The English Coast, Tea and Sisters

[dropcap size=small]I[/dropcap]’ve always thought my older sister to be my best friend and my hero. When I was young, I took five years of dance lessons (which I dreaded) just because she did. When I was in middle school, I would force her to put my hair into a “messy bun” just because it was her signature style.

Although I’ve found my own interests and place in the world, I still follow in Amy’s footsteps. In fact, I followed them here all the way to London. Lucky for me, she took a break from her life as a high school teacher in Illinois and has been spending time living in London. Right now, she’s studying at King’s College to get her master’s in literature. And next year, she’s off to live in Paris.

I’m incredibly lucky to have a bit of familiarity and comfort here in this big, unknown city. Although Amy and I are living closer to each other than we have in the past eight years, it’s still hard to work around our schedules and spend quality time together. To get our fair share of sisterly love, Amy and I had a “sista weekend” a couple of weeks ago.

That Friday, we tried out one of London’s best traditions—stuffing our faces with as many miniature sandwiches and fancy desserts as possible, all while drinking champagne and an entire pot of tea. High tea. Afternoon tea. Whatever you call it, just never forget it, and make sure you celebrate this tradition if you ever find yourself in England. I will try my best to bring the tradition back to America with me. 🙂

High tea is known as being very “posh,” and throughout this experience, I found I’m definitely not elegant or charming enough for these standards. Somehow, seven minutes before I was supposed to be sitting down for my reservation, I found myself lost and half an hour away from the fancy tea room. Terrified of being shunned from this experience, I decided to race down the street in my dress, tights, riding boots, winter coat and heavy backpack. My high school cross country training didn’t fail me: I made it in good time. But as soon as I sat down at the table full of silver and glass dishes resting on a white tablecloth, I found myself flustered, red-faced and awfully sweaty. Certainly not a condition that matched the proper occasion.

Regardless, I was still able to consume all the baby sandwiches followed by seven different types of desserts. Here is a picture of my lovely sister peeking out from our beautiful dessert tower:


On Saturday, we woke up at the crack of dawn and embarked on a grand adventure to a town called Eastbourne on the coast of Southern England. First, we walked down by the ocean pier.

There were lots of people on the beach—some playing with their pups, several kids learning to skip rocks and a few women doing their morning yoga routines. Although I absolutely love London, it was so refreshing to be away from the city and frolic on the beach with my sister.

At the end of the pier, we climbed up to a giant green hill which led to vast lands filled with flowers ready to bloom, rolling hills, farms and small villages in the distance. This area of Eastbourne is known as “Beachy Head.” We walked six miles along the beautiful coastline with herds of sheep on one side of us and the breathtaking Beachy Head cliffs down to the ocean on the other. The white cliffs, bright green grass, gray ocean, blue sky and puffy white clouds made me feel as if I was transported into a painting. Here are a few photos so you can get an idea of the magnificent scenery:




Eventually, Amy and I made it to this cute little café in the middle of nowhere to warm up with some hot tea and chat for hours. We reminisced about all the memories we’ve made together over the past 19 years. All the goofy things we used to do, like order our McDonald’s by making up obnoxious raps in the drive-thru, seemed so long ago. Although those days have passed, I know in another 19 years we will be talking about this weekend we spent together. I would never want to embarrass myself at high tea or roll down hills on the coast of England with anyone else.