Truth: I am partial to strange adventures marked not by their potential for beauty or danger but by a particular kind of mundane novelty. Take, for example, my trip on the F two weeks ago or my desire to drive between my hometown in Oklahoma and my friend Tobia’s hometown in Manitoba simply because one is almost exactly straight north of the other (a plan that is known simply known as “Drive Straight Up” in our household.) Having impulses like this requires friends who share them, and my English friend Peter has always been a fan to my quirky-travel flame. So deep is our friendship and so odd our travel impulses that we have long conspired to join our families by marrying two of our cousins in a wedding that would (must) take place in the Azores simply because the Azores exist roughly half-way between our two nations.
But when Peter married Richard last March, it wasn’t in the middle of the Atlantic but on his native soil, and instead of embarking on a random adventure, the occasion resulted in the most traditional trip to England I’ve ever taken. “In a decade of knowing you, how is this the first time you’ve taken me to an English garden? Or a manner house? Or Stonehenge?” I asked him half-way through the trip. “What have we been doing all these years?” “Clearly, I’ve failed you,” Peter said. Hardly.
Luckily, all the wonderful, traditional Englishness was documented by my own personal photographer, who I have vowed I will never again travel without, even if she is my sister. Hailey is blogging about our trip this week over on her website, sharing lots of pictures of me sipping tea, eating pudding and climbing castle walls. I stole the photos above from her website, yet another infraction in a long history of sisterly stealing, I’m sure. But if you hire her to be your personal photographer, she will forgive me.
Her most recent post documents my favorite day of the trip, which involved a lesson in rhubarb forcing and advice on bicycle riding from Peter’s father and a caravan picnic and a curry dinner prepared by his mother, my “English parents,” who I adore more than all the F-trains and Azores combined.