The very first meal I ate on British soil came from a food cart near a sidewalk on a busy street in London. The man who sold it to me (30 pence!) wore a newspaperman’s cap and got impatient with me when I couldn’t figure out the coins.
Nothing fancy, nothing exotic. Just a slice of cheddar cheese squished between two slices of white bread with maybe a little butter on it, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: it was the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten.
I was a 21-year-old college student, far away from my family for the first time and had just flown across the Atlantic with the group from my college with whom I’d be studying and sharing the summer. First stop: London.
My roommate and I dropped our bags in our hotel room, grabbed the girls from across the hall, and headed out to explore. None of us had been in London before, and none of us had any clue where we were going, but, armed with a few pounds in our pockets and an insatiable sense of independence, we ventured forth.
To the sandwich cart on the street below.
And that’s pretty much where our independent adventure ended for the day because as we were munching on white bread sandwiches, jet lag hit us right between the eyes and none of us could walk a step further.
But in that moment, sun streaming down on us (confusing me even further because isn’t London supposed to be rainy?), I fell in love. And this has been a love story that has spanned nearly three decades and six visits (and counting!).
I’m not sure I’d consider myself an Anglophile. I know some things about the United Kingdom, but not as much as a true Anglophile would. I’ve visited a few times and have a pretty good understanding of how to get around, even while driving on the left-hand side of the road. But I’m often overcome by how much I don’t know about England and how much I’d still like to know. So I don’t call myself an Anglophile (too often, anyway).
What I do know is this: a long time ago I visited a place that captured my heart. A place that I have shared with many and still wish to share with others. A place that is as calming and as beautiful and as soul-saddening as any I’ve ever visited. A place that calls my name every year about this time.
I’d like to share a little bit of my love for that place with you over the next few weeks in a series I’m calling “For the Love of England.” I hope you’ll come along as I explain why I love that place and why I keep going back. Maybe you'll fall in love too!
In the meantime, tell me . . . is there a place that has gotten under your skin? Where is it and why do you love it? Share in the comments!