Sunday, 22 June 2008

Not quite Midland monotony

After my continual sledging of her hometown of Leicester and the general regard of the Midlands of England as the pits, Rachel had had enough. Detemined to set the record straight before I forsake England, she insisted I visit that same night, after the London Bush protests. After a hour and a half train ride, we had to get from the station to her front door with one bicycle between the two of us and a large hill to start off with, exercise unwanted at 1:00am.

However, I lived to see another day, precisely, one filled with a guided tour of the Leicester highlights by two of the world's worst tourguides. The following day Rachel and I departed to the Liecestershire countryside for a quintessential day ride, a pleasant meander through fields and fords, complete with a picnic in a field of clovers. I felt like I was in England.

Barking up the wrong Bush

An unexpected visit from Rachel promted my presence at the protest surrounding U.S President Bush's visit to the capital. The speakers of the event were impressive, all giving different takes on the situation without resorting to fire-and-brimstone style preaching.

Unfortunately, I had my ever-present companion with me, and a bicycle does not mix well with large crowds. The protest was panning out how most peace-promoting and tolerant protests do, until the police closed Whitehall, a major throughfare passing by No. 10 Downing St, where Bush and Gordon Brown were busy sipping tea and plotting coups.

Understandably, closing a public road to the public for no other reason except there being protestors present did not sit too well, and before long the crowd was pressed into a face-off between rapily reinforcing police lines (at least five deep). Naturally, Rachel wanted in on the action, getting a a birds eye view of the action from my shoulders, before lanching herself toward the front of the ruckus.

To the protestor's credit and police suprise, apart from a few obligatory ararchist troublemakers, the protest stayed peaceful and the night ended with a wonderfully contrasting Thai restaurant dinner with Rachel and her father. A interesting afternoon and evening that only got more interesting when I found myself on a train bound for Leicester, 100 miles away, at 11:00pm on a Monday night.