Swallowfield, England

I arrived in London after a short stay in Norway, and my heart was so happy. Being back in a place of such significance before I head over to Laos {another place of significance} is an incredible blessing.

The UK is "home", second to New Zealand, of course. Walking out of Paddington Station like I did so may times during my 7 years here left me feeling that calm you feel when you arrive back "home", but also excited as there is always more to explore in London. Similarly to how I feel when I see the 'Kia Ora' sign in the Auckland airport arrival terminal. 

Tash met me at the Brunel Hotel near Paddington for a night in London so that I didn't have to worry about moving my bag farther or making my way out to Swallowfield on my own. 

The next morning, we caught the train to Swallowfield, where Tash has been working in a traditional English pub like something out of a movie-- nasty English beer included. 

Tash had made us a lunch reservation at the pub where she works, The George & Dragon, and so the two of us {along with her friend, Zara}, split appetizers and a bottle of New Zealand Sauv. I hadn't eaten since leaving Orlando {I don't eat when I fly} making the falafel cakes, garlic bread, chips, and wine taste extra delicious. 

After lunch, Tash and I walked around the many paddocks and paths of Swallowfield. 

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On our walk, I saw approximately 2078 cottages I wanted to buy. Which wouldn't be a problem if I had a couple million in the bank... 

Swallowfield locals tend to be older, retired, and absolutely loaded. A wealthy, quiet lifestyle I should like to share in some day. But knowing the likeliness of me acquiring such wealth, we found a cottage more fitting. ^

I also took in sights that rang familiar of my growing up near Cambridge-- red post boxes, fields dotted with sheep, and poppies. 

In true English fashion, the weather fluctuated as we walked, varying between sunny, blue skies and gray, windy gusts. I wouldn't have expected anything else. 

If you go to England and never make it out to the countryside, I feel as though part of the experience is missing. London is an amazing, diverse city...but the English countryside is quaint and rounds out any visit. 

We spent the rest of the evening at the pub, as Tash had to work. This gave me the chance to meet the many locals {all of whom absolutely love Tash} who regular the place. Peter, an elderly man with two Springer Spaniels, bought me a Gin & Tonic and told me all about his son. Another older gentleman, Alan, explained to me the benefits of Brexit as I politely nodded without commenting.I late found out that a regular, Geoff, generously paid off our lunch tab without us knowing.

Upon meeting the pub-goers, I understand even better why Tash fits in so well in her home here across the world-- she too is unbelievably generous, welcoming, and genuine. I feel lucky to know her always and count her highly as a friend. Seeing her, staying with her, and exploring her village has been pretty spesh. 

I'm off to London to meet up with Will {yes, the one from the Blue Lagoon in Laos} and my favorite human being, S {yes, the one and only}!