Branded beauty: Rough charms, gentle charms

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Text: Žikica Milošević

Someone once said that Brits are fascinatingly good at successfully turning everything into mainstream pop culture, while still preserving high taste, and that was the reason why the UK (and other Anglo-Saxon countries) became the world’s leaders of pop culture, despite being very traditionalist.

Brits actually invented tourism. Namely, they were the first to go somewhere just to see it: Swiss mountains, Italian culture and islands, French castles. When the railways arrived, trains were immediately packed with people wanting to see what the world looks like, and, of course, what Britain looks like. The working class was suddenly aware of the benefits of sea air, so rail lines were laid from major industrial cities to Bristol, Southend, Blackpool etc. Of course, somehow brilliantly awkward, the Brits managed to marry all that with drinking tea, eating fish and chips, going to cloudy resorts on the Irish Sea like Blackpool, pubs and a strong working class attitude. Not our kind of seaside holiday, we would say, but neither is it British anymore, as they opt to go elsewhere nowadays. The facts show that the UK has a longstanding history of travelling to coastal resorts, like Blackpool in Lancashire and Swansea in Wales, with many families using a type of accommodation called holiday camps. This tradition has now faded significantly, due to competition from overseas package holiday operators, rising operational costs, and rapidly shifting demand that forced the closures of many traditional holiday camps in the 1980s and ‘90s. That’s too bad, but there are still hotels and hostels there. And these are British holidays in the old fashioned manner, which should be sampled.

This year we saw the return of Trainspotting, with the release of T2, which returned us to Scotland and the streets of Edinburgh, with its castles and clouds. And speaking of films, Brits have always been adept at transforming their nature and architecture into something so pretty, to the point at which it becomes an object of desire. Everyone can picture the countless images of the English countryside and castles, where Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy conduct unpleasant conversations, and nobody is to blame but us for the fact that we didn’t brand our beauties like the Brits. Simply, they know how to present themselves as a desirable destination. London is the hub of the world, and Manchester is one of the world’s music capitals, along with Seattle. It might be the rain that makes the Brits creative, as they cannot simply hang around in the streets like the Mediterranean folks do.

Wales, with its old traditions, ancient language and stubborn people, the Midlands with its castles, destroyed monasteries and vibrant music and nightlife, northern Scotland, with spectacular landscapes from the film Highlander, Liverpool, with the breath of The Beatles all around. Cultural tourism is omnipresent in the UK. You cannot go to Wales without a thought of Eisteddfod (Wales), or Scotland with its Highland Games, bagpipes and men dressed in kilts. Northern Ireland, aka Ulster, can also offer a lot, from UNESCO heritage sites to contemporary art and street life. From castles to meadows, city centres to hills and cottages, the UK is a tourist superpower, with images carved into our minds by books and films.

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