Friday, 17 February 2012

The Knowledge

I met up with our Russian friends last weekend as we'd agreed at our last dinner (they served us marinated roast turkey leg and it was delicious, also some salted salmon they had made themselves from a whole fish).  They had just returned from a week's cross country skiing in Austria, which they highly recommend.  Then again they speak fluent German.  Anyhow, we'd mentioned having discovered the Fish Quay and they were wildly interested in knowing how it all worked.  So, while Bill was out volunteering at Park Run and running for the club at the cross country, I took Alexei and Svetlana around the fish quay. 




They were annoyed that they were so familiar with the car park and the promenade, but had never realised the row of shops selling raw fish, shellfish and fish & chips.  Someone had told them they had to arrive around 5 am on a Saturday morning to shop at the fish quay so they never investigated.  I think I'd heard something similar.  In showing them around we discovered yet another shop that had pretty good prices and would be worth going back, though I know Bill doesn't care for mussels and I had to look up crevettes.  They were stunned at the prices compared to the supermarket.

I've never eaten a whelk or a cockle...not sure I ever will...

They were practically slapping their foreheads, having lived in this part of the work for 16 years and not known about the fish quay.  I pointed out that I lived even closer and hadn't investigated until recently.  In Britain, and in much of Europe, nothing beats walking around for finding out things.  Cars can get most places, but it can be a headache to figure out how, so walking is the best way to see things and learn.   This is different of course in the States.  The last time Bill and I tried to jog 1 mile to the park at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, we gave it up as a bad job:  no crossing lanes, no pedestrian lights at corners, no sidewalks, everything made it difficult and even unsafe to go on foot.  However, in the downtown or riverside areas, a person will miss most of the interesting bits if they aren't on foot.  I much prefer the pedestrian life for most days.  It's healthier, cheaper, environmentally friendly and a far more intimate way to know an area.

This made me think about how London taxicab drivers have to learn 'The Knowledge'.  In order to obtain their license, they have to know about 320 main routes through London, without using GPS!  According to Wikipedia it takes an average of 34 months' training and 12 attempts at passing the test.  And to think I got upset at having to take a second driving test over here...

Are there places you prefer to walk to find out about?

8 comments:

Suburban Princess said...

They might have to pass all those tests but they will still try to scam a fare. I remember getting off the train in Stirling and getting in a cab...my Canadian accent might've told the driver he was going to get away with it. He got a telling off and the correct directions. Cheeky!

Beryl said...

I am thinking that the Quay is something like going down to the docks in Seattle and buying right off of the boats. Very fresh and less expensive than in the stores. One of the most surprising things about our move, was finding that ocean fish in Oklahoma is as fresh (and I think actually fresher) than in the fish I found in the stores in Seattle. They must just grab the absolute best fish and rush it to the airport and fly it here. Really.
Much as I love Oklahoma, when you said it's different (for pedestrians) in the "States", I mentally substituted one "state", as in Oklahoma. The West Coast is so much more pedestrian friendly. As are the big cities. When we spent the summer in Portland, I would see much more walking, since driving meant having to figure out all the one way roads and avoiding all the bicycles.

Susan Tiner said...

Walking is best for exploring neighborhoods in San Francisco.

I wish I lived near the Fish Quay :).

Rick Stone said...

Walk? Really, WALK? Like you said, not here in Oklahoma City. With a city that covers over 600 square miles walking is usually not an option. I get my walking done when I'm in a cemetery doing my "grave walking". Plus it is much safer since there is no traffic and the inhabitants don't want to stop you to chat. ;->

Shelley said...

SP, I'm not sure The Knowledge conditions apply to Stirling. That's in Scotland, isn't it?

Beryl, I think the shops buy right off the boats - and we lazy folks get to wander along later in the day! But you're right, same principle. I'd no idea fresh fish was so plentiful in Oklahoma. I can only guess my Dad didn't care for it, because I didn't get exposed to that growing up. Nope, Oklahoma City is not a pedestrian-friendly area and it wouldn't surprise me that Tulsa isn't either. Guthrie, though, that's a different story. Older towns that still have their sidewalks are the places Bill would love to live! I actually turned down a job in Portland to live in England. I thought it was a brilliant place and career-wise it would have been smarter. Then again, I wouldn't have met Bill.

Susan! Lovely to see you here. So sad you've shut down your blog, but it's probably a good move (blogs are a real time suck). Yes, SF is a great place to walk, though I wasn't there long; I should drag Bill over there some time! Yes, the fish quay compensates for some fo the downsides to living next to the North Sea.

Rick, Yes, WALK (a four letter word, I know). You are right, Oklahoma is mostly a lousy place to walk; I walked miles and miles with my best friend and our two dogs, in the heat - barefoot! That's how bored we were back then. Cemeteries do tend to be nice and quiet; pleased you still have your sense of humour!

LR @ Magnificent or Egregious said...

It's a shame I don't walk more in my city, but we live in the 'burbs and everything is so spread out, it really is a vehicle society here (or should I say a truck society -- sometimes I feel like we are the only ones who drive a car!) But I do like to walk around whilst on vacations -- I get the most exercise while in NYC and other cities we visit, also we like to go for walks when we go to the cottage in the summer. I agree, walking around the neighborhoods are the best way to find new shops, restaurants, etc.

Terri said...

You know, in my little town it is actually possible to live a pedestrian life and at least one of our tenants is carless. KC is a different story. I often notice pedestrians (and bicyclists) and do not envy them the traffic. I imagine that there are parts of town (the Plaza for one) where a person could live as a pedestrian. Basically, though, you're right: the US is not favorable to most pedestrians.

Shelley said...

LR, Technically, we live in what could be called a suburb, but the population density here is such that there are loads of shops and restaurants within walking distance, not like the suburbs where I grew up in OKC. There you needed a car (and pick up trucks were v. common!). Here it's the SUVs taking over - and the roads really aren't wide enough! We walk even more on holiday as well, which is good as I find it difficult to keep up with my running when we're away.

Terri, It is the smaller historic towns with sidewalks where I can imagine being a pedestrian or a cyclist. I'm terrified of cars when riding my bike, which makes me not a very good rider I'm afraid! Britain has attempted to emulate the US, unfortunately, rather than Europe in it's relationship with cars and cycles, a decision which is having some backlash now with the price of petrol at £1.38 per litre and the road congestion. Bikes are an obvious solution, but a tough decision for politicians to make, apparently.