I never wrote about the third leg of our trip to England and now seems as good a time as any. I was thinking about Wales yesterday and how I wish I could just sort of magically click my heels and end up back at Sygun Fawr whenever I felt like it. I know Wales isn’t for everyone but it really hit all the right notes with us. Since I was thinking about the UK, I figured I would go ahead and talk about the last bit of our trip finally.
I should probably start back about 13 years though. I first traveled to England right after high school. It was a week after my eighteenth birthday and I was ready to experience something. I went to stay with Louisa for ten days. Our other friend from Germany, Bianca, came at the same time. We stayed in Louisa’s home in Faversham. We went to Canterbury often, and London for a day. We went to Leeds to see the castle. We hung out in Faversham and had curry and circled through the small pubs with Louisa’s high school friends. We took the train to a house party on the coast one night. It was the first time I had ever experienced what might be called immersive traveling. I loved every minute of it all. The best thing for me though, was Louisa’s house. It was built in the 13th century. It would bring to mind the nursery rhyme, “There was a crooked man.” This is not an insult. I bet your house couldn’t survive several hundred years at all. This house has just settled pleasantly. The doorways are short, and the staircase up the tiny attic is windy and small. There is even a passageway that pretty much counts as secret. Not only that, but Louisa’s mom would put real hot water bottles in our beds every night. When we rolled home in the wee hours of the morning, the bed would be toasty. This might sound strange for July, but the walls in old houses are pleasantly thick and insulated. She would also greet us every morning (midday) when we got out of bed with tea or hot chocolate. This whole thing left me with a deep and abiding love of all things English.
So it should be noted that Sergio and I got to stay in the same house on this trip. And I still love it. There have been some changes over the years, but small ones. We were not alone staying there this time. In fact, it was a ring around the rosy type of thing with different people staying different nights. Sergio and I both agree that staying with Louisa’s mom (mum) was a real highlight of the trip. She is just a delightful person. I doubt I will have any other reasons in the future to ever stay with her in her home again, and I regret that.
Anyway! When we arrived in Faversham, I have to admit that I was surprised at how normal it seemed. I remember thinking it was so different looking the first time I went. I could see this time that it resembles suburbs much more than other parts of England. Don’t get me wrong, it is still extremely quaint and pretty. We went straight to the reception venue and helped decorate for a bit with some of Louisa’s friends. One of whom I knew from 13 years before. We later got cleaned up and went to have a rehearsal dinner type of thing at a curry house. This is where I saw the McClean’s. This was Louisa’s host family from Memphis. I have really fond memories of them, which is rare for my time in Memphis. For the most part, I don’t remember much about living there at all. Little Kyle, that I babysat, turned 21 the day after the wedding. I was also delighted with Lana, who I knew at 11, but was now 24. It was neat to experience that blast from the past. I have not seen another person from Memphis since I was 19. Well…Louisa, but that hardly counts.
The curry was fabulous, and the friend of Cam’s that we sat with was entertaining. He was also an attorney and guided us through our lamb experience. It turns out that lamb is an amazing meat and we should be eating it more and in a better way. Most of the lamb I have had in the US tastes gamey and goat like. Not the case in England. Also, I am really missing good Indian food as I type this. Sigh. If only I could click my heels for that as well.
On the day of the wedding we had breakfast with the wedding party and got ready. We rode a double decker wedding bus to the little chapel in the country. The chapel is straight out of every BBC show you’ve ever seen. They were married by a Vicar. People came and rang the bells for two hours. We sang “All you need is love” at them. It was a lovely wedding. Afterward we all walked a wooded path and down a country lane to a manor house. It was straight out of a movie adaptation of a Jane Austen novel. The manor home had been modified into cottages and apartments, but not like you might be thinking. Still very over the top. The gardens were groomed and large. We had champagne and nibbles. Then we saw the bride and groom off in a VW van and took the bus to the reception hall.
British people eat differently than we do when it comes to buffets. I watched the Americans and Australians kind of panic when the buffet ran out. Nobody knew whether to get seconds. It turned out that this was just one course. There were three more. The cheese course came out after the dessert and tea had been served. After! How novel. So much food, in the end.
Afterward there was much drinking and dancing. If you put primarily Brits and Ozzies in a room together with roughly two bottles of liquor each, the dancing will occur! To the point of nearly wrestling.
This is where I should mention that I have exactly two settings in a party situation. Setting One: Asshole. Setting two: Jackass. There is no setting in between. Either I don’t drink and acquire liquid courage to join in the festivities or I do. If I don’t, I sit quietly by and enjoy the show. This inactivity concerns others. Especially nice drunk Brits and Ozzies. If I do drink, I become WAY too drunk too quickly and become what I consider a bit of jackass. So I don’t. Long story short, I probably came off as a bit of a boring ass at the reception as I did not do my part to take out my share of the alcohol. But I swear I was totally fine! It was just hard to convince others that I was cool to just sit and hang out. Turns out parties just aren’t my thing. Still.
The next day we had a barbecue in the garden at Louisa’s house. People who had to still be drunk or terribly hungover just dove right into the Pimm’s and cider. Even Sergio couldn’t partake. I think Americans are still a bit behind when it comes to drinking tolerance. In all honesty, Sergio and I felt sort of in the way most of the day. We were ready to be home by then. Probably should have taken a flight out that day instead of the next, but the barbecue was nice. I got to spend a bit more time with Louisa. The highlight of that day was actually late in the evening when we went to the pub across the street with a few people from the wedding. It was a lot of fun just talking about all of their jobs traveling around the world. A guy named Monty did a very good job convincing us we should just give up our jobs and teach abroad. He made it sound so easy and amazing. So we’ll see!
I will say that we were thrilled to get home. I loved traveling. I always love traveling with Sergio. I think we are at our best as a couple then. I want to make it a priority in our lives to travel as much as we can, and show our daughter as much of the world as we can. But that doesn’t discount how nice it is to come home!