So, to sum up the past week since I last wrote, I love England! I am so lucky to have wonderful friends and family who have taken such good care of me while I am here, making my experience the best possible.
I arrived to my English relatives home Wednesday evening. I stayed with a lovely old lady named Gwen, she is my grandpa’s cousin and therefore my third cousin. I met her children, their children and heard all about my own family and its intense history of which I had very little knowledge about before arriving. She had tons of photos and newspaper clippings that were all interesting for me. She even somehow had pictures of my brother and I from when we were little. I feel as though I have a new grandmother!
I was fed very well and had a hot cup of tea in my hand at all times. I have never really been one for tea but when in England, do as the English do, eh? For breakfast one morning I was given hard-boiled eggs in little egg cups… I was really confused as to how to eat it so I just peeled the whole things and ate it with a spoon. Turns out I was only supposed to peel half of it and eat it out of the shell out of the little egg cup. They found it so amusing that I had never used an egg cup before that they bought me some later as a souvenir.
Along with the tea and egg cups, something else English that I like and experienced at both Nikki’s place and now here, is having hot water bottles to heat up the bed. You just fill up the water bottles with boiling water and put them under the sheets at the foot of the bed so that you have a cozy bed to get into and it lasts all night. I’m sure we have these in Canada but I have never used them but used them at the two English houses I’ve stayed in so far.
Gwen’s son’s new Filipino wife, the latest addition to the family before me, was my tour guide. She explained to me all the dynamics of the family that she had learned and took me to the nearest city, Rochester. There, we checked out a castle, beautiful chapel, museum and did some shopping.
The town where the family is based out of is a small town in the region of Kent and is particularly proud of their influence on Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations. We visited a small cute church where some of the original movie was filmed… there was a small room inside with walls completely plastered in seashells. The man that ran the church was so dedicated to it and has spent the past 30-some year taking care of it with his wife that recently passed away.
I was originally only planning on spending a night or two there then head to finish up my trip in London but had such a nice time that I spent a third night. I feel that I really experienced true England with this family. Rather then just hostel hopping and interacting with other travellers; I was immersed in the authentic culture, which can be near impossible when travelling.