I’ve been away from this poor blog for months, now. In May, life got crazy, and then the crazy never really let up. Perhaps it will now that school has started.
But I had to drop in and tell you all about our amazing trip to England. We were there from August 9th through the 25th, and it was every bit as terrific an adventure as last year’s vacation in France. As soon as Patrick gets all the photos uploaded, I’ll give you the detailed travelogue, but until then, I’m posting a few lists of tidbits to tide you over. Here’s today’s:
10 Reasons I’d Move to England in a Heartbeat
10) Shake the Midnight Drifting
Ahh, Persephone Books! Located in swanky Bloomsbury near the British Museum, Persephone publishes forgotten novels that deserve a second life, mostly by early 20th-century women. I’ve ordered from them online, but visiting the tiny but lovely shop, filled with their gorgeous dove-gray volumes, is a treat I’d love to enjoy more often.
9) Food, Glorious Food
Mmm, Marks & Spencer’s Extremely Chocolatey Caramels! Smooth chocolate lavishly coats each delectable knob of the creamiest toffee. To be savored slowly; one or two will do nicely.
8) Morning Glory
Sainsbury’s 4% Thick & Creamy Yogurts The flavors: Strawberry; Peach & Nectarine; Pineapple; Raspberry; Rhubarb; Plum; Pear; and Apple & Blackberry. Scrumptious, every single one. Can I just say that we ate a lot of terrific food? It’s a myth, that cliché about bad British food.
7) Flower Power
Whether it’s the hanging pots of exuberant petunias at every corner pub, the purple buddleia that spring up wildly along every train track, or the voluptuously scented roses at Hampton Court Palace—flowers in England delight at every turn. David Austin, how I love thee.
6) Riding the Rails
We decided not to rent a car this trip and instead relied on Britain’s excellent railway system. What a revelation: we sat together, relaxed and able to move about, with ready access to snacks and loos. The gorgeous English countryside whizzed by. Anne could amble and change laps to her heart’s content.
The trains were quiet, fast, and comfortable, even in Standard Class (Daniel was jonesing to take a trip in First, but it was not to be). We got to Liverpool in two hours, when the drive would have taken almost four. Why don’t we do this in America?
5) Cleave the Rock
Waterstone’s: now this is a bookstore, and fabulous despite being a large chain bookstore, at that. Is it just me? Because Barnes & Noble inevitably disappoints me. It boggles my mind that they could boast that many books on the shelves, yet not have what I really want on hand.
Waterstone’s is different: knowledgeable staff, well-chosen inventory, and great special offers make this a place in which I could happily linger (and spend) for hours.
4) Bug Free
At our gorgeous house in Twickenham (thank you, HomeLink), we had the windows open every day to catch the lovely breezes that blew constantly. We saw nary a fly nor a mosquito in two and a half weeks despite a complete absence of window screening. Never has a lack been so delightful.
3) Back in Plaque
I love walking down the street and seeing the blue plaques that mark where notable people have lived and worked. You might pass the spot where Mozart composed his first symphony or where Charles Wesley experienced his spiritual awakening. The carefully memorialized history on the elegant cobalt badges makes me shiver every time.
2) There is Beauty All Around
I can’t get enough of the Dutch masters and the Hans Holbeins at the National Gallery, and the Pre-Raphaelites at the Tate make me cry every time. Moment’s-notice proximity to my favorite art would be heaven on earth. Speaking of proximity to beauty, our pilgrimage to Down Ampney, birthplace of my favorite composer in all the world (Ralph Vaughan Williams), was a highlight of our trip.
Patrick and I both have loads of English ancestry. We got tastes of our personal heritage here and there this vacation, but how I covet the luxury of leisurely jaunts to places like Hillmorton and Maidstone and Kilmersdon in order to see where our forbears lived and died. I feel it every time I’m in England, that sense of deeply personal history. I’d love to mine it to its fullest.
I’ve been to England six times now, which I realize qualifies me as inordinately spoiled. And I love where we live now.
Yet I’d go back tomorrow, to stay, indefinitely.