Subject: Forever England
Hi Ziners

The BBC News webpage today has a short piece on the new edition of the 'Rough Guide to England' which might provoke a few reactions amongst Ziners, as many of us still include England in our itineraries despite the high prices and often terrible weather that are often part of a visit.

The Rough Guide apparently suggests that England is a nation of "overweight, alcopop(sic)-swilling, sex-and-celebrity obsessed televison addicts". The Rough Guide has also incurred the wrath of the English tourist body Enjoy England, which took particular exception to the suggestion that, especially in London, talking to strangers could be seen as "tantamount to assault". There is also a warning that English public transport is overpriced and under- funded.

On the other hand the Rough Guide also has plenty of favourable things to say about the country and its people, particularly their individuality and creativity. It also asserts that the natural beauty of some of England's beaches is on a par with those of the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

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Tell us about your reactions. Why do you go to England when there are so many cheaper, drier and warmer destinations? Do you just drop in to London to see the corgis and Westminster Abbey, tour the Cotswolds, spend a night in Stratford-on- Avon and try to see something scenic through the mists of the Lake District? Or have you been to some of the former industrial areas of the North and Midlands where, some might argue, the real people live? Do these places have anything in common with the more popular tourist destinations or are they just a blot on the tourist landscape?

Did you experience shock horror reactions from Londoners when you spoke to them? Are the English any more overweight and addicted to television than dozens of other nationalities? Can the Rough Guide be serious about the beauty of English beaches? Where is the individuality and creativity of lager louts and soccer hooligans?

For me some of the best things about England are the country pubs and their draught beer (yes its warm and flat but after 30+ years of drinking freezing cold gassy beer in Australia it makes a nice change). English food has also improved a good deal, although compared to many other countries I think English cooks still do a second-rate job.

What are your views?

Michael Sydney, Australia