It all happened a little over a month ago when my family was at my sister’s house celebrating Easter Sunday. My brother, who travels often for his work and sometimes overseas, was telling us that he would be traveling to England again in just a few weeks. Would anyone like to go with him?
ME!! PICK ME!! I WOULD LOVE TO GO!!
Three hours later my flight was booked on the same plane as Richie’s, and he and I began planning our once-in-a-lifetime-trip together through many strands of emails, texts, and phone calls. The day my bright yellow rain boots came in the mail, I knew this was the real deal; I was going to England!!! Ahhh!!!
It’s been just one day and two weeks since my brother picked me up at my mom and dad’s house to begin our 6-day journey and, as cliché as it sounds, it still feels like yesterday. We’ve only ever traveled together one other time, driving in his van with my sister-in-law, nephews, and Paul from their home in upstate New York to NYC three years ago, so we knew we were going to find out a lot about each other in the next few days. :) Needless to say we had a wonderful time together (and for our family – the only time we argued was over which movie to watch at night. :)).
We discovered that Italian food is the only food we like in England (at least at the places we went) – pasta is pasta and pizza is pizza. We survived tiredness with large amounts of Americanos and Mochas from the neighboring café (so cute – you’ll see it soon). We made sure we each got to see what we wanted to in our limited amount of time in London, racing towards the Underground and chasing the sunlight.
Walking through the crowds of London, we always made sure to stick together. When we visited a beautiful castle just minutes before it closed and the ticket-keeper cautioned us about going in without enough time, Richie weighed once-in-a-lifetime over caution/common sense so I could finally see an English castle. During all the pausing for photo opportunities, not once did he oppose or complain. When I lost my lens cap in the gardens behind a 800-year-old church, he retraced my steps with me until we finally found it. When he was sick, jet-lagged, and thoroughly exhausted, I did my best to keep his spirits up and his sickness at bay with bottles and bottles of water. When we were both jet-lagged and incredibly exhausted, we tag-teamed keeping each other’s spirits up. When we finally found a footpath that wove through rolling hills and fields of lambs, he put on his rain boots to accompany me on a serendipitous walk. And when he needed the windows open in order to sleep, I pulled my sweatpants and sweatshirt out of my suitcase and slept under the blankets.
I came home to discover I took 600+ photos. Holey moley. So, although this blog post may seem long and full of entirely too many photographs, just know I did my best to limit them for you. :) Someday I’ll be back with dearest Paul, showing him what I know and discovering new things about beautiful England (keeping in mind that Italian food is always good no matter where one goes). I appreciate Richard so much for letting me tag along, for putting up with me, and for allowing me to take as many photos as I did. :) And also for buying rain boots. :) (Love you, Richard.)
Okay friends, enjoy visiting England through my rose-colored lens!! I’ll try to explain things as much as I can along the way, but really, I’m as much of a tourist as you are. :) xoxoxo (Music? Yes!! Only the best songs for this post! Or, if you’d prefer instrumental here’s another good list.)
The little café we frequented while we stayed next door at The Cromwell Lodge Hotel.Isn’t it darling?? We tried for an early check-in since we arrived at around 11am, but since we couldn’t we spent some time in here……and then finished our coffees in the hotel’s beautiful dining room.We explored the hotel’s grounds while we waited…All along the brick in the back of the hotel were climbing roses! I wish I could have seen them in bloom!!But the daffodils and tulips were abundant so it was okay.The tree stump almost as wide as our car.When we were finally able to get to our room, we discovered that “just up the stairs” means up 5 flights, through hidden doors, past a beautiful view of the gardens, and down the stairs through a hobbit hole. “Mind your head” the sign says. :)Our room!! Richie on the left, me on the right. The beams were my favorite, even with all the ducking and knocking.The view right outside our room. I had to pinch myself.Richie has been here before and wanted me to see this church – unfortunately it was locked when we tried and I never got the chance to go in. Next time! We (mostly me) enjoyed hearing the church bells all day, however.The park behind our hotel……so much blooming…A stroll down through the shops…We could’ve bought so many books from this old and used bookstore. We were having too much fun.On our first full day, not being used to this whole jet-lagged experience, I accidentally slept until 3pm…oops. So we quickly got ready and with a bit of luck we were able to make it to the nearby castle 2 minutes before they stopped letting people in on the only day it was open while we were there. Fate was on our side! (I don’t know how Richie was able to drive this whole time, especially on the country roads. I tried to keep my mouth shut.)Pulling up!! There’s a moat. This will be perfect.A real castle!! I’m in awe.(There’s a mixture of cell phone and camera photos, just so you know. :)) Isn’t this incredible?! The lawn is even perfect.Fueling up with his Americano. :)If we weren’t on a time crunch, I would have liked to have had a picnic. Right here.Or here at this table. Maybe I’ll bring Paul back and we’ll have a pot of tea (or coffee) right here. Listen to the pigeons and robins.I did my best to take photos inside, but what with the people waiting for us to leave and the lighting, I didn’t get as much as I’d have liked to. Oh well – another time!I was always drawn to the views.This was in the queen’s room (when she stayed) and so she wouldn’t have to go all the way downstairs to church, this was put in her room with a kneeler underneath so she could attend mass. Fascinating! We would to have loved to learn more about this place…I think I could read a book here.Lumière!!
While we were in one of the last rooms, the darling hostess suggested we get better views FROM THE ROOF!! My heart may have stopped.Oh my goodness, friends. Can you hear the little lambs? The pigeons? The robins? The light wind? I swear, it’s there.See? I even have a video of it for you. :) (Sorry about my fast camera-moving and high-pitched excited voice. :))
The garden view from up top. Does it remind you of Alice in Wonderland too?My favorite photo of myself taken – I’m just so happy here I could have burst.Walking under an archway…Of course there’s another picnic table. Maybe this is where we shall have our pot of tea…He brought my nephew’s traveling teddy bear to take photos with :) (Like Flat Stanley, remember?)The tree!! How adorable!
We stopped in the tearoom/gift shop before leaving and the woman inside was so kind, didn’t rush us or anything, encouraged us to take our time despite her purse being packed and her jacket on, ready to go home. We each bought some souvenirs, thanked the lovely lady, and discovered the church sitting right behind the entrance to the castle. Dare we go in? :)
The gift shop lady walked past us on her way to her car and told us it wouldn’t hurt anyone if we peeked inside…so we did.Everything is a postcard.Fields of lambs as we drove away…The baby lamb dancing in the back!!We took a bit of a detour on our way back to the hotel, finding pretty views and stopping for photos…Like this other field of lambs…They’re literally just there on the side of the road. See Richie getting out of the car?Isn’t he precious?I’ll also be sitting here with Paul someday. Just whiling away the time.Then we found a spot to park and walk to Who Knows Where? Found this adorable dog on the way. :)With both our rain boots on, we headed to the unknown destination on the winding dirt path. Saw a cute bird house. Of course there’s a random hand-painted bird house on the path.Do you see it??Oh goodness. We were overwhelmed. So beautiful.Rolling hills, little cottage roofs…Is your heart melting yet?And back to our little shops across from our hotel…Out to dinner at our favorite spot, Pizza Calzone.Our lovely, lovely hotel.And just like that we left the countryside and ended up in the heart of London.Wisteria draping over every fence and doorway, smelling like lavender and lilacs.My brother spoiled me on this trip – our hotel was right across the street from Kensington Gardens. Be still, little heart.Princess Diana’s Memorial Playground. I’ve always thought that God mixed my mom and my Auntie NeeNee to make Princess Diana’s beautiful face and hair. :)The beautiful gardens at Kensington Palace.I could picture the archway completely covered in its greenery, I bet it’s just gorgeous.Would you believe we ran into a group of Minnesotans that all randomly met right here in the gardens? They were so kind and were glad to take one of the few photos of the two of us. :)When I asked Richie what his favorite part of London was, we both agreed it was walking through Kensington Gardens. Next time I’m here I’m bringing a picnic basket and a wireless record player. And Paul.Fascinating.The swans and geese were so incredibly friendly. I had the most fun photographing these lovelies.Can you believe I got this photo?! I was so thrilled.Have you seen Finding Neverland with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet?? If you watch him at the bench writing, you’ll see this beautiful building in the background – he was sitting at that bench on the left! Would you believe I didn’t even realize it until I began getting these photos ready for this blog post?! (If you haven’t seen the movie, please do. It’s a wonderful movie about J.M Barrie creating the story of Peter Pan, set in London and the English Countryside. You’ll thank me later. :))The birds just sit on people’s heads!! They were so friendly!Little Peter Pan. My heart skipped a beat.We took these photos for my dearest sister who plays the role of Mother to two little boys and loves this story so much. Cheers, Toni!!The colors of England!The entrance to Buckingham Palace!! We’re so close! Hang tight!Countless times I said I wished I had brought a different lens – too many times I couldn’t get a whole building with my camera, so I was entirely too thankful I had my phone’s camera.It was so surreal, friends. The Queen is there! How can this be my actual life? Pinching myself.Every little detail was to be seen…And soon it was time to be moving on. The sun is moving and there’s more things to see, more people to cross the streets with, and more gift shops to peruse!As we walked I became distracted by random beauties…And then we walked out of the tiny alleyways and came to this. I have no words, friends.The birds actually came up to me, practically asking me to feed them. If only I had tuppence!! (How great would it be if “Feed the Birds” came up on the playlist I linked you to right this second? Is it playing? Go get it! It’ll be worth it!)The cobblestone! The towering columns!! Pinch me!!I. Was. In. Heaven.This is real, can you believe it? It’s magnificent.The sun continued to sink behind the Cathedral’s dome, so we said good-bye and made our way to our next destination, Tower Hill.I’m ashamed to admit that while I was taking these photos I didn’t even realize what it all said – it was old looking and I got excited, what can I say? I wish I would have taken more, it looks so interesting!!Richie let me pick a lot of the spots because he wanted to see everything but this was the one spot he wanted to visit, the Tower of London. (Ever seen Robin Hood with Russell Crowe? I’ll admit, I didn’t finish it when Richie made me watch it that week, but he loves this movie.)Everything is a postcard.While walking on London Bridge, we saw Tower Bridge. (We were a bit confused as to which one was which, but we finally figured it out. :))We were on our last loop of our tour, ending at Palace of Westminister, London Eye, Big Ben, and Parliament Square.The Winston Churchill photo is for Paulie – he’s a fan. :) We were a little bummed that Big Ben and the Palace were being worked on, but we saw them. It was still thrilling.On Cloud 9, friends.
And as the sun went down we rode the Underground back to our hotel, across the street from the dripping wisteria and Kensington Gardens. We ordered pizza (I’m serious about the Italian food), turned on Mary Poppins, and got lost in the music of chimney sweepers and prudent bankers. (The deal was that we had to watch English-themed movies during the trip.) ‘Twas bliss.
And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed traveling to England with me, listening to the lambs, smelling the wisteria, and feeling the rush of excitement from people seeing Buckingham Palace for the first time. :)
Now I’m snuggling with Rusty and sitting next to Paul as I finish typing this. We just came in after spending the day creating gardens in the front and back of the house; life is good. As much as I love to have adventures in different lands, there is something so wonderful about coming back home to my own bed, pillow, and of course, my two favorite boys.
Cheers, friends and I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend, hopefully spent playing in the dirt and the rain. xoxoxo
PS. Thank you again, dear brother. xoxo