As the train pulled out of London, we were amazed by how many cranes filled the sky. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but it seemed like every street in London had a building under construction.
Unfortunately, every new buildings seemed to be a large glass box, not our cup of tea. After an hour ride past fields dotted with sheep and horses, we arrived in the town of Chichester. We picked this town because it has the most fun name to say. Once you start saying it, you can’t stop. “I love Chichester already! Isn’t Chichester just the greatest? What are we gonna do in Chichester?”
Mom also picked this town because it’s close to London, close to the ocean and is a Cathedral town, which means it has plenty of history (including ancient Roman bath ruins.)Most importantly though, Chichester has a Cath Kidston! Note Dad desperately looking around, planning his escape route. Before heading to our apartment we had a spot of tea and crumpets with clotted cream. Clotted cream is not my favorite, but crumpets are going to be a new staple in my diet. (They’re sold at Trader Joe’s!)
Here’s our British country kitchen. Quite a bit bigger than our London one. It easily fit a British toaster, a British kettle, a British bread box, a British radio, and a British washer. As well as some interestingly hung art work. And look what we found in the fridge!
Our English breakfast table. It’s no London terrace, but it was cozy and felt more realistic to what actual British living is like. Our tiny backyard even boasted a palm tree! If you squinted you could almost pretend we were on a tropical beach. (And not a town that brought drizzle and clouds every single morning. ) Upstairs there were two tiny attic rooms. My bedroom only reminded me of my lack of a sister 😦 Dad testing out the master bedroom. This may have been when Dad just wanted to sit for a second and read and I was pestering him to “hop to it.” There’s a whole Chichester to be explored!
Thankfully Mom is always up for exploring. We pulled on our wellies and headed out …Our first stop was the ancient city walls.We walked atop the remaining structures and peered down into the charming backyards.
The couples of Chichester may have a hard time agreeing on a paint color for their homes, but at least they are good at compromising:Then we made the first of many visits to Chichester Cathedral. St. Richards greeted us to his 900-year-old cathedral.
I realized a little too late that there’s a different camera setting for taking photos in dim cathedrals. My favorite part was this statue. Mom and Dad were equally enthralled. Dad said he will remember this statue and poem for the rest of his life (and he actually will). The knight is the Earl of Arundel holding hands with his second wife. It’s rather scandalous because the wife is suggestively crossed towards him and he has taken off his armored glove to hold hands with her. Risqué for 1376. Dad then went through the poem, line by line, and explained it all to me. Afterwards, we enjoyed some gin and tonics and stumbled back home through the medieval streets of Chichester. Just kidding, again, working on those night photography skills.
In reality, we spent an hour at evening song in the cathedral. Amazingly we managed to lose mom (or she lost us) in a nearly empty cathedral so Dad and I listened to the choir alone. Almost literally alone — there were maybe five other audience members in the huge cathedral. Shows are always a tad uneasy when the audience is outnumbered by the performers. Once it ended, we had to find Mom. Had she gone home early? A local pub for cider?
We didn’t have cellphones that worked in Britain, and this actually turned out to be a great exercise. Throughout the trip we’d have to set designated meeting times and places. When that fell through you’d have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and guess where they’d go.
Once we found Mom, it turned out she’d been in the cathedral the whole time but had accidentally sat down in the choir’s seats. She was too embarrassed to get up and leave once they had filed in around her so she got to experience the evening song right in the thick of it. (She did not sing along.) She reported it to be such a beautiful experience that she returned a few days later with Dad to sit among the choir.
Day 2: More British breakfastsAnd the morning news courtesy of the BBC (unfortunately streaming only sad news as we were in England during the Paris attacks.)Perhaps a rather pointless photo; this is just to illustrate why I need a moss-covered roof when I grow up. I’d also like a wet little British puppy if at all possible. Oh and winding quaint streets with mint green bakery storefronts. That is all. Anyways, on our first full day we set out on the bus to find some falcons. I had gotten it in my head that I wanted to meet/pet/train a falcon. This idea was partly inspired by Tilly (the cat) who has been known to catch birds, mice and rabbits and bring them to Dad, who calls it his “poor man’s falconry.” I wanted to see some original falconry and Mom found me a falconry!
We got off at the side of the road and wandered up and down for a while. After consulting multiple maps and asking a local farmer about this elusive falconry, we concluded that it had closed. My dreams of English falconry were dashed!
For the rest of the trip, I’d point at every random seagull, pigeon, or sparrow and ask Mom and Dad, “Hey is that a falcon?” Once they caught on they’d always assure me that “yes!” it indeed was. I was consoled. And we saved the 100 or so pounds that one must pay to spend a day training falcons. After our falconry fiasco, we hopped back on the bus and took it all the way to the sea.
It was chilly and so windy you couldn’t keep your eyes open for long without getting them coated in sand. But a surprisingly large group of wind surfers were braving the cold. Once the wind got the best of us we headed back to the fields to visit the cows.
Sure, we all know Dad has a remarkable ability to remember every obscure historical fact he’s ever read. But did you know he also has an amazing ability to replicate animal sounds? His horse neigh could fool a jockey. When he tested out his “moo-ing” with these cows one started briskly trotting away in terror. Dad still won’t tell us what he told the cow. I returned to America alone because I’m not quite at retirement age yet. Mom and Dad though spent five more days exploring museums, cemeteries, churches and pubs. While we all loved England, Mom was the most smitten and is already planning her next trip.
Bye, England. You were lovely!