Prairie Wife Goes to England
It's always wonderful to be back home in Wyoming, but I sure had an amazing time in England.
Mr. Prairie Wife and I headed over The Pond two weeks ago for a 10 day trip to London and the Cotswolds (the English Countryside). It was a trip of a lifetime, and one we spent years planning.
It was an early celebration of 15 years of marriage (our anniversary is next month) and a trip without the 5 kids...pure bliss!
The first thing we noticed was that London is one huge melting pot.
As we walked down the streets we heard dozens of languages spoken, and they weren't tourists. Overwhelmingly, most people we talked to spoke British English with some kind of another accent. We had a bit of trouble understanding everyone the first few days, but by day three we were pros!
London was SO clean.
We walked over 5 miles every day and took the Underground or Tube (their subway system) all over London and I couldn't believe how clean it was. I've been to NYC and the streets in London were much nicer, and so were the Tube stations.
Service at restaurants is totally different.
A lot of the restaurants are tiny. Space is a premium in London and most of the places we ate at were only 16 feet wide and maybe twice as long a that. That includes the counter and kitchen area. At many of the businesses you seat yourself, then went up and ordered your food at the bar/counter. They brought you food and that was it. Even when you had a regular server they would come by and get your order (eventually), bring your food and maybe once ask how your food was. To get your ticket involved a tricky game of catching their eye and gently nodding your head. The service at restaurants wasn't what we expect here, but it was soon obvious that it was a cultural difference and nothing to do with us.
Crossing London streets is real life Frogger.
Between the constantly rushing traffic, massive double-decker buses, scooters, and high-speed bikers...it's frightening to try and cross the street. Add to that traffic going the opposite way from what we are used to and it's honestly like a real-life game of Frogger to walk anywhere. Often you can only make it halfway across the road, and their solution is plastic knee-high poles to hide behind. It was not comforting to see that they were cracked and scuffed from previous interactions with cars.
England is overflowing with history.
From the Tower of London to St. Pauls, Westminster Abbey and Winston Churchill's Secret War Rooms we were emersed in history. Add to that the Victoria and Albert and British Museum and you can imagine how full our brains were. We went into the Cotswolds and toured castles, historic churches, and ancient ruins and were left feeling humbled and amazed at the rich history of England.
The English Countryside is everything you've seen in the movies and more.
The English Countryside was absolutely stunning. I have no doubt now why all the fairy and dragon stories begin in England. From forests full of trees wrapped in Ivy to wide open pastures full of sheep, lambs, and gorgeous flowers, we couldn't get enough of the Cotswolds. The cottages were lovely, made with rough cut stone, covered in ivy and hanging flowers and each one had a brightly painted door! Ancient churches and hauntingly beautiful cemeteries could be found around every corner and the church bells ringing across the land at dusk brought a tear to my eye.
From the hustle and bustle of London's streets to the relaxed beauty of the English Countryside I have not a single bad thing to say about our trip. The people were kind and helpful, and eager to teach us about the history of England and to share with us their thoughts about current events as well.
I came home feeling a new appreciation for the ingenuity of humanity throughout history and a new awareness of how much of this world I still have left to see.