Back to England 2010

First of all, thank you all so much for your recipes and dinner suggestions. Wow, that sentence made me sound like Betty Draper! First vacuum cleaners and now recipe swaps, huh? When are we going to get back to the wacky old days of strange naked girls stumbling drunk into my apartment? (If you haven't read that naked girl story, by the way, you should totally go back and read it. Except if we ever run into each other at a cocktail party, just pretend you haven't read it, because it's the sort of story I tell at every cocktail party I ever go to, and it would be super awkward if you had to pretend you hadn't heard it when really you had. There's even kind of a follow-up to it here. Basically, when I lived in that apartment building in Charleston, I saw enough drunk naked girls to last me a lifetime. None of them intentionally, as you can imagine.)

Secondly, as I'm sure you know, I went back to the UK a couple of weeks ago, just for a short visit to see my family. My brother Luke and my sister Susie are both at university over there, and since it was spring break*, my parents decided to fly out there to see them.

(*Wait, I realize that this might sound a little odd. Most American college students go to Cancun for spring break, if MTV is to be believed, where they do bodyshots from the tanned stomachs of total strangers and dance until the wee hours of the morning. My brother and sister, however, get.....a visit from their parents? Huh. You will just have to believe me that English spring break is not quite the same concept.) 

Anyway, since four-sixths of my family was planning to be in England at the same time, I figured I might as well increase the ratio of Burnses In The Motherland to Burnses Not In The Motherland and head over there as well. This left only my brother Tom out of the fold---sadly, he was hard at work in Singapore---and this was doubly unfortunate because Monday March 29th was his birthday, so all the voicemails and Facebook messages we left him were like: TOM! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! WE'RE ALL TOGETHER AND YOU'RE NOT HERE HAHAHAHA. I hope that doesn't scar him for life. Eh, he just turned 26, it's probably too late anyway.

While I was in England, I took about six million photographs. Actually, I started taking photographs at the airport in San Francisco, because when I got there and checked in, I found that I'd been given a complimentary pass to the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Lounge, which, let me tell you, is probably the second best thing you can ever hear at an airline check-in desk (the first being that you've been upgraded, of course, though---as we have discussed---this happens about as often as Paris Hilton finishes the Sunday crossword.) (Pah! Like, I've ever finished the Sunday crossword.) (Like I've ever started the Sunday crossword.)

This was me trying to be all cool and laissez-faire, while secretly snapping a photo of my FREE CHAMPAGNE FREE CHAMPAGNE OH MY GOD FREE CHAMPAGNE. 

Once I actually got to England, the next ten days became a whistlestop tour of visiting various friends and family around the country. This is the thing with living so far from where you spent a large part of your life, you see: whenever you go back, your time has to be organised like a military operation. I started in Farnham, which is a little town about an hour south of London, where we stayed in a house belonging to one of my parents' friends (she was on vacation in Canada, which worked out rather conveniently.) Farnham is only about 20 minutes from the boarding school I attended from 11 to 18---which I have written about a little bit here, and also a little bit here, but oh, I think I shall be writing about it for the rest of my life, as a sort of therapy---so the day after I landed in England, my dad drove me back there on a one-way ticket down nostalgia lane.

I cannot explain how weird it was to be there, how many memories it brought back, how things I'd completely forgotten about---the way the dormitories had names like St. Barbara and St. Cecilia, the way the corridor smelled on your way to the dining room---came sharply into focus like I'd never even left. Sneaking around the hallways---the school was closed up for the Easter holiday but I found an open door and crept in---I found myself instinctively walking on the right hand side like we were always told to do. I guess you never really forget.

The next day, Susie and I took the train to London, where we had exactly one day and one night before we were due to catch the Eurostar to Paris, so we spent it emptying our wallets on Oxford Street.

Stop following me! I've already told you, I'm not going to give you my number!

That evening, we met up in a pub in Russell Square with all the best people from various corners of my life, including a) boarding school, b) university, and c) the Internet. You know how at your wedding it's totally weird to see your godmother sitting next to your roommate from college sitting next to your best friend from third grade? That's kind of how it was that night, with people from several very disparate corners of my life all squashed and squeezed around a table in North London, filling themselves up with cider and cheese. I am pleased to report that everyone got along swimmingly. Actually, I would have been more pleased to report that there was screaming and hair-pulling and maybe even a fully-fledged bar fight, because those things would have been totally more scandalous, but my friends are well-behaved and perfectly-mannered, what can you do.

Once my sister and I got back from Paris---that was a fun journey to get up for the next morning, as you can see from the photos above of the night before---the Great Tour o'England 2010 continued anew, with my dad and I making a quick jaunt up to Yorkshire to see his side of the family. We broke up the five-hour car journey with radio plays, stops for sandwiches, and a small detour to the town in which my dad was born and lived for the first eleven years of his life, a visit I found wonderfully fascinating. I know this sounds silly, but growing up as I did---moving constantly from country to country to country---the concept of a childhood home is fairly foreign to me. It blows my mind when someone can say that they lived in a house, non-stop, for more than three or four years.

This will mean nothing to you, but it is the house where my dad was born. Like, literally. In the bedroom. The past, man! I love when it comes alive!

On the penultimate day of my whistlestop tour of England, we took another road trip, this one down to Lewes to see my best friend Anna, who you may remember being there the first time I met Sean, or the first time I went to San Francisco, or---more recently---as the very pregnant maid of honor at my wedding. As is customarily the way with these things, Anna is no longer pregnant---considering my wedding was last September, it would have been Guinness Book-worthy if she still was---and instead, check it out!, we have this:

Which goes very nicely with this:

Also, this has nothing to do with her kids, but can we all just admire Anna's bathtub for a minute? It is hot pink. She has a hot pink bathtub. She has officially out-awesomed my hot pink Kitchenaid mixer. Twenty-three years behind us already and I'm thinking we can no longer be friends.

Also, because this post is now the length of the Magna Carta and I need to stop somewhere, here is a hilarious picture of my brother Luke when we dressed him up in all our stuff on the way home from Lewes. I mean, this is the kind of thing my family does on long car journeys, Internet. A nice round of I Spy, anyone? Pah! Lame! Let's see what Luke looks like in my dangly earrings instead!

In conclusion: my trip back to England was fantastic. Also in conclusion: my brother Luke is never going to get a date again. Or speak to me, probably. Maybe I should have thought this one through.

(So I told you I took six million photos, and I wasn't lying. The other five and a half million are here, in case you're procrastinating and feel like flipping through a stranger's vacation snaps to kill some time. Be warned: there are some chubby baby cheeks in there that you will need to sign a waiver before you can view. That is how cute those chubby baby cheeks are. Also there is a peacock. I'm not even going to explain that one)

Apr 13, 2010

I totally feel your pain/joy. It wasn't until I was about 11 years old that I learned that most people didn't move every 2 years. I thought it was the weirdest thing when I learned that not only had my friends lived in the same country and state, but in the exact same house their whole lives!

I hope your brother doesn't read your blog.... just for your relationships sake. :)

Apr 13, 2010

I'm quite pleasantly baffled by the fact that in your boarding school they made you walk on the right in a country where you drive on the left! Oh, England.

Apr 13, 2010

Will Tom hate me if I say he looks really cute? His pout is delicious! :)

Apr 13, 2010

Tom won't have me because he wasn't there. That is Luke! I knew that! I just have Tom on the brain since he was left out and everything. :) Sorry, Luke!!

Apr 13, 2010

Last time, I meant Tom won't hate me, not have me. He can't have me as I am already married. :)

Apr 13, 2010

Wait--you mean there are people who don't change houses every 3-4 years? I've heard of such people but thought they were extinct and/or imaginary.
And I live in Morocco, with my family, and our visits to the US are planned with military precision also. Breakfast with these people! Lunch here! Supper with this family! It's pitiful, but at least my kids think we're famous.

Apr 13, 2010

I love that you used one of my favorite words in this post: disparate. My sister makes fun of me for using words like that in conversation.

Apr 13, 2010

I loooooved York! and London...and well, all of England in general, so seeing your pictures has made me quite nostalgic. Happy families and friends are lovely!

Ps I'm one of the freaks. I was born in the house I lived in for the first 13 1/2 years of my life. No kidding. IN the house. In the room that was mostly mine, in southern california.

Apr 13, 2010

I sympathize with you - the longest I've ever lived in one city was during college, and I changed dorms/apartments every year there. Since then I've moved every year, and growing up we moved every 2-4 years (my dad was in the military).

I like to think that this nomadic existence explains my pack-rat tendencies - since I have no childhood home (beyond my grandparents' house, which still brings back memories), I carry my memories with me. ...At least, that is my excuse for the /still/ unpacked boxes of crap that I've moved four times. ::sigh::

Side note: I love that a 5-hour car ride is considered a road trip everywhere but the States. I just returned from Ireland, where no one could believe "how long" we were driving each day. I think the most time in one day was three hours, and that seemed so short compared to my drives up the west coast! :)

Apr 13, 2010

I am confused with this whole walking on the right hand side. I thought the British kept to the left.

Apr 13, 2010

It was just a rule at my school, for some reason, that pupils had to walk on the right hand side of the corridor. Teachers could walk wherever they wanted, but we had to keep to the right.

Apr 13, 2010

Oh shit, that was you?! I was at that pub that night! The Spanish one in Kings Cross that I can't remember the name of, right? I was having dinner with my brother and some pals, and we recognised Sarah Brown from Cringe (and her blog), but I completely didn't clock you. How exciting!

Apr 13, 2010

Oh my god, that's really weird. The Norfolk Arms on Leigh Street? That was us!

Apr 13, 2010

Oh, and yeah, my sister was born in my parents bedroom at my parents house, where she still lives now, 19 and a half years later. I think my family is the opposite of yours.

Apr 13, 2010

Yes! That's the one, thanks for reminding of the name, as it was really tasty and I'd like to go again. I totally would have recognised if I had, you know, seen you... I would have come and said hi, having recognised Sarah, but last time I saw her and Antonia at Borough Market a few months ago and introduced myself then, and I didn't want to get a name for myself. Glad you had a good visit :)

Apr 13, 2010

Oh, so much fun all at once!

A) Anna's hot! pink! bathtub! - this is the best/craziest thing I've ever seen.

B) I was terribly confused when I saw the photo of Luke because I could not top thinking, "Oh my god, Susie has cut off all her hair! How daring!" And then when you said it was Luke, I just could not get my mind straight about it. They are twins, I suppose.

So happy it was a lovely trip.

Apr 13, 2010

As someone who was brought home from the hospital to a house I then lived in until I was twenty-two (TWENTY-TWO!), I find it hard to imagine what it would be like to NOT have a house-I-grew-up-in. That said, it cuts back on the traumatic when one's parents buy a new house and proceed to sell the old one AND ALL YOUR CHILDHOOD MEMORIES to the highest bidder.

Apr 14, 2010

I totally get where you're coming from on the not living anywhere for long thing. I recently had a mini freak out because I realized that my current city (Austin) is the place I have lived longest in my life (I've been here just over 5 years now) and not only have I stayed in the city a long time, I've also lived in the same apartment! I've never had the same place (be it an apartment/house/bedroom) for longer than 2 years before.

Of course now I am thinking about moving.

Apr 14, 2010

I love your Britain recpas b/c I spent probably the best part of my childhood there, reminds me of Blue Peter, Harrod's, ...

Apr 14, 2010

It sounds like a fabulous trip!

May 19, 2016

That's a slick answer to a chgiaenllng question

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