England Revisited – QEII’s 70th Jubilee

Friends had put me on alert once Buckingham Palace announced the dates a year ago for Jubilee celebration, Jun 2nd to 5th, 2022. It was lucky we were able to make our visit coincide with it.

So how do the Brits celebrate the Platinum Jubilee? With gusto! That is for sure, plus bunting galore and lots of bubblies. We spotted buntings and Union Jack flags on buildings and houses everywhere. The Mall, the thoroughfare in front of Buckingham Palace, was certainly leading the pack and decked out with numerous numbers of Union Jack flags.

Buckingham Palace organized a four-day celebration and almost every village, town and borough of London has its own celebratory activities. There were many private parties too. My friend Amanda’s village organized an impressive four-day program that included a fly past! We attended its Big Lunch on Sunday, June 5th. Main section of The Street, the main thoroughfare of the village, became pedestrian only and families set up gazebos and tables with spread of food and drinks. The patriotic theme of red, blue and white was apparent. It was a treat to have experienced this unique British tradition!!

As a bonus, we saw Buckingham Palace’s light show on June 4th from our hotel room, The Cavendish, sweet! Just so happened, I had a lunch date with some girlfriends the day after the celebration ended. These are girls who love a few drinks and were always drinking every time we had met. Yet they were not drinking at that lunch. Reason? They had been drinking too much over the weekend and still “hanging over”, ha-ha!

England Revisited – Staying in an English Village

Where to go for first oversea vacation in 2 years? No brainer really, back to England of course!

At this point, dear Blog, I should explain about this hiatus of more than two years. We moved back to USA in Sep. 2020. Although that is not the only reason for the abrupt halt to my posts, I’ll spare you the details of vicissitude, and focus on returning to England for a holiday.

Living in London between 2015 and 2020 was truly the time of my life. Although I had been a fan and visited multiple times prior to moving to London, those five years afforded me the opportunity to explore further the British Isle in length and depth that I had not expected. I am now convinced that, despite its own host of issues and imperfections, the British Isle is my happy place. Interesting fact was that I didn’t come to the conclusion until after moving back to US. Sometimes one must step away to see the big picture.

Needless to say, it was exciting to be back. During almost three weeks’ time between May 26 – Jun 13, we stayed with a couple of friends in their village in Essex, took a road trip and finally spent a good portion of time in London. As a friend put it, “England is the best this time of the year”, I couldn’t agree more, I was reminded many times why I love England!

As much as I enjoy London the big town, I love the countryside too, and no visit to England would be complete without experiencing its countryside & village life, its heart and soul! Luckily, we were invited to stay with our dear friends Amanda and Ian in their village in Essex.

Having arrived at Heathrow Airport on May 26, we picked up our rental car from Enterprise, and drove towards Amanda and Ian. Heathrow, Enterprise, M25 and service areas on the way are formerly familiar stomping grounds, fatigue from the long flight swept away, and the excitement built, “Hello UK, I am back!”. As we left the traffic behind, entered the rural scene and along with it that sense of peace and quiet that I enjoy so much in the English countryside. Thus we began the first 4 days of our holiday.

Being close to London, our friends get the best of both country and town. Meanwhile, like many villages in UK, it boasts a long history and hosts a number of Grade II listed buildings. Although I have visited multiple times before, I still find it irresistible!! Take a little stroll with me through one of the walking routes, crossing wheat fields, picking on Elder Flowers, Dog Roses, and Sticky Grass while minding and avoiding Nettles, looking for the elusive manor house, which alas was completely concealed in greenery this time of the year, visiting Parish Church of St Mary dating back to 12th century, walking through high street spotting various old and new buildings, stopping at a war memorial, which is something you might see in every village of certain age and a way of reminding its residents how precious peace is, and watching a Saturday cricket match. And certainly, don’t forget delicious tea and cake at the end of the walk.