Friday, August 6, 2010

English Signs

In my travels around England, I ran across some terrific signs. Some of the most striking belonged to pubs and eateries:

Walking in the Lake District, I found a wonderful variety of signs marking the paths:

I really hate graffiti. However, in Cambridge we ran across this very helpful bit of graffiti while searching for access to the River Cam. And it's written in chalk, so really, it's forgivable. It's almost like a sign:

I guess I can also forgive this type of graffiti, which I spotted on a column in King's College Chapel in Cambridge:

Wow! Graffiti that's almost 350 years old! Some of it even has serifs!:

English churches yielded some intriguing signs:

("Fell asleep" was a common Victorian euphemism for "died.")

Sometimes signs seemed to be bent on overkill:

While others showed admirable restraint. This one, atop an obelisk, marked where a village's open-air fish market used to be held:

These mark something, but I don't know what. I love their muteness:

And, of course, their blueness:

In the cities, there were some bummer signs:

And in the villages, some very appealing signs:

This sign, below, reads:
"Thou, who hast given me eyes to see/And love this sight so fair,
Give me a heart to find out Thee/And read Thee everywhere."

English folks love dogs. They welcome in their pubs and cafes, and even their book fairs:

But their signs ask that owners tidy up after their dogs:

Thoughtful signs show places outside shops for safely tying up the pooch:

The only time I saw signs that the British love for dogs can run out was when it came to protecting their carpets:

or waterfowl:

or sheep:

Sheep are a big deal in the Lake District, where they outnumber people about 70 to one. Farmers there have a nifty method for keeping tabs on their sheep, even when they get jumbled up on a hillside. Each farm uses a different pattern of spray paint to identify its flock. It's the placement of the paint, not the color, that tells you who owns a sheep:

So the spray-paint pattern acts like a cattle brand (only a lot less painful):

Sheep as signs!
"Farmer Friendly owns me!"
And every farm's paint pattern is recorded in this little book:

This is quite possibly my favorite sign of the entire trip. It is unique, it is funny/sad, and it is totally indicative of what life in the Lake District is all about:

Whoever wrote this may not have been a very good speller, but his/her heart was in the right place. And that's always a good sign.


  1. Phonetically, the spelling is perfect. Great photos, by the way. Brought back many memories. I'll send you one of my favorites from New Zealand.

  2. Loved the sign tour!




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