Britain thus far

On the whole I believe I approve of Britain. I’m having a great deal of difficulty figuring out how long I’ve been awake right now – I woke up on Tuesday at 7am, and my watch claims it is now roughly 4pm on Wednesday. Somewhere in there though my watch wound through 5 hours of watch-time in mere seconds of Johnathan-time so I believe the closest estimate is that this is roughly hour 28 or so. I’m reasonably certain that I haven’t slept in that time, though I guess it’s conceivable that I just don’t remember. I’m not accustomed to feeling this fuzzy, it’s almost like being drunk, and it causes my food not to sit right. That’s another thing. After eating a second “dinner” around midnight, and then continuing to travel for several more hours, I have no idea when I’m supposed to eat anymore – I’m basically playing it by ear. I think I’ve had 5 meals since my last sleep, including most recently something called a steak bake, which is like the lovechild of a Jamaican patty (without the spice) and a beef pot pie (without the pot pie).

It’s not that the travel is killing me or anything like that, 28 hours isn’t even particularly epic (though the estimated 35 by the time I get to sleep tonight is more so,) it’s just that right at the moment, sleep is sort of front-of-mind for me. What coherence I retain though argues vehemently that to sleep now is to ensure my schedule is messed up for the rest of the week – better to just slug it out and then wake up tomorrow 100% on Leeds time.

Leeds is like… hmm – it’s like Hamilton mixed with Kingston, or perhaps with a very old part of Etobicoke. You can tell it’s an industrial town or used to be, it has that sort of rough-ness to it but, being a sizable British city and all, it’s steeped in the same million years of history that every other sizable British city is, so the whole place has this beautiful aged patina to it. Stone walkways everywhere, and stone walls lining the roads – on the cab ride in to my hotel I noticed that ISO-standard red-bricks of the kind any North American is quite used to are the exception here. There are plenty of them, don’t get me wrong, but only in new construction, everywhere you look you see stone, not brick.

Also, people talk about the rolling hills of the English countryside. Seriously. I just, it’s difficult to explain. You never, never, pass an open field that is level. Ontario is not Saskatchewan, we like to think we have all 3 dimensions well represented, but you can drive for miles in Ontario with farmers fields to either side keeping roughly to where the horizon puts them; not here. Every open field is either rising up away from you at something like a 30+ degree angle, or you just can’t see it because it’s dropped away from you, and in the distance you see it ebb and flow half a dozen times. Quite astoundingly picturesque, like some parts of Hwy 10 through Caledon only everywhere, in every direction.  In Sim City 3000 when the random map generator produced something like this, I used to spend a lot of money on bulldozers.
Their pigeons here are the same as our pigeons at home, and they also have Starlings, which shouldn’t surprise me since our Starlings are European imports, but it was still nice to see a familiar face.

The hotel is well executed – the front desk person even went out and bought me a power adapter/converter when I asked if they had any and she said she’d “check.” I know it’s a $3 piece of kit, but she still gets bonus points for that.

The highlight of the trip thus far was about 20 seconds long — when we swung around for our final approach to Heathrow, and the sun was rising over the Thames and even though I don’t know London, I know the shape of that river, and I know the shape of the last 5 centuries or so around that river. Seeing it full of activity on a beautiful, sunny morning was an image I will remember — despite my fatigue.

Now I’m going to post this and rationalize with myself about why napping for a couple hours won’t hurt my sleep tonight.

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