Chuffed to Bits: My Latest London Lessons Learned From a Recent Trip

Photo by Amie Taylor

I recently returned from my third trip to London—my second trip there in the past 6 months. And even though I was only there for a few days this time, it was long enough to make my heart ache once again with a deep and serious yearning for the city and the country I love so dearly.

As I sat on the plane headed back to the U.S. with what has now become my usual, self-assembled, Leaving England Kit (consisting of a pocket pack of tissues for the ridiculous tears I always shed, a bag of McVitie’s Mini Milk Chocolate Digestives, copies of the latest issues of Time Out London and Glamour UK, and a Beatles playlist as well as an episode of Gavin & Stacey queued up on my iPod), I made a list of a few new things I learned during this go-round in Blighty. I thought I’d post them here for posterity, and perhaps for the reading enjoyment of someone, somewhere (Hi, Mom).

  1. Proper girls drink half-pints. A friend of mine who lived in London for a few months last year for work actually mentioned this as something she’d learned during her time there. I filed it away somewhere in the recesses of my Anglophile mind, figuring I’d haul this little factoid out at some point and put it to good use. Well, on this trip I did. And let me tell you, the blokes in London definitely notice!
  2. William and Kate’s faces can be put on just about anything, and I will want to buy it. The cheesier and campier the better, in my opinion. On this jaunt, I found paper dolls, tea towels, silver plated spoons, a bone china loving cup, a mini collector plate complete with display easel and keepsake booklet, and my personal favourite, a poster of them dressed as punk rockers. There is fantastic shopping to be had in England right now for any fan of the Royal Wedding.
  3. I actually like mushy peas. Although I love most vegetables, I’ve just never been a fan of peas in general. Consequently, I’ve always steered clear of this traditional English dish. However, I sampled a forkful of these on this trip, and I have to say, I’m now a fan. I’ll definitely be ordering some up on my next trip across the Pond.
  4. The London Eye is a must-do. On my last visit, I had an English friend acting as my tour guide. As we walked by the ridiculously long queue for the London Eye on a Saturday afternoon, he shook his head and exclaimed, “This is f*#*ing mental!” Needless to say, we didn’t ride it that day. But I did on this trip, and it was incredible. The views of the city it affords you are unparalleled. I went on a Monday afternoon, and I didn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes in line. I think the trick is not to go on the weekends. Highly recommended.
  5. Few things in life are as delicious as a Ben’s Cookie. Actually, I learned this during my last trip in October, but it was further solidified on this trip. This English cookie chain seriously knows what they’re doing. Give me a Ben’s double chocolate and nut cookie fresh out of the oven … le sigh. One of these days, I’ll remember the location of another one of their stores beyond the one at Covent Garden, but for now, that’s my go-to spot when I’m in London. My work colleagues are so smitten with these little gems that I now take a plastic container that I purchased from Poundworld and fill it with cookies to bring back to them each time I visit the Big Smoke. One of my co-workers gets so chuffed about them, that his facial expression can only be described as what he might look like if he got married and witnessed the birth of his first child on the same day.
  6. I will never take the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow ever again. I know this is what smart Londoners do to get to and from the airport; that’s precisely why I did it this last time. However, I nearly missed my plane, even though I left several hours in advance of my flight. There were severe delays on the line as it was on that particular day (it was a Tuesday). But to top it off, the train I was riding actually broke down and was put out of service, leaving us to wait almost 30 minutes for another one. By the time I got to Heathrow, got checked in and made my way through security (the woman checking me in recommended that I literally run to my gate), I had about 15 minutes left before my flight began boarding. To be honest, after that harrowing experience, it’s worth the extra money to me to take one of the express connections to Heathrow to guarantee I make it there in plenty of time.
  7. You haven’t had Indian food until you’ve eaten at Veeraswamy. As the oldest Indian restaurant in the UK, Veeraswamy on Regent Street is absolutely fantastic, and the provider of one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. We were lucky enough to get a table without a reservation, but call ahead if you want to experience some serious deliciousness. I cannot recommend it enough. YUM!
  8. I really, really, really, really want to move to England. This will happen one day. Not right now, and probably not in the next year, but one day. The logistics of how exactly this will happen, I haven’t a clue, but I do know this: I belong there. I feel it in my bones each and every time I visit. The people, the culture, the history, the ironic sense of humour, the pubs, the music, the accent which has become my kryptonite, the smell in the air when it rains… All of these things. I miss all of these things on a daily basis. I am a silly, sentimental, England nerd. And damn proud of it.

Until next time…

Comments

  1. avatarSusan Nelson says

    Oh Amie ! I so loved this post ! I am near 65 , the daughter of an English Mother and a wonderful American GI ! I have longed to go to England all my life , I finally made the trip in March of 2009. Like you , I know in the deepest part of my heart and soul it is where I should be. Alas , I may near get to return. I have 5 grown sons who would never move ( I secretly pray each day for that ) . But like many my biggest hurdle is money. My marriage sadly may not last and I have not the means to support myself. This is most likely not the format to share such personal information , however , I have nothing to hide and your post moved me to comment. I dream everyday of moving, I think all day about ideas to make that change . Lol I even buy lotto tickets to make this deep longing become real. I think it is what keeps me going. I traveled ( by car we rented in London ) with my best friend Carol mostly in England and Ireland. I went tp the town my Mother grew up in ( Bedford ) and the town she was born in Ashington. I also traveled to Otterburn and nearby found the village that my Father’s family founded , little wee place named Elsdon ( which is my maiden name ). That is the area I long to live in. to spend the rest of my life there would be the answer to many prayers ! I live sleep eat and dream the same dream you have sweet Amie. I will pray that your dream will come true in the very near future !. It will take a miracle . Well anyway I never intended to write so much but it is done now I shall send it on. I hope to hear from you Amie so I will leave my e-mail. May God Bless You keep you safe and guide you to your dreams. Susan faithful7246@aol.com

    • avatarAmie says

      Oh Susan, bless you and thank you so much for reading. :-) I pray that your dream comes true as well! It’s like no other place on Earth, and I wish you strength and a positive outlook during this difficult time in your life. Take care of yourself, and keep that dream alive no matter what, my dear. ;-) xx

  2. avatarDean Connor says

    This is a great post and now you know me, I can send stuff over and you are more than welcome to stay at mine (if situations permit lol)

    Thinking of you my sexy girl xx

    • avatarAmie says

      My dearest Dean, it was so lovely to meet you and your friends! I miss you all so much; I haven’t laughed that hard in a very long time! Thanks so very much for reading. :-) xx

  3. avatar says

    Poor thing, crying on the plane. I know EXACTLY how you feel and hope for your sake you get to live in England sooner rather than later. London is my very favorite city in the world.

    • avatarAmie says

      Oh Kim, it’s so nice to know I’m not alone! ;-) Thank you so much for the well wishes and for reading, and I wholeheartedly concur with your last statement. :-)

  4. avatarDenise in Greater London says

    You are so right about not taking the tube to LHR…but I have to tell you, it’s WONDERFUL taking the Piccadilly line IN to London from LHR/Hatton Cross. We live near LHR and it’s such a great convenience as there are usually always loads of seats when traveling in from this direction.

    • avatarAmie says

      Ooh, lucky you, Denise! Yes, it was quite an experience; one I don’t ever wish to repeat. ;-) Thanks so much for reading! :-)

  5. avatar says

    Re #6 – Smart Londoners take the Heathrow Express – for all the reasons you outline and more.

    The Tube is cheaper, true, but it’s dirtier, slower and more crowded than the Heathrow Express.

    • avatarAmie says

      Paul, thanks so much for reading. :-) I could certainly see taking the Tube in the future upon arrival at Heathrow, but I’ll never rely on it to actually get to LHR again. I learned my lesson! ;-)

  6. avatarHeather says

    Haven’t been back since 2009 and I know how you feel, though I’ve never had trouble getting back to LHR on the Tube. Made my Easter run to World Market for Cadbury eggs. I also love it’s 2 hours by train to Paris! Always amusing to hear how people spent their weekend in Tuscany or Prague.

    I envy anyone going more than once a year. Think I need to win the Lotto.:)

    Also pleased to know that I’m not the only one who cries going home-and I don’t even have an SO there. The poor British Air flight attendant must have though I was mental.

    • avatarAmie says

      Heather, Cost Plus World Market is a godsend for those of us in the U.S. with a yearning for English products; they keep me in good HobNobs! Yes, I love the proximity to Europe as well. And I don’t have a S.O. there, either (not yet, anyway ;-)). I can only imagine the sort of tears that would ensue on the flight home if that were the case!

      Thanks very much for reading. :-)

  7. avatarSMay says

    Geez! Will you just move there already?! I’ll take your dogs and in return only ask that you allow me, my hubs and our children to crash in your flat one (maybe twice) yearly.

    Oh, and thanks for NOT bringing ME back a Ben’s cookie yet sharing these delicious morsels with your co-workers (whatever!).

    Sincerely,
    Your best friend

    • avatarAmie says

      Ooh, somebody took a cranky pill today… :-) AHEM, if you recall, YOU, my dear, got a gift that keeps on giving—a lovely, über cheesy, silver plated spoon with William and Kate’s mugs on it, as mentioned above. And if it were REALLY that easy to move over there, don’t you think I’d have done it already? Give me some credit- sheesh! These things take time. And good things come to those who wait; I’m banking on it! Now simmer down, dahling, and dream of your beloved Marcus Mumford for a bit to calm yourself. ;-) xoxo

    • avatarAmie says

      Hi Anurag- I had the Chicken Makhani and some garlic naan. It was absolutely incredible! Thanks so much for reading. :-)

  8. avatar says

    Another great article! Can’t wait until you move and send some goodies to TX! (You know, the other country you want to visit…) ;) HA! Seriously though, love the travel tips and brilliant wit.

    • avatarAmie says

      Aww, thanks Bex! I’ll be visiting that other country later this year, in fact! ;-) And I can’t wait for the day when I DO finally live in Blighty, and YOU come to visit me! Can you just imagine all the fun we’ll have?! Thanks so much for reading, my dear. :-)

  9. avatarLisa Richesson says

    How lovely to find out that I am not the only life-long London lunatic. I’ve been in love with London since I was five and I am now 60. I’ve never been able to explain to anyone what the reason is for my obsession, but if you don’t know you never will. Those that do know are members of an elite, intelligent and tasteful group! I’ve been to London 7 times now, twice on my own. I will return this September for another visit. I too feel complete – finished – whole – whatever when I am there. It is home. I belong there and have always wanted to live there. I’m so pleased to have discovered your web-site and will be following it from now on. -Lisa

    • avatarAmie says

      Oh Lisa, thank you so much for reading, and for such a lovely posting! You’ve found your Mothership, so to speak, right here, to be sure! We all “get it.” ;-) Thanks again for reading! :-)

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