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Gracelle
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Posted on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 07:16

London is the first foreign city I have visited in my life, for this reason it is unforgettable.

In the late spring of 2001, I arrived in London. The royal cavalry ritual in front of Buckingham Palace, the highly profiled black door of 10 Downing Street, Big Ben, the intriguing Tower Bridge, Westminster, London Eye, innumerable historical sites and resorts were generous gifts bestowed by history to this metropolis. Excitedly strolling around for a while, I had a break in a café by the Thames and, inhaling the tantalising aroma of fresh coffee, began to sense London.

London impressed me with a feeling of crowdedness and many a time I winded my way along a twisty lane. Cautiously evading the buildings located irregularly on either side, the lane struggled to move forward, like a purling brook fighting its way through the jungle. It’s said that British law provided such overall protection for the ownership of real estate that private properties were shielded from arbitrary confiscation. So when London streets were redesigned by governments in earlier times, private properties had to be respected and preserved. Consequently, lanes were shaped in a curving manner, distinct from streets in other capital cities.

Attending lectures at LSE. A small board marked with “LSE”, simple and modest, hung at the entrance. I could hardly associate these ordinary buildings with any renowned economists, such as Professor Coase, Robinson, etc. Mr. Fei Xiaotong, a famous Chinese sociologist, once studied at LSE as a visiting scholar. Being the most important forum for economists in those days, LSE contributed greatly to much fruitful research, especially in the field of Institutional Economics. (Nowadays the subject of Economic Analysis of Law has blossomed in America, particularly at the University of Chicago, and is thus branded as “the Chicago School”.)

Near to LSE was the law school of Lincoln’s Inn. Now and then young lawyers in smart suits, carrying briefcases, passed in a hurry. I continued walking, as a lovely small square with a central fountain appeared. Scattered on the lawn, people were enjoying the brilliant sunshine and leisure during lunch-time. In the distance rose the grand white dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, standing out among dark surroundings,and holy melody of its choir as if resounded,pure and beautiful, a sound from heaven.

This is what London was like. The distinctive architectural style of Victorian buildings was witness to the glories of past eras on the British Isles; meanwhile, chic touring double-deckers and unique red telephone boxes reminded me of the modern rhythm of this metropolis.

If the city centre of London could be described as being filled with a reserved and somewhat noble disposition, the outskirts definitely qualified to be depicted as bucolic. In front of my dwelling was there a small lake, with swans gracefully swimming on it and a piece of woodland perching on the bank. On a drizzly afternoon, holding a nice cup of tea, I looked out of the window from the first floor, and there before me was a watercolour painting. The gloomy sky set the backdrop; several strokes of cloud were properly drawn on it; the baroque buildings loomed in the distance; two pairs of swans decorated the dark-green lake, affectionately nestling up to their companions; willow branches swayed in the breeze, gently kissing the waters,  as if playing a serenade to swan couples.

Fairs on Sunday. The whole street was packed with stalls of fresh vegetable and fruit, delicately arranged by the owner. In the bright sunshine of mid-day, red strawberries, green apples, yellow oranges naughtily tempted the passers-by. The bosses of the seafood and the butcher’s shops cheerfully greeted their regular clients, and chatted about what they would have for dinner. Behind the stalls were Indian boutiques full of various traditional items,  novel and interesting. Holding a bunch of flowers and a shopping bag of food, I mixed with the crowd. With its vitality and vibrant humanity, the hustle and bustle of the fair made me feel exhilarated. At that moment the fair was full of earthly joys.

In contrast, the way home was tranquil. Right outside the fair were bus stops and a parking lot. The streams of people dispersed in different directions in a short time. I crossed the road, entered a neighbouring block. The narrow lane was empty except for traditional-looking houses standing there, silently. One house caught my attention, 1680 marked on its roof,  which meant it was over three hundred years old. I observed it with respect: simply designed, light-grey appearance looked rather mild and not arrogant at all; little trace of its having undergone dramatic social changes over a long period of time could be perceived. It seemed that time had been extraordinarily merciful to this building. Later I came to know that British people have a tradition of maintaining their houses so that old buildings can be well kept and handed down to later generations. 

At the end of the lane was a piece of small grassland, dotted with flowers and benches. The giant leaves of a tree sheltered the place from the scorching sun, giving cool shade. Next to the grassland was a small graveyard, riddled with crosses. To my surprise, it wasn't eerie, perhaps due to its likeness to a garden and its favourable location, in the very centre of a residential area, with the world of the living just behind me and a mere stone’s throw away. I couldn’t but appreciate such a considerate and humane design, which enabled you to believe that the spirits of the dead still stayed with their beloved families, never left, and were accompanying them, sharing their happiness and grief. Out of curiosity I looked around: flowers placed by some tombs, apparently they were visited recently; while other tombs had candies, dolls and toys around. Every time I passed through this block, my heart became peaceful. In the silence I tasted the atmosphere of olden times and the power of tradition.

Scotland

Starring the French actress Sophie Marceau and Mel Gibson, Braveheart was one of my favourite films. The haunting melody of the bagpipe in the background music accompanied by stunning views of Scotland, always thrilled me, touching the softest part of my heart, and reminded me of this mysterious and charming land.

Getting off the plane from London, friends rented a car and headed for Glasgow. My only knowledge of Glasgow was that Adam Smith once taught moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow. In the square of the city centre stood a brass statue. “Is he Adam Smith?” I thought excitedly. A flock of pigeons strolled around, looking for the grains on the ground. Once the tourists approached, they immediately fled, beating their wings in the glow of the sunset sky, their plumage turning into glossy gold. What a warm and poetic picture!

The next morning we drove to a castle. On the way, suddenly my attention was drawn to the massive expanse of vivid green. It was a vast stretch of grassland, its colour so pure that as though it had just been rinsed, crystal-l



Life is a piece of dance. You need to find the right partner to make it beautiful.

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Gracelle
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Posted on Sat, Jan 11, 2014 08:21

Thanks for your attention.



Life is a piece of dance. You need to find the right partner to make it beautiful.

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MissMonteCarlo
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Posted on Wed, Jan 01, 2014 13:40

Glad you enjoyed Scotland! Glad you went to Glasgow. I love Glasgow!!

 

Sarah :-)



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