Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oh to be in England!

Have I ever mentioned that England is one of my favorite places?

Well it is. I'm a confirmed Anglophile, that's for sure. I adore hot tea (I have it every morning but with cream and not milk) and am obsessed with scones. It all started as a child. Lucky me, I had an aunt who married British and promptly moved to London. So that's where I spent a lot of my summer vacations. While other kids were pining for Disney Land, I spent my time touring the Tower of London, Portobello Road (which I sadly found was not like it was in "Bed Knobs and Broomsticks), Leeds Castle, the Cliffs of Dover, and finally Edinburgh, in all of its medieval glory. Yep, I was the only kid on the block who spent their summer abroad. Actually, I will venture to say I was the only kid in town. But it was a small one, I will admit.

My obsession with European royalty started during my first trip across the "pond", as they call it. I was ten and following a viewing of "Anne of a Thousand Days" and a trip to Hampton Court Palace, I was totally in love Anne Boleyn and the whole Tudor era drama. Not so much anymore as it's SO overdone, but still, I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

The summer I was twelve, I was over there again, this time exploring all of the art galleries and museums. The V & A remains, to this day, my favorite. Probably because of the costume collection which is AWESOME. But by this time I was also way into the Pre-Raphaelites so a trip to the Tate Gallery was a major highlight. Nothing can compare to seeing Millais' "Ophelia" in that setting (it's a huge painting, by the way).

When I was sixteen, Jane Austen mania hit! My dear, ever so patient aunt took me on a road trip of sites relating to Jane Austen. There was the pilgrimidge to Chawton Cottage and to Winchester Cathedral to see Jane's grave. We even drove to Portsmouth where Jane resided briefly (and where I insisted we track down the house she lived in). Oh, and we saw where that dude, Charles Dickens, grew up.
And finally, there was Bath. Yes, it ALWAYS rains in Bath. I went to the Pump Room and visualized Anne Eliot walking about. I must pause here and discuss how blessed I feel when I reflect on this. I've recently been way into 18th century fashion and while browsing blogs and related sites, I clicked over to a link for the Museum of Fashion. As I cycled through some of the past exhibitions, it hit me--I've been here! Wow. Now I'm humbled. As I took a virtual tour of the Assembly Rooms in Bath, remembering the time that I spent there, I realized how many neat things I have been able to do as a result of my interest in history (and my connections as well.) I've walked the streets where Jane Austen walked. I've heard a live string quartet play classical music on the grounds of a castle. I can get around London like a pro; it's like a second home after all.
Sadly, my last trip to England was in 2003. However, I am scheduled to go back to Jolly Ol' England next summer! My aunt is making a second trip down the aisle and the wedding is being held at Stanton Manor, which was once owned by Elizabeth I's chamberlain, Lord Burghley. How cool is that? And I actually get to sleep there! Of course, I've already got my itinerary planned out because there are some places I haven't been yet. I'm looking forward to showing my little brother around as he will be making his first trip over. He'll be a few months shy of ten by then, so history does repeat itself!

So now that I have bored you all with details of my fabulous travels, I get to ask: what has been your favorite trip and/or what unique thing have you experienced as a result of your interests?


  1. I'm slightly ashamed to admit that you've seen a lot more of my home country than I have :-)

  2. Caroline, you're so lucky to have visited Britain so often! As a Kiwi with British heritage (my grandparents), it was always my mission to go back to "the motherland", and I did so when I was 20. I'm yet to go again (a decade later), but I'll be back before I turn 40!

    I went to the Assembly Rooms as well - it didn't rain in Bath when I was there, but as it was winter it was extremely cold! I watched an episode of Antiques Roadshow recently that was filmed in the Rooms, and I had the same 'wow, I was there!' moment. Did you go to the costume museum there as well?

    I haven't actually answered your questions - my favourite trip would either be those 100 days I spent in UK/Europe, skiing in Canada, or in the Aitutaki Lagoon (Cook Islands). I too visited Jane Austen's house, grave etc during the height of Austen mania and it further fueled my interest in writing in her genre. And I bought some lovely sheet music from Chawton which I enjoy to this day :-)

  3. @ Sarah - Don't be too hard on yourself. I've wanted to see other countries more than the US so I can sympathize.
    @ Charlotte - I did go to the costume museum! I hope to go back since my dad wants to go to Bath while we are there. Luckily my aunt only lives 30 minutes away!

  4. I've never been to England, but would love to visit there. I find that the favorite places in my life, places I've been going to for years, always find a way to make their way into my writing, too.

  5. Oh, Caroline! You make England sound so lovely!

    For me, Ireland has always been my favorite vacation destination. I've been three times and always find something new and inspiring each time I go!

  6. @ TL - I love Ireland too! It's rapidly eclipsing England as my favorite destination. My husband and I spent our honeymoon in County Meath, so it has a special significance for us. In fact, my hubby had one of the tombs at Newgrange tattooed on his arm. He is Irish through and through too; he discovered that his family originated in the Ulster region, so we're hoping to visit in the near future. And maybe one of these days, we'll have enough money to buy a cottage to renovate. Big dreams! :-)