18 October 2007

Mad Dogs and Quintessential Englishmen go....bus spotting!

"At one stage I had doubled my money to 40p. Wow, I thought, I am rich!...we thought one of the spotters would have a cardiac arrest as three different types of buses all arrived at the same time "

Saturday I had the chance to do something very quintessentially English. A trip to the Kent seaside. So off I traipsed with my mother and sister in tow to the exotically named coastal town of Herne Bay. For the uninitiated Herne Bay is situated on the North Kent coast and is sort of where the Thames Estuary starts. It also has a wind farm clearly visible in the distance. The turbines certainly look like something form a Jules Verne novel.

Unlike other resorts around the world (Ibiza, Hawaii, Malta, Gold Coast etc) you don't really go to the beach at Herne Bay to get a suntan. That's not to say the sun doesn't shine as it does on the rare hot and sunny summer days. It's just that the beach is typically English and has pebbles instead of sand!

Many foreigners find it amazing that the pale skinned Brits (of which I am not) can lie on a beach towel on top of a pebbly beach. Having done this many times in my earlier years (that is before I discovered sand beaches) I can tell you that after 10 minutes of sunbathing and lying on pebbles it gets quite painful.

Mind you, the pain is nothing like going for a dip in the ocean and coming out with purple ankles due to its icy cold temperature. Sometimes bathers come out of the water looking like a purple coloured sea creature! Welcome to Summer - British style. However, there was no way any of us was going in the water in October!

Another quintessentially British thing to do is to eat fish and chips. So for lunch we all headed to a cafe and had the traditional cod and chips. Naturally the cod has to be served in batter. My sister went one better and had a pickled onion with her traditional fayre. Bread and butter was soon added to our gourmet lunch.

The third typically English thing we did was go to an amusement arcade. Growing up, my sister and I had lots of fun putting our pennies in the many different machines on offer and feeling happy when we doubled our winnings to 10p!!! Anyway, we all played the 2p cakewalk style machines this time. At one stage I had doubled my money to 40p. Wow, I thought, I am rich!

We caught a train home and viewed the Kingsnorth Power Station which has recently been nicely decorated by Greenpeace with the name 'Gordon' clearly visible on it's side. Gordon is, of course, the first name of the British PM of whom Greenpeace have issues with regarding power stations.

Finally we arrived at our train station and queued up to catch a bus home. While waiting for the bus I noticed two elderly men in anoraks with cameras and notebooks. For some reason they were keenly looking at all the buses that were passing us by. Naturally our bus was not one of them! Every time a bus passed these men they recorded something in their notebooks. Suddenly it dawned on me what they were doing. These men were bus spotters and were recording details of the different buses - another quintessentially English trait!

To say they were enthusiastic would be an understatement! Bus spotting is rare but train spotting is not. The anorak brigade seem to revel in recording details of trains, buses etc. For some reason it does not appeal to me. There again I don't own an anorak anyway!

At one stage we thought that one of the spotters would have a cardiac arrest as three different types of buses all arrived at the same time. Somehow, despite this excitement, both spotters got to record all details of the buses and resuscitation was not thankfully not required.

While this was going on our bus pulled up and we got on it and made our way home for a quintessential cup of Rosy Lee (tea).



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