England: the Land of the Queen and Clotted Cream
Updated: Sep 24
"Home, Sweet Home" was the phrase the other night when we finally settled back in our apartment in NYC after traveling all day from London. Chef Paul was contracted at Glyndebourne Opera for two productions and my schedule allowed me to be with him for the entire gig. This meant spending the longest amount of time to date (after 2 previous summers) in the small town of Lewes in East Sussex about an hour southeast of London.
Time sure flies when you're having fun. Back in June before embarking on our journey across the pond, I was overwhelmed with the idea of spending 9 weeks in a foreign country. Even though I already knew so much about the town: the food, the environment, etc. there were still so many other uncertainties: would we find nice friends to spend time with? Would we be comfortable with our accommodations? The mere idea that I might have to spend such a long period of time sleeping in an uncomfortable bed was causing a tiny bit of dread to creep into what should have only been pure excitement. I think most people who travel for work would agree that sleeping in one's OWN bed is one of the most cherished things about coming home after a long trip.
Grateful beyond measure, we had an amazing experience this summer. We were super comfortable in the house we rented. It had a lovely dining area perfect for hosting proper meals with friends (more on that later!), a small, but modern and well equipped kitchen, a cozy living room for drinking coffee and watching reruns of Frasier in the morning (it's always fun to see what American TV they air in other countries), 3 bathrooms (a luxury for a couple who lives in 650 square feet with one bathroom!) and a comfortable bed, HALLELUJAH! It even had an extra bedroom which came in handy when we hosted our dear friend from NYC for a week.
New friends were made, friends who live in England were given an abundance of time to reconnect and acquaintances turned into dear friends over long conversations about our mutual affection for cats, food, games and scotch whisky.
*me with our neighbor friend (photo credit A Singer's Suitcase)
Most days were spent just living life as we would at home in NYC--carving time into each day for practicing for the next gig and going to the gym, grocery shopping and cooking, taking care of the house, etc. We took the short train ride to Brighton multiple times for movies, sushi and Mexican food: three of the only things you can't find in Lewes. We were blessed with good weather and took advantage of walking trails to/from Glyndebourne through the downs. England is also known for having multiple charity shops on the Main Street in every town so I got my daily fix of bargain hunting.
*Sheep in the shade while walking the Downs from Glyndebourne
It's well known that we like to entertain and since the scotch tastes the same and is cheaper if you drink it at home, we started inviting our friends over for meals around our big dining table. After about the third or fourth meal, the "Lewes Supper Club" was formed. We would pick a genre of food, buy and prepare the meal and our friends would bring the spirits and we'd split the cost. Some of the meals included: proper English breakfast, German, Mexican, Italian (2x), BBQ, Indian, Asian and, my favorite, Thanksgiving! American holiday foods are so delicious, but we tend to only eat them during Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was fun sharing with our non-American friends the food and traditions that have become synonymous with Turkey Day!
*Happy Thanksgiving / Aug-tober Feast! (Not pictured: turkey)
Looking back on the summer now, we are just so grateful for all the special times spent during all of our travels, including trips to Chicago, Savannah and New Orleans before heading overseas. The mixture of work and vacation (workationing), being with friends who become your away-from-home family and spending time in so many diverse environments is a major perk to the downside of choosing a nontraditional career and spending so much time away from home.
Cheers! Until next time, England. We sure do enjoy your loveliness....