“Homelessness” in London

They are young, skilled workers with a permanent contract, but they can not rent a house. This is living in London. The problem of homelessness in the English capital is not now, everyone admits, but it is now that the problem is affecting the young generation. People that work eight hours a day, sometimes holidays and overtime. And they pay very high taxes. By day, they travel on average two hours by subway between home and work. They take their food box everywhere, but they can not even rent a T1. Many are leaving for other cities in the UK, others continue to share house, for years and years, with other couples, losing privacy and quality of life. They give up dreams and projects, lose their individuality.

The London real estate market seems to be handed over to half a dozen billionaires from China and the Arab countries. They buy houses that will never live and increase the prices so such that no average worker can afford to pay. And no bank can afford to finance. For the government, who have stopped to make policy to become financial managers of public money, it is just a question of “who gives more.” And it is always good to appear on the television cameras to appeal to “savings” and “belt tightening”.

More about this subject here

An adventure in Scotland

The trip began on a cold, gray Friday in London. We left at 1.59pm, a strange British punctuality, from King’s Cross to Waverley station, right in the center of Edinburgh. The whole trip was made under a sky filled with black clouds and an intense fog as we headed further north. The mythical image of Scotland that we were looking for. With a closed fog, the sea next to it and the plateaus that lean on the rocks. Is an easy task to imagine a Viking invasion in the late eighth century. It is indeed a beautiful trip that deserves contemplation and delight. Without thinking of anything else, it will lead to the discovery of a superb landscape.

As soon as we arrived in Edinburgh, and we left the train station behind, we came upon a colossal rock with a castle at its top and a city built on its route, unforgettable image that promises us a stay full of good surprises.
Already installed and after tea to replenish the energies, (the train journey lasts approximately five hours), we decided to go to the Science Festival in Summerhall. The quality of the work is unquestionable, but it is not what impresses a visitor who just arrived. It is the sympathy, the availability, the simplicity and the interest of the people of Edinburgh to receive visitors. As we knew the space and watched the works we exchanged words, meeting people, talked with artists and so we let ourselves be carried in a lovely chat.

Saturday started early. A good breakfast and a huge desire to surprise us. We start by visiting Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. It was, without a doubt, the best start. Throughout the visit we will know details of Scotland’s history and Great Britain. The Palace reveals to us a black past, with tragedies, drama, intrigues and conspiracies. If it were not so it would not be so interesting. At the end of the visit, we decided to rest our legs a bit and tuck our stomachs in the palace’s own tea room. The suggestion, a chamomile tea and a famous scone. Our next adventure was a challenge to the body and mind.

The goal was to climb the mountains and reach the top of Arthur’s Seat. We started walking in Holyrood Park, right next to the Palace. After twenty minutes of walking the landscape already promised moments of breathtaking. One piece of advice, wear comfortable shoes and clothes, a bottle of water, camera if possible. And let yourself be delighted by the scenery. When we reach the top, after such an arduous 251-meter walk, we are rewarded with a magnificent view. On one side the city and the castle, on the other the sea. Magnificent. Despite the strong wind we are carried away by the serenity that the landscape transmits to us. We can only feel very grateful for that moment.

As we took some snacks in the small backpack we decided to “picnic” at the top of the mountain. Who knows if King Arthur was not even there with his lunch.

Well, it’s time to go down and visit the city center. First and obligatory stop: the Castle. It is indeed a magnificent construction and symbol of the strength of a people. Let yourself be enchanted by the stories and legends that make this one of the most visited monuments in Scotland.
The castle is behind us and we now have a street with many offers: artistic, cultural, gastronomic, religious, literary and handicraft attractions, in short, is to discover and be ready for everything. Let yourself get lost in the narrow streets, even if they seem closed, do not be ashamed, enter and enjoy, you will certainly delight in what you will discover. If you feel lost do not worry because you are not, the city is small, but ask whom you meet on the street, start a conversation. People in Edinburgh love communicating with visitors. They are talkative, cheerful and generous.

The journey is going long and the legs already show some tiredness. The sun is setting and the night is near. It’s time for dinner and we decided it would be in a typical local, a Scottish pub. In the street of the castle you will find numerous spaces where you can get to know the local gastronomy. If you want something different you will find restaurants from all over the world, Lebanese, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, French and there are also vegetarians.

An intense sun woke us up on Sunday morning. A beautiful day, a mild temperature. And why not a beach trip? The journey there is by train in about 20 minutes. Arriving in North Berwick we do not need to walk too far to see the sea. We cross the small village and already barefoot we cross the beach. In front we have a serene sea and a sun that warms us. At lunch time there are not many choices, but there are good choices. Next to the beach we find lobster and fish and chips. Everything very fresh and delicious. The dessert could not be other than an ice-cream, sold in the typical ice cream vans that are found all over Great Britain. At the end of the day we still witnessed a superb sunset, as had not been seen for a long time. And when such a phenomenon happens the best is to let yourself stay and enjoy.
The last day of our visit in Edinburgh started early. We started by packing and for a good breakfast. The train only left at 2pm, there was still time to visit the National Galleries, that is very close to the train station. As the day was magnificent we decided to stroll through the garden Princes Street Gardens and contemplate a little more the castle, now from a different perspective. Here it is worth to lose ourselves in time and just stay to look at the city around and the castle.

The last image that we get engraved is a city of unforgettable natural landscapes, with centuries of history, built on its monuments, and a happy and generous people who know how to receive visitors.

Big city

Every day at the same time, 5pm to be more accurate, Mrs. Marie comes to drink tea at the Harries. Come in, greet everyone and sit, if possible, at the same table. Whoever is on duty that day, they know that for Mrs. Marie it is a chamomile tea with milk and a spoonful of honey. Which will be savored for thirty minutes. Neither more nor less. When the tea is over, she gets up and says goodbye. “Tomorrow I do not know if I’ll come back, but the tea was very good.”

Today is already past 5pm and she has not appeared, yet. At Harries, no one has noticed. The coffee shop has been busy all day. There are tables to clean and customers still waiting to be served. I ask James by Mrs. Marie. (I read the name on the plaque that he brings on his chest). “Who? What?” Mrs. Marie, I reply. “I do not know you are you talking about”, tell me James, disinterested in my insistence.

Cities grow and people lose meaning. Today it was Mrs. Marie who lost the meaning of her life and decided to leave.

Mrs. Marie was found dead three days later when two volunteers from the animal association, of which she was a membership for thirty years, came to her house to collect the annual fee.