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A Proper English Weekend

This weekend was different than any other I’ve spent in London. Instead of eating my usual super-cheap pasta or rice with butter for almost every meal, I ate six marvelous, home-cooked traditional English meals. And instead of sleeping in my bed that has a mattress like the ones at summer camps, I slept in a giant, cozy bed with a big puffy duvet. It all made me so happy. I was lucky enough to have the cutest elderly couple as my host family in North Norfolk, an area on the Northeast coast of England.

Mary and Mike (my host “grandparents”) had introduced themselves to me as “little old white-haired wrinklies” in an email, and they were the best “wrinklies” I could’ve ever asked for. They greeted Laura, another American girl who’s also studying in London, and me with big smiles and waving arms at the train station Friday evening.

As they drove us back to their home, they told us all about the area of Norfolk. Being in the English countryside, flocks of sheep live in Norfolk—which made the area very wealthy during the wool-trade years and years ago. This wealth was then used to build Victorian churches. Mary and Mike joked that there are more churches than actual people living in Norfolk. They explained how most of the cottages are used as summer-homes. Almost all the homes are made out of a particular grey stone that’s plentiful in the Norfolk area. These stones, combined with red brick, makes Norfolk’s cottages picturesque and certainly English.

Mary and Mike’s home used to be three cottages, originally built nearly a century ago, but now they have converted it into one large, cozy home. Mike compared it to the elevator or “lift” in the British T.V. show Dr. Who, saying, “You just walk inside and it goes on forever and ever and ever.”

After a delicious, home-cooked dinner and a dessert of lemon-apple crumble and tea, we spent the night playing card games and chatting about all of Mike and Mary’s travels they’ve been on, from living and teaching in Sri Lanka to their favorite vacation spent on the sand dunes in Denmark.

The next morning was cold and rainy, so we took our time eating breakfast—cereal and toasted hot crossed buns with an assortment of homemade jams. Tea, too, of course! Then I helped Mary and Mike work on their daily crosswords for a while. (They do at least 5 crosswords a day!) Here’s a picture of them working away:

OldCoupleThe sun started to come out, so we all piled into their car, drove along the coast and stopped to take a walk in a wetland area. (Which is also an area where Mary loves to go birdwatching!) Here are some pictures of the wetlands and the coast:

Wetlands

SeashoreAfter our beautiful walk, we drove to a nearby town and wandered along the pier until we stopped for a grand lunch of the most delicious fish and chips I’ve ever eaten! (And I’ve eaten loads of fish and chips while I’ve been here!) The fish was super fresh since the restaurant was right next to the sea, and we even got some homemade ice cream for dessert! Here’s a picture of the pier view from our restaurant:

PierThen we headed back to Mary and Mike’s, drank tea, ate some biscuits and headed to another village about an hour away where we spent the evening at a classical music concert. Mary and Mike were ashamed of me for not recognizing any of the songs, so they made me a list of their favorite classical songs I should get to know. 🙂

The concert ended around 10 p.m., so Mary packed us a bunch of snacks to eat on the car ride home. This ride might have been my favorite part of the trip because we were all so giddy to be eating our perfectly-packed car picnic—ham and cheese finger sandwiches, mini pork pies, hard-boiled eggs, apples and brownie bites. Mary couldn’t stop laughing at the fact that we were having a “picnic” in the middle of the night in the dark on our car ride home. Mary was the cutest lady, and so kindhearted. Her constant laughter made everything so lovely. 🙂

Sunday morning we slept in and had another delicious breakfast—this time cereal and delicious homemade croissants. It was really stormy out, so we couldn’t go on the countryside walk like we had planned, but we spent a delightful morning sitting in Mary and Mike’s sunroom—talking about their garden, how they met, about our own families and our favorite books. We spent the afternoon chatting some more and drinking ciders in their local pub.

Back at Mary and Mike’s, we had our last wonderful homemade lunch of meatloaf, potatoes, roasted veggies and an English dessert called trifle. While they drove us back to the train station, we all talked about how we wished we had more time together and how we were so sad to say goodbye. Mary and Mike, our two “little old white-haired wrinklies,” waved goodbye until they were out of sight. I’m so lucky to have spent a wonderful weekend with the most loving and true English couple!

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