Exploring Bristol and Discovering Family Heritage

Waking up in the UK for the second day in a row was wonderful today. After exploring the village of Oldbury yesterday, I went into the city to explore Bristol today. I discovered that it resembles my college town of Columbia, Mo so much. The vibe was so chilled out and laid back that I had to keep reminding myself that I’m actually still across the pond – not home yet.

Our first stop was the Clifton Suspension Bridge. This bridge is the iconic Bristol bridge that spans the Avon Gorge and connects Bristol to Clifton. It’s gorgeous on either side and wonderful to drive across and walk down. Basically, we started the day off on a nature binge and nothing makes me happier than nature so that was definitely the best start we could have gotten off on. 

To preface this next story: Over the last year, my father has been researching our family genealogy and finding out where we came from. He’s spent countless hours uncovering facts and searching for clues as to who we are and has even made a personalized journal of all of his findings for me. The journal chronicles my life and many of my ancestors dating back 75 generations. He made it special for me and titled it, “A History of Adventurers, Rebels and Royalty,” which fits me perfectly (I think he did that on purpose..). Anyway, my family coat of arms is located in Bristol Cathedral, so today I made it my mission to go find it. Arriving at the cathedral, I was overcome with excitement and couldn’t wait to fulfill my Dad’s research and get him a picture of something he’d uncovered in all of his hard work. I glanced over all of the arms that I saw at the beginning of the cathedral and walked around the front. I made my way along the sides of the church and then to the back and came around to the other side with no luck. I began to grow anxious and started to realize that I wasn’t going to find it.. I finally got to the back of the church and searched frantically for the arms but still no luck. I even went to the gift shop to talk to the workers and ask them for a guide or information on all the arms in the cathedral, but to no avail. I had searched the entirety of the cathedral and had absolutely no luck. To say I was bummed would be an understatement. I so wanted to find it and share it with my Dad but I guess I’ll just have to search another church the next time I come in to Bristol.. Because there’s actually a chance that it’s located in a separate church that I also tried to search but was closed today. So there’s still a chance I’ll find it one day!

Well, after getting bummed out about that, Gem and I strolled to the harbor and walked through all of the restaurants and clubs located there. The entire area is so laid back just like home, I loved it. Everyone (again) is so nice and it was a joy to just walk around and take in the hipster culture that lives within Bristol’s center. It was quite a quiet afternoon after the church search. After Gem showed me around all of her favorite areas, we decided to head out of town via the graffiti street so that I could see the art that decorates the city and represents its spirit.

Graffiti street was no let down. Plastered with spray paint and vivid colors, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the art that enveloped the area. There was even some Banksy art lining the road, such as a break dancing Jesus that spanned the entire height of one of the taller buildings. Needless to say, it was all gorgeous. 

 We finished off our day with a drive back into the quaintest village in England – Oldbury – to then go see an English castle. Thornbury Castle was everything I’d ever hoped an English castle would be. Granted it was small, but it was just like in the movies. Beautiful architecture, magnificent garden and even a vineyard out front. Visited by people ranging from Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn to David Beckham, I couldn’t help but count myself as royalty while walking the grounds. 

 The end of our day included afternoon tea and biscuits and Wimbledon.

Could it get any more British.. ?

Discovering England’s Quaintest Little Village

As of last night, I no longer live in Paris and am traveling the U.K. for about two weeks. This first week I’m staying with Gemma in her village of Oldbury and I have to say, it’s actually like a dream. Let’s start off with Gem’s house. It’s actually how I picture my life when I have my own house – a beautiful little cottage in the English countryside complete with old wooden doors for every room. It even still has the original bread oven installed in the dining room from 1760. I’m obsessed with this house and am currently devising a plan to dig it up and bring it back to the U.S. with me..

Anyway, today everyone in the house was either working or in school so I was left to explore the village and country alone. I love exploring on my own and discovering the world in the peace of my mind so today was absolutely wonderful. I took off on a walk and strolled through the country into the village. Immediately walking down the road I was ecstatic over the fact that I didn’t have to look down and avoid eye contact for fear of being hit on and instead was smiled at and waved at by pretty much everyone I passed. People in England are so incredibly friendly and it’s such a drastic change from my life in France. Constantly in smiles, I don’t think I’ll ever leave. Now Momma has another thing to worry about – I think I’ll be moving to England one day.

Anyway, I stroll into the village and immediately waltz into the only pub in town. It’s a quaint little pub with yummy pub food and delicious pub pints. I had the chicken and ham pie and a pint of Beck’s and just sat and enjoyed the company around me. Though I arrived at opening and it was empty, by the time I had my food it was quite full and I indulged in people watching and eavesdropping on my mother tongue for a bit. 

 After leaving the pub, I continued on my stroll through the village and stopped at about every other cottage to gawk. England is just so pretty! The architecture is just like out of the movies – it certainly didn’t disappoint. Anyway, I come up to a hill and climb to the top where a church is stood. The hill was a lot higher and steeper than I’d anticipated and by the time I got to the top I was a bit out of breath, I’ll admit. But once I looked down below me, it didn’t matter. The view was absolutely spectacular. The river Severn was rushing below and so many lush fields and adorable cottages lined the coast that I was in awe. I must have sat there on a bench at the church graveyard for about 20 minutes just staring and smiling and doing my daily devotion before returning to Gem’s perfect little cottage. God truly has blessed me in this life. 

 So, in case you didn’t notice, I had a wonderful first day in England. It’s all I ever hoped for and I hope to move here one day. To top it all off, I’m sitting here drinking a cup of tea before bed. Life is good.