Finally, the time has come to start sharing some of the photos from my trip to England and the USA with Andy! I took more pictures than ever before (seriously, that’s a feat for me), so stay tuned for plenty of blog posts.
Now, back to the beginning. In mid-June, Andy and I set off from Wellington on a Thursday evening on our first flight up to Auckland. At just under an hour, that flight was nothing compared to what was to come. Next up, a nearly 12-hour flight to Hong Kong. We had barely an hour and a half at the airport before our next 13-hour leg to London. England is about as far as you can get from New Zealand, so this was the longest trip I’d ever been on. Flying from Boston to NZ, the travel time is about six hours less. Don’t ever be deterred though; it is completely worth it!
When we made it to London around mid-afternoon, we were understandably exhausted after having traveled for over 30 hours straight. However, we managed to power through once we checked into our hotel and had a chance to shower and relax. That evening, we met up with a couple of my friends from NZ who now live in London, and Andy’s brother Pete and his girlfriend Jess also came out. It was a great first night, even if we only slept solidly until 3 am the next morning. Ugh, jet lag.
We did have a little time to wander around Paddington where we were staying, even if it was in a zombie-like daze.
It was especially nice to have flown from winter to summer.
Late the next morning after our night in London, we hopped on a train to Lichfield, where Andy’s mom lives. We brought the best snack England has to offer with us for the ride, Cherry Bakewells.
Just posting that picture makes me hungry.
When we made it to Lichfield, Andy’s mom Jayne picked us up from the station and brought us back to the house, where we got to meet her husband Ian and a trio of dogs, Barney, Tez and Reggie. When we headed upstairs to our room for the week, we also had a furry friend waiting for us.
Nothing like a great welcome, both human and animal, to make you feel at home!
While staying there, we got a chance to take a nice stroll around historic Lichfield since Jayne and Ian’s house isn’t very far from the town center.
Reggie is still working out his differences with other dogs, so he had extra protection. Can you tell there’s a dog under there? He’s a Hungarian Puli.
We made our way to the gem of Lichfield, the cathedral. This spot has been a holy site for centuries, and a cathedral in some incarnation has been on this site since 700 AD. Construction of the current gothic cathedral began in 1195 and was fully completed in 1330.
I couldn’t wait to check out the inside.
I was rendered speechless as soon as I looked up.
Wow. Just wow! What a place.
Lichfield had already won me over.
Can you find a certain sneaky chap in the next one?
After venturing back outside, we continued into the center of Lichfield before turning towards home. The city center definitely lived up to my decidedly American notion of the perfect quaint little English village.
Somebody made sure to keep the bed warm for us while we were out…
The next day, we got up early in preparation for our trip to Wales. Jayne and Ian had been kind enough to book two nights for the four of us in Tremadog at a historic B&B (Yay! Another country to add to the list). Before going to Wales though, we planned to stop at Hawkstone Park in Shropshire, known for its beautiful views and numerous follies.
We met Andy’s sister Kirsty and her fiancée Jason at Hawkstone before setting off to explore. When we arrived, it was raining pretty hard, but that wasn’t going to stop us. If anything, the mist and moisture hugging the ground only added to the ethereal atmosphere of the place.
I felt like I’d stepped right into a fairytale, with the purple-pink petals of rhododendrons like snow on the ground around every corner.
I took so many pictures, it was hard to pick just a few for this blog.
Barney and Reggie were also enjoying our outing. One benefit of a rainy day is that you encounter few other walkers. It felt like we had this magical place all to ourselves.
I just couldn’t get enough of the pink blizzard that seemed to have hit the pathways and forest floors of Hawkstone.
Higgs would’ve loved this tree.
We came across the park’s monument, over 100 feet high, which we of course had to climb.
Jayne stayed down below with the dogs, which made for a good shot from above.
The stairs twisting upwards were incredibly dizzying, but the view from the top was worth it.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of Hawkstone, but I’ll wrap it up for now. Next up, more of Hawkstone as we explore the follies, caves and gorges of this amazing park. Then, on to Wales!