Connecting with the locals

Some people like vacations/holidays where they connect with the locals; get away from the package holiday hotel and see the real Spain, Egypt, Bali, wherever.

I’d like to suggest we do the same for visitors to England. The trips would include a taste of what it can be like to live here and be biased towards some of the less glamorous things. A one week England experience would look like this.

Day one – Heathrow to Hounslow. Get phone unblocked, breakfast for £3.99 all-in, enjoy sound of planes you just arrived on. Lunch in Southall (balti), then drive past Windsor Castle for overnight in Slough, watch the Monday Night Premier League match in the pub.

Day two – London – leave at 6am for three hour, twenty mile, ‘commute-style’ trip to Marble Arch. Black taxi ride (£20 for 5 minutes) with cabby saying ‘it ain’t like it used to be.’ Ride a Boris bike, two of party end up in A&E. Queue 30 minutes in rain for flat white made by Australian baristas, enjoy £40 entrée at City restaurant. Ride the Northern Line at 5.30pm for the sardine experience. Enjoy a kosher meal in Golders Green, and stay the night at the Travelodge at London Gateway services on the M1.

Day three – read The Sun with your bacon roll and tea. Bus to Birmingham. Three pints of Banks’s Mild for lunch, services of an interpreter, ride on the 74 bus down Handsworth Road to West Bromwich, sari and Indian sweets shopping opportunity. Canal trip, Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice. Attend Aston Villa versus Birmingham City derby, learn the words to ‘shit on the Villa’,  round off the night with a curry next to Digbeth coach station.

Day four – Drive up the M1 in a rented van; enjoy breakdown services at junction 28, as the sleet blows in. Lunch at gastropub with ‘chipped potatoes’ served in a wheelbarrow. Transfer to a lorry to have a heavy goods vehicle experience across the M62; enjoy Kiss FM and learn why Louis van Gaal is not as good as Fergie. Dinner at working men’s club, Fine Yorkshire Beer tasting evening; three pints of Tetley’s, four pints of Landlord and one pint of Sam Smiths. Enjoy a pub quiz and attend the local brass band practice. Overnight with an authentic family. Understand why the UK shod leave the EU.

Day five – start the day with breakfast TV, and listen to kids argue. Drive to the historic city of York. Passing the historic walls and Minster, go shopping in Tang Hall and attend the teenage mothers get together at a local community centre; understand why it was all Darren’s fault that I became a mum at 15. Attend a Saturday morning football match and watch the parents abuse each other (disclaimer – agree this is not a unique England experience). Lunch at Danish Kitchen in High Ousegate, known to the locals as the first cafe before those fancy ones arrived. Beans optional with Italian Lasagne. Take part in Stag or Hen Weekend Experience. Witness street fighting. Arrive York District Hospital Accident & Emergency at 11.30pm with cuts above the eye, abuse staff and wake up in police custody at 7am next morning.

Day six – in bed, be forced to read the Daily Mail and Daily Express.

Day seven – Monday morning seven hour drive to London, with a group of Poles working on a major construction project. Enjoy traditional Polish snacks and listen to Polish radio. Get a coffee from Costa at Donnington Services from a nice lady from Serbia. Enjoy a ride on the Heathrow Express and compare the cost per mile with other airport transport systems in other countries. Fly back home and tell your friends about England.

Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

2 thoughts to “Connecting with the locals”

  1. Andrew, had great laugh when reading this block, actually there are some good tips of things to do, while skipping the night at the police station or drinking warm beer. It certainly would help to diminish my ignorance. Keep on writing!!!

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