Let’s get some things out of the way here:
1) I have FINALLY found a place in England that I love (besides Brighton. Brighton has my heart.)
2) …because of that, this is going to be a photo heavy post, because I simply can’t choose which of my hundreds of photos I like best…
3) this post is a bit late because I MET ZAC EFRON AND THAT IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IN MY LIFE. Another post to follow.
And we now commence…
I had a day off from work on Monday, (which is getting to be a rare thing) so as per usual, I desperately wanted to get out of the city and explore someplace new. I LOVE London, but there are also so many places in England to see and I am still waiting to find that ‘quaint, English countryside with green grass and sheep and clotted cream’ kind of place that I had pictured in my head for so many years.
I’d found a fantastic Buzzfeed List about the top 25 places to visit that are still close enough to London, but that are worth checking out. The prices on the list weren’t completely accurate, since it’s now August and you basically have to sell your kidneys to afford a train ticket somewhere, so we decided to head to St. Albans. It was £12 return and about a 30 minute trip (which goes by lightning fast when you are kicking your boyfriend’s ass at Words With Friends)…see below
We got to St. Albans just as it started to pour, which was actually magical. St. Albans is a tiny little town known for the St. Albans Cathedral.
This place is not only stunning, but the grounds outside were so lush and green, and filled with lavender and roses that I really did feel transported to some place I had created in my head. Outside of the cathedral, besides the gardens, there was a small cemetary. The rain and the dark skies, the giant cathedral in the background and the old graves scattered about, made for the most memorable day I have spent in England in so long.
**As a side note, quite a few years ago, I read the most wonderful book by Audrey Niffenegger (who also wrote The Time Traveler’s Wife) called Her Fearful Symmetry. A lot of the book is set in an English cemetary, and one of the themes of the book is ghosts and the afterlife. (It is one of my all time favorites that I think everyone and their dog should read). Maybe if you are reading this, and you are from England (hi Jo!) you may not necessarily understand the whole, ‘historical, Cathedral-y, English countryside, cemetary’ idea that foreigners have about England, but it is magical and lovely and I’m so happy I finally got to chill in a place like St. Albans.
We ended up spending about an hour and a half inside the cathedral, not only to avoid the rain, but because it was stunning and there was simply SO much to look at.
After we left the cathedral, we walked around the gardens in the rain. One of my absolute FAVORITE things about England, is that lavender just grows wild here. Lavender is my most favorite smell and it doesn’t really grow in Canada, unless you buy a plant from the store and stick it in the ground. This garden, and many others that I’ve visited, was full of lavender and also poppies, which I had never seen before. I didn’t even know what they were at first because I am so used to the plastic ones we wear on our coats every November and real poppies look totally different.
We spent the end of our day trip exploring the rest of St. Albans…which basically means that after our pub dinner outside of a yurt —
— my boyfriend had to carry me on his back, through a field because there were 9 foot long Godzilla-like slugs everywhere thanks to the rain. (They DO NOT grow that long in Canada. Sometimes the creatures in England make me feel like I’m living in the effing Amazon). He carried me like a champ until I realized that the “birds” constantly swooping at my head, were indeed BATS. At this point I basically had to learn real quick, how to hover between the slug covered ground and the bat covered air. I have no photo evidence of this.