Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: England's Pleasant Pastures Seen

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  • Russell Brown,

    I recall an English uncle being surprised at what he termed the "height of the sky in New Zealand". He compared antipodean skies to a cathedral, whereas he thought that England had been built "with an old-fashioned nine-foot stud".

    Ah. So the gift for description is a family thing. That's a lovely characterisation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    With the density of people comes a density of things to look at.

    What I liked was, we could go from castle to steel works museum to cathedral to castle in minutes.

    But it is all made a little less enjoyable by the need to shoulder twenty smoking Brits out of the way to see anything. Oh and finding coffee...

    One advantage of that sky, is it's impossible to get sunburnt :).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3444 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It may have changed now, but I was often surprised by the emptiness of some of the most verdant stretches of Britain -- North Wales, for example. It was as if it hadn't occurred to the city-dwellers what lay beyond their boundaries.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    One advantage of that sky, is it's impossible to get sunburnt

    Can confirm we have NO COMPLAINTS of sunburn...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 992 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    I have said before but you don't need to leave home when we writting like this

    Bob-the-Baby really has grown and shows such good taste

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 545 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Losing track of the places I've missed you David.

    The Lake District is one of the few reasons I will keep returning to the UK. I think it's beauty is astounding, but like a good wine it probably can't be appreciated in a quick sip like stroll around Coniston.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1616 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Oh, we definitely did like the Lake District -- just wish there were fewer people.

    P.S. Sleepless Bob-the-Baby wants to send this important message: fbguiyytvh5wyw3jw3-i/iojjyaedfikep;sep;ldrdrdroldrfcgvg

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 992 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Thankyou for describing "the height of the sky". Not only, as Russell says, is it a lovely characterization of the feeling of the weather or place.... it also disabused me of a notion I was under...

    You see, in that recent tourism video from our great leader... while many people were getting upset about his pronunciation of mawree kulcha or some-such.... I was under the impression that he was stupid to suggest that our blue skies might be larger than other places... (and thus it was worth visiting to see them).

    I was under the impression that every place on earth had much the same amount of sky over it (whether visible or not).

    Clearly it was me who was wrong. It is such a relief to know my leader wasnt saying something else stupid.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 800 posts Report Reply

  • Benjamin Franzmayr,

    Nice blog David. You are a master at pointing out that the glass is , actually, half empty.
    Love it
    Benjamin

    Palmerston North, New Zea… • Since Nov 2006 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    P.S. Sleepless Bob-the-Baby wants to send this important message: fbguiyytvh5wyw3jw3-i/iojjyaedfikep;sep;ldrdrdroldrfcgvg

    What a bright young chap, writing in Welsh already.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    I was under the impression that every place on earth had much the same amount of sky over it (whether visible or not).

    The best part about coming back to New Zealand, back when I lived in Tokyo in the late 80s, was walking from the old International Terminal at Auckland to the Domestic Terminal. You'd emerge from the building, and be hit by this incredibly blue, incredibly big sky, with light of a clarity you'd not seen since you were last there. It's not just the skies - the light has a lot to do with it. I reckon NZ's about an F-stop brighter than the UK.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Leopold,

    Sort of explains a puzzling phrase from one of Fleur Adcock's poems written when she was in Newcastle -
    "Our tall Northumbrian skies"

    When in the North I was surprised, considering the population density, how empty much of Northumberland can be...

    Since Jan 2007 • 149 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    "Our tall Northumbrian skies"

    Tall compared to Hadrian's Wall, I expect. One imagines the Picts rushing up to it, and then making Scottish-type noises of disappointment. "Och, it must be nearly a metre tall, Callum, there's no way we could climb over a wall that height..."

    You are a master at pointing out that the glass is , actually, half empty.

    Why, thank you! Here I sit, coughing my lungs out, drafting a cheery children's story at the request of a PA-reading child (possibly crippled, for all I know). Will try to insert some glass-half-full sentiment...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 992 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    It's just that there were too many people in far too small a space.

    You can get eleven people in a mini, if you put one in the boot. You can even drive like that. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. I think it works on the same odd physical principle that allows you to walk huge distances when you're pissed.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4371 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme H,

    P.S. Sleepless Bob-the-Baby :

    Hardly surprising when both of his parents are owls.

    20 degrees already today

    Whangarei • Since Feb 2007 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    How English Lit. has changed.

    When I did it, within the last decade, speculation of a writer's mental state or proccupations was very much avoided - as in "There's *no* way you can know that for certain so don't go there and concentrate on the effect achieved (or not) by the writing)".

    Season's (whatever the season) Greetings: Mary Christmas had a little lamb/that I hope you find delicious.

    fbguiyytvh5wyw3jw3-i/iojjyaedfikep;sep;ldrdrdroldrfcgvg

    - what he said and

    So the gift for description is a family thing.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 570 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Apart from anything else, it would be an opportunity to catch up on the landscape of some of England's most interesting dead people

    Then again, I know someone who was quite put out that Leeds was much nicer -- and the people not quite so morose -- than Alan Bennett had lead her to believe.

    It's very lucky for them that Beatrix Potter is dead, because I'm sure she'd sue if she weren't

    I wouldn't be so quick to that conclusion -- when Potter died she left a lot of land to the National Trust, and only did that because she could have given George Lucas or Peter Jackson master classes in maximising the ancillary income from a franchise.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    And people wonder why I won't go back.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    There are loads of SME sized factory units floating about England but then unless one spends a lot of time loitering about soulless industrial estates it would be easy to miss

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 897 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew E,

    David, next time you head over to the Lake District, get away from the touristy bit and visit the western Lakes.

    Wasdale, Eskdale and Ennerdale are all much further from the madding crowd and much better looking. Also there's a great minature steam train from Ravenglass to Eskdale for Bob (and larger boys and girls) to enjoy. And one of the few places the Americans invaded when at war with the UK - Whitehaven.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    You'd emerge from the building, and be hit by this incredibly blue, incredibly big sky, with light of a clarity you'd not seen since you were last there. It's not just the skies - the light has a lot to do with it. I reckon NZ's about an F-stop brighter than the UK.

    Cape Reinga-Stewart Island: 34°-47° S.
    Cornwall-Orkney: 50°-59° N.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4403 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Given that he couldn't possibly be less impressed, Bob-the-baby might possibly be more impressed by the Beatrix Potter centre across the road from my university's Saitama campus. It was set up at the instigation of a colleague in the Lit Dept who is something of an expert in Pottering about, in the middle of a children's zoo. (From which monkeys occasionally escape onto the campus. If they've ever got into the classes, teachers have been unable to tell the difference.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 928 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    I recall an English uncle being surprised at what he termed the "height of the sky in New Zealand". He compared antipodean skies to a cathedral, whereas he thought that England had been built "with an old-fashioned nine-foot stud".

    Thank you so much for this. I was sentenced to 18 years in Britain from the age of 8. My accidental return to NZ ("Tell you what my beloved, as you can't stand the vulgarity of Australia, how about we return to England via another place I used to live - a little Island of Tasmania called 'NiewZulland?") was very emotional.

    It was the smell (in the days when you passed cattle on your way in from Mangere - but not that smell) and the height of the sky.

    I spent all that time in Britain feeling like a great grey smog was about to fall on my head.

    And then there's the colour: it's like someone has turned the contrast down on everything.

    Under a low, watery sky...?

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    We were in London at the beginning of May for a week and it was sunny and 25 degrees every day. Much nicer than the equivalent weather I had here in Nelson at the beginning of November. In fact, our kids now have this impression of London as hot and bright and bursting with flowers and greenery. Woe betide them if they ever go back for a proper stay.

    And I found driving in England appalling, way too crowded (even on the B roads) and stressful, and that land of intelligent drivers now seems to have as many or more nutters as we have down here in NZ. Driving in France and Spain was a much nicer experience.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 892 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    making Scottish-type noises of disappointment. "Och, it must be nearly a metre tall, Callum, there's no way we could climb over a wall thatheight..."

    Come on...these are Scots we're talking about. They'd probably try to head-butt the thing. (Wi' a cry of 'Nac Mac Feegle!!' for the fellow Pratchett fans)...

    One of the first things which struck me about the UK...well, apart from Heathrow, obviously, which is a Long Dark Sheep Dip of the Soul in its own right...

    ...was the sky, but only only partly its height.

    It was the skummy rim around the edge of the horizon. It was like a bath which hadn't been cleaned properly.

    But on the subject of big skies... and sorry, but the mind is leaping around like a toddler whose had too much red lollies already...

    ...here's this obscure little gem from the Kinks..

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 805 posts Report Reply

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