Three Months in Swindon: A Chinese Adventure in the UK

So I’m chatting to my friend Zhen Lei Wei aka Eric, when he mentions that he’s been over to the UK.
“Oh really,” I reply with interest “Where did you stay?”
“In Swindon. It was very beautiful there.”

I have to admit that whenever I chat to Eric he has a habit of instantly putting a smile on my face usually leading to uncontrolled laughter and today is no exception. He’s such a good bloke!

Swindon Bus StationWithout downing Swindon too much it’s hardly comparable to the sweeping countryside of Salisbury Plain or the Cotswold stone architecture of Bath Spa. Indeed Swindon is known mainly both for its complex and confusing traffic system (often referred to as ‘the Magic Roundabout’) and also being one of the blandest places in the country. In a survey in the Daily Telegraph it was voted as the number one worst place to live saying that “in the entire universe, nowhere is more inimical to life than Swindon Bus Station”.

“So how long did you stay there for?”
“Oh three months” grins Eric.
“Three months?” I laugh in disbelief.
“Yes but we did change our hotel. First we lived in the Holiday Inn but we wanted to see as much as Swindon as possible so we stayed in hotels in the north, west and finally one in the east of the city.”
At this point I’m already awash with a feel-good factor as if I’m listening to a world class comedian who’s in the zone.

Tx to

“So why did you live in Swindon of all places?”
“Oh my company was doing business there and it was a long job. We had to hire a car which was very frightening.”
“For sure. I know driving in another country is always a nerve-wracking experience.”
“Yes and also I’d only recently passed my driving test in China. I had ten hours driving experience in total. For a week before we hired the car, my colleague and I would stand outside and make notes in a book on how to drive in England. On my first day people got angry because I was driving less than thirty miles an hour. They were honking their horns and flashing their lights. When we came home from work we didn’t realise what the time was and it was dark. I had never driven in the dark before and I was very scared. I was worried about the situation but then I had a good idea at that time. I pressed the warning light button and people went past us and I continued.”

“So what did you eat while you were there?”
“We had pizza!”
“What else did you have though?”
“Oh we had pizza most days. I think four or five times a week. It was at a Pizza Hut because there was always one nearby.”
“Did you eat chips?”
“Fish and chips? Yes, it was very delicious.”

“Ok and what did you do for entertainment in the evenings and weekends?”
“Well at last I found the free parking and went to the railway museum. We went shopping and I also found several libraries. I went there often. Maybe to every library in Swindon,” says Eric with pride.

“You know after a month my colleague got very homesick. He telephoned the boss in China and said he was ill and should come home immediately. The boss didn’t believe him and asked him what the matter was. He said he felt dizzy. Finally the boss sent another colleague to Swindon as an emergency. He wanted to see the football so we went to see a match.”
“That’s great. Who were Swindon playing?”
“Oh we went to see Man…Man…” Eric struggled
“Manchester?” I prompted in surprise.
“Yes that’s right. We got up very early at five o’clock in the morning and I drove from Swindon to Manchester.”
“That’s amazing. Did you have tickets? Who were they playing?”
“Oh there are two Manchester teams and they were playing together. We already had tickets but when we got there we discovered that the match was in the evening. This was very inconvenient so we decided to drive to Liverpool and watch the match there instead.”
Now howling with laughter I seek to confirm the madness that Eric’s just told me. “So you had tickets to see the Manchester derby right? Manchester United versus Manchester City right? And you left one of the biggest games in the football calendar because the match time was inconvenient?”
“Yes and we couldn’t find Liverpool. We were lost. We drove around for a long time and took the wrong road. Finally we gave up to go to the Liverpool stadium and returned to Swindon. We were very tired because it was eleven o’clock and I had been driving for eighteen hours.

When we got back we had pizza!”


43 replies

  1. This is hilarious. I remember the Oasis swimming pool in Swindon from occasional childhood visits, but that’s about it! I cannot imagine spending three months there… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s all about exploring, and that intersection diagram looks terrifying to me. I come from one of the biggest cities in North America and traffic circles are exceedingly rare, inspiring sweaty palms and heart palpatations in all but the most intrepid drivers from this part of the world.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Absolutely > Any country any place is a full on new experience whenever/wherever. I loved the way he changed hotels. Traffic circles are worse when the light is dimming and some people still havent turned on their lights (one of my many prangs)

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yeeey Thanks FND > Thanks for all of your RTs on Twitter btw. Well cool. I’m still laughing now. I dont know how Eric manages to be so funny. Ha ha. Hope you are well and glad to be back blogging again

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hiya Dymoon > Really kind of you to say mate. Yes its been a while and it’s good to get back into the world of blog. Strange I havent been over to Japan. I guess I should. Maybe it’s because China’s so big. Have an excellent Sunday

      Liked by 1 person

  3. missed you. heading to Japan on the 26th of this month..I hope to have time to take pictures, however, what I’ve enjoyed is reading your ESL cuz I work with the Japanese ministers that come to Canada with their English.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never been to Swindon, now I don’t have to; your post and your friend’s illuminating commentary has told me all I need to know 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. haha I laughed at the last part of the interview when he ditched the Manchester Derby and went to Liverpool and got lost. That diagram of 6 roundabouts and 38arrows looks horrible for me, one aroundabout is already enough, 6? Come on! How people can drive like that. Just saying. Have a nice day and keep up the laughable writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I did find this post interesting. When young, I worked four and half months on the Canary Island (Spain), I enjoyed at the beginning that sun shined every single day. After couple of months I started to long for winter. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. its friends like these that make life so colourful and sweet…..i have a daughter just like this and without her life would not be so hilarious and complete! thanks for the story Andy and i love that you took the time to ask him in detail about his amazing time in Swindon!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Totally agree that friends like Eric make life seem sweeter than the day before when we were all hung up with trying to impress the people who cared even less. Really enjoy your posts Andy….life with you is never dull at all.

        Liked by 1 person

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