I hope you are well, and coping with the British summer weather. I’ve just been to stay with you, and I have to admit that my suitcase was rather full. You never know what the weather is going to do, so I took a layered approach to my wardrobe; raincoats, sun hats and even socks and thermals. I wasn’t quite sure what to wear.
I think I may have missed your summer though, as I arrived in July, when the weather was “changeable”. I think that’s a good word for it. “Is it, isn’t it going to rain today?” were the words on everyone’s lips.
I wanted to drop you a line to thank you for your hospitality, which was super, but I’m afraid to point out a few home truths.
Let’s start with the positive though. It was so lovely to see the green countryside, fruit trees and beautiful summer blooms. When the British summer arrives it cannot be rivaled. Thought immediately springs to picnics on the lawn, sipping a cool glass of Pimms, nibbling on strawberries and watching children run around and climb trees.
It’s such a shame you can’t rely on the weather, and here I will stop banging on about it, although I know it is one of your favourite subjects. I went for long runs through pretty villages, explored old country estates and enjoyed the ambience and convivial warmth of a decent pub. I met lovely friendly people, courteous drivers (yes, there still good despite the rotten apples) and generally found everyone to be very helpful.
I’m afraid there were a couple of things I found frustrating, which could be so easily fixed to improve your nearly impeccable reputation. It’s a rather sensitive subject, and I’m sorry if I embarrass you by bringing this up.
I know you have a deep love, almost an infatuation, with dogs. I get that they are great companions and a man’s best friend. However, when out running, or walking in the woods with the children, it is exhausting navigating the minefield left by your furry friends. I know there is a temptation to ignore the little, and sometime not so little, deposits when no-one is looking. However, let me paint you a picture. What am I to do with my six year-old when she falls over in a pile of poo left by your dog? If you could send me your address, I’ll send you my cleaning and therapy bills.
The second issue also revolves around cleanliness: yours, and specifically the state of your public toilets. Even in a coffee shop I feel uncomfortable about the state of the facilities. Have your standards really slipped so low that you no longer notice? You might have forgotten, but you actually do you have regularly wash the floors, handles, sanitaryware. People are more likely to leave a facility clean, if it is spotless in the first place. And if you’re using a facility, it’s not rocket science: please leave it clean and wash your hands.
Easy issues to deal with; clean up after your dog, pick up your litter, stop fly-tipping, stop writing on fences, stop peeing in bus shelters, keep your bathrooms clean: be proud. I know you’re uncomfortable about jingoism, and that’s to be lauded. However, you have a right be proud. You have a lot to be proud of. But if you could just give everything a little bit of a polish before my next visit, I’ll have so much more to shout about instead of constantly telling the children: “Don’t touch that.”
Enjoy the rest of your summer, keep well and I look forward to staying in touch.
Your friend, and compatriot