Live like a local.
There are few things in England that are inspired from something from the United States. Typically, it is the other way around. However, it is worth noting that in 1903 Chicago allowed the use of their narrow gauge railroad to be used for mail service. These some odd 16 miles of tunnels underneath the city of Chicago were initially meant to serve as utility tunnels to carry a network of telephone cables, for various reasons this plan was scrapped, and they changed the plans to include rails. They were able to incorporate, George B. Armstrong’s concept of sorting mail en route to reach their destination and this increased speed and efficiency.
Here in London, there were unacceptable delays in getting mail delivered using above ground transportation. The city was too large and too congested. In 1911, the planning board decided to primarily use Chicago’s system as an example. Construction of underground tunnels began (using much of the same system that was used for the Brunnel tunneling – previous blog post). They designed these tunnels to use unmanned electric trains to go to different underground sorting stations throughout London and use these stations to drop off and pick up mail from various points. You will see some photos of examples of how they hooked mail pouches over the rails so when a train would come by the train automatically unhooks the bag and it drops down onto the train without using manpower or the need to slow down at these points in the tunnels. They employed approx. 250 employees 24/6 as engineers and mail sorters that worked in these underground tunnels for the Royal Mail.
These unmanned electric mail trains underneath London were in use from 1927 through 2003 when they were closed due to a decrease in snail mail and an increase demand moving large parcels where the train tunnels, sadly, weren’t cost effective to continue.
As with all these interesting tad bits of history, with enough digging, you can find interesting tours. We took a walking tour through the tunnels which is now underneath the Postal Museum. Overall, I found it interesting, but it was overpriced. If you choose to go, you must recognize your "donation" is keeping history alive.
Fun fact, the railway appears in the Bruce Willis film called Hudson Hawk. It is thought to be a horrible film, I have never seen it, so I cannot give an opinion. The “movie money” was used to put on some moral events for the families of the workers for a few years. At one point they painted the 12 days of Christmas on the walls of the tunnels for their children to see. Hum. But the more interesting fact to me was when they closed the tunnels and the Royal rail needed to sell off what they could. One area they sold went to a bank, but the bank couldn’t have a tunnel underneath the bank – making it a perfect making for a heist. They had to fill in the area below the bank with cement. And so the tunnels are definitively closed for any future usage ideas.
Today is my Birthday. Old enough to drag out a story that could be said in 2 sentences, but I won’t let you off the hook that easily.
David took me out to the best breakfast I’ve had in the UK!! Delicious!! shout out to “Beam” and to David! Our waiter was cute, when he realized it was my birthday he brought over two kinder eggs. I had never seen one before. Why? Because, evidently, US parents can’t be expected to watch their children and consequently, they are illegal in the United States of America.
Yes, you read that right. We are a country that protects our citizens from doing unintentional harm to one another, and so justifiably made opening a chocolate egg with a rather large plastic “yolk” encompassing a small toy, illegal.
But it is all about me today… My fun egg was a sign, it must be!! My toy had a baby. A shout out to Katherine and Josh and hopes that their beautiful baby girl shares my birthday.
For those of you, like me, who did not know anything about the illegal Kinder egg, here are some fun facts.
“It all goes back to the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. According to the law, food cannot be sold if it contains a "non-nutritive object." In the case of Kinder eggs - - the plastic toy at the treat's center is pretty obviously not nutritious. However, non-edible items can be sold with food if they have a purpose related to consuming the food, such as the stick of a lollipop.” Oddly, we do not make lollipops illegal even though there are numerous Oro-pharyngeal injuries every year to toddlers that hurt themselves with the sticks.
You have likely heard of “those kind of undesirable people” who smuggle firearms or contraband into the United States, well look no further, an underground market has developed, with people bringing the eggs into the United States. Beware, if a person is caught by customs, they can face a hefty fine of up to $2,500 per egg.
And for all you zealous religious folks out there, you may agree when you read about the resurrection of Jesus in the Bible, you'll find little mention of chocolate, bunnies, or eggs. Despite this, a large bunny that hides eggs (which are often made of chocolate, or worse yet = plastic eggs with hidden money, small toys or tiny chocolates) is a central figure during the American Easter celebration.
In Italy, there seems to be a tradition associated with the Christian holiday as well. Italian children receive large chocolate eggs that contain toys. Now you see why the tradition of the Kinder Egg came about creating the kinder surprise.
Side note. 10 children worldwide have died from choking on parts of the kinder toy surprises over a 47 year period. And yet, 300 children in the United States were shot with a firearm and killed in 1 year and yet, we make no headway regarding gun control. I realize the USA has not done a very good job of educating our population in math or statistics, but maybe that is where we should start? Unfortunately, the very people supporting the gun laws will soon be in control of our education system. Think about that. Frightening. If, we the people, cannot see what is going on, then we deserve what is coming… it’s not pretty.
After so many years of being denied a Kinder Egg, I am delighted I was able to experience one. I plan to give them to my grandchildren, under adult supervision – of course!! I might even have to smuggle a few in. I can see the headlines now, Grandmother arrested over egg controversy. Sentenced to maximum years in prison because she refused to pay the fine.
When is enough, enough? Clearly not after 85 beers. I bet you are thinking I am going to write about the raucous fans for the England - Italy Euro's final, but you’re wrong. Truthfully, if our neighbors were paying attention, they must think we are serious alcoholics!
It began one evening with a cool summer breeze coming through the window and an innocent comment from David, “wouldn’t a good English bitter taste good right now” and I dutifully replied (without a self-serving motive in my body😉) “yes it would, I’ll get right on that and order some to be delivered” …
Somehow this is how the never-ending beer cycle began. I place an online order for 2 - 8packs of ESB beer to be delivered before the BIG Euro Final. And days before the game, 48 beers arrive. Not 16, but 48. Not ESB, but 24 Peroni and 24 Meantime IPA. I get back online to express my confusion and I get confirmation that it was their error, and they are correcting it. Wonderful. That is when the second case of 22 bottles came. Not ESB, but Peroni again. Not 24, but 22, the 23 and 24th bottle broke so the cardboard was like mushy sticky oatmeal – they clearly saw the problem, so instead of opening the box and removing the broken beer bottle that ruined any stability given by the once supportive cardboard and repackaging it, they just used an entire roll of tape to make sure it didn’t fall apart any more than it already had. Again, I reply to the confirmation that, in fact, we did receive their correction beer, but still, the wrong beer and yet this time, broken. She apologized and sent the appropriate LOL via email and said that they were right on it and will send out the new correct 2-8 pk of ESB by courier.
You realize, the Euro Finals have long since been played. Sadly, we could not drown our sorrows with beer. Instead, something stronger was needed to erase the despondency felt for how close England came to winning after so many years of not.
But again, we wait with eager anticipation. This morning was the morning. The courier rang, we joyfully retrieved our box and proceeded to open it. YES! It was ESB, but not 16! Only 15? It is comical now. I am speechless. We figure we may have lost out on 1 ESB we would have drank, but we gained 70 beers I am confident the kids will drink.
A slight annoyance like this was made up by working with the nicest customer service person that had to handle the, what should have been simple, order from hell. I believe she earned the right to call herself an essential worker! Certainly made us appreciate drinking a beer.
.... I had to update you all... I'm sure you are on pins and needles. Another box arrived. It's unbelievable, but true. They got it right. 2 8-packs of ESB were delivered, unbroken. We are ready to entertain now. Please come on over!
Don't take life so seriously.
I'm Jody. I love to travel. I love to take pictures. I love to meet people and find interesting places. I also love to write about and post pix of what I've found. But, I've been told that I write like I talk - in streams of consciousness. So, if proper grammar and well composed sentences are a must for you - my posts will make you crazy. If you want to follow my journey as I learn about really cool places and offer some great tips about living abroad, read on!