping in Cookham.

I'm happy to report again that I drove without mishap. Though passing the bicycle peloton on a curve with oncoming traffic looming in fast did cause a few choice words to be said within the confines of the automobile. It had all be just fine and dandy, I could pass safely, and suddenly it felt really scary. But no one honked at me, no fists shaken in anger and no cyclists left as a reddish smear on the road, so I'm probably exaggerating the situation.

We headed to Cookham to look around the area where we had seen a house that we liked. Well, the house was okay, but the area looked particularly good, and having done a bit of research on St.Sh.'s computer, we saw that it was indeed an interesting place, worthy of deeper investigation. We parked in Cookham and took a little walk down to the river. Where I promptly twisted my ankle, as I am prone to do on uneven ground. I twisted it bad enough to fall down and required a few minutes of holding it tightly to deal with the pain. I was able to walk after, with a slight limp, which lasted about 3 days. This was an interesting opportunity to make some more observations about the British.

I fell down and was holding my ankle, obviously in pain. G. was there with me, but not really able to do anything for me. Several people walked past us, as the spot is a popular destination for walks and it was a beautiful day. Not one person asked if I was okay. Several didn't even look. Even when an older couple with canes walked past, looking with some concern, they didn't say anything when I joked I should have had a cane and maybe it wouldn't have happened. In Germany, speaking from experience, not just random guessing, people will ask if you are okay or if you need help. They have at least always asked me that. Certainly not staying silent if I started some sort of dialogue. I know others could say different about the Germans, but that's been my experience. The British are probably proud of not interfering, but it would have really taken my mind off my pain if someone had shown some concern.

After I had come to grips with the twist, we hobbled down to the river where I stuck my foot into the water, hoping for great healing powers from the Thames River. It was actually a really nice spot, under a shady tree, with the water coursing gently past us. There is a sailing club in Cookham, so we watched as several different types of boats sailed back and forth. It was really pleasant, easy to imagine spending weekends down there with the babe. We headed back towards High street (the main street for any North Americans) to find some lunch. We had an okay lunch in the lovely garden of one of the pubs. Well, it was okay until G. found a feather in his sandwich. That kind of took away our appetites, but fortunately we had eaten enough by then. We got refunded on the sandwich and left, deciding that if we do move to Cookham, that pub probably won't be chosen as our local.

We drove over to look again from the outside at the house we saw before. Both of us were satisfied with the scout around the neighbourhood. The area looked safe, wasn't loud and is only a short way from the train station, under 1km. So we decided to call the agent on Monday to take another proper look at the house.

G. did the driving back after lunch, as I figured I'd had enough excitement for one day. We drove via Marlow stopped briefly in High Wycombe to pick up a little something for me to eat, as the curvy roads were making me a bit car-sick. Marks & Spencers food court. Marks & Sparks is probably worth a post of its own at some point. Anyways, we ate our lunch on a bench in front of the church in the center of town, which was also kitty-corner from M&S. There were a number of young people about, giving it a lively but slightly Bogan feel to the place. Bogan is an Australian word which I might be misusing, but has the same idea as a chav or redneck. To me, it has fewer connotations associated with it in terms of class, names and breeding, but basically sums up the look of the people. Loud, lots of swearing, not worrying about getting their trash into the garbage can sort of thing.

We got back to Wendover, and had a great dinner that St.Sh. had cooked for us and another couple she had invited over. Delish!

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