Bournemouth and what followed

Dear friends,

I hope you all are reading this in good times. I am finally moved into my new home, which is housed in Notting Hill, a little west of central London. I do have a decent commute to classes (about a half an hour on average), but I should be getting used to the commute, as I was incredibly used to the daily commute from north to central campus back at U-M.

Considering my last update was about Oxford, I’ll keep going with the city-per-post feel, and talk a little bit about Bournemouth. One of my hostel roommates, named “Ivgeny (not sure how to actually spell this)”, talked about how Bournemouth really didn’t seem like a town in England. Having come from Oxford, I did really connect to this comment. Oxford was beautiful in its own way, with forests and pastures of green, and animals grazing in fields housed in differed colleges. I saw reindeer, squirrels, cows… What I saw in Oxford, and what I saw on my way to Oxford, were what I would believe to be “the traditional English countryside.” Included are a few pictures of these notions:

However, Ivgeny (just going to stick with this spelling) talked about seeing palm trees in Bournemouth. I wasn’t aware of this at first, but there they were when I went down to the beach! This town was vastly different than the Oxford-English countryside that I encountered the other day, yet it was still very English in its own way. Despite how different Bournemouth felt, I still got to experience this town in all of its glory, especially through the beach. Most of my time was spent there, only because I knew that my time in the city would keep me from the sea for a good while.

So the first thing I did was go for a run on the beach. However as soon as I made the decision to go for a run, I opened my suitcase and realized that I had managed to forget my running shorts. (Once I make the decision to run, usually nothing will stop me at that point.) I did remember to pack my swimsuit, though! Accordingly, I thought I would manage and take a run in my suit. It was a run on the beach, after all.

While running, I was thinking about how fun it would be to get a picture or a short video of me running along this pretty picturesque beach, with steep cliffs to the north and a deep blue ocean to the right. Considering that I can’t have myself taking the picture of a second “me” running, I waited for the right person to stop and ask for the favor of taking my picture. This subject happened to be a short little Irish woman, looking as if she was on her way home from work. I asked her to take a few pictures of me with the sea and the cliffs in the background, and after a few seconds of smiling I was met with “I’m not sure it’s working!” So I walked up to check and see how she was handling the phone, and she truly did know how to work the camera, because I found these pictures a little later:

irish pictures - 1.jpg

irish pictures - 2.jpg

irish pictures - 3.jpg

Indeed, the camera was working. I shared these photos on Instagram, because they oddly looked like a selfie, only to reveal that they were taken by a very unsuspected photographer. I loved how she described her relationship with cell phones: “I’m a bit of a jinx with these things, you know.” Alas, little by little, I am experiencing UK culture as each day passes.

My next day in Bournemouth was spent with a morning of sleeping in, only waking up to the sound of someone rubbing the wall of our dorm with a paper towel. I was very intrigued by this sound, as they usually don’t list “scrubbing-wall-with-paper-towel” in the most common alarm clock apps. Only did I find out that our roommate had come back having had a little too much to drink the previous night. Despite his embarrassment, we (Ivgeny and I) managed to help him feel a bit more comfortable with his involuntary (but necessary) bodily functions. (As an aside, it is not uncommon for the English to speak freely about their nights out or about their levels of alcohol intake, while in the U.S. this topic is seldom discussed with ease.)

I managed to spend the entire morning after breakfast on the beach reading, but not until I had the time to sit down in a park that was adjacent to a retiree complex. This is important to note because I shared my park bench with a man who greeted me with a “morning” but nothing else – we both sat on the bench in silence, enjoying the day. Perhaps this was another bit of English culture (reserved, stoic, as some may think), but as I write this, I wouldn’t doubt this happening in the U.S. either.

To top my day off, I went on a little mecca to a locally-renowned fish n chips place in Westbourne, call Chez Freds. I will tell you, the 30-minute walk it took to get there, the twenty-minute wait, and the walk back while eating said fish n chips, was worth every second of my time. If you’re ever in Bournemouth, this is the place to go for a proper fish n chips!

I’m a bit tired at the moment, so I’m going to sign off – I have an early morning tomorrow to go test out a bike from a guy I found on Gumtree, the UK’s version of craigslist. Hopefully the bike works, and if it does, expect a post and a new name for the bike soon! (Yes, I prefer to name my bike = my commuter back home is named Sebastian.)

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