The April summer of previous years is late to materialize this year. It’s been reasonably sunny and pleasant for the last few days, but still on the cooler side of things.
That does not prevent a large segment of young English women to adopt a summer-y dress code. We went out to central London for a dinner last night, and practically every other woman that we saw sported the “seasonal” outfit of light blouse, high heels, short skirt – and bare legs. Even when those legs are shapely, looking at them in 50°F weather makes me shiver in empathy (as opposed to a more pleasant natural reaction I might have in a warmer environment). Plus, the common skin tone of an Englishwoman is pasty white. I applaud the self-confidence of any woman who feels secure to display her legs in public, but there is something weird in the sight of bare legs that are clearly never exposed to the sun in the normal course of events.
Our outing was excellent. We went to a restaurant that we’ve been to before, near the Borough Market, to meet up with Sharon and Vic, the fellow expats who started their own excellent adventure in faraway lands only a week ago. There were plenty of topics for conversation between people who heretofore had only known each other online. We ended up staying at our dinner table for good two hours after finishing with our meal, just chatting. It’s nice to make new friends.
And today, the weather is just gorgeous. We all four went to a nearby green space for some playground fun and attempts at playing frisbee. Didn’t want to come back inside…
On a different subject, I spent some time reviewing our expenses from the recent trip and confirmed the well-known observation that traveling to countries with distressed economies is fairly economical. For instance, we had sit-down restaurant meals a dozen times during our trip, and only three times exceeded £50 on the bill (four people, at least six dishes every time, plus drinks, and an occasional bottle of wine). Souvenirs, travel purchases, tickets to entertainment venues were all pretty cheap as well. Some of the biggies (lodging, transportation) were acquired for euros (in that, we are now in much worse position than, say, a year ago), but all of the transactions in local currencies were bargains. Our overall expenses for the trip were about 25% lower than they should have been compared to previous similar trips.
I have a feeling that they could have been even lower. Hungary was our first experience with a currency so out of whack with dollars, pounds and euros, that the lowest price of practically everything started at hundreds of the local currency units, forints. Dividing that price by 300 for a rough approximation – more than in euros, less than in pounds – of the cost of an item is not that taxing an exercise, but it quickly starts playing a trick on you: You look at a price tag in thousands of forints, and even before you do your calculation, you think “Ah, it must be peanuts” – and you end up buying stuff that you would think unnecessary if the price was expressed in more familiar units.
Happened to me a few times while in Hungary. Nothing major, but it probably added up to a few extra pounds.