For context: Intro to My Happiness Project
The weekend after Term II officially ended, we had planned a coach tour to Windsor, Bath, and Stonehenge. This was a great way to see a lot of landmarks on our list without splitting up since Hannah was the most eager for Stonehenge, while Emeline and I are huge Austen fans. Plus the coach made it so convenient and cost-effective since none of could drive. All in all, it’s a super great way to use your time if you’ve only got one day.
[For more details, read my guide to the tour and excursions here; Top left: Roman baths; Bottom left: Stonehenge; Right: Windsor Castle]
As we did after London, we spent the next day, Sunday, recuperating from our very busy previous day. This time, by sleeping in (missing breakfast in the dining hall) and strolling into town for a late brunch at Cafe Rouge.
Our third weekend in the British Isles was by far the most ambitious. We knew we wanted to leave England at least one weekend because it would be so ridiculously convenient to get to another country (and cheap). We talked about taking the Eurostar to France–Emeline and I met in French class–or a sleeper train to Scotland, but ultimately Ireland won out.
Each of us has Irish ancestry. My maiden name, Rochford, is an English family surname that settled in County Cork, Ireland after the Anglo-Norman conquest and my Great Aunt Mary went to a family reunion in Dublin a few summers ago. Becca‘s grandparents are Canadian immigrants from the UK. Emeline’s last name is Phinney which is super Irish and her grandfather did a lot of digging into their ancestry. Hannah is the most diverse of all of us and has a lot of Spanish, but also Irish ancestry.
We chose to wait until the third–and last full–weekend because we wanted to be sure we had our bearings before jaunting off to another country. Hannah and I had never been out of the US before. Plus it was super helpful to have learned the taxi/airport ropes from going in and out of London twice already. Not to mention, we all needed the first few weeks to work on our Term I papers.
[For more details, read my guides to Dublin and the Cliffs excursion, plus my restaurant review of Murray’s here;
Left: Cliffs of Moher; Top right: Gallaher’s Bistro in Dublin; Bottom right: Cliffs of Moher]
After we got back into Cambridge, our Brenau professor invited us to dinner at Prezzo so we could tell her all about our trip. It was a little more formal than a pub, but not quite fine dining either. As in, I’d feel comfortable coming in wearing jeans but not necessarily a graphic tee. I had pineapple & prosciutto pizza with a lemon San Pellegrino. I’d been craving some pizza, but trying to eat authentically British (I caved because our professor paid!).
We stopped at Benet’s on the way back for a strawberry ice cream cone and coffee. I never want to go back to Breyers.
Since it was our last week and we still hadn’t been to The Granta, Becca and I had dinner there that Thursday (Emeline WON the chance to perform at LTD’s charity gala and Hannah went as her plus one/chaperone).
We split a jug of Pimm’s and I had a beef & ale pie with mash and carrots. We sat on the river terrace and it was perfect weather. Unfortunately there was a group of guys being sexist and calling women “slags” (i.e. sluts), so we left instead of getting another drink. We went back to the Selwyn pub for a take-away Rekorderlig and went to Becca’s room to write thank you notes to our professors.
Our last day of classes was pretty eventful. It was one of our professor’s birthday and she brought us Chelsea buns from Fitzbillies. I’m not entirely sure about the U.K. but I do know the custom in France for birthdays is that the birthday girl takes her friends out, rather than the other way around. Which honestly sounds more cost effective and a good way to actually do/get what you want.
After the closing dinner, we all went out with a Greek girl from our class, Athina, to the Selwyn pub for a drink to use the rest of our ‘apology vouchers.’ We walked to the garden and chatted for a good long while, before going on a ‘pub crawl.’
Hannah went to bed because she was still recovering from London, while the rest of us headed into town. We went to The Granta, then to McDonald’s for a flake cone, and then finished off at The Anchor.
We slept in the following Saturday morning, our last full day. We’d reserved it to spend in town so we could buy anything we had our eye on and, of course, do housekeeping things like pack.
It was lunch time when we finally strolled into town so we tried a place we’d passed before called Byron’s Proper Hamburgers. I ordered a cheeseburger with bacon & crispy onions, fries (different from chips b/c they’re thinner), and lemonade. It’s certainly ruined me for places like Hardee’s.
After that, we headed to Heffers and I bought a Hufflepuff edition and the Jim Kay illustrated edition of The Philosopher’s Stone, a few Penguin Classics paperbacks (since they only sell the clothbounds in the States), and Winnie the Pooh and the Wrong Bees for PJ.
We’d been planning to go to Grantchester again, but it was very cold and rainy, so instead we stopped in at the Michaelhouse Café in St. Michael’s Chapel for tea and scones. It was gorgeous inside, an odd but beautiful blend of modern and ancient.
After that we went back to our dorms to unload our souvenirs and then pack and weigh our suitcases for the morning. We had to turn in our keys first thing.
We all ordered Wagamama from Deliveroo that evening. We tipped the cyclist £3 and he was very surprised. I had teriyaki chicken donburi. I almost couldn’t understand their menu because of how white-washed Asian food names are in the States.
I was beyond excited to see PJ and my husband. We’d Skyped every night except for maybe two nights like when I was in Dublin and our schedule was just too hectic. Honestly, I don’t think she even missed me. I was so worried that she would cry for me every night that I was gone, but she did fine and bonded with daddy. He on the other hand was surprisingly forlorn without me!