Friday April 19, 2019 / The Flight
I don’t fly often. Small spaces and crowds upset me. I had no idea what I was doing when I arrived at the Atlanta airport. Fortunately, I was meeting up with the most travel savvy gal there is- Barbie Ortiz. I probably circled the airport TGIFridays three times before I found her and Dusty. From there it was easy, just do what Barbie does. My claustrophobia kicked in pretty hard boarding our flight to Chicago, the seats were small, the aisle narrow. At this point there was nothing to do but suck it up. If I was going to England, I was going to have to pull myself together and sit through this flight. So I did. The Chicago airport was nuts. I felt like the McCallisters in Home Alone running to make their flight. It was while we were in line to board that we realized our seating preferences were not honored. Barbie and Dusty were together on the main level. I was in the upper level. I panicked. Within three minutes Barbie had found someone who needed to swap levels and got me just three rows in front of her and Dusty. Within five minutes on board she had me seated in their row. She’s magic. Y’all. Airbuses are awesome. This thing was huge. No claustrophobia. I got settled, I popped my Valerian Root and was ready to sleep the entire 8 hour flight. That didn’t happen. But I got in some good movies and it seemed like every hour the attendants were bringing me snacks or meals or drinks. We arrived safely in England around 11 o’clock Saturday morning with all our luggage accounted for. Thank you, Lord!
I was too exhausted to cry when I saw Sarah, but I was so so happy. Next to Klare Fox, Sarah is the most hospitable person I know. She had water, Goldfish crackers, and bananas waiting for us in the car. The drive to her home in Bury St Edmunds was long but beautiful. We were greeted by surprisingly blue skies, green pastures with brown and white ponies, and endless fields of yellow rapeseed. The afternoon was a blur. That evening I had my first English pub experience. It was darling. I obviously ordered the fish n chips..with mushy peas.. and my first (of many) Gin Spritz. The pub was cozy, with couches and wingback chairs around the tables. It was carpeted, but not in a gross way. The lighting was dim in a way that made everyone look posh and mysterious.
Sunday April 21, 2019 / Dover Castle + The White Cliffs
In the planning stages of our trip Sarah asked us what is the ONE thing we would be sad about if we didn’t experience it. My one thing was seeing the White Cliffs of Dover. I don’t know why I was so attached to the idea of seeing them, but I’m so glad to have experienced it.
Monday April 22, 2019 / Lavenham + Bury
Lavenham is the most precious village in life ever. It is about 20 minutes from Sarah’s house.. 20 minutes of rapeseed fields.. bright yellow as far as you can see. Sarah took us to the most charming tea room . I had a bagel with salmon and cream cheese and a pot of earl grey tea. Barbie and Dusty ordered a traditional afternoon tea. It was exquisite! After seeing Barbie and Dusty’s scones, Sarah and I had to order some for ourselves! Have y’all ever had clotted cream?? Let me tell you, it is heaven. After lunch, we wandered winding streets with crooked houses. On the drive back home we stopped for a road-side photoshoot. Later that evening we explored Sarah’s village- Bury St. Edmunds. I feel like I keep circling back to “charming” and “darling” to describe everything but it just really was the cutest! The cobbled streets, the old buildings, the dogs.. my heart was soaring. I fell in love with Abbey Gardens, especially the cemetery. I love a good, old cemetery. So much history! It was a perfect day.
Tuesday April 23, 2019 / Cambridge
Cambridge was a fun surprise. I didn’t have a frame of reference for what it would be like. Home to Cambridge University, this super old, super beautiful town was a delight. My favorite shop was ARK. They had the coolest prizes. The highlight of the day was our punting tour. I would imagine it’s similar to taking a gondola ride. The punter (is that a thing?) used a long pole to scoot us down the canal while telling us the history of the universities (4 of them!) and interesting facts about the different bridges we passed. Our tour guide was hilarious and super knowledgeable. We finished the trip with gelato at Jack’s Gelato. I had the honeycomb. Delish!
Wednesday + Thursday April 24-25, 2019 / L O N D O N
You guys. London was for real at the bottom of my “must see” list.. I know that sounds crazy, but I just don’t love big cities. I didn’t NOT want to go, but if we weren’t able to explore I wouldn’t have been upset. In hindsight, I am SO glad we got to spend two days there. It was incredible! We drove about 45 minutes to the tube station and had about another 45 minute tube ride into London. I once again had to pull myself together and ignore my crippling claustrophobia for the tube. It was hot. It was tiny. It got REAL crowded. But here I sit, still alive. I’m so impressed with how well Sarah navigated us around the city. She’s come a long way from the lake yard in DeFuniak. Sarah was insistent that we get tickets for the hop on/hop off bus tour. I didn’t think it sounded that great, but man it ended up being my favorite thing! It was so nice to just sit and be able to look around at everything and not worry about bumping into people on the sidewalk, or getting ran over, or going the wrong way. And we got to see SO much more of the city. Our airbnb was UHMAZING. It was so spacious and clean and right in the middle of SoHo. We were able to walk to dinner (Old Compton Brasserie) and the bars (Bar SoHo) and everything felt safe and happy and easy to get to. One of the few things I miss about living in Destin is the night life. Specifically having somewhere to go dancing. It made my heart happy to cut a rug with my friends in a foreign land. We hit the ground running on day two. Breakfast at Foyles Bookshop was a dream. Five stories of snacks and books and stationery and gifties…swoon. It was a real treat. We bopped along the shops and made our way over to Carnaby Street . Walking through Liberty was an overwhelming dream come true. We got back on the bus to take in some sights on our way to The Tower of London. We ran into some protestors …something about being mad about straws.. I don’t know.. but they were sitting in the street in the middle of a major thoroughfare and had buses backed up down the street as far as you could see. It was annoying. Riding on the bus crossing over Tower Bridge was pretty magical. The Tower of London was another fun surprise. I thought it would be lame and touristy, it was not. The skyline view was breath taking. I almost lost my mind while waiting for the tube to leave town. It was beyond crowded, and hot, and nerve-racking. I had visions of Zoe Barnes dancing in my head. After waiting impatiently for maybe 30 or 45 minutes (due to severe delays) Dusty suggested we just take a taxi back to the car. Hallelujah.
Friday April 26, 2019 / Bury St Edmunds
Saturday April 27, 2019 / The Flight Home
Y’all. Our flight leaving England was a DELIGHT! The plane was half empty, so we all got to stretch out. I wasn’t terribly tired (even thought I definitely should have been) so I settled in for a movie marathon and the nine hour flight was over before I knew it!
God’s hand was all over this trip. I can’t wrap my head around how perfect it was. Not even like..”well the good out weighed the bad”– it was exceptional from start to finish. I was in my head about everything that could have gone wrong. But it was perfect. My heart is still dancing over the whole experience. I think Dusty said it best..