Not Here

Apparently, much of Britishland was smacked by rain storms and snow, with concomitant flooding etc. right before Thanksgiving*:

However, lest anyone be afraid that Yer Humble Narrator was thus afflicted, allow me to show the local conditions yesterday:

…and the view down my “street” yesterday morning at 8am:

Yes, that is blue sky up above the hill on the left. I had to explain the phenomenon to some of the locals, who’d never seen it before and were frightened.

Lest anyone think that the weather in Brigadoon-On-Sea is lovely, however, I should point out that the wind coming in from the sea was so strong (straight into my face, in this pic), I actually staggered a bit while walking back down to the cottage.

I love it here.


*I know they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving Over Here. I was just putting a date on the thing.

Convenience

File this under “Stuff you can do in Britishland that you can’t do in Murka”:

Back when I lived in Chicago, I used to joke that as you traveled south from there, the gun laws became easier and the liquor laws more stupid. (We could buy Scotch at the Treasure Island supermarket 24/7 except for midnight-midday on Sundays. But a gun? Fergeddabahtit. In Texas, you can buy a gun at a gun show without any hassle, but gawd help you if you try to order a whisky in a dry-county restaurant.)

It looks as though the same parallel works in an east-west direction vis-à-vis the UK and the US.

Of course, I think that Amazon Over Here offers liquor over the Internet simply because of the strange and unpredictable hours of business that UK retailers inflict on their customers.

 

Temperature & Climate

From Comments under yesterday’s post:

I’m curious about how you feel about Cornwall as regards temperature and climate.
You’re from South Africa via Texas most recently and I think of you as a hot place guy. Does Cornwall feel cold to you? I see someone in shirtsleeves in the 4th photo down and that’s how I “feel” the UK, as a warm-ish place, even in November.

To answer the easy question first: no, Cornwall doesn’t feel cold to me. Remember that I lived in Chicago for over a decade, so I know what “cold” is. It can get quite chilly in Cornwall when the wind blows (which is quite often), but the Gulf Stream stops the wind from the biting cold of, say, those coming in off the North Sea (which are dreadful). The only reason I put on a coat at all is in case it starts to rain; otherwise I’d be walking around if not in shirtsleeves, just a henley or similar long-sleeved tee shirt. When it rains, that’s another story — but then once again, having just come south from Scotland’s freezing rain, Cornwall in the rain is chilly rather than icy. (This may change in January, of course, but sadly I won’t be here to see it.)

Although I used to live in Johannesburg and now live in Texas, I’m not a hot-weather kind of guy. In fact, the only thing* which gets me down about Texas is the heat. Johannesburg has a different kind of heat, of course: even though the daily summer high is around 90-95°F, the relative humidity is 5% — whereas in Texas, a 95°F day generally means 90% humidity, which I frankly find unbearable.

The travel writer Bill Bryson loves it Over Here, by the way. He describes it as a climate that really only requires one type of clothing, which can be worn pretty much all year round (with layers added or subtracted as needed, and a rain jacket and winter coat the only other accessories).

I agree absolutely. Right now, the indoor temperature in the cottage is 68°F, which I find pleasantly cool (and the only reason I’m wearing slippers is that the stone flooring is icy cold underfoot). Outside, the temperature at 10:30am local is about 54°F on its way up to 57°F, and tonight’s low is predicted to be 52°F. When I went out for fish & chips last night, I wore only sweatpants, a henley and a fleece waistcoat called a gilet** (pronounced “jhillay”), and I was quite comfortable.

Actually, I’m a cool weather kind of guy. And if it’s raining and a little chilly, that’s certainly the weather in which I prefer to travel, especially in Britishland and Yurp: the tourists are few and the inclement weather keeps the streets clear of lots of people. When I was in Bath back in sunny August, the place was knee-deep in people — place looked and sounded like a combination of Beijing, Bakersfield and Bucharest at midday — whereas when I went back to Bath a week or so ago, with the seasonal damp and chilly air, the place was comparatively deserted and most accents in the street were Somerset. (And the steak ‘n kidney pies and hot sticky-toffee puddings were all the tastier. Nom nom nom.)

So I’m loving this climate, while I can. In ten days’ time I’ll be exploring the south of France with Longtime Friend and Former Drummer Knob (who lives there), so it’s probably not going to be like this, more’s the pity. But later I’ll be back in Britishland — to be specific, London — in time for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, where apparently it’s going to be one of the coldest winters in memory.

Can’t wait.


*also the lack of scenery in Texas, but that’s not relevant here.

** the gilet is probably the only item of clothing which I’d regard as absolutely indispensable Over Here. It can be worn as an outer garment or under a coat or rainjacket, and it’s one of the few items where one should never skimp on price. On the advice of Mr. Free Market, I paid about $30 for my Jack Pyke, which isn’t regarded as top-of-the-line by the people who know about such things — see here for an example of a “good” one — and I haven’t looked back since.

Come to think of it, when I get back to Texas, I’ll put up a post of essential clothing when traveling in Yurp during the fall and winter.

OMG Cornwall

Thanks to my dear friends the Sorensons (who ferried me all the way across the country), I am now established in a little Cornish village named Boscastle (more on my precise location at the end of the week), which is on the Atlantic coastline (as opposed to the English Channel). There will be oh so many more pics to follow, because it is beyond gorgeous, but here’s a quick view of the coastline:

From this point, next stop: America.

Here are a couple of pics of the village, just to start:

You may be interested to know that the entire village was nearly swept away in the Great Flood Of 2004, but the drainage issues appear to have been fixed (the cynic in me says by the same people who built the Titanic, but whatever). Anyway, just to be on the safe side, I’ve been monitoring the forecasted rainfall in the area and there’s little more than the occasional shower predicted, so the chances of my being swept out to sea this week are remote, to say the least.

You’re probably sick of hearing me say this, but I could live here. More specifically, I could live out here in the very cottage in which I am staying, but as I said, I’ll post the details of that later in the week.

It is beyond beautiful. And as I post more pics over the next few days, you’ll see why I say that.

The Next Phase

They say that guests and fish have one thing in common: after three days, they start to stink.

I have been a guest at Free Market Towers for three months.

My stay at the Towers comes to an end today, whereafter I shall be embarking on the next phase of my six-month sabbatical. The next couple of months will be spent not relaxing in baronial splendor, but in travel to all sorts of places To Be Named Later. In the interim, I’ll be staying at The Englishman’s farm which, as it lies but a few miles from Free Market Towers, does not represent too much of a geographical change, but it will be an enormous residential change — from a mansion:

…to a humble farmhouse:

It will take some adjusting on my part: The Englishman is a more accommodating man than Mr. FM — he doesn’t flog his farmworkers, for example — but it doesn’t matter, as I’ll be there for but a couple of days before being shipped off to one of his far-flung properties on the Cornish coast for a week or so.

At the risk of causing massive embarrassment, however, I have to thank the Free Markets for their boundless hospitality, friendship and companionship. By having me as their guest, they brought me to one of my favorite parts of the world — and indeed, my late wife’s absolutely favorite part of the world — which has allowed me time to refresh my soul, regain some kind of normalcy and begin to live my life again (albeit at the expense of a battered liver).

My gift to them, as I mentioned before, will be a genuine South African sjambok made from hippo hide. I’m sure Mrs. FM will put it to good use.

 

New Jersey Bastardy

From Reader Mark D in Comments yesterday:

On the topic of suppressors, I’ve been saying for a while that I want to move from New Jersey to America, but I NEVER thought America would be found in Great Britain…

Don’t even get me started. On Saturday last, we got a text from Doc Russia in Newark Airport, while he was flying Edinburgh – Newark – DFW:

Fun fact: going through Newark with a federally-licensed suppressor will end up with you face-down on the ground, handcuffed.

Here’s the deal. Doc has a legal suppressor for his Remington, all the paperwork done, tax paid, blessed by the Pope, yadda yadda yadda. He was about to pack it in his rifle case to bring home, when both Combat Controller and I suggested that he shouldn’t, because New Jersey. He laughed it off, saying his luggage was checked through to DFW — but agreed that discretion was called for, and that he could bring it back another time when flying direct from Britishland to Dallas.

It’s a good thing he did. Here’s why.

As we all know, when arriving in a foreign country, you have to go through Customs and Immigration in your arrival “port”, even if you’re connecting to go further. Now, if your connecting flight is from the same terminal, you’re good to go. If you have to go to another terminal for your connecting flight, things might get more tricky.

As is the case here. Suppressors are completely banned in New Jersey — no federal blessing counts, no paperwork is acceptable. Set foot in the state of New Jersey with a suppressor, no matter how legal, and you will end up face-down on the ground, handcuffed.

So had Doc arrived in Newark with his suppressor and left the international terminal, the NJ State Police would have arrested him, even though he was simply in transit — going from one jurisdiction where suppressors are legal to another where it’s also legal — the very fact that he was in New Jersey at all with his suppressor, albeit only for a few minutes, would have made him an instant felon.

And we know all this because Doc happened to ask a member of New Jersey’s Staatspolizei what their policy is. Apparently the offizier got instantly aggro, and insisted on checking Doc’s luggage for himself — just asking the question is grounds for suspicion in the New Jersey Reich.

I’m curious as to how many other states would behave the same way. I can see New York and California doing likewise, but if anyone can shed light on this topic, I’d like to know.

In the interim, all New Jersey People Of Our Sort should make preparations to leave that shitty place and move to the United States as soon as it’s practically feasible. Like I once did.