I’ve spent the past 10 days living in San Francisco on an extended trip for work. I’ll be spending more time here this year, all going well, and I can’t find too much to complain about. Mostly, I like San Francisco. I mean, it’s stupidly expensive and everyone takes themselves a little too seriously, but it’s a good sort of serious. Like they’re seriously into their thing, man.
In the tech capital of the world. Lots of people reading, but I’m yet to see a Kindle. HOORAY for books!
On our final day, @alice-mccoy and I chose to literally follow in the footsteps of @helpful_mammal, taking the coastal path from Lulworth Cove to Weymouth. Unlike @helpful_mammal, who is walking around the entire British coast (and blogging each walk as he goes – I highly recommend a read if you haven’t already), we had no qualms about cheating as it was just a day trip.
@alice-mccoy and I went on holiday last weekend. We try to do this every year (and we mostly manage), and we upset our menfolk by telling them they can’t come along. This is our weekend to catch up, get things off our chests, snuggle up with strange cats, and – over the years – push ourselves to do something unexpected like climb a mountain or follow in the steps of @helpful_mammal.
We promised to take Mr B’s parents away when they came to Europe this year. Being who we are, we suggested Iceland; after all, there’s nothing quite like taking someone from Australian autumn and introducing them to Arctic spring. This isn’t cruelty; it’s educational. After some uncertainty on account of a spat of poor health (mine), I booked us late flights for a 5-night escape to the northern edge of Europe.
Of the many things we would tick off our list of cultural experiences in the US, I hadn’t really considered low-budget air travel as high on the list. We were flying Frontier from Des Moines to Denver, dumping our “executive SUV” (as the Budget salesman pimped it when selling in the upgrade; we were so over-tired and jetlagged we didn’t even notice we were being upsold, we were too busy nodding and signing anything he put in front of us) that had so comfortably conveyed us across the past 1300 miles.
It was in South Dakota and Grinnell when it sank in: Americans really are nice to each other practically all of the time. And they mostly seem to really mean it. This comes as complete culture shock to any Brit, I suspect, but particularly to Londoners. Our lives as social animals revolve around restraint, concealing or counterfeiting emotion, exuding disinterest or engaging in combative exchanges of chiselled sarcasm. Nothing is so terrible that you can’t make a joke about it, and snide comments are just another way in which we protect ourselves from baring our souls. London takes everything and nothing seriously, so oscillates between gaiety and aggression in a whirlwind of sniggering, shouting and rude remarks.
I promised @alice-mccoy that I would keep some notes on my recent travels, as she suspected there would be some hair – or at least eyebrow – raising moments on a trip that would see us drive the breadth of Wyoming and South Dakota, the Colorado plateau, and a fair chunk of Iowa and Utah. She wasn’t wrong.
Our long late summer is finally fading into autumn. I love autumn. Every year, I get excited by the return of cold crisp air, and the brief rich colours of the trees. I never used to notice the shortening days (only the darkening mornings), but now that I run, this is autumn’s down side: getting used to running through the dark.
Most magical tale of our Scottish weekend* – being told that if we went far enough up the largely uninhabited** glen, we’d find a lake, and in the lake would be an island covered in rhododendron bushes.
* but only spooky if you read the right books as a child. Looking at you, @helpful_mammal.
** this autocorrects to uninhibited. That would be quite different…