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Sunday, June 7, 2009

What I love about England . . .

I'm on holiday in England right now and it occured to me to write about the things that I find facinating here that I don't find at home in California:

1. Aga. An aga is this great big heavy kitchen stove. The right side of it stays hot all the time. Not the outside part of the doors or the top of the stove but the two grills on top and 3 ovens. Anytime you want to cook something, you really don't need anything but the aga. But for those periods that are too warm seasonally, the aga gets turned off and the family uses the left side which is a traditional stove top and two independently controlled ovens. The aga tends to keep the entire lower floor warm because it constantly emits heat. Each one of the aga ovens on the right side has a specific heat range from not very hot, to med hot, to very hot. Hotest on the top right. The two round grills on the top right are heat sources to be used like burners. The left one is super hot and the right one is medium hot.

2. Tube Station Escalators. These steep escalators are amazing to ride on. They are like a very steep, moving tunnel. The signs on the right side say to stand on the right if not moving. That leaves the left side for people in a hurry who want to pass.

3. Narrow door ways. I've seen this phenomenen in many places around Europe. The first place I saw it was in Amsterdam. Someone told us in Amsterdam that hundreds of years ago, when the buildings were built, the government taxed according to how large the doorways were. So people built houses with extremely small doors. I saw one of these doors in London and took a photo of it. This door looks to be about 18" wide (maybe 24" but not more). Keep in mind that this is not common.

4. Medievel castles. It's amazing to walk into a building that is over 1000 years old. Many are even older.

5. Beautiful gardens. The English take exceptional pride in their gardens. And they have absolutely lovely gardens. But let's be fair here. It rains ALOT and it's incredibly green here, everywhere you look. I could even be a good gardener here. I live in a semi-desert area which is in a drought right now. I have to go out and hand water every day in the summer to keep the plants alive.

6. Georgeous train stations. Look at this lovely glassed in train station.

7. Old churches and grave yards. I'm just facinated by them. I love walking around looking at the ancient headstones from the 17 & 1800s.

8. Old headstones are amazing to me. This one was interesting because it appears that many people in the family were buried in the same grave.

9. My daughter's house. It's in Buckinhamshire in a town called Hyde Heath. It's called DeFontenay.

10. Victoria & Albert Museum. This museum focuses on textiles but there are so many other amazing things here. They have a cast room where copies of famous sculptures reside. Michaelangelo's 'David' in it's exact replica, including size, is there. The most famous Persian rug in the world is residing in the museum right now (in the Islamic gallery) in a ginormous glass case. It's only lit for 10 minutes on the hour and half hour to retain the brightness of it's colors. Rafael's cartoon's have their own very large room. Cartoon's by definition were drawings or paintings of a rug or tapestries to be woven from. So these are huge paintings that were painted onto strips of cloth or paper that were glued together. You could get lost in the marble sculpture area. The V&A has a room full of samples of textiles. Unfortunately, the room is dimly lit to retain the colors of the fabrics and it's a bit hard to see the colors very well. But there must be absolutely thousands of pull out drawers.

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