My First Visit to England

The following is a guest post.

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.

And what a drive it was. Spread out all around was England in all its June glory. Rolling fields in varying shades of green, plus golden fields of rapeseeds and roads that were edged in wildflowers. We would drive by houses with gardens planted in a rainbow of colors and it seemed to me that every Englishman must have the greenest thumb on the planet.

Unlike all of our subsequent trips to England, when we have needed rain gear (or even snowboots), this first visit gave us exemplary weather in the form of day after day after day of glorious sunshine and warm weather.

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 . In addition to being a committed Anglophile, she’s a writer, runner, Pinterest addict, and wife and mother.


  1. Abigail Rogers says

    Thanks for sharing your memories, Jennifer! I’ll have to think carefully about how I plan to get out of the airport whenever I go :)

  2. Shelley says

    My first trip was similar, dog tired after the long flight, migraine as soon as my eyes hit the sunlight….but as soon as I saw the Mary Poppins smoke stacks on the buildings the black cabs and smelled the onions cooking in the park I was sunk! I married an Englishman and England is my heart of heart places to be! Thank you for sharing and stirring my emotions! Unfortunately my husband loves southern Ca. more. So visits omly now.

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