For a few weeks this summer, I have been traveling in the United Kingdom. While doing some touristy things, I am also trying to observe and learn from the experience too.
Durham and Durham Cathedral were some of the places that we visited. One of the things that struck me, even during my first few days here, is the colors. Even as we were leaving the hotel I saw this amazing tree. This picture does not do it justice, it is a massive deep purple tree and it stands out, even from a good distance.
The city of Durham is not large, but the streets are alive with people. Exploring these streets, we found everything from little cafes, to supermarkets, to souvenir stores, to charity shops (a version of a thrift store). There were gray sky’s most of the day, but this did not stop people from getting outside. The Market Square is the center of town and where there is always something happening.
The former Bishop’s Palace. Now part of Durham University.
Traditions and heritage are themes which seem to permeate the area. While there are modern buildings or modern store fronts, the primary structures are built to mimic the old buildings, to keep a similarity between everything. We were told on a tour, “100 years is to us like 100 miles is to American’s”. To them traditions and heritage go back centuries and the way they live shows the love they have for their country.
This unity is also spread through to the culture. In America, we are very independent, everyone who can owns a car and a cell phone, our grocery stores are made so that we encounter as few people as possible. We eat as fast as we can and our tables at restaurants and placed so as to still give some privacy. Over here, there is a sense of community between everyone. From the wide use of public transportation or at least the fact that there are hardly any cars around, the public telephones and the use of market places promotes joining together. They understand that each person is dependent on many others for the food they buy and the way they live their life.
We also hiked along Hadrian’s Wall, or what is called the “northern end of civilization”. The variety of greens in the grass, the deep blue of the sky, and the animals which dot many of the fields bring tranquility. We had a beautiful day, but even when the sky is gray and threatening, I never feel the uneasiness of a storm. You prepare for a storm and enjoy it when it comes, if it is sunny you eat lunch out on the grass, we have done this multiple times.
The feeling I get over here is that humans or modern times are intruding into life and that this effect should be kept as limited as possible. Open countryside had been the primary vista, so far during our trip. The houses are small and the few cars even smaller. The building materials are usually stone or brick, or are made to look like such. There is ivy growing over many walls and gardens at most homes. Nature is given the priority in this areas. The sound of sheep, the wind and running water are commonly heard sounds.
I think that the culture of the people and their enjoy life attitude is displayed in the way they build their homes and cities. And in turn, this heritage is passed on to others. The sweeping vistas and the clean fresh air that is present even in cities are characteristics which make this country special… These are a stark difference from the smog and chemical smells of many areas of America. The United States would do well to consider adopting some of these characteristics into our society.