Although I was born in England, I haven’t had the opportunity to go back and visit as much as I’d like. I moved to America when I was five years old, along with my parents and four siblings. My family is extremely British – the moment you walk in the front door, they’ll offer you a cup of tea and something sweet. So while raised with British mannerisms and an insatiable sweet tooth for Cadbury’s chocolate (god it’s good), I feel oddly split between two countries, both of which I consider home.
After graduating from college, I had a significant chunk of “down time” (a.k.a. I was unemployed). Most of it was spent on my couch, moping about, submitting resumes and cursing employers who had no interest in my environmental studies and conservation biology degree. But it did give me one blessing: the opportunity to travel. There was only one place on my mind — England — and luckily, my ever-so-wonderful boyfriend was completely on board.
Staying with relatives, we saved a few quid and somehow managed to visit what felt like a million and one places in the span of 10 days.
Lewisham – London – Windsor – Amesbury – Lacock – Bath – Melksham – Liverpool – Cumbria – Tunbridge Wells – Hassocks
… I know. I’m exhausted just typing that list.
But somehow we managed it all and it was, in a word, perfect. I saw family, had some busy days, had some low-key “let’s just wander around” days, and reveled in full monty English breakfasts and summer rain.
Now, if there’s anything you should know about me, it’s that I’m a sucker for a tiny English cottage. I have watched every episode of the TV show “Escape to the Country” and SWEET JESUS. If I won the lottery tomorrow, that’s what I’d buy. Unfortunately, I haven’t won the loto. But I felt like I’d hit the jackpot wandering through the English countryside. As we were driving through Lacock on the coach, I kept gasping and making ecstatic faces at Zack (my boyfriend). The gentleman behind us congratulated Zack and I on our engagement (no, we’re not engaged). But according to him, there was no other way he could justify me being that happy. Fair enough, but obviously that man doesn’t understand my feelings towards cottages.
For the second half of our trip, we rented a car to drive up to the Lake District. Zack and I only drive automatic, and, as luck would have it, the only automatic car available was a Mercedes E-class. BOO YA. We drove through Cumbria and stayed in a little cottage in the middle of nowhere. Nothing but hills and sheep – my kind of place. Hikes galore. And we’d often have to play “shepherd” and guide sheep back to their pastures and away from the road.
But aside from the real estate, food, and rampant farm animals, I think there’s something special about Britain that I desperately miss in America. I can’t put my finger on it exactly – but I have a hunch it has something to do with family and heritage and what I never truly had the chance to know.
Saying goodbye to England was extraordinarily tough. But with a suitcase filled with sweets and a camera filled with pictures, Zack and I hopped back on the plane and traveled stateside.
The trip ultimately cemented in my brain that I need to move back to the U.K. Who knows when. Who knows for how long. Who knows where exactly. All I know is that I’m going to live in a tiny cottage.