Compton Acres and Eurovision
Trip Start May 04, 2007
16Trip End May 21, 2007
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I'd already finished the grades for my face-to-face 1301 course before I left, but I planned on finishing the online class in my off times here. Not a good idea, particularly at this new hotel where I have limited internet access. As well, we've had little off-time, particularly with the amount of time we've put into our blogs. Today was the first day I was able to focus on grading, although its been in the back of my mind most of this week.
Around noon, Julie and Tory came by my room. They had spent the morning wandering around the local area and told me about the game of "bowls" they'd played that morning. It sounds like a great experience-check out their blogs for the details.
Compton Acres, a large garden that Tory had found out about. We had two rather incomplete maps, so we ended up backtracking a little bit. We eventually decided to follow the shore line. There was quite a wind kicking up the sand, but we were able to watch kite surfing and other windsurfers.
After asking a friendly local for directions to Compton Acres and wandering around a bit longer, we decided to get a bite to eat. We stopped at a place just up from the shore, the Inn of the Hotel. We found a place in the restaurant section and ordered some salads. I had the salad with King prawns, which are like little shrimp. When the waitress brought them out, she asked Julie if she wanted any "sauces". Julie said no thanks, but then we realized the waitress was asking about salad dressings. Julie ended up eating a pretty dry salad ("sauce" was already on mine and Tory's salads). Another linguistic adventure.
CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. CAMRA was and is a non-profit group pushing for the return of real ale in pubs. It is an interesting social movement and shows the importance of good beer in English culture. I enjoyed talking with Graham.
Eurovision Song Contest final. DISCLAIMER-Claire didn't want us to include this next part in our blogs, as she was a bit ashamed that our cultural experience included it. But I thought it was a hoot. This contest is a European version of American Idol, with bands representing each country and people across the continent, from Ireland to Russia, voting. It was quite an extravaganza, broadcast from Helsinki (the country that one last year). The UK broadcast had a commentary from Terry Wogan, a UK radio personality. His commentary was as funny as the actual songs were campy, over-staged, and rather bland. The UK entry, Scooch's "Flying the Flag (For You)" was one of the those empty pop songs with an annoyingly catchy chorus. Of the participants we watched (we turned it on already in progress), the only one that seemed to have some musical talent was from Bulgaria.
We spent the night laughing at Terry's comments and the debating the acts. The group from the Ukraine was particularly over the top, with a song that was even less memorable than most of the rest. Apparently over-the-top is the latest trend for Eurovision (last year's winners were an act from Finland dressed as monsters). When the votes came in, we got a real sense of the political alliances across Europe. Our UK friends (and Terry) would accurately anticipate who a country would vote for because of political and cultural borders, (countries could not vote for themselves). It seems, at least for this contest, that the UK and Ireland are "off" the European map, as they finished second and last respectively. In fact, we spent most of the night just hoping that the UK would get some votes, most of which they finally did get from Ireland.
It was a fun night, talking with Claire and her friends, laughing along with the contest, and enjoying good food and drink. I comfortable and accepted. Reluctantly, we had to finally leave, as we were all getting pretty tired. Graham graciously drove us back to our hotel. It was late, but I took a few minutes to do a little packing, as we are returning to our hotel tomorrow. But we did decide to take advantage of our "free" day tomorrow (Sunday) and sleep in a little. We could all use the rest.