UK visit

Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:06 am
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Default UK visit

“Cya soon” we says to the landscaper who had arrived to do some work on our garden whilst we were away. Off we trots to the airport to book in our baggage early before returning home for a relaxing couple of hours before starting the long journey to the UK.

When we get back there’s a huge pile of mulch on the driveway. “Oh shit” he says. “I thought you were actually gone and leaving the car at the airport”. Um, nope. Anyways no harm done as just enough room to drive over the grass and turn into the garage. A minute later and it would have been too late as a lorry was about to tip a load of chippings there.

A mate picks us up and takes us back to the Cairns airport where we have an Aussie fry-up brekkie before taking the 8 hour flight to Japan. We arrive in Tokyo early evening and because the connection to Heathrow is the next day JAL put you up for free in the Narita hotel which is part of the JAL group. They bus you to and from the hotel. The hotel was good. The room was spacious, clean and had all the facilities you need. There was even a space age loo. An electronically controlled bog and bidet combi.

There’s 3 restuarants but we only needed a snack so trundles off to a 24/7 type shop for sarnies. Don’t use the Lawsons one in the hotel. If you go out the front door there’s another one about 100 yards around to the left and it’s about a third of the cost. Don’t speak any English but that adds to the fun.

Breakfast is also included at the hotel. It’s a buffet affair with one massive selection. Couldn’t help but notice how the Japanese were stuffing themselves stupid. Reckon that was the only meal they would be having that day. Never seen chopsticks move so fast.

Apparently you used to be able to do the check in for the Heathrow flight at the hotel but that has now been stopped for security reasons.
So now we’re flown to Heathrow and what a boring 12 hours that is. I watched 2 films then discovered Tetris on the entertainment thing so played that for about 8 hours solid.

Hey, we’ve arrived in good ‘ol Blighty. Terminal 3. Old, stinking, dirty, hot, noisy and crowded. Couldn’t help thinking we had taken the wrong flight and arrived somewhere in the Middle East.

We find our people carrier taxi without hassle and it’s the same driver who took us when we emigrated. A trip of almost 5 hours including a refresher stop and we reach our destination at 10pm. From the time we got up that morning in Cairns, to the time we arrived in Cornwall was almost 48 hours. I had only managed 6 hours kip but felt no worse for it and woke up at 6.30am the first morning which is my normal rising time. Da Boss and the boys had got a lot of sleep on the flights.

So there we are in Kernowland.


The MIL kindly vacated her small 2 bed semi and went to live with her partner during our stay. Bloody hell it was like living in a shoe box. We just had no space at all. Every wit and while there would be a holler from me or one of the boys as we kept banging our heads on her lights. In 3 rooms she has these 3 pronged light fitments hanging down and anyone over about 5’ 8” is in for a head banging. Oldest lad is 6’4” and youngest and me are 6”1” so we were doomed.

MIL had kindly written 2 pages of A4 notes so we wouldn’t put a foot wrong and also stuck some messages on yellow stickies around the house. I must admit I didn’t read them but no worries as she was in every day so we couldn’t get anything “wrong”.

4 years ago there was a wide sweeping pavement outside her house and a view across a disused goods yard. British Rail had flattened it about 30 years ago so it had returned to nature with quite a lot of wildlife.

Now as we looked out the pavement was almost gone and a mini roundabout was there. Right across the road now stands a monstrosity of a so called self contained village. 3 story high buildings of houses come flats.

There was to be a nice green in the middle but after the developers had sold all the property they changed their plans and built a massive office block slap bang in the middle. Nothing the residents could do as it was covered in the small print. It’s a horrible place with narrow streets between the buildings and little parking.

Immediately across the road from MIL stands a chemist and a Spar shop the opens from 7am til 11pm. I can’t believe the amount of people I saw just pull up in the road leaving their cars blocking the roundabout to pop into the shop. The local yob youth thinks this is a great meeting place and skateboard on the roundabout late at night and into the early hours. Any cars daring to get in their way get the fist waive or a boot aimed at them.

Okay so it’s Sunday morning on our first day and we have no car so decide to walk the 1 mile to ASDA and get a bit of shopping before spending the rest of the day with Da Boss’s family. First corner we turn and we are greeted with the usual dog crap on the pavement. Second corner we turn and we are greeted with the usual dog crap on the pavement. That was the story of all the walking we did during our time there. Always having to avoid dog crap.....so that hasn’t changed then.

What else ? Seemed like the council had driven the dustcart through the place emptying the rubbish all over the place. Surely a special welcoming gesture.....so that hasn’t changed then.

What else ? Everywhere around the town and suburbs houses are being built on any patch of land they can find. People are even building on their back gardens. Of course there is no requirement for a parking space so the place is constantly in gridlock. No word of a lie they are parking anywhere. On double yellow lines, on signed No Parking areas, on school crossings, literally anywhere. Street after street is a line of cars down both sides with only just enough room for 1 car to drive down the middle. These are 2 way streets so if something comes the other way one of you has to reverse out.

One day I was approaching a T junction and stopped behind the car already at the junction. A while later I realised no one was in the car. I pulled out around and then saw the For Sale notice on the front. What the fook is going on ?

Not a traffic warden to be spotted in all the time we were there. Anarchy seems to have taken to the streets as far as road sense is concerned. Found out later there aren’t any traffic wardens anymore and it’s not the responsibility of the police.


Monday morning we go to pick up the rental car from a local company we contacted from Australia. We were confronted by Miss Hitler Jobsworth who has obviously not met another human for several years. Totally straight laced and devoid of social graces. No customer service, no friendly chit chat or banter.

They told me to bring my licence and copies of test certificates which I did. In fact I took both my UK and Aus photo ID licences. She preferred the UK one so processed that and when I gave her the certificates she said “I can’t use them. It has to be the originals”.

“That’s not what we were told and anyway they are in Australia” I says. :curse:

Jobsworth “kindly” points out we can pay an extra fee to get copies faxed through from the DVLC. I pointed out faxes are also just copies and Da Boss must have seen the look in my eyes and realised I was about to explode as she interceded.

“We can’t jump on a plane and go back to Aus just to get the original certificates so what other option is there?”.

“Oh I can use your Aus licence but there is an extra deposit”.

“Well use that one then” I said through clenched teeth.

Several minutes later and we are being shown around our rental. Last thing jobsworth says was “There’s enough petrol to get you to a filling station”.

I’m bursting at the seams by this time to tell her to stick her car up her jacksee but bite my tongue in half I did. Already paid, already have the car, just go with it.

Da Boss is the fiery one and I am normally Mr.Cool but that girl surely tested my patience. I imagined plucking out her Tassie hairs one by one with BBQ tongs.

We go immediately to the nearest filling station which is ASDA. Guess what ? They had run out of petrol so we have to leg it to the next one wondering if the car would conk out but all was okay.

Anyway the rental was a little automatic Fiesta and was a good runner and very economical. I purposely hired a small car as we weren’t going to be travelling much and I thought about driving on the narrow roads.
Time to visit my family who live in a village situated between Newquay on the North coast and St.Austell on the South coast. At last something to smile about driving through the wonderful Cornish countryside.

Before we were about to fly we got news that me 87 year old dad had been rushed to hospital. He was frothing at the mouth and eyes rolling and me mum thought he was a gonner. By the time we reached Cornwall the news was good and he was home again and back to normal.

When I first clasped eyes on him I said “Hello father, I thought I was coming to your funeral”.

Several minutes passed before he stopped laughing then he said quite seriously to me “When my time comes I don’t want you coming back here. I’m happy to see you now when I’m still kicking. There’s no point when I’m gone so you make sure you don’t bother and I mean that”.

He and me mum obviously feel strongly about that as they repeated it to me later in the week and even told me brother to tell us too. Dear of em.

Now what did we have for dinner ? Of course one of me mum’s home made pasties.....ooooo luverly. Just as we remembered them.

At one point me dad produced an A4sheet of paper with a list of names on it in alphabetical order. “Have a look at that” he says.

I recognised a lot of the names so asked what the list is for.

“That’s all the people that have passed over” he says. “I’ve outlived them all”.

At this point he gets a ticking off from me mum for being so morbid although the rest of us found it funny in a strange sort of way.

The subject was closed with a parting shot from me dad “I’m not the only one who keeps a list like that”.

Later in the week 21 of the Bix clan met at a Newquay restaurant to celebrate me mum’s 80th birthday. We had a bloody brilliant evening and of course were able to catch up with me other brothers and sisters.

Actually the restaurant had 4 functions going on and were obviously struggling to cope. The service was poor and the food mediocre but credit to everyone for not letting it dampen the special evening we had.

The time I spent with me family during our stay was special of course.


xxxxx


MIL had arranged an evening at a local pub where anyone who wanted to catch up with us could pop along and say hello. We were surprised when about 60 people turned up ! A mixture of ex work colleagues, friends and more distant family.

A very good night it was and only dampened at the very last. The 4 of us had taken a taxi and after seeing off the last of the guest at 11.15pm the miserable landlord threw us on the streets. We phoned for a taxi but couldn’t get a reply. It was the only taxi phone number we had so ended up having to walk home. A 2 mile hike in the peessing rain.....the only rain we saw for our entire visit.

On another evening a close friend arranged a gathering of a select few ex work colleagues and that was also a very good evening.

The boys had a wonderful time catching up with their old school and college mates. Many had not seen each other for ages so they proved to be the medium to bring them together again. Other than the group get togethers we didn’t see them much as they were on the peess in the evenings and sleeping in next day.

In fact as we anticipated the whole trip turned into one of meeting people. I don’t recall any day where we really did anything for ourselves in the way of holiday as such. Don’t get me wrong. It was nice to catch up with everyone but if there is a next time we would like some chill time to ourselves.

xxxxx

St.Austell has changed a lot in the few years we have been away. 4 years ago we would walk anywhere and feel secure but today the reverse is true. The government in their wisdom have transferred many miscreants from cities around England and put them into cheap housing. They’ve set up a druggie rehab and convicts place. I guess they think putting them amongst the docile Cornish public will have a positive affect whereas the reverse is true. There are now enclaves of undesirables and of course the crime rate has risen.

The youth has become far more belligerent and violent with groups roaming the streets. Mates of the boys say they don’t go to many of the local venues for fear of getting beaten up.....for no reason.

There is a friction in the air I’ve not felt before. Older people who previously wouldn’t say a bad thing against the place or people are now openly discussing the sad state of affairs. They all have a story to tell.

We witnessed a drug deal one day while waiting for traffic lights to change. In broad daylight on the pavement of a busy road. The dealer was waiving the sachet in the nose of the buyer as he counted out his money. I've never seen anything like that before.

The town itself has died. Many years ago some of the larger stores wanted to set up but the local chamber of commerce saw it as competition to their small shops and kept them out. Consequently they all went to Truro which is now the thriving Mecca for shopping in Cornwall.

St.Austell started plans to rebuild the town centre 10 years ago. When we emigrated 4 years ago they had demolished half of the old one. Today they are still only doing the foundations. There is this huge boarded up area that the locals call The Pit. They wonder if anything will ever come out of it. The plans from what I can gather will really only recreate what was there before. Shops mingled with cheap flats. What a wasted opportunity. The future looks bleak.


xxxxx


When you go back there are a few edible things you can’t wait to catch up with.

Icelandic cod and chips – from 2 of our favourite chippies; both were dire.

Cup of tea – tasted strange. Just not what we remembered.

Hogs pudding – what have they done to it ?

ASDA bread – nothing remarkable.

So it seems stuff we occasionally had pangs about were more in the mind. Guess our taste buds have moved on.

The two things I really did enjoy though were:

Pasties – home made and from shops. Both as good as ever.

Galaxy chocolate – bloody luverly.


xxxxx


One day Da Boss says “Have you noticed how people keep looking at us ?”

I says “ Maybe it’s because of me kangaroo bush hat and I Love Australia T-shirt”.

“No, thickhead. I mean every day”.

She was convinced they spotted us as “different”. The conclusion being we had a spring in our step and weren’t as dawdy in our demeanour.

In actual fact she was right. Although I hadn’t noticed people looking at us as such I had noticed how people seemed dour and miserable. Sort of trudging through life waiting for the inevitable to happen. Maybe it’s the difference waking to sunshine most days makes. You know, the old SAD syndrome type thing.

Actually other than that one evening of rain the weather was absolutely fabulous for our visit. As good as it gets for the time of year. Sunshine every day but with a cool breeze.


xxxxx


I’ve gone on long enough so in summary:

It was great catching up with family, friends and acquaintances and seeing the fabulous Cornish countryside again. It is a beautiful county.

However that small part of the UK called St. Austell is dire.....in a word - shithole.

It is claustrophobic, congested and dirty, full of miserable “grey” people.

If ever we went back we could not live there again.

CAIRNS ROCKS.
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Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:30 am
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Default Re: UK visit

Loved reading that mate. Welcome back.

How's the garden looking then????
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Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:31 am
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Fantastic.

I have no desire to go to the UK at the moment. Shame though, people always imagine Cornwall to be one of the nicer parts....

Buzzy
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Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:33 am
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Default Re: UK visit

Originally Posted by herrchook View Post
Loved reading that mate. Welcome back.

How's the garden looking then????
Super thanks Gill. He did a good job.
It's been taking ages looking after it but now it will be a breeze
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Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:34 am
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Originally Posted by Buzzy--Bee View Post
Fantastic.

I have no desire to go to the UK at the moment. Shame though, people always imagine Cornwall to be one of the nicer parts....

Buzzy
I think it probably is Buzzy.
But not that part.
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Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:39 am
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FFS - take off your bloody rose tints Bix and tell us how it is!





I was surprised you didn't mention the changes in Newquay - that's one town that's had insane amounts of money poured into it - fair depressed me to be honest. I do like Truro though - in fact, if we hadn't moved to Australia - that's where we'd be living, right now.
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Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:42 am
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Brilliant update, thanks Bix

M
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Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:45 am
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One day I was approaching a T junction and stopped behind the car already at the junction. A while later I realised no one was in the car. I pulled out around and then saw the For Sale notice on the front. What the fook is going on ?



Sorry to hear about your issue with miss hitler but sounds like "it is great to be home"
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Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:47 am
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Default Re: UK visit

Originally Posted by Hutch View Post
FFS - take off your bloody rose tints Bix and tell us how it is!





I was surprised you didn't mention the changes in Newquay - that's one town that's had insane amounts of money poured into it - fair depressed me to be honest. I do like Truro though - in fact, if we hadn't moved to Australia - that's where we'd be living, right now.
Haha
Didn't really see much of Newquay mate.
Just a drive to a restuarant.
All we really saw was the drunks on the streets there.

Spent an afternoon in Truro though and it's alive and buzzing.

Oh, I took a couple of photos for you.
Watch this space.
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Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:49 am
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Default Re: UK visit

Great post Bix,
Really enjoyed reading it! Reinforced evey reason we are making the move!
Caz
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Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:50 am
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Originally Posted by Geelong Gent View Post
Sorry to hear about your issue with miss hitler but sounds like "it is great to be home"
Aye mate.
It certainly cements our Aus existence.
It is great to be home
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Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:51 am
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Luverly post

St.Austell started plans to rebuild the town centre 10 years ago. When we emigrated 4 years ago they had demolished half of the old one. Today they are still only doing the foundations.

In 1945 Edenbridge (in Kent) planned to build a bypass around the town's main street. We lived there before we came here 4 years ago but didn't wait long enough to see the bypass - it opened after we left.

'Grey' sums up the UK so well.
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Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:51 am
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Great read Bix....makes you feel a little sad tho...that things seem to have deteriorated so much.

Don't think I'll bother going back for a visit....mind you I would only go for the shopping though...bugger the rellies
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Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:51 am
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Originally Posted by cazw1405 View Post
Great post Bix,
Really enjoyed reading it! Reinforced evey reason we are making the move!
Caz
You mean it's the same up your way ?
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Old Jun 22nd 2008, 11:53 am
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Default Re: UK visit

Originally Posted by lesleys View Post
In 1945 Edenbridge (in Kent) planned to build a bypass around the town's main street. We lived there before we came here 4 years ago but didn't wait long enough to see the bypass - it opened after we left.
So they were only waiting for you to leave L
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