Field Trip: England!

“Here is a page from the emptiest stage.  A cage or the heaviest cross ever made.” (From the song “Home” written by Martin L. Gore of Basildon, England)


Home.  A place we writers put our people.  Where they then do and say things.  And feel and observe.  Mess up horribly and make up for those messes.  Where will your people live?

If a story’s setting should feel just as alive as any character you bring to the page, it’s no wonder so many writers have chosen England to fill that role.

I’ve never been, but the country fascinates me, too.  Especially the Songwriters.  But that’s nothing surprising as I’m fascinated by gobs of both interesting and boring things.  And I also have no problem expressing this fascination.

Hubby, on the other hand, is hard to leave an impression on, kind of like a rock.  That’s why when he arrived home last weekend from a trip to Alconbury, England, and was nothing short of enamored with the place, I took note.  I’d expected him to report back about the cool, skinny, pale Brits I’d badgered him to pay attention to and whether or not they really say things like “mate” and “rubbish”.   Instead, these are a few of the emails I received that week:


“England has been interesting.  Driving on the left has been cool.  I took pics of the country side. That is all I have seen so far. It is pretty though. As soon as I landed, I thought, this is a place Carlene would love to see.” (Alconbury is located approximately 60 miles north of London.)


“On the drive…A weird thing I noticed. The Brits drive on the left side of the road, but the driver sits on the right, they use miles for their distance but liters for their gas.”


“England is very interesting.  The driving and the pace.  In Germany, (another stop on his trip) the folks on the street moved slowly while walking, but driving—they seem to speed everywhere.  Here in England, not so much.  It seems more leisurely.”


“The town we drove through was Alconbury.  It was a neat looking town.”  (Neat is not a word hubby says very often.  For a place to rate a “neat” is pretty substantial.)


“England does have an interesting feel to it. Germany (the land, the architecture, the way of life) seemed old and they relished in that. Here in England, it is new mixed with old. There was a pic I sent you of a house whose roof was made of thrash or black straw.”



Have you ever been to England?  If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings about it.

Do you long to make the trip like me?  If so, please feel free to share your expectations about what you envision of the place.

As I started us off with one of my favorite English written songs, I’ll end things with another.

“I’m pale, I’ve brought it back to Winter Tale.  So spare the ghosts around my neck, the winds against the sails.  I’m shivering up a storm of roadside pines.  Thirst shreds the ballast cold and shows the olden times.”  (From the song “A Winter Tale” written by Bobby Long of Wigan, England)


27 thoughts on “Field Trip: England!

  1. LOL! Okay, Keep Apart/ 2 Chevrons, makes me curious….what does it mean? Two gas stations ahead? I’ve never been to England, but have found Google street maps and satellite views are great. I moved a character from Paddington Station to the American Embassy on foot 🙂 which I find out is quite a trek, but “doable” from someone who’d been there. A trip is on my list of things to do/places to see.

    Thanks for sharing the photos.

    1. Good morning, Jean. That “Two Chevrons” was one of my favorite pictures. First because I always get a good laugh out of street signs that state the obvious. Like, “You must make a full stop at the red light before proceeding” or “Aggressive driving will not be tolerated”. But secondly because it just sounded so English to me. Did you read it in your best British accent like me? “Keep Apart Two Chevrons”. (A chevron is a stripe in the shape of an inverted V–picture the rank insignia military members wear on their uniforms. The English must use this as a road marking to help people remember to maintain that amount of distance between their vehicles while driving.)
      I LOVE that story about your character’s trek. Too funny! I hope you make it to England someday soon.

  2. “As soon as I landed, I thought, this is a place Carlene would love to see.” Awwwww, you made me all gushy first thing in the morning. I’ve never been to England, but I studied for a semester during college in Ireland. Loved. It. We traveled all over – even hitchhiked from one end to the other. Oh the very stupid things you do when young.

    1. Good Morning Avery Mermaid

      I’m so glad to have made gush out of your morning. Of course hubby also sent me pictures of a plain old street because I told him I wanted to see the country “from the ground up”. Yeah, he’s a little ornery like that.

      Hitchhiking through Europe always seemed so cool until I saw “Hostel” 😉

  3. I LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEE England! I’ve been to London 3 times and I’ve been to Stratford-upon-Avon once. London is one of my most favorite places on the planet and I could go on and on and on about it. I probably feel more at home across the pond than most other places. I’m super jealous of Mr. Carlene and his trip. 😉

    1. Good morning Kerri Mermaid who LOOVVVVEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSS England!

      Mr. Carlene (He’s gonna love that ;)) also mentioned how comfortable he felt. You two must be on to something. What is it that makes you feel so at home over there?

  4. Interesting travelogue on the Emerald Isle. Thanks for sharing!
    A trip to England, Ireland, Scotland, & Wales is on my bucket list for sure! 😉

    1. In the land of dreams, I’m taking you there, Mom. Just like in the ending of P.S. I Love You. And your smile, red from a bursting happy heart, is so very real.

  5. I’ve traveled all over England and love, love, love it. London is one of my favorite cities, but to see the real England, you have to get out into the villages and countryside. I’ve made it as far north as Yorkshire, where the wind is so relentless that trees grow sideways and the ravens have chests worthy of a cover model but walk upwind.

    I’ve yet to make it north of the Border, but I will. There’s a research trip in my future. I’m sure of it!

    1. Hello Linda! Best description ever of a raven. Bronze and a beak! Love it. And help me out…What is that little country again that borders England to the north? Dare say is it Scotland? Loving your research plans 😉

  6. Carlene,
    I think we should all head somewhere for a field trip. Mermaids and Friends Hightail it Across the Seas! What do you think of that???
    I only went to London once, and I wasn’t a huge fan, but then again I was a teenager and didn’t know what I should be doing. I would have loved to have visited the countryside, the Lake District, all the places mentioned in some of my favorite novels. Now that I’m older (much older) and wiser (not much wiser), I would love to head back.
    I did, however, travel throughout Ireland for a month, and I loved that so much. The scenery is amazing, but the people are phenomenal! Truly. So friendly and willing to help you out. I actually started researching how to move over there, and then someone told me that their kids are trying to get out because there isn’t enough room for them. 🙂 Guess I’ll just have to be content to visit again. I’ve always wanted to travel to Scotland.
    I really, really think we should think about a trip. Mermaids on the Move! And then we can blog from there.

    1. Hi Kim-Mermaid! I would love to be on the move with you and the fishy sisters. Oh the places we would go…

      That is very cool that you spent a month in Ireland! And I also understand about not knowing what you should be doing as a younger person in a foreign land. I lived in Germany for one year as a 20 year old knucklehead. I mean, really, how does a person live in another country and come away only having learned one word? At least it has more than one meaning, but still, I’d love to go back now as a much more appreciative person.

      Now to writing, I’m curious to know if you’d ever entertain or already have, setting a story abroad?

      I find that I lack the guts to do so but I do enjoy bringing an Englishman to America every now and then 🙂

      1. Ha! Wouldn’t it be so much fun to take a mermaid field trip across the pond? I’ve also only been there once, in college, and would love to experience it again. I really enjoyed reading the messages your husband sent to you, Carlene. What a sweet and lovely glimpse into your relationship.

        1. Aww, thank you Pintip Mermaid. A mermaid field trip would be so appropriate. You know, I never thought of England as an island until just this week. Island, mermaids, that sounds like a plan to me 😉

  7. Carlene we WILL go to our ancestrial homeland during the next world tour!

    Sorry for the crazy text I just sent you. I just took my acrylics off and its taking a bit of getting used to…. my nails SO need to breathe!!

    1. Hahaha, no worries! Thank you for putting that down in writing favorite auntie/sister/cousin of mine. Of course for a moment, I may have thought you were talking about Texas and Casey James next world tour! hehehe

      Yes, Depeche Mode is my absolute favorite English export and I’d love to see them across the pond with you!!

      1. The only way that I am going to Texas to see Casey James is if it’s in August 2012 and he’s opening for Tim McGraw/Kenny Chseney ;P

        1. From the mouth of my all-time favorite Englishman, “Nothing’s Impossible”.

    2. I should also say that everything I know about England I learned from Martin L. Gore. 😉

        1. All right ladies…you better include me in the next world tour! 2013 baby!

          I lived in London for three months on study abroad…LOVED IT! I would go back again in a heartbeat. Also, that is where I fell in love with reading. Might have been my independent study where I had to read the newspapers daily and do a synopsis at the end of each week or traveling with two lit majors! Either way, amazing! Fortunately, our Friday class was “British Life & Culture” so we went on a field trip each week. I saw a lot of the country.

          Oh and thank you for “Martin”…*swoon*

          1. Kathleen, I’m thinking there’s no way that three months could have been any better. A field trip each week! That’s so very cool. I will never forget the day a proper tea pot came into my possession after you came to visit and saw me boiling my water in a regular old pot. The English would be proud of you for educating me on the fineries of tea.

            DM Angels united! Hey, did you make it to Basildon while you were over there? I can’t remember.

          2. No didn’t make it to Basildon. I’m ashamed to say that it didn’t cross my mind! :-O I know, I know!!

            I have a couple of funny stories about tea in England…when I started my internship, I asked the office assistant to show me how to make a “proper” cup of English tea. She looked at me like I was crazy because all they do, is have one of those instant hot water boiler pot things that boils the water in the like two minutes and poured it over a tea bag. What I didn’t know though…is that they always drink tea with milk. So one day I was going downstairs to make tea and I asked my office mates if they would like some and one guy said sure. I said, anything in it? Nope. Ok, so he got it black and he asked where was the milk. I said, you didn’t want anything…and that is when I was educated they drink their tea with milk. 😀

  8. Good evening to you Diana Mermaid! Thank you so very much for the love toward hubby. I will share with him. Looks like we all better start stretching our fins for that swim across the pond 😉

  9. I’ve never been to England but it is high on my list of places I’d like to go. 🙂

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