Well, the jet lag has worn off and my bags are unpacked...finally...and so I now have time to show you all some pictures from my trip.
My 8 days there were spent in London and Essex, which is a county in Eastern England. Seeing as England will be a permanent fixture in my life, I had quite a different feeling on this trip. There was not this urgent rush to see as much as I could but rather a more relaxed chance to explore and see new things as they came to me. It is quite exciting being in new places because at every turn you might see something you have never seen before and I absolutely love that about travel in general, but especially in a country where everything has the potential of being something new. It is exhilarating and I think the more you experience that feeling, the more you crave it.
My first night in London (after sleeping for about 3 hours) was spent having an English BBQ. Now, I was quite curious to see how the English throw a BBQ, as we Americans take our BBQ's quite seriously, and low and behold, they did it the English way - and it was scrumptious!!! The picture above shows the bangers being put in the grill and let me tell you, the English know how to make some good sausage. Serve 'em up in a bun with some mustard - delicious!
Shortly after stuffing our faces with various forms of pork and cow (lovely, I know), I heard a jolly little tune drifting through the air, though I did not recognize the song.
"What is that?" I asked.
Before I could even guess, Dan and his friends all shouted, "It's the ice cream man!" Like children they all took off outside shouting, "I want a 99, I want a 99."
'What is a 99?" I asked Dan.
"Oh, you'll see Jocie," he said with a grin.
As you can see in the picture above, that is me with Dan's friends holding two 99's (no, they weren't both for me) and apparently they are a childhood English institution. They looked like normal vanilla ice cream, but it was much different than normal ice cream. It was as if ice cream and marshmallow puff had been blended together. Yummy? Yes. Eat it every day? Oh my God no. All in all it was a blast and I was beyond happy to be with my Dan and his friends at a BBQ in the middle of London. Perfection.
The next day Dan and I headed to the London home of his brother, sister-in-law and their ADORABLE little ones who melt my heart and make me want lots of babies every time they say anything with their adorable little English accents. I cannot help but have visions of my little English children, wearing their Wellies (rainboots) and jumpers (sweaters) and calling me "Mummy." It is almost too cute for me to bare. Okay. I will turn my estrogen-infused brain cells down a bit now to get through the rest of this post without sending Danny-boy running for the hills. Sorry my love, but you know what you signed up for :)
We had a really great day playing with the kids. I would put up more pictures of them, but I feel as though it is wrong to start posting pictures of other people's children on the internet without their approval, so you will have to stick with the pictures above which shows Dan's brother helping his son's friend along on the scooter and Dan side by side with his niece as we all went on a little walk. Trust me though, these kids are too cute for words and I am so happy that we got to spend a day with them.
As you all know, Dan and I met working on the film Coraline and we were both very fortunate to be able to attend the London premiere of the film. It was with both perfect timing and some help from an old boss of mine that I was able to attend this with Dan and I am forever grateful for the chance. The screening was at the May Fair Hotel, one of the most posh hotels in London, as they say over there, and it was a proper little party. Before the movie began all who worked on the film were asked to stand up while everyone clapped, which I think made all of us, who gave our lives away for the film, feel quite appreciated for a moment or two. The after party was a chance for everyone to mingle and I got to see all of my lovely English co-workers/friends who I have quite missed. It sounds funny, but I almost felt at home again surrounded by them all. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres were in constant rotation on perfect silver trays and there was such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and closure in the air. But, most of all, (sappy alert...you've been warned) I was thrilled to get to see the film with Dan. It was a symbol of where it all began for us and will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Ahhh...so much lovliness in three short days. There was much more to my trip, including an out of this world wedding, but I am going to post that in the upcoming England: Part II. I could write about it now, but I am tired, have a recorded Oprah episode to watch and need to tend to the apple crisp I currently have baking in the oven. Oh yes...my life is exciting.