English Charm

Charming thatched cottage in Chinnor
Did you catch the Olympic fever too?  All eyes are on London this summer, many glued to the TV and other media to get the latest sporting results.  With the advancement of technology, this is an unprecedented event where we can get almost moment-by-moment updates.  The explosive use of Twitter and Facebook during London 2012 has even named it the first Social Media Games!

My aunt set her alarm to wake up on time to watch the “live” telecast of the Opening Ceremony on 27 July but later told me that she should have slept till 6am because that was when the real ‘action’ started.  But it was still a memorable and spectacular show – worth waking up early for.  Everyone was wowed by the appearance of British icons like James Bond, Sir Paul McCartney representing the Beatles and the annoying Mr Bean and even Her Majesty the Queen, was not left out!

In the past weeks, viewers in this part of the world stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning to watch “live” telecasts on cable TV channels or caught up with the recorded games the next day.  Our TV was on at odd hours in the day and night as dad watched his favourite games like table tennis, swimming and diving but badminton has a special place in our family and is close to the heart of all Malaysians. 

Classic Tudor architecture in Chester

The games – most obvious in the badminton finals – certainly united the nation when our national badminton champion gave a stunning and courageous performance on the world’s stage to make the nation proud. 

As a small nation of 28 million, we can certainly hold our heads high for successfully identifying and grooming teams of quality players over the years as compared to the other two badminton powerhouses in the world – China and Indonesia – that each has a large pool of 1.3 billion and 200 million people to pick their sports talents!

All too soon, the London Olympics is over but I hope the athletes and visiting contingents had a chance to appreciate a bit of English charm before they left for home.  The focus on London 2012 brought back a flood of fond memories of my experience of all things English and set me off to review photos taken during various stays in London with our cousin Bernice, in Chinnor with my sister Pearly and with dear Judy in Nantwich, a market town near Chester. 

English roses along foot-path in churchyard

Coming from a tropical land, I simply adore the cooler English air that envelopes me like natural air-con!  Besides taking in a few theatre shows and visiting city sights, I enjoy going for walks along country roads and because the air is not humid, I can walk for miles without feeling tired. 

There is plenty to see and do – from checking out quaint thatched cottages and Tudor architectural designs to admiring beautiful English roses in pretty gardens and exploring quiet church yards. 

Having a spot of tea!

There is nothing more English than a hot cup of brewed tea.  And this is what Judy served in a very warm English welcome when my sister and I were guests in her home in Nantwich.  I didn’t miss the Harrod’s name on her teapot, another English icon renowned in Knightsbridge!

Judy is a gracious host who not only pampered us with her warm hospitality but also took us to visit attractions in nearby Chester, Manchester and Liverpool.  Incidentally, Chester is also the birthplace of current James Bond, Daniel Craig!

Ruby [Left] and Judy enjoying traditional fish & chips


I insist that traditional Fish ‘n Chips with a dash of vinegar, is a “must eat” English street snack on any trip to the UK. 

Find a comfortable spot on a park bench and enjoy sinking your teeth into freshly-fried fish and potato chunks while the cool wind whips around you.  Yum!

Take a nostalgic ride on a steam train


This shot of a steam train was taken by leaning out of the window as our train slowed down to change tracks.  Built in 1872 the Chinnor Princess Risborough Steam Railway line is part of the original Watlington Branch.  

It is an ancient train that really chugs along and as it passed picturesque fields and farms, the engine driver gave us the full experience by sounding the charming “Choo! Choo!” whistles!

Landmark monument in front of Old Traffod


I’m not a football fan but since we were in the neighbourhood, we went to Old Traffod in Manchester as well as Liverpool Stadium and Everton Club Stadium on behalf of my nephews who are ardent supporters of these clubs.


But I’m a fan of the Fab Four so I visited the Beatles Museum in Liverpool and spent a delightful time, enjoying priceless memorabilia with an interactive experience through an informative narration on my headphones.  Even though I was not part of the “Beatlemania” craze when the band’s popularity was at its peak, I particularly enjoy the lovely music from their Abbey Road album. 

Rebecca [Standing Left] and I with the Beatles at Madam Tussaud's

Try and spot the waxwork...

A sample of dry English humour!

While the 30th Olympiad has triggered off interest in travel to cities that once hosted the games, I’m treasuring memories of my charming English experiences and looking forward to revisiting the UK. 

This time maybe – not only to Chinnor and Nantwich – but also to see Bernice and her family who now live in Wimbledon.  Let me think about it and start planning because part of the fun is getting there!


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