It's amazing what you can find in the country with a little digging...
We've been quite busy tucked away in this little corner on the English countryside known as Horncastle, which has a surprising amount of notable past residents, including Joseph Banks, for all my Australian and scientific readers.
Aside from catching up with a little freelance and Green Renters work, finally getting round to setting up my Drupal development environment after 2 years of attempting to do so (Features, Git, Mac OS X Apache and all sorts of other wizardry, with a few pains along the way) we've had quite a few unexpected antics.
Music and Trivia
For it's size, Horncastle has a surprisingly good social scene and so far we've made it to an open Mic night at the infamous Old Nics (run by a couple who have also run pubs and musical venues in Melbourne for another twist of coincidence) where my Dad made a typical embarrassment of himself and I jumped up on the drums for a blues jam and proceeded to play them badly. We also made it to a pub quiz, in which (typically) we didn't know the answers to many questions, made up stupid answers and came last. Whilst these sorts of activities in larger cities and towns are a great place for new arrivals to meet and get to know people, so far we've found that in a small town they are the haunt of staunch regulars who almost look upon newbies as a worrying threat, still it beats watching TV.
I'll admit we didn't spend much time looking into any kind of political or sustainability type groups or events round Horncastle, but we quickly and easily found a fair bit in Lincoln, which is a relatively burgeoning University town and has a fair history behind it (nearly 2,000 years). Firstly we were lucky enough to be in town on Critical mass Friday, it was a small but dedicated turn out, but not having any bikes with us, we sent them on their merry way without us. Sunday was when we really had a good dig beneath the cobbled surface at a skills sharing day organised by the LUC (Lincoln Underground Collective). For a new group, organising a debut event, who only started organising it two months ago, it was a fantastic event, with a great turnout where we learnt a lot about activism in the UK and others learnt a lot about activism in Australia, take a look at the program for some of the topics covered and groups involved, I may talk about some of them in more detail in the future.
Beer and food
I have been making the most of the good exchange rate (for the $AU) and enjoying many pints of good old fashioned, locally brewed real ale. So far I have enjoyed The Leveller, Idle dog, Idle Landlord and more that I've forgotten about :-/ It's great to see the real ale and micro-brewery industry in the UK experiencing a renaissance much like back in Australia, if you're interested in knowing more, make sure you take a look at the work of CAMRA (Campaign for real ale). Food has been as average as always in the UK, it varies greatly depending where you go and what you're willing to pay. We've had a very average roast, an awesome picnic, some delicious cakes and a few homemade treats along the way.
Skegness is the epitome of 'Traditional' English seaside towns, representing almost perfectly the bad and good elements of such places. To say it's 'cheap & cheerful' is an understatement, £1 shops, tacky souvenir shops, fatty unhealthy restaurants, donkey rides, a pier, amusement arcades and the list goes on! Not wishing to cause offense, but the general populace and visitors to Skegness fall into a lot of bad stereotypes, being overweight, badly dressed and relentlessly talking about holidays in Spain, the plethora of chav comedy characters recently makes it hard to sometimes keep a straight face when confronted with such an onslaught. There were also heaps of elderly people (The town was voted top place to retire in 2005) in electric wheelchairs and scooters, shop mobility seems to be a thriving business in Skegness.
With the shear amount of tack on show we really needed some respite and that came in the form of the awesomely unexpected Church farm museum, a beautiful and tranquil respite from the town's main drag.