European Sweeping

The nonstop flight to London from Seattle

by Ranger Kidwell-Ross

Unfortunately. the Boeing 747 turned out to be completely packed. However, on a positive note, British Air had the best hospitality and in-flight meals of any airline I've ever flown with.

The nonstop flight to London from Seattle took the polar route, which provided spectacular scenery along the way, especially near the end of the flight. We left at 6:45 pm, Seattle time, about two-and-a-half hours before darkness falls in that locale. Amazingly, by flying north, the sky never got dark from our vantage point of 37,000 feet. And, we were treated to a view of the full moon along the way.

Seat-back maps

I've never seen a sight quite like it. On one side of the plane, the full moon was shining in the softly glowing sky, while the perpetual sunset -- that eventually turned to sunrise-shone on the other. During the last few hours of the flight, we were treated to the sight of literal mountains of ice covering Greenland, which gave way to an iceberg-strewn sea between there and the coast of England. It was quite a magnificent sight-a sea full of icebergs, all glowing in the moonlight! I took photos through the plane window but, in them, the icebergs appear to be little white spots in a sea of blue. The ice mountains show up clearly enough, though, and if you gaze at the shoreline, you can see the rim of ice that blankets its entire length.

View from Above

Unfortunately, the plane was so hot and crowded that sleeping was out of the question. So, when we arrived at noon, U.K. time, I was all but exhausted. Even so, the drive to Malcolm's house kept me awake because, for me, we were driving on the wrong side of the road! If you've never been to England and gone through roundabouts whilst driving on the left side of the road, you have an exciting adventure to look forward to.

Although the cars on the roads seem quite similar to those in the states, on the whole they appear to be uniformly smaller. And, there are no SUVs to speak of. Along the way, Malcolm pointed out Windsor Castle, which had a flag flying at the top. That, he explained, meant the Queen was currently in residence.

Malcolm's quaint village of Willersley was immediately charming. He slowed down several times, stopping once to wave to, and converse with, neighbors who were out walking or working in their gardens on the Sunday afternoon. Compared to anywhere in the U.S., the buildings here are old, old, old. Malcolm told me that his home was relatively new construction, having been built in 1834. It adds an interesting perspective to what I've become accustomed to in Washington, which didn't even become a state until 1889!

After dinner, we took the 25-paces walk across the road to the pub, and it was everything I had been led to expect. As Malcolm's friend from the U.S., I was greeted warmly and with good humor. Although English was the language being spoken, given the local dialect, I must say I could only make out about half of what was being said. The smiles by all spoke volumes, however. We promised to return Friday night, when I'll take some pictures for you of the picturesque interior. An interesting feature of all the houses in this locale, including the pub and Malcolm's home, is that all the doorjambs are a scant 6' tall. So far, I've been lucky not to knock my head at every turn.

Tomorrow morning we leave at 6 am for the tradeshow in Aviemore, Scotland. I'll be bringing you coverage and photos of the show, and Malcolm has scheduled interviews for me with people and companies that are involved, in one way or another, with the sweeping industry. These will include an interview with MHS, a company that is (by U.S. standards) quantifiably huge in the sweeper rental marketplace. On my way back, I'll be talking to members of the council that manages sweeping in the city of Southhampton.

I invite you to check back on a daily basis to see how the adventure continues. I'll do my best to seek out stories that provide information you can actually use, but I'll also be bringing you some of the sights and sounds that set Europe apart from the rest of the world.

Willersley

It's been much too long since I've had any sleep. Before nightfall, I took these photos of the view from 'my' bedroom window. As you can see, the architecture is both quaint and quite obviously sturdy. For now, I'll say goodbye... until tomorrow, when the adventure begins anew!


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