Annie Tanner with her brother in London
Last month I finally went on my first little European trip outside of Ireland since moving here, alllll the way to jolly old England. I had plans to see Rome, Barcelona, and Helsinki this year, none of which have materialized (though I may be going to Edinburgh in two weeks!), but at least I made it over to GB. I went with Jen, who was flying home to visit her family. She’s one of those kids who have grown up all over the world, moving every couple of years because of a parent’s job. She’s “from England,” but never lived there, and her parents have just recently returned to their home country and moved into a house there.
Flying on an evening Ryanair flight midweek to Luton Airport meant we had Dublin Airport (and our airplane) almost completely to ourselves, always a slightly peculiar feeling. I haven’t flown Ryanair that often, but the company is a constant topic of conversation in Ireland. It’s really not a great experience flying with them, especially as it kept feeling like we would level out, suddenly angle up and take off again, level out, then rise again steeply. And those planes always come in to land with waytoo much speed still built up. Ack! But we got there safely, and were met by Jen’s super excited parents.
That's my brother!
They live near a picturesque village called Great Missenden, best known (I think, anyway) for being Roald Dahl’s adult home. Arriving anywhere in the countryside at night means you have no idea what you’re going to wake up to. Well, we woke up to rain, which put the kibosh on the blackberry-picking plans, but beyond that were some beautiful gardens, pretty houses across the street, and lovely, hilly English landscapes.
Most of our stay was spent in the house’s kitchen, baking and eating. (Bread, cookies, Chinese soup and noodle-y things, fruit pudding, roasted vegetables, brownies and more. By my special request we also consumed a party bag of Wotsits, the British Cheese Puff.) It was beyond comforting to be in a family home again being taken care of by a mom and a dad.
Great Missenden has a train station and it’s about a 35 minute ride into central London. I went in twice, once with Jen to see an old friend of hers (we got dinner in Chinatown), and then again to meet up with my brother, who lives and works in London and whom I hadn’t seen in a whole year. He walked me around Notting Hill, bought me a soup and a beer, and showed me his stunning, posh house. (What a law degree delivers that a history degree doesn’t!)
The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre
Back in the country, Jen and I paid a visit to the Roald Dahl museum – adorable. My favorite of his books was The BFG (though I also adored The Minpins and Boy), and Kev’s was Fantastic Mr. Fox, so I got some illustrated postcards for each of us in the gift shop. I used the Mr. Fox one to write a “Congratulations, you did it!” note for when Kev submitted his PhD dissertation a few weeks later!
I really didn’t want to leave and go back to my real life after three nights of going to sleep without a care in the world, having an agenda of “bake, craft, and possible day trip” to look forward to. So, thanks Jen for letting me crash your trip home!