The footpaths - or what the British call the pavements - in Australia are usually made of slabs of concrete, set into large squares, or not even squares, but long grey slabs. Sometimes they're made of a seamless stream of springy black tarmac. There are very few dividing cracks.
But in London and Dublin, the pavements are made of small stones. And then there are cobblestones, which are more common than you might expect.
From the point of view of a seven year old Australian boy, there are a lot of cracks. And every walk becomes a dance of avoidance. Cobblestones require tiptoes and take a long time to traverse.
I wonder if seven year old Londoners do this? I haven't seen anyone else dancing down the streets. Maybe the 'not stepping on the cracks' phase is out of their system by a much younger age.
We went to the seaside just south of Dublin. It was a grey morning, the beach was largely pebbles though with some sand at the shoreline, the water was so cold that even Olle only went in up to his knees. A large party of Irish children, aged around 10-12, were on the beach, some in costumes, the rest in skimpy summer clothing. Only about four of them went into the water. The others were very busy with buckets and spades, making sandcastles and other sand structures. This is not something you'd see 11 year old Australian children do. I've been to two end-of-year beach picnics with Olle's school and seen how it pans out. Buckets and spades are for little children. Older ones would be in body surfing or larking about with friends.
Part of me thinks 'oh those poor kids, this is all they know of the beach'. (And if my grandmother and great grandparents and great great grandparents had not left Ireland, this could have been my life.) The other part of me notices how rarity imbues any acitivity with excitement for children. For adults too.