Well, Glen got me with that London post. So what do I do…go completely the other direction. Typical.
One of the things that I find myself doing whenever we are in a new location is comparing it to other places we’ve “dwelled”. Here are a few observations of Canterbury in relationship to Brooklyn, New Orleans and maybe even Walnut Creek.
First…Rats, mice and cockroaches.
Inquiring minds want to know!!! You may remember rats were quite friendly in Brooklyn (never in the house thankfully, but everywhere on the streets) while in New Orleans cockroaches were our ever-present friends. At the end of our time there we were joined by a very cute little kitchen mouse. As for Canterbury a medieval town…I haven’t seen any of the above and I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised! Maybe after that whole plague thing they figured out how to send them downriver?
Mosquitos in Brooklyn drove me nuts. The house had screens so it was really just a problem outdoors. In New Orleans there were all kinds of bugs, especially in the evening. There were no screens so we really lived via the air conditioning which for me is not ideal. When we were outside we had to bat the bugs away. Also not ideal. I did buy bug spray, but I hate to use it. In Canterbury? Again, no screens which I worried about, but seriously, we LIVE with the french doors into the kitchen area open and the bugs fly in and they fly OUT! I swear it’s like they don’t like us or something which is fine with me! We even have two windows in the bedroom which are open 24/7 and…NO BUGS!!! Can someone please explain this to me?
I was going to call this “Men and Shirts in the Heat”, but decided that it was too specific to Canterbury so not the best title. “Weather” is a bit less colorful, but who doesn’t talk about the weather?? I love weather and that’s probably because I’m from LA where the weather is…never mind. It’s pretty temperate and boring except for that June gloom…yuck.
You may remember that we were in Brooklyn for the remnants of some hurricane and our basement was flooded. That was fun. We had a lot of evening thunder storms and of course our share of hot, summer weather. We also went out to the Hamptons for a couple days in October and experienced the cool, breezy change of seasons as fall crept in.
We were in New Orleans in the middle of spring, heading to summer and as expected…it was often muggy and HOT! And there were plenty of rainstorms and thunderstorms that blew in and blew out.
Now Canterbury in the middle of British summer? What does one expect? Certainly not temperatures above 100 degrees! And these Brits are hilarious because they literally FREAK out! I can’t tell you how many men I observed walking down the street carrying their shirt tucked into their back pocket. It was not a pretty sight. Sorry. On their behalf, very few places are air conditioned so it was pretty hot, but guys…keep your shirts on, PLEASE!!! (I mean, imagine the sunburns!) Another observation is that here in Canterbury which is only 30 miles or so to the English Channel/North Sea has felt an awful lot like San Clemente or even the Bay Area. There is a coastal breeze and light clouds that flow in and out of the city, sometimes multiple times a day. As we like to call it in the Bay…nature’s air conditioning.
I was so impressed in Brooklyn. Just about every street corner had a trash can and people used them! While there was the occasional mattress dumped on the sidewalk, overall, the city was clean.
Since we were at the edge of the French Quarter in New Orleans there were also trash cans on every corner. And all of the merchants cleaned the sidewalks in front of their businesses every morning. Plus, every morning there were employees who walked the streets picking up trash, emptying the trash cans, and generally cleaning up after the few people who didn’t follow the rules. And the best part of NOLA are the street sweepers. They come through just about every day and hose down the sidewalks and street. I won’t go into why this is necessary, but if you’ve been to Bourbon Street, you know.
Now Canterbury could really take a lesson from those two American towns. I am rather appalled by the amount of trash in this city. There are trash cans, but clearly not enough and I never see an employee following up and emptying the cans that are FULL. And the amount of cigarette butts around any benches is disgusting. Which makes me add a category…smoking. I have not been anywhere in a very long time where there are as many smokers as there are here in Canterbury. Cigarettes for many, but the youth seems to be vaping. I mean LOTS of youth vapers. And tons of stores selling vaping supplies. I’ve seen kids that I would guess are 10 years old vaping. It’s heartbreaking. England needs to get on some sort of educational program or something because it’s rampant. Ugh.
Another difference here in Canterbury is the trash pick up system. Commercial trash is different from residential and the companies that pick up are also different. And two different companies pick up the different cans. For example, every other Thursday our garbage and green can are picked up with the following Thursday being recycling cans. So that’s residential. The commercial cans are picked up every week. Tuesday is recycle and Wednesday is garbage and green. And since we have a hotel down the street and a pub across the street, that means that three mornings a week we are woken up by trash trucks sitting outside our window at 6:30 am dumping their wares into the truck’s chute. Clang, clang, crack, bang, boom. Good thing we are morning people!
The topic of trash sort of leads me to the topic of youth. My memory of youth in Brooklyn was of the kids walking past our house twice a day as there was a K-8 school down the block from us. It was fun to listen in to snippets of their conversations and use them as a “clock” for the rhythm of the day. In New Orleans, I don’t really have a memory related to kids. There was a school a couple blocks away, but they were all carpooled into school. A few times at the end of our time there I watched classes heading on a field trip to the park behind our house and I instantly started counting heads to make sure I hadn’t lost anyone…wait…never mind.
Here in Canterbury – yikes. they roam the streets here in large groups! Until this week (school just went out on summer break), we had uniformed kids going up and down our street twice a day. The “public” school is a short distance away and this is a thoroughfare. There were girls, boys, walkers, scooters, bikes, skateboards…many modes of travel and lots of expected behaviors. There are also a lot of student groups in town. Seems like a place where much like our kids went on the NYC/DC trip at the end of 8th grade, these kids go to Canterbury. Sad to say, I find these groups of students challenging. They are loud. They pay no attention to people around them, blocking sidewalks, leaving trash, etc. They go into stores and generally make it challenging for anyone else to do their shopping. (Likely my kids behaved the same way at that age, but I’d like to hope that maybe…they didn’t?) OMG. I sound like my mother. Ugh. It’s just that there are SO many!!!
In Brooklyn we immediately connected with some of our neighbors, Violet and Mike are the two stand outs. When we go back there in September, we’ll for sure check in with them. Our neighborhood was mostly long-term residents and was definitely a community, but they welcomed us. New Orleans was very different. Our building with 6 units was all short term living and it was clear that there were other “VRBO” type places in the area. The long-term neighbors wanted nothing to do with us, on the verge of being rude or at least disconnected. It was a very different experience. Here in Canterbury, there are definitely more short-term rentals, but the neighbors have welcomed us. You probably read about David who will be coming over for a glass of wine later this week. There’s also the nice young gentleman, Olivier who lives next door and gets to the street via our garden. We often see him several times a day and he is a lovely addition to our neighborhood. He brought us a bottle of wine yesterday because he felt bad traipsing through our yard when Glen was obviously on Zoom calls for work. I definitely, obviously like the neighborhood connection.
So I always use the word “market” which some friends think is “cute” or “quaint”. I think maybe lots of people use “grocery store”? At home I would say that going to the “market” means Safeway. Otherwise I would be specific like Trader Joe’s or Costco. In Brooklyn, I went to the “corner store” just about every day and I went to the chain market every few days. It was 3/4 of a mile away. I also made the trip to Trader Joe’s via the Metro a couple times a month. In New Orleans, I walked the mile to one of two markets several times a week (they were in opposite directions) and to the corner store which was really more of a sandwich shop with a few basics, every day or so. Here in Canterbury – not many “corner stores”, but there’s a Waitrose, a great market right around the corner and I go just about every day. I’m loving the European lifestyle!
I can’t add any info about birds in Brooklyn or New Orleans, but here in Canterbury??? There are SO many birds! The seagulls are CRAZY! They are LOUD! They talk to each other all day long and into the night. Then there are the little brown wrens, the pigeons, the ducks, geese, swans, doves, ravens, magpies, and….There are birds everywhere! Hey – maybe that’s why there aren’t that many bugs!!!
Urban parks are a new thing for me. And after Brooklyn dwelling, I really learned to appreciate and understand them. There were lots of parks around the neighborhood, some were a full block or two in size, some were just a corner shaved off a street. Some were green with benches and ponds, some were just basketball courts with a drinking fountain. All were well utilized. In New Orleans, we had a park right behind us that was the “dog” park. Sadly, Dug doesn’t like dogs so it was pointless for us to go there. There was Jackson Square and Crescent Park and lots of bars to stop off and cool down in. (Bars are a different kind of park, right?)
Here in Canterbury, I’m sort of disappointed at the lack of parks and benches. There are a couple of parks over at the edges the old medieval town, but where we are located which is just a short 5 minute walk away from the center of town, there aren’t any. One day I was looking for a place to sit while I called my mom. (I have to find a place where I can yell so she can hear me. LOL) I did find one bench around the corner, but it’s in a dry, uninteresting spot and it’s completely littered with cigarette butts. Who wants to sit there if you’re not having a cigarette? So…Canterbury could really up its park game.
And don’t ever ask me which place is my favorite. It’s like your kids – you love them all…just differently!