We moved to the US from England almost 11 years ago, and though mum tries to go every year, I hadn’t visited for almost 6 years! So I was super excited to go back this October, catch up with family and see as an adult where I grew up. Two planes, two undergrounds and two overground trains later and we arrived in Shrewsbury, a town in Shropshire, England, where my nan lives. Shrewsbury is known for its Castle, and it’s annual Flower Show. Mum and I managed to go to town a couple of times, once with a family friend we hadn’t seen since we moved and then again just the two of us.
What I loved about being there is that we could walk everywhere and it wouldn’t take too long to get anywhere. It reminded me when we lived in Tottenham, I could walk to school, the shops and our favourite kebab shop in twenty minutes. What I didn’t like was that I didn’t realize I was drinking decaf coffee til my last day with my nan (but that’s not really a problem). We spent a day with my uncle and aunt who live in Wrexham, visited Erddig which is a stately home which is owned by the National Trust, ate some traditional fish and chips , and visited Award Winning Lewis’ Farm Shop, (side note: they have great sausages) which is where I tried my first Scotch Egg! Once back to Shrewsbury we spent some more time with my nan hearing stories about a time before my mum was born and her traveling to and from Italy and Wrexham.
Mum and I spent an entire week with her family in Shrewsbury, then we got on two more trains back to London to see my dad’s side of the family. My mum was only there for the night before she flew back to the US.
One thing that I have missed as a British person in America is Kebab!!!!!! So, my mum’s last night in England was spent as a family night out to a kebab shop.
Once Mum left the real adventure began (kidding). I got to spend the week with my dad’s brother and family (my favs – shh). I also got to know one of the newest additions to the family, my cousin’s girlfriend Evie, who I can officially call my partner-in-crime! Initially I thought Evie was nice, sweet, quiet – nope! Well, actually she is, but within a week together we managed to drive my cousin (her boyfriend) crazy, lock another cousin out of the house, try to convince each other to try on and buy everything in New Look, and then shared a great debate about whether Evie should go back to brunette (as a professional, take my vote for no! you’re a fab blonde Ev). I got to hangout with my cousin Kelly while attempting to convince her that she should skip uni for me, and I believe the bargain-hunter gene in my family runs strong, since she and I headed for the same sale section in every store we entered.She introduced me to the Market Village where you can get your eyebrows threaded for £3 and across the hall where you can get authentic Ethiopian food near a corn stand! Truly one of my favourite parts of the trip was shopping around with my cousin. I also went shopping with my aunt who was like a second mum to me growing up, and she taught me how to make Roti!!! (Roti is probably one of my favourite things, but my dad refuses to make it for me, so I’m taking matters into my own hands. Let me know if you want roti updates/recipes). I went to TopGolf for the first time with my cousin, Ryan and Evie, where I learned that golf is not my sport, and hitting a ball isn’t as easy as you may think.
I had the opportunity to work at my uncle’s salon in London, Hair of the Bird. I spent the day being mentored by Cyril (uncle, and salon owner/stylist) and Chantel (stylist). I was so excited/nervous to work there for the day because he is one of the hairdresser’s I aspire to be like and it meant so much to me to work with him for a day and get feedback from him. If you are ever in London and need your hair done, I would definitely check them out! I plan on making a separate post on my experience, let me know if you are interested!!
One of my favourite days I had in London, was the day I went to the National Gallery with my Uncle. Fact, it’s FREE to go, but make sure to have some change on you if you want to go to the cafe there, and trust me, if you like carrot cake, their’s is great. Yeah yeah, I know ‘going to a museum’ sounds boring, and my uncle thought that too. I will say that whenever I go to a museum with someone who isn’t interested in art, I see their inner art-critic come out and to see art through their eyes is one of the coolest things, not to mention there were a couple of pieces by Monet and Matisse hanging around, which was cool. We spent the rest of that day walking around London, we walked past a couple of cool buildings, a clock called Ben and then found another kebab shop to eat at.
I am so happy to have gone on this holiday, to walk on some of the same streets I remember walking on 10+ years ago is a somewhat romantic feeling. I have specific memories tied to people and places, and this trip – coming back gave me the chance to mold those memories with my new experiences. I thought on this trip I would go back home, have an epiphany in central London while carrying a take-away coffee from some local coffee shop, and realize that I had suddenly remembered the London Tube Map and was ready to move back to England (a bit dramatic, but honestly imagine what I have to do to separate my internal drama and what is actually happening). The only way I can describe how I feel is that I don’t feel completely drawn back to England, or completely planted here in the States.
Ultimately, an unresolved feeling I have had for a while was finally squashed. I felt like I didn’t belong here, hoping going back home would answer if I should return. Now I realize it’s not because I don’t belong, but rather that I do belong in both places. I grew up in London for almost the first twelve years of my life, but now I’m twenty-two, approaching the mark of my eleventh year here. Both of these places are home for me, and both of them have made an impact on me. The best part of my trip was being able to see family I haven’t seen in 6+ years, and honestly I don’t think two weeks were long enough.
I do plan on returning to England (hopefully before another 6 years passes). So, just to cut this sappy post one paragraph shorter, England is a really cool place, and I have no idea how people navigate the tube, and sausage rolls are soooo good! Next time I go I know theres a gallery in Peckham I wanna visit!
So, do you have any questions about my time in England? Curious if I used almost half my luggage space to smuggle biscuits? Not sure what biscuits are? Let me know in the comments below!
PS. Biscuits = Cookies