In London, you can always spot the American tourists at intersections. They are the puzzled-looking people standing at cross-walks, actually waiting for the green "walk" light to change. Locals push around them and dart across the road, wondering what these odd Americans are doing. What are you waiting for? An invitation? A different color shade of green?
You see, there are no jay-walking laws in the United Kingdom. On a recent Facebook discussion board, Brits expressed shock that Americans actually need a law to properly cross the street. In the UK, it's called PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. You can cross the street anywhere you damn were please, as long as it's safe to do so. It's not hard: look right, look left, look right again, then cross.
Check out this hilarious account of a British professor visiting Atlanta who was arrested, wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and jailed for jay-walking!
Life's a Beach
The Two Crabs and friend "A" took advantage of the warm spring weather Saturday and spent the afternoon in Southend-on-Sea, the closest beach to London. It's located directly east of London, 55 minutes by train.
Technically, Southend is not a real beach. It's on the Thames River estuary, just east of where the Thames meets the North Sea. The town has been built up into a resort town that resembles some East Coast USA beach resorts like those you might find on the Jersey Shore or Maryland. Southend has the usual tourist attractions including a small amusement park, dozens of arcades (with slot machines), fast food joints, bars, and a wooden pier that bills itself as the longest pleasure pier in the world. As for the beaches, they are not exactly sandy. It's a mix of 10% fine brown sand and 90% pebbles & shells. Still, it's soft enough to sit down, as opposed to rocky Brighton Beach south of London.
We were wondering why nobody was swimming...until I walked into the water up to my ankles. The water temperature was barely above freezing! Unless you're a member of the Polar Bear Club, I would not recommend swimming here until maybe July.
One thing you'll see in Southend are the numerous stalls selling fish & chips and cockles, a type of shellfish that's similar in taste and texture to clams. The seafood in Southend is excellent. Mr. Crab had a lunch of crabs au gratin while A tried the giant plate of mussels. Mrs. Crab, who is not a big seafood fan with the exception of crabs, had a steak. Yum yum!
We didn't stay long, as we had to get back to London in time for a friend's birthday party in East London. The dinner party was quite the multi-cultural event, attended by Aussies, Brits, Americans, a Nigerian and a South African. Living in a multi-cultural city rocks!
We've now been to four beaches in the UK: Brighton, Southend, Eastbourne and St. Andrews in Scotland. Of those, only St. Andrews is a proper sandy beach, but too darn cold. We're still on a quest to find the perfect British beach with soft sand and warm waters. Our next tries will be Torquay in the so-called "English Riviera" in southwest England, and the Isle of Wight, a small island located off the coast of Portsmouth, about 2 hours by train and ferry from London. Stay tuned.
Here's a few more photos of Southend-on-Sea. As you can see, Southend has a "Funland", just like Rehoboth Beach, Delaware! Click on Flickr icon to see more snapshots!