The {Home} Stretch

Day 19:

4:45 am (BST) – my alarm goes off

5:40 am – goodbye hugs

6:45 am – arrival at Manchester airport

After checking in and going through security I still had nearly four hours to kill in terminal two. I had breakfast at Café Nero while reading Harry Potter. Then I spent the last of my pounds on Digestives (cookies that have been one of my favorite discoveries in the UK) (yes I bought more).

10:55 am – departure

I had a whole row to myself (!!!) and 7.5 hours and 4 movies later I arrived at Washington Dulles airport. After making it through customs and security (where I almost lost my beloved gold Betsey Johnson watch) I had never been so happy to see overpriced American souvenirs.

At that point my body clock was confused.

My flight that was scheduled for takeoff at 5:30 pm ET was delayed for three hours. First the plane was late arriving, then there was a storm, then a large portion of the plane, myself included, had to get off in order to replace connecting flights we were missing in Chicago. Finally, we took off and I was able to have a laugh with the redhead sitting next to me when I asked for a ginger ale.

After arriving in Chicago, I was able to quickly board my new 10:30 pm (central time) flight. I got to Wichita at 12:30 am.

My luggage still isn’t here and I am completely jet lagged after an over 24 hour travel day through 3 different time zones … but I am home.

    

Packing is Even Harder When You Don’t Want to Leave 

I woke up sad this morning knowing today was my last full day in the UK. My last day in Wales-the land of bright green grass and cloudy blue skies. Where:

• pubs and coffee shops are on every corner

•the backroads consist of wildflowers and beautiful meadows of cows and sheep

•people still hang their clothes on the line to dry

•the words lovely, brilliant and lad are used frequently

•fries are called chips and chips are called crisps

•they greet each other by saying “you okay?” or “you alright?”

•there is never a bad time for coffee or tea.

•an adventure is always waiting to be had and there are always new things to try

•it is breakfast, dinner and tea rather than breakfast lunch and dinner

•there are a number of opposites (such as driving on the right sight of the road with the steering wheel on the right side of the car) but it still feels like home

Day 17

Morning: Saying farewells to members of the Taylor family and to England. Hugging the Robinsons goodbye was particularly sad-they are such lovely people.

Afternoon: Driving back to Wrexham, Wales-roughly a four hour trip. Talking, telling stories, drinking coffee and listening to music.

Evening: Catching up with Anna’s family (who we’ve been staying with in Wrexham). Eating dinner and celebrating the boys’ upcoming birthdays. After, Allanah and I walked to The Acton, the pub down the road, where we had delicious Bailey’s Irish Cream Lattes.

Currently: Watching 90210, our nightly ritual. Sad that in a couple of short days I’ll have to do it without my best friend.

PS: Happy Father’s Day to all of the great dads I know. Especially to my dad, grandpa and grandad. I hope you all had a great day today. I love you. xo


Moments in Time 

Moments. Life is made up of moments, big and small, all strung together. Sometimes the ones that mean the most are the ones I am too busy living in to fully think about. Sometimes its the ones I stop and acknowledge-wishing there was a way to stay in forever or perfectly capture on camera.

Today’s little moments were:

1. Walking around St. Albans with Becky and Allanah. Seeing the streets set up with vendors selling beautiful flowers and pastries. Eating a delicious breakfast at Pret.

2. Sitting barefoot in a beautiful backyard for a Taylor family garden party in Weybridge. Nice evening weather after a rainy afternoon. Watching people play cricket while drinking hot coffee and listing to Ed Sheeran.

Too Much Time in London is Not Enough

London day 3: our final day in the city. Allanah and I spent a chilly morning walking through St. James park, making our way to Buckingham Palace. We stopped for coffee and crumpets to take with us to watch the changing of the guards at 11:30 (Grandma I thought of you!!). Much of the day was spent on foot, as we walked to Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street. We discovered Hatchard’s Book Shop, London’s oldest bookstore which opened in 1757. After, we ate lunch at Joe and the Juice where I had the best sandwich and juice-I didn’t want it to end. In the late afternoon we said our goodbyes to London and boarded the train to travel back to St. Albans. We made the most of our three days in the city, seeing as much as possible, but it amazes me how much there still is to experience. I am sad not knowing when I’ll be reunited with London but confident that I will be. A lovely evening was spent having Indian food and shandys with the Robinsons, some of the sweetest and most welcoming people I have ever met. xx


      

London Day 2 

My second day in London began with the best brunch at La Pain Quotidian: iced latte, fruit and granola yogurt parfait and an organic quinoa scone. The afternoon was spent on the top of a double decker tour bus which was our transportation throughout the afternoon, giving us a nice view of the city and its monuments. We eventually stopped at Harrods department store for refreshments. I can only imagine the amount of time and money one could spend there. I think I would like to move in. Everything about it was amazing-the designer clothes, restaurants, artwork, bookstore, gift shop…I could go on and on. I could rave about the room solely dedicated to coffee, chocolate and tea.

Now, (with a sunburn from neglecting to wear sunscreen and blisters from wearing new shoes) I am sleepily watching my favorite movie; The Devil Wears Prada and awaiting tomorrow’s adventures.

       

London Day 1 

Walking out of the train station and entering the hustle and bustle of London for the first time was surreal. Everywhere I looked there were landmarks: Big Ben, the London Eye, Westimister Abbey, Parliament Square, etc. Allanah and I spent the afternoon in Covent Gardens, shopping and soaking in the atmosphere. Gorgeous flowers decorated buildings and there were an abundance of coffee shops and restaurants-I wanted to try them all. We ate dinner with the family at Muriel’s Kitchen in Soho and it was lovely. On the taxi ride back to the hotel, the London Eye (which is right next to where we’re staying) was shining red. The streets were filled with people and my ears were filled with the sounds of music being played and different languages being spoken. I always fall in love with the diversity that comes with big cities.

            

Strawberry Picking and Roadtripping 

Another short trip to Hoole for brunch and strawberry picking was a lovely start to our Tuesday afternoon. We filled three small baskets with fresh strawberries from a field with a beautiful view and ate plenty along the way (oops). After, Lan and I filled a suitcase (to the brim) for London and piled in the van with her family. After around 3.5 hours of magazine reading, amazing stories from Anna & Daryl’s trip to Paris, a Starbucks stop & hearing ‘are we there yet?’ from the back seat, we arrived in St. Albans. Tonight we are staying with family there before taking a train to London in the morning. One thing I love is that I feel at home everywhere I go, even though I’m miles from it. Everyone has been so kind and welcoming. Every day I am thankful for this experience and excited to see where the next day will take me.

Liverpool 

Day 11 of my trip was spent in the birthplace of the Beatles: Liverpool, England. Allanah, her brothers and I took a train into the city, shopped and walked around Albert Docks. Pierce paid Quinn £5 to kiss me on the cheek during dinner. When we got back to the house grandma Paula treated us to yummy coffee and cookies. xx

      

It’s the Little Things

So many of my favorite parts of the trip thus far happened today. I love feeling the freedom of trying new things, having adventures and experiencing the world in new ways. Its all about the little things, for example:

•Visiting Penrhyn Castle & seeing the view of Wales from the balcony

•Taking a little road trip to Llandundo & being able to see: mountains, Victorian buildings, the Irish Sea and a pier all at the same time

•Climbing up the side of a mountain then tobogganing down

•Falling flat on my butt walking down the side of the mountain

•Eating ice cream cones (99s to be exact) from a little stand on the pier

•Leighton saying “I didn’t think they liked fudge!” after getting attacked by Seagulls

•Jamming to the Zac Brown Band in the car

•Playing soccer with Lan & her brothers – getting  kicked in the face with the ball by Pierce & nicknamed chicken legs (I’ll take that one as a compliment)

•Watching Paddington Bear (which takes place in London) & knowing that I’ll be there in 2 days (!!!)