jueves, 6 de agosto de 2009

Bye, bye Cheltenham...


Cheltenham Spa. When all the spanish people read the second word, we supposed that our town would be a marvellous resort with large pools, turkish bath, saunas and we could enjoy this facilities every afternoon after the course was finished. All of us were very disappointed becuase the noun "Spa" referred in that case a kind of stillwater very known and appreciated here in the last century.

Nevertheless, Cheltenham has been a city with enough life and resources for wasting two weeks. Pubs, Karaoke, restaurants, gardens and parks for running, bookshops, shopping in general took up our scarce free-time. Very closed to Glouscester (Glosta, like Brits said), it has been very interesting because larger than Chet allowed us to go there to visit historical centre or enjoy its summer activities.

Up to 100.000 inhabitants, Chet grew up as a city in the XVIIIth when someone discovered the healthy benefits of its stinking water. Sulfurose waters pumped up easy even any effort and people of the upper classes in that time got into drinking water for avoiding reumatical diseasses.
In the Victorian age, on nineteenth century, that habit encreased a lot. For that reason, the whole of the historical buildings of the city were built up at that moment. Large rows of semidetached houses, all equal in form and poor decoration, badly constructed with raw matherial like bricks or iron filled the historical centre. There aren't any important church, governmental building or abbey that put the city on the maps. All its magnificence remained in the water. Pumps and taps in every corner of the city.

In middle twentieth century, the city changed its pattern of development. Many officers and soldiers decided to end their lives in a quiet and good-weather city. Although seems to be incredible because every day in my time there was raining, pensioner in England thought that Chet would be a fantastic place. Populations increased by a large number of retired workers who followed the same path as officers did.

Today, Chet belongs to the University of Glouscester and Exeter and a part of their campus are very closed to the city. Moreover, surrounding the city, there are a large number of industrial and tertiary activities like, ie., a RAF-OTAN air base, a very important mobile phones relay aerial for the southwest of England and Wales and the built up of a hydraulic-retractable landing gear of Airbus aircrafts.

I could never forget this experience. My first attemp to live alone and completly in English in England. I'll try to repeat it next year. Yeah!!


martes, 4 de agosto de 2009

Deeper than I could imagine...


My last day in England was really... at Wales...!!!

Never mind. It was a fantastic and delighted experience. Wales' landscapes looks like Galicia or El Bierzo: green but not so much, mountainous but not so high, poor because we compare with inner England...Nevertheless, this is a nice country with a language so much incomprehensible than Vasque but people are very kind and proud of their heritance and habits...

Our visit to Wales was due to a tour on ( in or even over or into...) a deserted mine changed now into a National Museum of Wales Mining. In a terrible and hard landscape, on the top of a hill, surrounded by other no-life hills and crossed by grey clouds on a windy weather, the Blaenavon Mine is a extrange place. Nowadays, the rude miners are kindly guides and you can visit all dependences and buildings absolutly free.

The most impressive sight should be the inner mine. Yes, we were dropped into the mine using the real lift and we had to wear clothes and helmets with light as the real miners did. I think we went down more or lees 60 meters. The tunnels and galleries are more narrow than I can believe. To avoid problems with the methane gas, each few meters there are doors closing the galleries. That doors in the eighteenth century were looked after by childreen -age 6-7 years old- on complete darkness and alone. Well, the rats tried to bite him because they had food. What terrible suffering!!!.

Humidity, low temperatures and no sounds at all make mines like a grave. Our guide asked for us to switch off our lights and reminded in a complete darkness. Incredible.
Later on, we visit a tunnel in which no loger days the miners took coal off the ground. Heavy machines, continous conveyor belts, smelting charcoal dust on a high noise enviroment. Now, I can understand why miners were proud of themselves as workers and they led the trade unions movement against capitalism and industrial owners, even in the last century. Only a powerful state with a conservative government, led by Margaret Thatcher were able to end that movement and the mines too.

Today, South wales -of course not Cardiff as a large and rich city- remains as the poorest country or region by PIB of all Britain.