The View from Writers Roost
Jul 04, 2013 | 1082 views | 0 0 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If I’da known Billy Shakespeare’s momma was a Webb, I’da worked harder in English Lit classes.

But, I got a book full of lessons on my second “pop over the pond” (that’s British for “flew over the Atlantic”) on many things Brit and some things Scot.

London and Edinburgh are great places to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live in London (as the adage goes), however, I might ‘ave a go at Edinburgh.

Since Webb is an English name, I’ve always wanted to go to Great Britain, particularly London. It is extraordinarily enjoyable, but I found Edinburgh more interesting and laid back.

My only personal purchase in the United Kingdom was a 100 percent pure wool Scot plaid tie. It’s an Ingles Buchan (brand, which doesn’t mean anything to me but maybe it will to someone more with it), in Stewart muted blue (that name doesn’t ring a bell either). I just liked the look of it and if I ever wear a tie again, it will go with at least two sport coats in my limited retirement wardrobe. This Scot tie is a “relaxed,” informal look much more suited to my blue jeans tastes and mind.

Of course, when you go to a European country, such as the British Isles, you expect to see architecture much older than in America. Structures in most places are several centuries old. You won’t find much in America older than 250 years but, over the pond, a thousand years is not extraordinary.

Most structures are built of stone, brick or masonry. Wood is at a premium and in a nation as limited in space as Great Britain, the best bet has always been stone. Forests, replanting and 20-30-year growth are out of the question.

Most streets are well-worn cobblestone or brick. Compared to our concrete, asphalt and gravel streets, the British roadways are rough, but not enough to make for an unpleasant ride.

In addition, apartment buildings can extend several stories beneath the ground, in addition to many more stories tall. Often, one’s residence might extend under a street and down a few levels. And, most Englishmen live in apartments (quite often they own them).

As for mass transit, we don’t even have the beginnings of the concept down compared to our Brit friends. Trains are a major travel vehicle, both above and beneath the surface, in large cities and between towns. We took a train from London to Edinburgh, a four-plus-hour jaunt and it was great. The accommodations and service were first class coach. Libations and meals are as good or better as you’ll get on any mass transportation travel.

City bus service within both London and Edinburgh was outstanding.

Double-decker tour buses with at least part of the upper deck al fresco are a great way to get around. A ticket enables you to get off wherever you like, then board another bus at appropriately marked tour stops and continue your rounds. We did this in Edinburgh, and London to a lesser extent. However, we found riding the train or tube (underground train) the easiest way to get around London efficiently.

We splurged on one live stage show to break up the sightseeing and touring. Jersey Boys is a musical that has been running for several years in both London and New York’s Broadway and is, obviously, quite popular.

It is an American story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. As you may recall, the music is great harmony and much of it the rock and roll beat that swept both countries in the 1950s-60s, when that group was at its zenith in the two greatest English-speaking countries in the world.

Thankfully, I had an aisle seat with plenty of passage room because my right leg stuck out with my foot tapping enough to the music that my knee was going up and down noticeably so even someone with Mr. Magoo glasses could see.

There’s much more of interest about the trip and from time to time I’ll spin a column or two about the UK trip and how old retired, po folks can swing it.

Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher of more than 50 years experience. He can be reached by email at

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