The first time I visited England, I was 27 years old and had never been out of the country. In spite of that, I was already a devoted Anglophile, having spent years reading countless books about the U.K. and by British authors.
I must say, our first hours on British soil were not auspicious. My husband and I landed in Heathrow at the crack of dawn and after having not gotten a minute’s sleep on the plane, due to the exuberant and constant partying by the group of Germans seated behind us.
Thus it was that we found ourselves stumbling out of Heathrow with our bags in tow, in search of the shuttle to the car rental place. Once there, we discovered that it wasn’t even open yet, so all we could do was stare longingly at the rows of cars and wish that we were driving away in one.
We eventually got our car and were on the road. Rather than start off in London, we had decided to instead head immediately out to the countryside. I’m not sure of the wisdom of driving on the other side of the road when extremely jetlagged and sleep deprived, but we did and we somehow miraculously survived, including an early adventure on a motorway roundabout.
Over the course of two weeks, we drove through the Cotswolds, up the Midlands, to the Lake District, across Hadrian’s Wall to Edinburgh, made a loop around Scotland, headed back south to England and on to Yorkshire, and then finally went back to London and environs. We had amazing weather the whole time and it seemed to us that this was an enchanted isle indeed.
Of course, no vacation is perfect. We did encounter a few minor rain showers. We slept in a couple of truly sub-par B&Bs. And there were one or two other disappointing things. That said, the memory of my first visit is almost perfect and really, that’s what matters.
I was already in England’s thrall before that first trip and her grip on me has only tightened over the years. My daughters are in middle school now and England is their favorite place to go on vacation. In fact, if you asked them to choose between London and Paris, London would win by a huge margin. Truly, we are a household of Anglophiles.
Jennifer McDonald blogs about her love of England, plus a great many other things, at www.jenontheedge.com . In addition to being a committed Anglophile, she’s a writer, runner, Pinterest addict, and wife and mother.