Sunday, November 23, 2014

Wonderings on Wanderings: 10 Reasons Why I Would Go Back to the UK in a Jiffy!


walk-ups that are not only efficient but also pretty
the colorful little cottages
at the beach in Whitby, United Kingdom
Just by way of introduction, the United Kingdom (UK) has an estimated population of 64.1 million in about 94,000 sq. mi.,  2/3 the population of the Philippines’ 98.4 million and only slightly smaller than its 115,000 sq. mi.  England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland make up the kingdom; some powers of the last three are devolved to its capitals: Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast, respectively. Wales was incorporated in 1536, Scotland, 1707 and Ireland, 1801. In 1922 five-sixths of Ireland seceded to form the Republic of Ireland. But on September 18, 2014, Scotland rejected the vote for independence.
little bridge over river
herds of sheep
I spent a total of two months in the UK, three weeks before April’s wedding to Clint and five weeks after. The newly-weds were ready to adopt the country as their own until April found out her work visa could not be transferred into an immigrant one. I got a pretty good idea why the couple love the UK. Here are my 10 reasons why I would go back to the UK in a jiffy:

little English garden
rolling farm meadows, even near cities
1. One hallmark is the simple, good life! Examples are lines of small colorful beach cottages for changing along beaches, sturdy stone bridges over clear rivers, rolling farm meadows everywhere, herds of sheep grazing in grasslands, and pretty little English gardens.

Stonehenge
Caerphilly Castle in Wales
2. There is a lot of precious history that is preserved in prehistoric, Roman, and religious ruins, venerable clock towers, imposing monuments, living cathedrals, and all kinds of castles that are in ruins or still in use.

red phone booth
3. The UK also reminds me of my favorite color combination, red and black: especially the ubiquitous red phone booth, the big red Hop-on-Hop-off bus, and the sleek and spacious black cab.

black cab
Dracula outdoors
4. The great tradition in theater, established by the likes of Shakespeare et al, continues to live on. I saw more plays in my two months there than my previous five years with Bill, most of them outdoors! In London, shows like Wicked are wowing thousands everyday.

5. The UK ranks high on human development indicators, almost as good as the US although not as good as the Scandinavian countries. People are generally happy and enjoy quality of life. The country is 87% white.

6. The economy is very stable: it is the sixth-largest economy in the world and the third-largest in Europe. The tourism industry is a major part of the economy, along with oil and gas. She ranks as sixth major tourist destination in the world and London is the city with the most international visitors. There are a lot of reasons to do so. Even in my favorite sport of tennis, Wimbledon in the outskirts of London is the premier major tournament.

pasty!
scones, jam, and clotted cream
7. Food supply is excellent. Every single fruit or vegetable I bought was deliciously sweet and fresh. Seafood was always fresh and available. I loved the pies, especially the pasties that were bigger versions of the Filipino empanada. But I simply went gaga over fruit scones and clotted cream. Clint, April, and I had it every single day! And I would not mind having High Tea every day, just not at the Ritz!

narrow English roads
8. The energy-producer is also ranked #43 in per capita carbon footprint vs. #12 USA, #32 Finland, and #33 Norway. She is definitely energy-efficient.  Roads are very narrow, cars are very small, and people depend on public transport systems like the highly developed rail network. Homes are usually modest; thatched cottages and small stone homes in rural areas and walk-ups in the cities are still popular. Families have few appliances; they usually just air-dry clothes after washing and manually clean up dishes before hand washing.  

thatched cottage
9. In terms of governance, the UK is also remarkable. The unitary state is a very stable constitutional monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II, the current British monarch has ruled for an amazing 62 years; she is 88 years old.  The country is also one of only four countries in the world to have an uncodified constitution. The UK Parliament can perform "constitutional reform" simply by passing Acts. It is wonderful to view the debates on the Parliament floor. It is even more wonderful that the Parliament can legislate many changes without much rancor in either the political parties or civil society.

Hop-on-Hop-off Bus
 
Salisbury Cathedral
Brighton Clocktower
10. The UK has fourteen Overseas Territories, former colonies and remnants of the British Empire. It  remains a great power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the EU and other world organizations of power. At its height, the empire consisted of almost a quarter of the world, the largest empire in world history. Her influence can be observed in the language, culture, legal systems, and governments of many of its former colonies, including Canada and Australia, the United States, and even former colonies of the United States like the Philippines. Everybody speaks English there, albeit in many different accents!

The UK is a great country to live in. How I wish April and Clint are able to stay there! Actually they wanted to so much; too bad it didn’t work out for them.