January 5, 2014

England, Week One!

I've made it to England! It has been absolutely amazing so far. I've been here a week and everyday has been something new and exciting and I cannot believe how quickly it's gone already and how much I have done.

I landed last Sunday morning to an apparently uncharacteristically sunny day. My flight was a little rough--note to anyone traveling to England via Virgin Atlantic in the next while, the $50 upgrade to seats with more leg room is DEFINITELY worth it. I was literally so crammed the entire flight. And me being me, I was freezing cold the entire time and kept my Barbour buttoned and my mittens on for the entire seven hour flight haha. They did have a great selection of movies and the food wasn't bad either. It was also really exciting to me that all the flight attendants had British accents although that definitely shouldn't have been as surprising as it was. After finally landing and getting through customs, seeing Lewis again and finally meeting his family in person was incredible. I've had so much fun this week just spending time with all of them.

Northern England seriously is the country. Just on the drive back to his house we saw cows, sheep, chickens, and my personal favorite--a pheasant! I am still waiting to see the peacock that allegedly lives in the fields near his street. Beccles is beautiful and everything is so teeny tiny and old. There are Land Rovers absolutely everywhere and with all the constantly muddy fields and roads all I think about is how much fun my Dad and Carter would have plowing through them in the Land Rover. That day Lewis and I explored Beccles and I had my first English curry for dinner.
Land Rovers are EVERYWHERE.
Monday we went into the closest city, Norwich, to do some shopping. It was so quaint and cute. A really nice place to walk around for the day. Next Tuesday Lewis and I are going back to have a belated celebration of our sixth, although now its a bit closer to seventh, month anniversary, should be really good. All the buildings are so beautiful-- the mall is even called Castle Mall because there is a castle built on top of it!
Norwich shopping street.
Tuesday was New Years Even and Lewis and I woke up early to go to Southwold for a walk. I think Southwold is still probably my favorite place I've been so far in England. It reminds me so much of Nantucket from the beachy music, shops, people, and amount of Land Rovers. The first time we went it was extreeeeeeemly windy and gray... it looked a little grim to say the least, but still very pretty. We went again on Thursday where it was much sunnier and a lot more people were around. We spent the night hanging out with Lewis's best friends from home. At midnight we rang in the New Year in the center of town watching the clock on church turn to twelve and listening to the bells. 
Trying to Look as English as possible, all I need is a flag...or a hunting dog, or a pheasant.
Nearly got blown off this pier because the winds were so strong.
Very pricey beach cottages at Southwold.
New Year's celebrations.

Wednesday we woke up a little too early and braved some serious wind, clouds, and rain to drive to a beach where you can see seals. The seals were so cute and you could get so close that the early morning was definitely worth it. I think it's so funny that this area is so extremely rural and farmy but right next to a big pasture with cows is a beach with seals, very weird.
Seals on New Years Day.
Cows right next to where the seal beach was.

Thursday we went again to Southwold to a pub called The Red Lion for lunch and I had my first real fish and chips. Oh my goodness it was delicious. The fish was caught right on the beach where we were and you could definitely tell. It's really weird to be legal to drink in England and so anticlimactic. You can also buy alcohol literally anywhere which is a big change from my dry hometown.
Seriously want to get in the car and get another one right now just looking at this picture, YUM.
So happy to be eating:)
Friday was pretty relaxing as we were trying to save some energy for our trip to London the next day. The weather held off in the morning (with the exception of a freak hail storm) and we walked into town to get some groceries. It's still kind of old fashioned in that a lot of people still get their meat from the butcher, their bread from the bakery, and their produce from farms. We got a gigantic tray of eggs from a farm the other day and my daily breakfast of scrambled eggs has really been kicked up to the next level. So on the way home we stopped at the butcher's to get some of these famous "sausage rolls" I had been hearing so much about. At first I wasn't sure if I was going to want one but I literally had the thing devoured before we had even left the shop. That and the fish and chips have definitely been my two favorite English foods so far.

Some of the food is so funny though. On the first day Lewis taught me that hamburger is called minced meat in England. A little later he offered me a mince pie (which is more of a sugary dessert thing) from the cupboard. I had the pie in one hand and the box in the other and as I was about to take a bite I am reading the ingredients and I had just started to chew when I read the word minced meat on the box, I was immediately repulsed becuase I thought that it literally contained meat that had just been sitting out for who knows how long. We didn't rectify this confusion until a few days later and it was sooo funny when we finally did.

Later Friday night we drove had a nice Christmas-y feeling dinner with Lewis's extended family. It is so nice feeling as though I have a sort of unofficial host family while I am abroad.

Saturday, (yesterday), was the first trip into London!!! Lewis and I woke up at the crack of dawn (6 AM), to catch the train from Beccles to Ipswich and then hop on another train from Ipswich to London. To my surprise, it actually was a pretty easy journey which is good because I will definitely be making it almost as often as I made the drive from Syracuse to Boston this past semester. London was very cool. I am not sure what I was expecting but I loved what I saw. It was a lot quieter than I had pictured which is definitely a good thing, and definitely much more quaint than any American city I've ever seen. The forecast for the day was looking seriously miserable so we did as much outdoor sight seeing as possible before the rain came down. Luckily, we did manage to get in a lot! We saw Big Ben, the river Thames, a ton of red buses, the London Eye, and a lot of other pretty buildings whose names I forget at the moment. We walked up to Buckingham Palace just as it started to pour.
Big Ben!
Us and the rest of the world decided to take shelter in Harrods which was amazing. I was particularly enthralled by the food sections of Harrods. I literally wanted to eat everything in sight in the prepared food sections, YUM. Definitely making my parents take me there when they come visit.

We quickly saw some of the free museums but those were also packed with kids still on their Christmas holidays and other tourists trying to get out of the rain. My favorite was the Victoria and Albert museum because Lewis and I put on our "poshest" accents the entire time. It was hysterical. Finally, we ventured up to Covent Garden which is only about a mile from Faraday House where I will be taking classes soon. Such a cool area, reminded me a ton of Faneuil Hall in Boston. Lots to do there it seems. We did see Faraday House and my phone instantly connected to AirOrangeX which was a funny bit of "home" all the way over here.
It really does look like Faneuil Hall here, doesn't it?
Classic tourism.

Being so mature in the art museum.

For dinner we went to the Wetherspoon's near where the train was and it felt sooooo good just to sit down after walking miles and miles. London was really cool and I can't wait to study there but for now I'm loving relaxing in farm country:)