Well we have just come through the blogging blackhole of
rural England and are now back in London. I am sure I could have found internet
service some place the last few days, but they just didn’t make these 18th
century cottages like they should have — with free WiFi.
We disappeared into the English countryside last Tuesday,
traveling about an hour and half northeast of London by train to Peterborough
and then by cab to the village of Whittlesey, which is where my grandparents
and dad were born. And then Friday we took the train to the seaside village of
Pevensey Bay, southeast of London, where another cousin lives. All were first
time meetings and all went very well.
Saturday evening we arrived back in London, and today
(Sunday) we regrouped and reorganized and made essential return visits to
Buckingham Palace and Harrods department store to pick up more souvenirs.
It was a hectic week to wrap up this holiday. And is often
said about holidays – we need to go home for a rest. It was interesting to note
there are people and agriculture everywhere in this country. Agriculture along
with tourism are major industries, but as I often hear at home most people have
little direct connection to the land anymore.
The cousins I met have are not involved in agriculture. At
Whittlesey where my grandparents were born, the farmstead where my grandmother
grew up is no longer there, and the Hart farm where granddad was raised has
been replaced by industrial development that includes a brick yard and to my
surprise a McCain’s potato processing plant. The English do love their chips
Lots of sheep, a fair bit of annual cropping throughout the
UK. Pretty well all crops were harvested by this September visit and most of
the winter crops – rape, wheat and sugar beets were already seeded.
The English do love their history and they have lots to
tell. I quickly lost track of kings and queens, and various battles and
invasions. Catholics were persecuted for 250 years, although have managed to
reestablish a presence. However, even today in Ireland, in particular, we were
warned not to joke with locals about religious differences. Football and rugby
are main topics of discussion through out the country. Food was good and
generally plentiful, although fairly pricey. You can always get a cup of
coffee, which was one of my major concerns upon leaving Canada, but they are
big into individual cup brewing of Americano or instant coffee — there wasn’t
pot of brewed Tim Horton’s-type coffee to be found anywhere.
One interesting historical note to end this blog on the last
day of our visit….in the village of Pevensey which is beside the English
Channel the old jail and magistrates building from the 16th century
is still standing and actually is a museum. It costs one pound to visit, but you
can go upstairs to the original magistrates room and sit on the original hard
wooden benches, and listen to a local museum volunteer explain the history.
Anyway, it is was in that little court room a few centuries ago that a
magistrate first developed the concept of bringing in a group of people from
the community to decide the innocence or guilt of an accused person. That was
were the concept of a trial with a 12 member jury, which was later included in
the Magna Carter, was first established.
I am not sure if process was better or worse for the
accused. The jury options included finding the accused innocent, or if guilty
sentenced to hard labor. And in the worst offences, if found guilty, the
accused was bound hand and feet and thrown in the river behind the jail to
drown. It didn’t sound like there was much time left for an appeal.
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