We take it for granted that we can get online. But traveling about Britain recently it’s been, well, tricky. Fine at home, DSL line. No problem. Bought a Vodafone wireless dongle so I could get online anywhere over the mobile phone network. Seemed the obvious solution. But.
At Mum’s retirement community in suburban Surrey, on the southern edge of London, the connection is so slow that websites won’t even load and it’s impossible to know if email has gone off or not. This is an area packed full of heavy mobile phone users. Ten miles away, at the RHS Wisley Garden – nothing: no signal at all. Nothing. At the nearby railway station – we’re back to half a bar.
So, I stop at the service station on the motorway. Free wireless internet! Except that after ten minutes they bump you off the website site you’re browsing – or, in my case, the blog post I’m half way through writing – to make you log on again. Bye bye blog post. At the RHS London Flower show the other day, from where I was expecting to post about all the sparkling primroses and snowdrops and hellebores - the Vodafone dongle connection is so slow that it’s completely impossible. Ah - but the Horticultural Halls have wireless internet access – it’s £5/$7.60 for one hour! Not a day, an hour. I’m not paying that. The rather resigned man on reception says he’s had lots of complaints. OK, the RHS is hard up – but why price it so that no one in their right mind would ever buy an hour of access.
Vodafone is hoping for an exclusive on the iPad in Britain. My nephew in New York didn’t buy an iPhone because the AT&T service in the city is so terrible. Here’s the thing. If the government nationalized the tower network, or handed it all over to one company, and let all the phone companies use all the towers – then everyone would have access to the best possible connections. The mobile phone companies could then compete on other aspects of their service. And I could post pictures of the hellebores and primroses at the show – from the show. Instead of from back here in Pennsylvania.
Oh, yes - the plants! One of the splendid new British bred Belarina Series of double primroses, 'Belarina Cream', developed by David Kerley who also created the Tumbelina double petunias. And the 'Briar Rose' hellebore, an unlikely cross between H. niger and H. vesicarius, was created by Kevin Belcher at Ashwood Nurseries.