After the travel nightmare/random excitement that had gone on that day (depends how you look at it, really), we realised it had been a while since we had had any food. As we were about to leave the mother country for France, we thought we ought try the finest local cuisine so we could easily compare it to that of the French. In Dover, the finest local cuisine came from the local chippy – the ‘Golden Grill Fish Bar.’
A fine selection
Which classic grey skies and very few remaining pennies and pounds, it was the natural choice. If there’s one thing everyone knows about what the British eat, it is that fish and chips must always come with mushy peas. I had previously worked in Australia with a bunch of English and Irish expats, and had learned another hot tip: curry sauce. Luckily I’d had the fortune of dining with such masters of cuisine at the fine establishment that is Irish Murphey’s in Brisbane, and had learned that curry sauce in the United Kingdom is nothing at all like the vindaloo my former Indian Masterchef flatmate would make. Good thing I went into this experience armed with that knowledge.
Not at all what I was expecting
As it turns out, the curry sauce was a very wise choice, as the mushy peas were every bit as unappetising as one might guess. It was like dipping your chips into pea and ham soup, except that there’s no ham, or any kind of flavouring whatsoever to make it taste of, well, anything. After complaining about this to some English travellers I met later on in Croatia, they informed me that they must be doing it wrong in Dover. I’m not opposed to the idea of giving mushy peas another chance, but I can’t say I’d go out of my way to do so…
Exceptional advertising. Major drawcard right there
We’re going to ignore the terrible photo taking skills and the fact that I almost missed the torch and remember I only had a few seconds to get the shot…
In what I’m happy to call at this early stage in my life as the most tolerable travel delay ever, we got stuck in Dover due to the arrival in the UK of the Olympic Torch. There are worse parades to get held up buy, and as we didn’t actually have any pre purchased tickets or accommodation to worry about losing out on, we were happy to stick around and tick this unplanned one-off off the bucket list.
It was a stunningly typical English day (read:rainy and grey) which probably helped us navigate to the front of the crowd. For anyone that marvels at the wonders of the torch staying lit over such large distances, each runner actually has their own torch. And it is gas fired. It’s really more like a giant, fancy looking barbeque lighter. We managed to position ourselves right by the “handover” where one incrediblynervous looking boy was standing holding his torch, waiting for the runner to come by. Naturally we heckled until he came over to let us take a photo with it. Win.
Not long after, the kid before him came jogging along, complete with an entourage. And I mean a serious entourage – there was actually a bus following him! As he arrived, he stopped and had a yarn with the other boy, they pressed the wee button on the next torch and off he went. Both of these kids had multiple minders with radios and all sorts telling them want to do and herding them into the bus when they were done. It was all very efficient, though it seems there were probably far more staff than necessary!
As the boy who’d just finished his leg walked toward the bus I overheard the cutest conversation as he was gasping for breath saying “I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever run! My arm was getting sore and normally I would have stopped and had a break, but I think I did OK. Did I do ok? Was I fast enough? I think I was fast enough…” and so on as he dissected all of his leg of the run in great detail. Bless.
There are two sides of the road: the left side and the wrong side. In Europe they drive on the wrong side. I know this is true because rules about which side originated in England, and they drive on the left. Even in Europe they were driving on the left side, until Napoleon, the King of Small Man Syndrome, decided to change the rule completely due to the fact he was left handed, and driving/horse riding rules were based around being able to protect yourself with your sword hand. Aaah the French. Anyway, most of the rest of the world is now stuck with this silly rule, and getting around in a car can sometimes be a bit of a necessity, so they say.
Actually in Denmark they do incredibly well with cycling everywhere and have a pretty decent public transport system. Most people don’t have or need cars, especially living in cities, and the city centre is positively littered with bikes, which I think is great!
However, I had my go at driving on the wrong side of the road. I thought it would be a challenge, but having spent months being a passenger and being around cars going in opposite directions to what I was used to, and given I was concentrating very hard, it was actually fine! The only real difficulty was getting used to my orientation within the lane. I’m used to the centre line being to my right, and my line of vision skewed to the right of the lane, so it felt very strange havng the centre line to my left! I had to keep correcting the car to make sure I didn’t drive in the gutter, as I wasn’t used to being slightly left of centre in the lane!
I’m planning a huge road trip around Europe over summer which I am super excited about, so I’m glad to know it really isn’t that hard to drive on the opposite side of the road!
Also, fear not, the photo above was taken whilst parked.