This isn’t going to be some daft, patriotic post about the British Isles. Most people who know me can testify that I’m deeply dissatisfied with the political sh*t show that has been unfolding in Britain over the past couple of years. To my friends in America: You’re not alone. The U.S. isn’t the only developed country led by shady politicians right now, dividing its people into warring tribes. Your closest ally across the pond is right there with you.
As life in Britain can be so frustrating these days, I began to seek out other things I actually like about living here. Well, I think I probably found what I was looking for in the British countryside. It’s incredibly oh-so-beautiful in the spring and summer… nothing like the dreary image most people have of wet and rainy Britain.
Take the picture at the top of this page. I took it a few years ago on a sunny day in September. It probably looks like a bay in the Carribean or something. But no, this is Porthcurno Beach in Cornwall – the southwestern edge of Britain. Due to the recent heat wave, which is shaping up to be the longest in British history, people are currently flocking there to escape the rat race in our cramped cities. When I head back home from work on a Friday evening, it’s a struggle finding a seat on the train. Most trains to Cornwall pass by my current hometown, so the carriages tend to be full of Londoners heading toward their well-deserved weekend break.
What I like most about the British countryside is the variety it offers. From beautiful beaches to moody moors, rocky mountains or luscious green hills… you can find most of that on this relatively small island. A little closer to home, there are fabulous places for long walks, like the 87-mile long Ridgeway that has been used by travelers for around 5,000 years. A few weeks ago, we went for a walk along a short stretch of it and captured the pictures below.
You’ll encounter a few people (and a lot of dogs) at first. But as you get off the beaten track, humans become a rarer sight, and you may suddenly find yourself surrounded by very loud sheep who aren’t afraid to tell you they’re disgruntled about your presence.
Two weeks ago, we drove a little bit further away to Cleeve Common in Gloucestershire. In Britain, a ‘common’ is basically something like a park that is largely open to the public and often also used for grazing. Cleeve Common is an interesting place. Part of it is a disused quarry that has seemingly been left alone for nature to recover. The result looks stunning.
Our local common has a history that isn’t too different. Greenham Common was public land before it was used by both the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Air Force as an airbase during WW2. The Americans continued to use it during the Cold War, but once that found an end, it was slowly turned back to its old use as public land. It’s kinda weird, because it looks like a post-apocalyptic setting of some sort… or apparently, a Star Wars rebel base (it was used as a filming location for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi). When you go there, you can actually go for a walk on the old runways, see the old hangars or the old control tower.
So, when it comes to the countryside, there’s a big appeal to living in Britain. Unfortunately, the country is marred by the ugly political environment of the moment and general uncertainty. No one really knows what is to come.