May I call you Bill?
I do so love that you love Britain. As a fellow American, I too am enraptured with The Mother Country.
Bill, in your Notes From a Small Island, you so captured the best - and the worst - that England has to offer. I can't agree with you more that when England is good she is very, very good - think tea and scones, The Queen, Oxford and Cambridge, lovely castles, soaring churches, and dramatic seacoasts. Not to mention her ancient hedgerows. Ooh, and the language.
But, oh my, when she is bad...well, you saw for yourself and ranted about it so eloquently: the architects and planners that tear down history and erect buildings that look like hardened vomit (one of your favorite words). The sameness of even the smallest towns with their Boots, M & S, and shopping malls that have replaced the local shops on the ubiquitous High Streets.
Alas, that is not just a British sin. As you know, much of America is quite ruined by corporate greed and stunted imagination.
I must admire your stamina in spending seven weeks on foot, train, bus, and auto (only when necessary) traversing the paths and mountains, fields and streams, of your adopted country. You are right; the Brits do love tromping about and don't let the rain or fog, sleet or hail, dampen their spirits.
As your amble took place over 20 years ago, I wonder if things are better or worse. Is John O'Groats still there at the top of Scotland? Would you still like Iverness and Edinburgh (even though Princes Street has been destroyed)? Are the trains still running? Is Durham still a wonderful town to visit? Do people still throng to the tacky seaside resort of Blackpool?
Not only did I laugh out loud at your rants, I learned from you. You throw in, in such an noble way, bits and bobs of local lore, tales of eccentric lives, and just plain foolishness.
I feel as if I have been walking and riding around the small island with you - only I have no blisters on my toes. So thank you for the armchair journey.