Although I’m partial to the green rolling hills of Middle Tennessee, it’s hard to deny that England in the summer is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. Even if you’ve never been, you undoubtedly have images in your mind…try it. Close your eyes and imagine the English countryside. What do you see?
Quaint villages with narrow roads twisting from end to end?
Stone cottages with enormous roses climbing the walls?
Cheerful pubs with swinging signs and colorful names like the Saxon’s Horse or King’s Head?
Steep hills covered with sheep?
If you can imagine it, chances are, I saw it last week. The images might be cliche, but they are true and they are a wonder.
England is breathtaking from the outside. It’s when I go indoors that I have a problem.
A SIDE NOTE: I think I am what most British people would consider a typical American. Wasteful, profligate, loud and spoiled. Yes, we are two people living in a large house…4 tvs, 4 computers, 2 cars and a great yard. But I am not wasteful or profligate by American standards. Not in the least. It’s all relative.
And that brings me to paper towels. (Are you reading Hellbilly?)
I have a strange addiction to paper towels. I have to have them. In fact, when the weather people start talking about snow, I go buy paper towels. When I go off on my annual weekend at the lake with my girlfriends, one of them brings an extra roll of paper towels so I won’t have a come apart if we run out. To take my paper products fetish a step further, I also can literally not eat unless I have a napkin (linen or paper) in my lap. Really, I can’t.
Sadly, both napkins and paper towels were in short supply at some of the places where we stayed–including one where we were charged with cleaning the kitchen after meals. Asking me to clean up without benefit of paper towels, Clorox wipes or even a sponge was perplexing. I’m not being obtuse here…I really didn’t know how I was to wipe the counters and tables without those products.
I’m sure that many of you are laughing at me and my ignorance now and that you already know the answer to cleaning without paper products is the cloth rag.
Ugh. Ugh. And double ugh. It was gray. It had crumbs permanently attached in the meshy holes. I imagine it smelled, but I didn’t get it anywhere close to my nose.
BUT, I am an adult and I had to suck it up and show a good example for the kids (who were equally perplexed). We wiped the tables and counters, but I wouldn’t call them clean.
I’m sure that the average person living in England has a much smaller carbon footprint than I do. They just use less stuff. Yes, my paper towels and napkins are going in the landfill. Yes, I turn my shower on full blast and enjoy the hot water all I want. And yes…I throw away food I don’t want or don’t like.
Am I spoiled? You bet. Does it make me a less worthy person? Not by a long shot.
It’s just all a part of what you assimilate when you travel. Being a pilgrim is not the same thing as being a tourist. We were asked to step out of our comfort zones. For the most part, that’s not as hard as it seems. But asking me to go two weeks without paper towels is tough. I’ll just know to pack a roll or two next time.