England, Sweet England

Dating an Englishman, I’m learning, has several advantages:

  • When we go out to eat, we get top-notch service, the best of the best — mainly if we have a waitress.  Our water glasses won’t even get below an inch with females refilling them a bajillion times more simply on the off chance that Andy may say, “Fank u f d worta.”
  • We get the best service at clothing stores, too.  Females that work there are eager to talk to him to hear his accent and males are eager to help because . . . well I don’t know.  But just by being near him I also get amazing service.  I’ve never felt so pampered in all my life.
  • Everyone is so friendly, so so friendly!  I don’t think I’ve come by one cross person ever when we go out.  Everyone smiles, talks to him.  I guess by default they include me to keep him happy, but still — I won’t focus on that.  I’ll focus on how everyone’s so sweet.
  • The English seem to have a more brash way of ending service which means that anxious feeling of please-remove-this-salesperson-from-me absolutely disappears when you have an Englishman by your side.  We were in REI once and a cute brunette came over to help him with a jacket.  Once she heard his accent, she wanted to help him with any and everything the store sold — If his eyes darted to a shirt, she ran to snatched it up.  If his gaze paused on a sweater, she wanted to know his size.  “Fanks.  Du’t need anymoor ‘elp” and with a sort of flourish of his hand, the girl disappeared.  “Holy crap!” I said gawking at him with an open-mouthed expression.  “Wot?!” he asked alarmed.  “You have the power to make salespeople disappear?!”  “O no . . . ”  He froze, holding a jacket to his chest.  “You just dismissed that person —  dismissed as in, ‘I’m done with you, leave’ and they listened!!!” I inhaled in awe, wanting to acquire about his magical ways.  “O reela?!  U mek me sound like a rite dick.  Should I apologize?”
  • Another advantage: People open up about odd desires and tell interesting stories.  For example, standing in line at a gas station, one woman touched Andy’s shoulder, left her hand there, and leaned in close to his ear to whisper, “An English accent is one of the top three sexiest accents.”  Another woman — who married an Englishman — informed me I should watch Andy closely because “I’ve had females reach right across from me to flirt with my husband!”  She then proceeded to tell me — in great detail — what more she said to the other woman while I imagined her poor bloke being confused as to why a seemingly nice lass wasn’t allowed to chat with him.  Another story: A woman refused to give Andy his change for gasoline until he said the word ‘thirty.’  This, too, wasn’t his first request at pronouncing this number.  “Fer-eh,” Andy told her, sometimes quick and unamused, other times with a smile, depending on his mood.  Rest assured though, a smile invites in more pronunciations.
  • Yet another advantage: Because he lives in England, he took me to England!  This trip meant the world to me.  Since I was in elementary school, seeing England has been my number one travel goal.  Looking back though, I’m glad I never went before now, because being able to go with Andy, made it immensely special.  Seeing him where he felt most comfortable, seeing where he grew up, meeting his family and friends — That was what made the trip meaningful . . .

Over Thanksgiving break, we made a last minute decision to spend our time in the UK.  We got an afternoon flight to Atlanta then Atlanta to England.
img_5265Things started off really well, too.  We were able to grab a drink at an airport restaurant and relax before our flight.
Yep, things were flowing nicely — We went through airport security fine, boarded the plane fine, even got a compliment from the stewardess . . . at least I, uh, think it was a compliment when she said, “Awww, look at you two!  Are you on your honeymoon?  You’re wearing matching flannel shirts!”  Not planned, by the way; we are just that cool.  Anyway, we smiled and settled into our seat, ready for the eight and a half hour flight to England.  Let me say here before starting, the longest flight I’ve ever gone on was to Florida in high school which was one, a long time ago and two, an estimated four hours.  That’s less than half this massively long flight we were about to undertake.  So.  Let me just put that out there and that I have apologized numerous times for my behavior because I was just a smidge bit of a bad flying partner.  Just a smidge.

Alright, so we take off, we are flying in the air, and I was excited, overjoyed really.
IMG_0435.JPGThis was our first flight together, our first travel-trip!  I was looking forward to having hour after hour beside Andy, and in my mind, we would talk and laugh and get to know one another even more.  I pictured the hours flying by and us even desiring a longer flight because we had such a grand time.  However, Andy had a different plan in mind.  He sat down and, once we were in the air, immediately put on headphones to watch a movie.  “What are you doing?” I asked, confused.  Did he not want to talk to me?  Did he not want to see me?  “Wot?” he looked just as confused and moved his headphones to hear me.  I repeated the question.  “I was . . . watching a movie,” he answered dumbfounded, pointing at the screen, wondering why I could not figure that out on my own.  “I knooow that,” I said, trying not to pout, “but whyyy?  Didn’t you want to talk?!  Don’t you want to see me?!  Weren’t we going to do things together?!”  I’m not going to lie — His mouth dropped open a bit as if I had performed a magic trick in front of him.   “L?  Do things? What were you hoping to do?”  He proved it was possible to look more confused than before.  “We are locked on a plane.  In the middle of the air.  About to go over the Atlantic Ocean.  What could you possibly want to do?”  I began to sulk.  “Don’t you want to talk?  To see me?”  He laughed, a very abrupt he-thinks-I’m-insane type of laugh.  “L.  I’ve seen you.  I know what you look like.  And trust me, we will have more than enough time to talk.”  Then, as if that was the end of that, he put back on his headphones and returned to watching his movie.

His tone made me uncomfortable — literally uncomfortable in my seat.  It was as if I suddenly realized I was trapped on a plane, flying over the the soon-to-be ocean, and for the life of me I could not get cozy.  I leaned, I stretched, I twisted.  I did everything but lie in the aisle or turn my body upside down with feet in the air and head near the floor.  “W-o-t are you d-o-i-n-g?!” Andy asked, probably because I accidentally kept smacking him with my blanket or pillow or, uh, elbow as I tried to finagle a way to get comfortable.  “No, no, you just watttch your mooovie, be happy, just waaatch your movie,” I said as I seemed to be having a seizure getting settled.  He turned and did as suggested, which both infuriated me more and made me more uncomfortable.  How the hell was he so snug?  I looked around at the other passengers.  No one was budging.  How the hell was everyone so snug?!  I felt all muscles spasm and began to freak out.  I needed to get off!  I needed to get off the plane!!!  “Why don’t you stand up?” Andy said when I began to breathe like I was going into labor.  “I CAN’T!” I may have been screaming.  “I NEED TO GET OFF THE PLANE!!!”  “L.  Wot?!  How do you suppose we do that?  Do you want to sky drive to the ground?  Huh?  How do you logically think we can do that?” and suddenly, it was movie time again.

In an effort to calm down, I decided maybe a movie was best . . . but I wanted to watch the movie with him.  “Hey,” I tapped on his shoulder and whispered into his headphone-covered ear.  He sort of snapped the headphones entirely off.  “Yes?”  “Hi!” I said and smiled.  He didn’t smile.  “I um, didn’t know if we could . . . watch a movie?”  “Yes!!!  That’s a GREAT idea!” He smiled now, relief resembled more a visible aura around him.  “Yes!!!  Let’s watch a movie.  Do you need help setting it up?” and he leaned over me to set up my screen.  “Um, well . . . I wanted to watch your movie . . . ”  “Oh, okay,” his confused expression was returning but disappeared quickly.  “No problem!  I am watching Finding Dory so all we have to do is . . . ” and his fingers moved rapidly over my screen to pull it up.  “No,” I stated then a bit more shyly.  “I wanted to watch your movie . . . like this . . . ” and I leaned, well actually more like full-on draped my body over his left side and peered into his movie screen.  He froze.  No one moved a muscle.  I peered up at him, head still on his shoulder, and smiled.  “See?  Isn’t this nice?!”  “You want to sit like that?” he didn’t smile back.  Again.  “Well, yes.  I want to watch your movie.  With you.  Together.  Like in a movie theater!  We haven’t ever seen a movie together, Andy!  This will be fun!”  He laughed then, probably because not only what I was saying was absurd but the way I looked was ridiculous; he appeared to being wearing me as a human scarf.  He pushed play and we watched the movie.

Ohhh did we watch the movie though.  About ten minutes of it . . . until I developed a crick in my neck and became (I didn’t think it was possible until that time) even more uncomfortable.  I huffed loudly and flung myself on my pull-out airline tray and faked sleep.  That lasted about ten minutes . . . until I looked up and sweet Andy had stopped his movie, put on an eye mask, and — I swear — had his mouth open, lightly snoring!!!  I became irate.  I pretended to get comfortable but I admit (I’m a horrible girlfriend) I really just wanted to wake him up.  How dare he fall fast asleep when I felt miserable!  We should both be miserable together!  We should both be talking about how long this flight was!  Hell, we should both be talking!  That was the plan after all!  My pillow may or may not have slapped him in the face.  “WOT ARE YOU DOING?!” he asked with wide mad-man eyes.  “Andy.  I’m just not comfortable,” I said before turning and trying to fall asleep on my other side only to hear him mummer, a little too loudly, “Someone duct taped to the wing of this plane would be more comfortable!”

So.  That was our flight.  For eight and a half hours.  A constant repetition of the above.  Andy ended up sleeping more . . . and watching two full movies . . . and being happy as a clam on board.  I, on the other hand, got absolutely no sleep, saw no movies, and was fit to be tied.  I will say this: We did talk, ohhh how we talked, and our conversation consisted of one topic: How to avoid me making him miserable on the flight home.  (Spoiler alert: Thankfully that was resolved.)

 

Day One: Sheffield

Eight and a half hours later, we arrive in Manchester at 7:00 a.m. and are picked up by his sweet parents.  I had met his mother when she stayed with Andy in the States for a few days but I had only talked online to his dad so I was extremely excited to meet him and spend time with both.  However, our first bits of conversation were a bit awkward as their first words were what many ask: “How was your flight?”  I think it was still too early for that question though because Andy just grunted and walked faster ahead.  No need to harbor ill-feelings or dwell on the past, my love!

Following Andrew, soon we were in their warm car.  It was a rainy and cold thirty-nine degrees so combined with the cozy feeling of the heat and hearing everyone’s calm voices, I fell fast asleep.  Andy woke me on and off to point out bits of England as we rode from Manchester Airport to Sheffield.  Sheffield is where Andy was born and raised, and I could not wait to see where he grew up but it was all too much and I could not stay awake.  Before I knew it, the hour and a half car ride was done and we were parked in his family’s driveway.  Once inside, we talked to his parents a bit more before exhaustion overcame us again and we decided on a nap.  Truthfully, I could have slept for days but I wanted to see Sheffield, talk to his family, and celebrate being there so we woke again and headed out!

Our evening consisted of the popping into quaint pubs, having a lovely dinner (or ‘tea’ as the English call it), then strolling through the heart of Sheffield where the city was bustling with excitement for Christmas.  Afterwards, it was back to bed and I cannot remember a time where I slept as good as I did that night.

 

Day Two: Birmingham

After a quick introduction to Sheffield, we were off driving a little over an hour away to Birmingham to see a friend of mine from college.  This was both strange and wonderful due to the fact that our first full outing — in Andy’s homeland of England — was to see a friend of mine in a country I’d never been to!  However, I was beyond excited to have the opportunity to catch up with her, meet her husband and beautiful daughter, and introduce her to Andy.  Caught up in the moment, I didn’t take pictures but we had an enjoyable time and I’m so thankful we had that opportunity to see her!

With the sun falling fast, Andy and I drove south another about forty-five minutes to Stratford-upon-Avon where we settled for the night.

 

Day Three: Stratford-upon-Avon and Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter

Once daylight warmed our hotel room, we had tea and breakfast then explored Shakespeare’s hometown.img_0009The town is gorgeous and I could have spent days there.  Seek and find more on our Stratford-upon-Avon trip!

Leaving Stratford, we moved on to Watford.  Here, a visit to Warner Brothers Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter!20161122_140936Andy and I are both proud Slytherin’s so he surprised me with an early Christmas gift here and it was beyond impressive.  This in no ways compares to the Universal Studios theme park because this tour provides an authentic look into the Harry Potter movies by providing a walk-through permanent exhibits used in the films.  Seek and find more on our Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter

(Oh and after, I may or may not have been ‘that American’ that had her very first “cheeky Nandos” . . . !)

 

Day Four: London

The best way I can describe London is using my new British vocabulary.  In one word: posh.  [Read More]
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Day Five: Derbyshire

We began our day at a carefree and slower-pace, traveling through Derbyshire . . .
img_0307to Chatsworth House, a stately home.  [Read More]
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Day Six: The Peak District

Day Six found us driving through the Peak District, which is known for its breathtaking landscape.
IMG_0327.JPGHere, Andrew’s dad went along for the ride with us as we jumped in and out of the car at various points to stroll in little villages: Bakewell, Castleton, and Matlock Bath.  [Read More]

That night, it was back to Sheffield to meet Andy’s parents, aunts, and uncles for drinks and dinner.
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Andrew beside his mother, and I’m beside his father

Even better, the night was capped off by bumping into his good friends at a pub!
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Day Seven: Sheffield

This was our last full day in England, and we spent it where we had started: Andy’s hometown.  We began by eating their famous fish and chips, which by the way is incredible.  My fish, which was larger than my face, was scarfed down in moments!
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After, we explored parts of Sheffield that were more beaten, more rough.  Twisted around a construction site with barbed-wire fences and abandoned, forlorn buildings, tourists rarely go here but it was precisely where I saw a surprising treat: incredible street art.
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I have always been attracted to murals.  I’ll find myself wondering in areas of the city I probably shouldn’t just to catch a glimpse of someone’s work.  I find it is irresistible to see buildings brought to life by city artists.
img_0390img_0392img_0391When I look at street art, I hear music.  Sometimes it sounds more like a rap, others jazz, and still more come as sounds from an orchestra.  It’s that type of emotion — a pulsing heartbeat of visual rhythm — that keeps me wondering through streets to look at art.
img_0407img_0411img_0408img_0409img_0413img_0414img_0415img_0394img_0395It amazes me that more people don’t venture outside to see street art.  I get asked sometimes to go to museums and it always baffles me.  Why do I want to go and pay money to see work that isn’t as current, that isn’t fighting as hard — this very moment — for its story to be told?  I’d pick street art over any every day.img_0424img_0426img_0423img_0422
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After I filled my camera with pictures, we ventured towards the shops and that’s when Andy’s friends called saying they were in that area too, so we met them at a bar then walked outside through the Christmas market before slipped into another pub.
15241203_1274290565963720_8793455449099119565_nI had so much fun this night, so much fun.  His friends were hilarious, open, and honest.  We talked about all from the presidential election to past relationships and hopes for the future.  Before we left, tears were shed over Andy leaving again for America.  That’s what made me feel better too: He has extraordinary friends — ones that that watch out for him, have his interests at heart, love him.  With the evening hours creeping ahead, we had to say goodbye before going back to Andy’s home.

Day Eight: Returning to the US

This day was also a day of goodbyes.  His sweet parents drove us the hour and a half back to Manchester Airport where we had our last chat in person for awhile.
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Then we were off, boarding the plane again for another eight and a half hour flight back — which y’all, can I just say I have an amazing boyfriend?  Remember how horrible I was on the flight over?  Well we stacked up — bought playing cards and got a pen and paper to keep score, I got my book and pulled out my laptop, we were set to go . . . so much so that I honestly looked like this throughout the flight.
img_5235I hope I redeemed myself some or else — let’s be honest — Andy will refuse to take me on any future planes with him, which (mumbling under my breath) completely bypasses my plans on making him my sole travel partner.

In truth though, it seemed one moment I was looking out the window at the clouds and a passing nearby plane . . .
IMG_0436.JPGand the next minute we were landing in Atlanta.
img_0433img_0437This flight was perfect: We watched a movie together (NOTE: The same movie but on different screens — huuuge game-changer for me, guys) and Andy watched another film while I typed on my computer.  We played cards, I read.  It was wonderful — all I dreamed the first flight could be.

In the end, my heart was full of England, full in the best way possible.  England was all I had imagined and more.  Everyone I came across was sincere and friendly, and most were hilarious, bantering with one another and me openly.  There was never a culture shock and, in fact, I had a constant feeling of belonging.  While going out of the country made me proud to be American, it also made my home more meaningful because I realized Americans do not joke around as openly as the English.  In fact, we are the opposite and are raised to ensure political correctness, raised to air on the side of caution and never ever offend.  But what is wrong with skating on that line?  What is wrong with jumping over the line and offending people?  I know someone who once said, “I hope I offend you.  That means you’re listening.  That means you care.”  I agree.  In England, people didn’t seem to be as sensitive — People didn’t seem to shy away from what they wanted to say.  They said it openly and honestly, and in turn I knew where I stood because of that.  I appreciated that, mainly as the blunt and sometimes too-honest person I am.  But overall, this type of atmosphere seemed more free.  Sure, I’m stereotyping all of England based on my small encounter, but this is what I saw and experienced.

Often people apologized, saying they were sorry I was there for a short period of time because the country had much more to offer me.  In truth though, this floored me.  I felt England offered all I could possibly want: breathtaking landscapes, quaint pubs and towns, amazing attractions but most of all, wonderful people — You made my trip amazing, thank you.

4 thoughts

    1. Thanks so much for writing! I’m so happy you like it! I’m reordering and changing some things up so I hope you like the final product xoxo

  1. I most definitely will look at your blog right now! I cannot wait to see where you both go! We can share travel stories too, which would be so exciting! Thanks very much for your comment — I truly believe travel can be as close to home or as far away and you can find adventure anywhere! It’s the adventure that should gear us and not the miles. Thanks for stopping in!

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