As I sit in a small, cozy flat in the south of England, 70 miles from London, a cup of black tea in hand, I can’t help but think how lovely this country is. This is my third trip to England, second of the year, and this country continues to be too good to me. It’s incredible – a country about the size of the state Michigan with such vast green countryside and a plethora of unique, lively cities. How could you grow tired of this brilliant place?
There’s a lot to love about England and to thank this country for. Here’s a list of the top things I love about England as a southern American.
Endless footpaths and hiking. There is more than 140,000 miles worth of footpaths across England and its neighbor Wales. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act enact the right to roam, so people are legally protected to travel on foot. This allows everyone accesses to loads of peaceful, picturesque trails winding through the countryside, even alongside farmers’ fields. England offers a variety of long-distance hikes like the Pennine Way, South Downs Way, and Cotswold Way. You can even walk along the full length of the Thames Rivers. There are also countless leisurely walks perfect for a Sunday stroll all over the country.
Great pub food. I come from the United States where all too often bar food reeks of mediocrity. So I’m constantly surprised by the tastiness of food in pub after pub in England. Authentic English cuisine seems to be centered around comfort food, making you feel at home instantly. You’ll typically have a dish featuring meat or fish paired with potatoes and another vegetable or two. My favorite has to be bangers and mash. Because when is sausage, mashed potatoes, and gravy ever a bad idea?
Afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is a luxurious English treat I’d love to indulge in way too often. The menu varies, but it typically includes sandwiches and scones, an assortment of sweets, such as cakes, muffins, and macaroons, and of course tea. I even had one that served a small smoothie sampling. Afternoon tea is a light meal perfect for catching up with friends and family. It’s typically served in tearooms and hotels and often eaten between 4 pm to 6 pm.
Sheep sightings. Almost certainly if you take a walk into the English countryside, you’ll see fields and fields of sheep. It makes you feel out of the city even if you just passed a street buzzing with traffic. As you pass the herd, the sheep stop snacking on grass and stare “bah”-ing to the rhythm of your feet plodding along the ground. And it’s always fun trying to spot the lambs because, well, they’re just so darn cute.
Cheese crumpets. I’m seriously upset crumpets haven’t made it over the U.S. yet. (Come on, America!) A crumpet is hard to explain if you’ve never seen one before, but I’ll give it a try. It’s a thick, round savory cake with holes in one side. Some people melt butter on the top, but I think it tastes absolutely delectable with melted cheese.
Wimbledon. The oldest tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon is played at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London every summer. As one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, it lasts for two weeks at the end of June and beginning of July. I may be biased as a tennis player, but it is one of the grandest sporting events and venues in the world. I attended for the first time this year and was completely enthralled with seeing such a high level of tennis in person and the beautiful venue packed with perfectly manicured grass tennis courts and the legendary ivy growing along the outside of the center court.
Pimm’s Cup. One of the staple alcoholic drinks at Wimbledon, Pimm’s Cup includes Pimm’s No. 1, a gin-based liqueur, lemon soda or ginger ale, mint leaves, strawberries, cucumber, and orange. As one of my favorite alcoholic beverages, it’s a perfect, refreshing drink on a warm summer day. I think I’ll actually go pour myself one now.
Seaside towns. Being one of the countries on the island of Great Britain, England has a variety of beautiful and unique seaside towns throughout the country perfect for a city break. I visited Brighton on the southern coast earlier this year and enjoyed its rock beach and quirky atmosphere.
Cornish pasties. A pasty is a baked pastry stuffed with meat and vegetables. An authentic Cornish pasty includes beef with potato, swede, and/or onion. Cornwall, a county in the southwestern corner of England, has a history of pasties dating back to the 17th century, so they must know what they’re doing.
Central location in the world. Not only is England an amazing country to explore itself, it also is a great location for a journey to see the rest of the world. You can drive, fly, or take a ferry or train to continental Europe. Flying from London, it can take less than seven hours to make it to the northeast coast of the United States. Additionally, it takes about 10 hours to be in Beijing, China, six hours to land in Cairo, Egypt, 11 hours to touch ground in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and 20 hours to reach the Down Under in Brisbane, Australia. Heathrow Airport alone flies into 84 countries, making it a breeze to get just about anywhere.
What has your experiences been like in England? What do you love about this country?