Why hi there. I’m Lizaanne. Yup, that’s me right up there ^^^ in front of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Tally Mom, who just might be my younger sister, has kindly asked me to guest post about Life as an Adventure.
Sometimes adventures begin when you least expect, and from the oddest origins. I met my boyfriend Dave through the international podcasting community– for those of you who’ve never heard of them, podcasts are essentially free online radio shows, crafted generally by amateurs about subjects they enjoy. Blatant plug [what?! Tally Mom said I could!]– our podcast is PDAIS. We have all kinds of fun talking about all kinds of movies, music, art, and other pop culture in whatever way takes our fancy.
Dave is English, a South London chap. So, quite naturally, as we fell further in love [diamonds, shymonds-- Skype is a girl's best friend!], we together started planning my trip to England– my first international adventure. I’ve always been an Anglophile, so this trip was to be doubly fantastic for me. To be perfectly honest, Dave being the frankly marvelous fellow he is, he did most of the planning on his end. I just got a passport, saved up all year, and then did the bravest thing I’ve ever done. I got on a plane. Thus it was that, at the end of June, I arrived in England for two weeks. To tell all of everything that happened would be far far more than one blog post, but I shall give you some of the highlights.
Let’s begin at Tampa Airport. So, passports ready, ladies and gentlemen, please…
I flew from Tampa straight to Gatwick Airport in London, a flight that took eight hours. We left in the late afternoon and flew through the night. I watched the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean. Its pinks and purples and oranges breaking the utter darkness, spreading in streaks across the green-grey water. Then there were the brilliant greens of Welsh and English fields broken by ancient stone walls and little flocks of cotton-ball sheep.
I arrived, sleep-deprived and giddy– decidedly giddy–at about half-past eight in the morning, though my body thought it was only three thirty. Security and passports done (a fairly simple process, really), I wandered into the arrival area almost too tired to be nervous about meeting Dave in person for the first time. Was he one of the guys holding signs with names on? No. Was he sitting in one of those chairs, eyes buried in a newspaper? No. What if… well… what if he didn’t come to meet me? What would I do? And then there he was, walking through the doors. Apologizing and adorably flustered. My Dave. My London adventure started in just the right way– up on tiptoe and hugging him.
Over the two weeks I spent in England, our adventures varied– from just the two of us taking walk down to the local shops and to a day at the seaside in Brighton, all the way to the whole group of us meeting up in Hyde Park in London for a picnic organized by another podcaster and on another day visiting the Doctor Who Experience (yes, I’m a nerd-girl . We even, courtesy of a very kind friend indeed, got tickets to see “Much Ado About Nothing” in the West End, starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate! A whole series of absolutely fantastic adventures… [If you ask TallyMom very nicely indeed, she might let me post again about a few of these.]
But that first Sunday turned out to be one of the best surprise adventures of all… The Bluebell Railway. Have any of you ever seen the Masterpiece Theater version of ‘The Railway Children,’ ‘Miss Potter,’ or ‘The Ruby in the Smoke’? They were all filmed at the Bluebell Railway. This is a gorgeously restored steam railway, and Dave had planned a whole afternoon/ evening for us and our friends, and he’d kept the whole thing under his hat so that I didn’t know until we arrived how wonderful and beautiful it all would be.
We drove through verdantly green hedges, along twisty and turning country roads and round a corner discovered the train station. Dave, our friends, and I wandered around the station and the platform for about an hour, admiring the beauty and careful restoration. He had chosen a Victorian Night for us to visit, so all of the staff and many of the other guests were all dolled up in authentic (and maybe not-quite-so-authentic) Victorian costumes.
The station master called ‘All Aboard!’ and we climbed into our waiting carriage– just like in those old classic movies. Waiting for us was a wicker picnic basket of pork pies, scotch eggs, biscuits (read: cookies), scones, lemonades, fizzy drinks and wines.
With puffs of smoke and the call of whistle, the engine pulled the train out of the station, and through the rolling hills, fields of wild flowers, old dark tunnels, and bits of green, vibrant woods. I sat next to the windows, eyes like saucers and whispering variations of “Wow!” and “Oh!” for the whole journey. I’m sure the others thought I was rather easily impressed, but the Sussex countryside that wafted past my window just took my breath away.
We stopped at one station for a few minutes, and then headed back through the first station through to the next one further on. As we pulled out of the station, Dave leaned out the window and took a picture that really looks like it could have been taken one hundred years ago.
We returned to the station at twilight, disembarked and then crossed a little bridge and climbed a hill up to the large white marquee in the field. Here, we ate our picnic while waiting for the second half of the evening to begin– a night of Victorian Music Hall performances. Cockney Pearly singers in their button-bedecked costumes, an amazing violinist who got everyone in the crowd to sing and dance together while she danced and played while wearing a gorgeous fitted dress and six-inch heels, a sweet singer who brought a tear to everyone’s eye, and finally a pantomime dame who sang ‘No One Loves a Fairy When She’s Forty.’ Dave said it was the possible the best Music Hall performance he’d ever seen, and it’s certainly the best I’ve ever attended! We were between tears of pathos and tears of laughter all night, with a bit of Highland Flinging in the aisles to round it off.
Then down we walked, lit by the last rays of the sunset, back towards the station for our drive home.
I flew home from England a week and a bit later, but those moments holding hands with my fella as we wandered down the hills linger in my mind even now. He’ll be having his own first American Adventure this March, as we take the next step towards our lives together. Until then, we’re back to Skype and letters. Treasuring every moment until we’re together again.
Just a few precious moments of my England adventure, but I hope you enjoyed them, TallyMom Readers.
Bon Voyage on your own life adventures!