We’ve been back here in the US of A for nearly three weeks and most of that I’ve had a cold. Part of that time I’ve had a sinus infection – and thankfully that appears to have taken a hike. And so, I finally have some gumption to kick my butt a bit to write about the trip to England that Mr. Muse and I went on last month.
This trip has been on my travel list for many years. Since 1999 as a matter of fact when my sister’s internet friend, Duncan, flew to the US to visit her and stayed with the family for 10 days. I thought Duncan was a nice person, the visit was great (Mr. Muse and I were in the process of moving back to WI from Duluth, MN at the time) and wouldn’t it be neat to return the visit some day. I’d been saying, “next year we’ll go to England”, for many of the previous years and last year I finally changed my statement to, “We are going to England in 2015. I’m putting my foot down.”
We saved our pennies and watched the plane ticket prices. And cringed. England is damned expensive to fly to! The day I saw prices at $1100/person I said to Mr. Muse, “We need to buy our tickets now – it’s the lowest I’ve seen the price,” I contacted our travel agent (who got us a better deal with a package deal with car rental). When it was all said and done, the ticket prices had jumped up hundreds more but we’d gotten “locked in” at a lower price (not as low as when I first made the call). So, with our first hurdle cleared, we started looking at places to stay.
Manchester was our chosen city to fly into since it was the nearest airport to our friends and ticket prices were less than if we’d flown into Birmingham, Liverpool or London. Since Mr. Muse and I like to walk, we eventually settled on staying in the Peak District in Derbyshire. It’s a ruggedly beautiful area with tons of park land and walking paths galore. And sheep. Lots and lots of sheep.
But I digress… There were few expectations we had prior to leaving on the trip. Those expectations were:
- It would rain every day.
- My only gluten free menu option when dining out would be jacket potatoes. Those are baked potatoes for the unfamiliar.
I’m happy to say that my expectations were not met. Most of the days it was sunny and the temperatures ranged from the mid-50’s to low-60’s. There was even one day were it got into the low-70’s.
Gluten-free dining was actually incredibly easy to accomplish. Our first meal was at, The Hydro Cafe, in Buxton, a restaurant owned by a man who has Celiac disease. Mr. Muse and I both got to have fish and chips as our first meal in England.
We stayed at a vacation rental rather than a hotel, and we’re really glad we did. Portion sizes at restaurants are just as large in England as they are in the US… well, maybe a fraction smaller in some cases, but Mr. Muse and I both ended up taking home half our meals much of the time. Fun fact, “take away” at many dining establishments is not common. You’re welcome fellow American travelers for Mr. Muse and I leading the charge in our requests for “take away” boxes. Plus, our friends learned that they could get pudding (that would be dessert… not necessarily pudding) to go from a pub near their home.
Another of the easy, breezy, gluten-freezy bonuses of traveling to England: their grocery stores have more and TASTIER gluten free options! Part of our grand scheme for staying at a vacation rental was the ability to cook for ourselves if dining out was going to be difficult. Plus, we could get breakfast items at the grocery store to save on some funds. Our landlords also had supplied the apartment with a loaf of gluten free bread that was the closest in texture to full-of-delicious-gluten bread that I’ve had in three years. They also had local butter in the fridge, lactose-free milk, and previous occupants had left various and sundry items like jams, coffee, and tea.
So, before I get too wordy, I’ll wrap up and say that we had a great trip! We got to see our friend Duncan again after 16 years. We got to meet his wife Clare who was an “internet friend”, children and parents – all of who we’ve been corresponding with over the years.
We got to meet another of my internet friends, Matt, who drew the header images and avatar images for my social media accounts. We’ve been friends for eight years this month (Halloween is our Friendiversary!) and I was incredibly happy to finally meet him in person. I’m also kicking myself mentally that I forgot to take a photo with him while we were together.
Besides visiting friends and touring their areas with them, we ventured out on our own, and I’m tickled with all of the memories that were made during the trip. England is a place that both Mr. Muse and I found to be wonderful and we intend to make our way there again. And more than just once – there is so much more we want to see and more visits in the flesh to be had with friends.
Stay tuned in future posts for more photos!