Tag: UK

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My 21 curios from my England trip should have been more like 24.  There are a few more details you should be aware of before traveling to the UK.  22. Toilets: I’ve never seen such inefficient flushers in my life. At the comfortable house rental in the Cotswolds, with a bathroom on each floor, we […]

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Castle Combe Village: The Manor and the Garden


Continuing with England photos I coaxed from my Android phone, I go from a hike in the English countryside to features of old Castle Combe village itself, where treasures from the past and a primitive settlement that seems the very essence of picturesque is deemed tourist-worthy, but nothing to get worked up about.

Once she’d pried me from our comfortable lodgings along the By Brook, my sister walked me through the graveyard and the church, where a knight was buried. But, my little brother wanted to know, had I seen the manor?  To my surprise, when we proceeded around a corner and past the church, we came upon a driveway, and then vast lawns with a manor house dominating the grounds. A tour of some ancient aristocratic residence had been on my wish list for England, and although we got only a glimpse of the interior, I felt satisfied. However, I was especially content after I treated myself to a private viewing of the old garden.

21 Curious Details I Brought Back from England


We speak the same language, but it’s like we’re separated by geography, history, and even culture. I told the border officer in the US that I had nothing to declare except a few souvenirs, but maybe that wasn’t true. Here’s what I brought back with me:

  1. The English are open to keeping their mayo on diners’ tables, next to the ketchup. No freakout about mayonnaise refrigeration. I had a squeeze or two, and I was fine.
  2. Eggs are sold on the regular store shelves, not refrigerated.
  3. Packaged meats of all varieties, bread, and dairy products were satisfying and delicious.
  4. Most pub food was tasty, hearty, and handsomely plated. The only English food I tried that deserved its reputation for blandness was steak and ale pie. Meat pies were just okay.
  5. Food everywhere is fresh and relatively inexpensive.
  6. Old pubs–hundreds of years old–were everywhere and could come with history, such as being host to some famous writers. I found them to have a bit of an odor, too. I suppose cooking up fish and chips for so many years will do that to an establishment.
  7. Pedestrians and Underground riders aren’t always friendly and don’t seem eager to interact with strangers with even a smile. I was accosted by a woman in Oxford who didn’t appreciate that I smiled at her. And when I struggled for several minutes to get my too-wide suitcase down the long aisle of a train, male riders just watched impassively instead of offering to help like they would in the US (until I got to my seat at the end of the car, where a British man kindly stood up and lifted my suitcase onto the rack).
  8. The population is very diverse, such that most souvenir shops seemed to be run by Middle Easterners. Other populations, including Eastern Europeans who in my limited experience did not speak English, represented a slice of the citizenry. The diversity meant there were interesting restaurants everywhere–Turkish, Greek, Thai, Indian, and a Brazilian/Portuguese/Greek fusion place whose food met with our approval. Everyone seemed to get along and everything ran smoothly. It was a civilized, sophisticated, humane country.
  9. Many processes are automated, so that when you’re about to get on public transportation, or come into the country, or even go into the bathroom at the train station, automation smooths the way. No long lines in customs, unlike in San Diego–just place your passport on the sensor and the gates open for you to walk into the English side. You might be greeted in the bathroom with a readout that says “These stalls are: 20% full.”
  10. Enterprise seems to be thriving, especially the restaurant business. But large chains, small groceries, food trucks, tidy flea markets, tour companies, malls–all are booming.
  11. Restaurant servers aren’t allowed to take your payment card out of your sight. It’s some kind of law. So they bring a little card processing machine to the table, which is convenient and helps with splitting the check.
  12. It took us some time to realize that “Are you okay?” is said everywhere, and means something like, “Can I help you?” when spoken in a store and “You’re distracting me” when uttered by a tour guide to my sister, who was quietly offering me gloves because we were getting chilly standing in old, dark alleyways.
  13. Public transportation–buses and the London underground trains–are prompt and frequent, reasonably clean, and inexpensive. The underground, which we took to Westminster Abbey and the British Museum, was fast and fun to ride. The downside was feeling so rushed to get on and off, since our family liked to walk rapidly to and through the station and those automated train doors were indifferent to riders with slower reflexes like my mom and I. Oxford was full of buses trundling up and down the main roads, and they seemed to represent various companies. We realized toward the end of our stay that riding up front on the upper level afforded a great view. We dominated the solemn architecture and crowded sidewalks and were in no danger of getting lost. Yet from up high, it always looked as if the bus was going to clip pedestrians or run them over. With their ease of use, ubiquity, and affordability, buses ended up being my favorite form of transportation, whether for long or short distances.
  14. London was big, but felt dense. That is, everything seemed crowded together, a contracted version of a US city. Old row houses were everywhere, and there were freeway entrances that looked, not exactly miniature, but scaled-down compared to what I’m used to.
  15. The city’s economizing on space confirmed my idea of England feeling small, even though there was so much city. But then I was surprised by vast swaths of countryside. You see miles of it from the windows of buses or trains. Then you get on freeways where verdant views continue to separate you from your destination. I started to suspect that England wasn’t that small. The Internet says that its size and population density are comparable to that of New York state.
  16. The size of the cities border on intimidating. My first impression of Bath was around the train station where we were picked up–there were some charming old buildings and inviting new restaurants. When we visited a few days later, we drove over an Old-Europe-style bridge, with looming antique buildings crowded on a hill across the water. Oxford was not just a compound of old brick institutions for students and a few gawking tourists, as I had imagined. It was huge, dense, mostly very old, and jammed with visitors. We did find a large, bright shopping mall and a decent Thai “street food” restaurant.
  17. Paper goods were in short supply. Maybe the English don’t believe in generating all this extra waste, or maybe with their population, they just can’t afford to. Or possibly it’s against the law for bathrooms to provide anything other than hand dryers or for restaurant servers to be liberal with their napkins. Whatever it was, I was often in search of something with which to wipe my fingertips. Homes and apartments we rented didn’t offer tissues, and we even had to stock paper towels ourselves in one instance. It made me think about how attached I was to paper plates and other disposable products back home and feel slightly ashamed, even though I tend toward frugality with them.
  18. There were trash bags along the roads in London, and the refuse made a poor impression, especially when bags were broken open and spilled on the sidewalk. I finally realized that the trash was put out on the walkways for pickup, and refuse collection seemed to present opportunity for even more private enterprise. At one bus stop in the countryside, I saw garbage concentrated all around the bus stop. It looked bad. My guess was that this was another instance of trash bags breaking open, except breakage had happened several times in the area and hadn’t been picked up.
  19. Ancient artifacts and old architecture abound in England. I was ready to see a few pieces from the 16th and 17th centuries, maybe. But not relics from the 1300s and even before. At Westminster Abbey our first full day in London, I gaped and was overawed. But I didn’t realize my enthusiasm was like that of a visitor who came for Old Faithful in a park pulsing with other natural wonders.  n England, evidences of Roman civilization are still around. Medieval-era churches abounded, each with their stained glass windows and respected dead memorialized and buried indoors. Doors everywhere were unique, nothing one could buy at the local building supply store. Doorknobs might be in the middle of the door, and those were newer models.
  20. I noticed a few homeless people sleeping on the street, but not very many. The parks didn’t seem to draw any homeless. I do seem to remember a panhandler asking me if I could spare change in a very British way.
  21. There are so many things to see and do, that even with our busy schedule, we only experienced a small fraction of what was out there. We visited Westminster Abbey, went on two London walking tours (Jack the Ripper–I sat that one out–and Dickens/Shakespeare), saw the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum, strolled in the parks near Buckingham Palace, walked around Bath, stayed in an old village in the countryside, toured C.S. Lewis’s home, dined in a dozen pubs, and walked frenetically around Oxford. I appreciated the grassy parks full of trees and bursting with daffodils in every city we visited, and refreshed myself walking in them.

England felt like a rich, deep, old place. If I had to do it again, honestly I would skip the London tour and walk the city looking for plaques. I hope there are plenty commemorating, for instance, the tree that our tour guide said such distinguished fellows as Wordsworth knew and referenced. There certainly was one at the square where William Wallace met his end, and surely the house from the Tudor period indicated by the tour guide had its marker. At the end of our visit, I felt deeper and older, but not so much richer. I was definitely tired, and upon arrival in San Diego, felt like kissing the soil. England had been an adventure, but it was sweet to be back in my home country.

What I Captured in England on My Cheap Android Phone


When your sister invites you on a family trip to England, you consider it. When she offers to pay for your plane ticket, you think about it some more. Then when you’re going to be in her town when the flight leaves, you say yes.

On my first trip to Europe, six of us stayed three nights in London, three in Castle Combe village near Bath, and three in Oxford. The stunner for me was how much old stuff–no, I mean really old stuff, like 1300s old–there is scattered all over England. I’ve always heard only the highlights of what visitors can see in the UK, and I imagined you’d have to plan visits to specific sites to behold these things. Turns out unique architecture and one-of-a-kind artifacts are as ubiquitous over there as deer in northwest Montana.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome stronger ties among the U.S., UK, and Australia, as the U.S. promises to deliver nuclear-powered submarines to the Aussies made with Rolls Royce engines from Great Britain. How much of a check might it be on Chinese ambitions in the region. They also recoil as Moody’s downgrades confidence in our banking system from “stable” to “negative” while the Democrats try to blame the SVB collapse on GOP policies with a very weak argument. Finally, they shake their heads as President Trump asserts that Florida was already great before Gov. Ron DeSantis took office. But it’s his praise of Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist that is raising the most eyebrows. We’ll examine the progress made by multiple Republican governors there and why DeSantis deserves plenty of credit for his time in office.

It’s media day in our year-end Three Martini Lunch awards and Jim and Greg have plenty to say about how things were covered – if they were covered at all.  Specifically, they look at the stories the mainstream media covered far too much, the ones they conveniently ignored because they didn’t fit their narrative, and they highlight what they saw as the best stories of 2022.

Author Joanna Williams joins Brian Anderson to discuss progressivism in the United Kingdom, whether wokeness is an American export, and the effects of activism on the publishing industry. Her new book, How Woke Won: The Elitist Movement that Threatens Democracy, Tolerance and Reason, is out now.

Find the transcript of this conversation and more at City Journal.

Jim and Greg set aside the usual format to discuss the life and legacy of Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who died Thursday at age 96 after more than 70 years on the throne. They discuss her steadfast support of the United States, her commitment to tradition and a stoic public demeanor, her astonishing connection to so much world history, and some fun anecdotes that show a surprisingly feisty side.

Join Jim and Greg as they serve up three bad martinis but still manage to have fun with them. First, they discuss the resignation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, what he did and did not accomplish while in office, and where he stacks up on the list of recent prime ministers. They also fume over reports that President Biden shipped five million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to countries in Europe and Asia. And they break down reports that China is already taking steps to invade Taiwan and meddle in U.S. elections.


Join Jim and Chad as they celebrate the U.K. lifting its fracking ban. They also react to reports that Senator Susan Collins will support Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, essentially ensuring Jackson a spot on the high court. And despite assurances they are pulling back from Kiev, the Russian military continues its campaign.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Charles Moore, a columnist for The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator, and the authorized, three-volume biographer of Lady Margaret Thatcher. Lord Moore explains why Lady Thatcher is considered the most important female political figure of the 20th century, and reviews the challenges she faced at home and abroad, from trade union strikes to high inflation rates and political discord. They talk about Prime Minister Thatcher partnering with American President Ronald Reagan and standing in solidarity with Poland’s Lech Walesa to face down Soviet communism. Lord Moore describes her middle-class background and a leadership style that led to her 12-year tenure as prime minister in the male-dominated arena of British politics (including nearly 700 sessions of the world-renowned Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons). They also discuss “Thatcherism,” her foundational economic principles and their applicability to other domestic policy topics, as well as lessons for today’s world. The interview concludes with Lord Moore reading from his biography of Lady Thatcher.

Stories of the Week: Attorneys general from 14 states are suing the Biden administration over the Department of Justice’s calls to monitor parental protests at school board meetings. In Alabama, a group is seeking to address the teacher shortage by suspending the requirement to pass a Praxis content mastery exam.

Britain Leads on “Race” with a Remarkable Report


Dr Sewell PM Boris JohnsonBoris Johnson’s government has done something important for a world that would regain or retain freedom from the serfdom of the socialist left. When challenged with Black Lives Matter and other Marxist front groups posing as social justice warriors, PM Johnson had a serious commission, comprised almost entirely of ethnic/racial minority members, dig into the real facts, conducting a deep dive into extensive data. The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, issued its report on March 31, 2021.* This report, at 258 pages, is written in clear English, not leftist academic jargon. You must read at least the foreword, introduction and recommendations, as they speak just as clearly to contemporary America as to the United Kingdom.

In response to the massive leftist street violence and claims of systemic white racism, the Johnson government announced the membership of a Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities on 16 July 2020.** It is a credit to Boris Johnson, and the politically and culturally brave members of the commission, that this report has been put before the British public and the world after only 9 months. No American panel or commission could do as well in twice the time, based on our history of blue-ribbon committees, commissions, and panels. You may be sure that the U.S. Department of Defense reports from the supposed studies launched in June 2020 will be embarrassing pseudo-research by comparison.

Written in the first person, in the voice of the Commission chair, Dr. Tony Sewell, the Forward, introduction, and full recommendations are compelling. What follows is an extensive excerpt, with emphasis added [and a few parenthetical comments by me]. Note the absence of poisonous race-baiting and white-shaming. Note how Dr. Sewell and the commission speak the hard truth about poor whites, especially poor white boys, being in some of the very worst, least “privileged” or powerful positions in Britain. This is likely also true here in the United States.

Uncommon Knowledge: A Charming Conversation


In his most recent episode of Uncommon Knowledge, Peter Robinson’s conversation with Richard Epstein and John Yoo focuses on the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, and Roe v. Wade, the most comprehensively and consequentially flawed Court decision in recent history. It’s a terrific show, a relaxed and thoughtful discussion with serious people about important things.

James attended  Saturday’s anti-lockdown march in Trafalgar Square and tells Toby about the aggressive behavior of the riot police. The government’s contact tracing app turns out to be a real abomination and university students are now paying for the privilege of being locked in their residency halls with the threat of losing £8,500 (US$10,914) if they stray. Will they really vote Tory in the future? How about Laurence Fox’s new party?

Also, Toby praises Tehran on Apple TV+ and James finally gets stuck into The Boys Season 2.

Eighty years ago the United Kingdom and her Commonwealth stood alone against fascist tyranny – defiant and resolved to preserve their liberty. Now, all across the Anglosphere the citizenry is meekly abiding by all sorts of arbitrary and capricious dictates in the name of safety, including the postponement of elections. What’s happened?

If the Johnson government has cocked up its response to Covid, its response to the GCE A Levels has been even worse. (The UK equivalent of the American SATs.)

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A group of oncologists estimate that 60,000 people in the UK will die of cancer because they were unable to get adequate treatment due to COVID-19 restrictions. I am torn about what to think about this estimate. Why should one trust the prognostications of a group of oncologists any more than one trusts the prognostications […]

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ACF PoMoCon #17: Defend the Statues


Friends, today is a special UK edition of the podcast. British expat journalist Ben Sixsmith joins me to speak in defense of the statues now threatened in Britain, from Churchill on down. Churchill’s own blood apparently won’t! Somebody should, though, and apparently it’s those of us looking from afar. So we also attack the Tory elites that won’t defend the nation’s honor in its symbols, either in deed or speech. We damn the corporate-manager politicians who do not wield authority and do not seem to know their offices have dignity and importance.  Where is Boris Johnson in this moment of national shame?

Is Scotland Becoming North Korea? James and Toby discuss the latest authoritarian announcements of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – or, as Toby prefers to call her, Nic Sturge-un. Also on the agenda: Is it now illegal to have sex in England? Who’s behind the riots tearing apart America’s cities? Why is Space Force no good?

This week the British bed-wetters are doubling down on the lockdown and Toby and James are thinking abut forming a new political party called the Dangerous Party for people who are pro-risk.

Speaking of risk, the lads lead off with a recount of James’ near fine and/or arrest for committing an act of journalism as the constabulary questions his presence at the Speaker’s Corner of Hyde Park yesterday (and a tip of the hat to our Twitter follower @SteveRightNLeft)