This was the longest flight I’ve had so far going to England. It may have just felt that way. After the usual chaos and panic of getting ready and a two hour flight to L.A., we had a three and half hour layover. We started our trip off with dinner at Sammy’s Wood Fired Pizza. I should not eat gluten, but that didn’t stop me. I’m on vacation dammit and I’m going to eat all of the lovely things I’ve been craving for the last couple of years. I find out later why that was a really bad mistake, but I digress….
Neil and I were very excited about going together on this trip, it’s been an emotional year, both good and bad and we really need this time away. Going to a place that I’m very familiar with but he’s never been to is kind of weird for both of us. He, because I usually wait for him to take the lead and me, because what if he doesn’t see it the way I do?
Of course travel is always an iffy venture. I was certain I booked the tickets through British Air, which I have always had a good experience with. Instead it was through American Airlines which I have not. Honestly it was fine except that the seats were the smallest I’ve ever sat in for a ten hour international flight. The movies were great, the food was fine for airplane fare.
We arrived at two the following afternoon, got through customs with me warning my husband not to joke around with the officer asking questions. They are known not to have a sense of humor. However, the woman that checked us through was awesome and it all went off without a hitch. We bought our ticket on the Gatwick Express and headed south to Sussex to meet our cousins. They were waiting there and it’s so nice to have those hugs and catch up time with people that you know and love. They took us straight back to their lovely, comfortable very British home and a great home cooked meal, then it was time for some much needed sleep.
Linda and Richard are my fifth cousins who I met doing genealogical research in 2001. They are really, really amazing hosts, much better than I can ever hope to be. They have taken such good care of me on five other occasions and this was no exception. They cooked us nice food, drove us around, gave us gifts and even gave up their own bed for our comfort. Thank you, thank you, thank you for that! Here is a beautiful watercolor that Lin made for me as a gift. I will cherish it always!
There are so many beautiful and interesting things to see in Sussex! I love just walking around the villages, stopping in at shops, maybe picking up a few things that are different than I can get in America. It was nice to show Neil where my family originated, walk in the church yard, see the WW1 memorial that has one of my ancestors name engraved on it. I love the hardware store there in Billingshurst and go in it on every visit just to see what interesting things they have that Home Depot does not.
Lin was keen on showing us St Botoph’s Church in Hardham in the Horsham District of West Sussex. Built about 1050, it has wall paintings from about 1100. A really interesting and important church, amazing!
Lin and Richard then drove us around the gorgeous country here. We stopped at the town of Petworth which is mentioned in the Doomsday Book. We walked around the town and stopped in at a few antique shops and St Mary’s Catholic Church. Petworth was bombed in World War ll in Septemberof 1942, when a lone German plane tried to bomb Petworth House. It missed the house and landed on the Petworth Boys’ School in North Street. Twenty eight boys died along with the headmaster and assistant teacher. So sad. I think most of us relate the Blitz only to London, but they also bombed much of the rest of England.
We then drove past the Goodwood Estate which was having a car event of some kind and we got to see lots of vintage cars. Just up the road is a Rolls Royce factory and there were dozens of new cars lined up outside. Apparently they were heading for the car show at Goodwood as well.
Richard treated us all to delicious fish & chips, Neil’s first authentic English! The place was called Andy’s Fish Bar, in Chichester. The portions were so huge I don’t think anyone actually finished the whole meal. I find it amusing because whenever I’ve had a conversation with anyone from the UK about food, they will mention the large portions in America.
We stopped at Arundel Castle on the way back and walked around the town a little bit. I had always wanted to see this castle because while doing genealogy, I remember seeing the name “Arundel” in my mother’s family history. I later found out that what I remembered was “Arundel, Maryland”. Big let down, thought it meant that we came from royalty! It was too late to go into the castle by this time so we went in to a little tea shop and had a dessert.
Back home for nice dinner and conversation, talking about all of the lovely things we got to see today and looking forward to more tomorrow.