Continuing with this series, today I’ll be waxing longingly about travel around the UK. I just started with the cute cat picture because I simply had to. (It’s been approximately a week since I used a cute cat picture in a post — too long.) It’s a British shorthair, so it also works for the purposes of this post.
And while we’re at it, you’re welcome for the cute puppy picture, too… (A lovely little British bulldog…)
When I lived in England, we were in the Midlands, this absolutely beautiful, hilly, very green in the spring and summer, a little more bleak and wet but still lovely the rest of the year, region between the North and the South of the island (hence the name).
Some of the hot spots for travel in that area include Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon (or, former home of the Bard), canals along the famous River Avon, automobile and airplane museums, various sporting events (such as football and cricket), and some absolutely gorgeous public gardens.
The really great thing about England being so small (compared to, say, America) is that you can easily get awesome day trips in by simply hopping the train to the next town or county. If you have the money, you can travel by coach or ferry to Scotland or Ireland, which are so close, but so magical, and even more gloriously foreign to stuck-in-a-rut Americans like me.
(By the way, I just spent all weekend watching Outlander on DVD, and I didn’t even like the book. But it was so totally worth it for the Celtic scenery and accents.)
Being able to walk out your front door and see countryside like this is just a totally amazing experience for me. Yes, I live in a very tree-filled area of North America, with four seasons and plenty of historical monuments. But none of that changes the fact that the British Isles have been continually settled by more or less the same peoples for the past thousand years. Their history and traditions and culture are so much more rich and deep and complex and long-standing than anything I grew up with.
Not that I would wish to actually be living in the past (like Outlander). What I really love is that the past has such a strong presence in the current lives of British citizens. History isn’t considered “irrelevant” or “unimportant” (did I mention I’m American, and pretty ashamed of what many of my peers here think of history?).
These places are real, not movie sets, or found only in pictures in books. Strolling along the canal, seeing actual castle turrets in the near distance, while you pick wild blackberries growing near the water of the River Avon, is the type of thing many American tourists dream of, the type of outright magical experience that I cherish in my memories and my heart.
I so want to go back. That’s pretty obvious. Before too much longer, I’m going to need to. I need to walk in the woods that inspired Tolkien’s forests of Middle Earth. I need to climb to the top of that castle turret. To embarrass myself at a Renaissance Fair. To eat haggis while searching for Nessie.
(By the way, the Loch Ness Monster is 100% real. I won’t believe any naysayers.)
I need to show all this to my boys. To the one who was so little when we lived there that he doesn’t remember. And to the one who has no idea anything bigger than state route 13 even exists.
There is so, so much on these wonderful, small islands, boys, so much. Go and see, experience, live, be part of it.