We’re back from our quick, 5-day trip to Northern England to visit Jonny’s family and I may just go to bed at 9PM like I did last night! The problem with these quick trips home (I feel like it’s kind of my home these days) is that by the time you’re over the jet lag, you have to turn around and come back. Ah, well. I have no reason to complain. This is one of our first trips back that was almost completely trouble-free (sans the 24 hour stomach bug we both had over there). But you really don’t give a shit about those things, do you? Now, on to the food.
Jonny had been kind of home-sick and had been dreaming of freshly pulled pints of bitter for the past 4 months. For some reason, I was starting to have pub envy too. Honestly, no place on earth can do a pub like the UK. The atmosphere, the sounds, the smell and the just-chatty-enough-without-being-annoying bartenders make it different from any bar/pub/lounge I’ve been to outside of the UK. Because we have Fox Soccer Channel and Jonny can watch his ‘footie’ matches all weekend from the comfort of his couch, besides missing his family, he really does yearn for the British pub the most. And it’s sad because I can pay $500 to bring all the Premiership Football matches to our cable box (and he can drool over every Man United game), I can fly his family over for a visit, but there is nothing I can do to replace the missing English pub in his life. It’s frustrating, but we deal.
The second we landed at London Heathrow, even as sweaty, bloated, gassy, bad-breathed and tired as we were, we knew we had to stop off for a pub lunch on the way up to Manchester. We had only 2 hours of sleep on the plane (Virgin Airlines give you your own TV with like 30 movies and video games to choose from – I couldn’t peel myself away from it for more than a few hours!) but the adrenaline of getting to that pub lunch was keeping me up and helping Jonny find the energy to do the 3+ hour drive up North. We decided to stop in the adorable, quaint and touristy town of Stratford-Upon-Avon about 1 1/2 from Heathrow. I had been here a few years before, but only to grab a sandwich, sit out in the park and take a leisurely walk around town. Stratford-Upon-Avon may sound familiar to all you non-UK people reading – it is the birthplace of William Shakespeare. There’s loads to do around the town with lots of shopping and places to eat to make a night out of it. Regardless, we made an hour of it and were pleased with our selection – The Garrick Inn. It’s Stratfords oldest pub dating back to the 14th century, but the music selection piped in makes you feel as though you’re in 1988. It was fabulous and everything I could have wanted on 2 hours sleep. Jonny had the cottage pie (REMEMBER – Cottage Pie is made of BEEF… Shepherds Pie is made of LAMB. Shepherd’s herd sheep, cottages herd beef – it’s very simple… don’t get it wrong unless you want a cranky Englishman ‘schooling’ you) and I had the delicious Beef and Ruddles Ale Pie in shortcrust pastry with a jug of gravy on the side. WHOA… it was very good but note to everyone – do NOT attempt to drive another 2 hours after a pint and a large pub meal – even after you’ve taken a walk to wake yourself up. Jonny did a fabulous drive getting us there, but I was actually having a dream while my eyes were open. It happened, I swear.
Days later, we were well rested and ready to take a day trip to Chatsworth House in the beautiful and picturesque Peak District (in Derbyshire). The Chatsworth House is a little more than a house – it’s a friggin’ mansion with large, lovely gardens on a giant estate. The Duke and Dutchess of Devonshire still supposedly live in this ridiculously lavish ‘house’, but it’s so huge you’d probably never see them. It was beautifully decorated for Christmas and I very nerdily and dorkily and cheesily got majorly into the Christmas Spirit for the first time in 2007. We were also lucky to have a day with one of the clearest English skies I’ve ever seen. There was not one cloud in the sky – if you’ve ever been to the North in winter you’ll understand what a big deal this is. At lunchtime we were excited for another pub lunch. We found the charming Eyre Arms in Hassop, about 10 minutes drive from Chatsworth House. Built in the early 1600’s, this snug pub was registered as a public house in 1753. It was everything we wanted – delicious and cozy with log fire-burning next to us and hilarious local blue-hairs drinking ales in the middle of the day. Brilliant! Jonny had the amazingly scrumptious Venison Pie topped with a huge pillow of puff pastry. I ordered off the specials board – Roasted Pheasant in a madiera wine sauce with mushrooms and bacon. Again, we left happy, full and bloated. We were able to walk it off back at the Chatsworth House gardens where we frolicked and explored for two hours. I HIGHLY recommend checking out the Chatsworth House if you are making a trip to Northern England.
Unfortunately, our eating-fest was put on a minor hold while we puked and (you know what else) our faces off the following day with a strange 24 hour stomach bug. It’s always fun to waste a sick day while you’re on holiday!! It sucked but since we were at Jonny’s dad’s house and not at a hotel, we were comfy lying on the couch and drinking tea all day.
Stomach bug or not, we had a nice time on our quick jaunt to the UK. We gained weight and, thanks to that bug, we lost it all again!