Sunday, 29 March 2009

Beautiful Guildford

Sometimes I am less than enthusiastic about England, but that has 90% to do with the weather. Things are looking up (meaning the weather) so I thought I would write something positive about the town we are living in - Guildford.

Friday was Werner's birthday so I organised a babysitter and we went to the Thai Terrace - a Thai (obviously) restaurant at the top of Castle Car Park in Guildford. Wow. I've never been to such a stunning place - why we've never been before I don't know. The most stunning view - even at night, beautiful gardens and interior and all the staff bow to you as you walk past them. Great service and not too expensive either for what you get. So we were pleasantly surprised and I started thinking about how interesting little town Guildford is.

As I walk along the cobbled High Street, I wonder how many thousands of other mothers have walked there since forever, rushing their children along, watching the street musicians and doing their shopping. The High Street is really the most beautiful I've seen in England, with the gold gilded clock as a centerpiece and the Surrey Hills in the distance - I can understand why it has been painted many times. On a summers day nothing beats walking down the street and listening to the street musicians and just taking your time. The Chinese violin player especially who astounds us and Mieke loves watching him as she is also now playing violin. And because he plays stuff from Mamma Mia and we all love Mamma Mia. Except Werner...

Then there are the odd people of Guildford. The bearded lady who always sits at the same chair in MacDonalds and if someone sits in her chair she will wait for them to leave so that she can have her seat. Mieke is sure that she follows us because she always seems to be there when we are there. Either that or we both spend too much time at MacDonalds. But she is really freaky with her long white beard and painted lips and beady eyes which follow your every move. But she is an institution and we might even miss her if we don't see her any more!!

There are quite a few other weird people, like the man in the white suit who shouts in the High Street every weekend, the lady who keeps invading schools and getting arrested and a few others which I will probably get to know better the longer I live here.

But the best thing about Guildford is the variety of things one can do. You can eat food from all over the world - french, thai, chinese, italian and the best thing is when you visit a french restaurant you will be served by a french waitress - who doesn't understand English that well and definitely not Afrikaans South African English!! So our Thai Restaurant had only Thai staff and it just makes the experience more authentic.

You can feed the ducks and swans at the river and watch the people on their boats struggling to get through the locks. You can go to the 'cinema' as its called here or to one of the two theatres. You can visit the remains of the thousand year old Guildford Castle with its beautiful gardens and look for the statue of Alice in Wonderland. You can visit the library or spendtime browsing in Waterstones bookshop while your kids watch the fish and enjoy their book section. You can take your little one to a toddler group at one of the churches close to town and have a coffee and a chat with other mums while the little ones play. And then you can shop, if you want.

So I've learnt to walk. Far and uphill and over cobbles and pavements while pushing a 'buggy' and carrying shopping. I've learnt to get out there if the sun shines cause tomorrow it might not. I've learnt to take the bus to town and to have the correct change ready so as not to P$£* off the bus driver.

And now I walk up the High Street with my children and say hello to familiar faces and give directions to people that ask and I remember something I thought right in the beginning when we first moved here. I said that what I missed most is seeing people I know in the mall or in a shop. I kept on expecting to see someone I knew but of course I didn't. But now I do. Nearly every day I see someone I know and we say hello.

Now isn't that just wonderful!!

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