My first night in England, we were all so knackered from the flight, the drive, and the general excitement that accompanies big changes that we had a quick, delicious dinner of cheese tart, potatoes, salad, and wine that went straight to my head. The next night, however, Liz and Ian were determined to introduce me to what is one of the most famous and quintessentially "British" meals: fish n' chips.
We went to the Worle Fish House to pick up our "takeaways" - aka, for my non-British readers, takeout. I got the traditional battered fish and chips while Ian and Liz opted for battered sausage and chips. The meals were wrapped up in brown paper (with the requisite grease stains seeping through - fish n' chips are definitely a guilty pleasure!) and then we curled up on the couch with some champagne and watched the hilarious British television show The Inbetweeners (I'll blog more about this show later, once I've made it through all three seasons - so far, I'm almost done season 1 and it is honestly the funniest, raunchiest thing I've ever watched!)
The fish n' chips were delicious, sprinkled with a bit of vinegar and salt and some ketchup on the side, although we forgot to order some "mushy peas" as a side, much to Ian's chagrin. Mushy peas are apparently EXACTLY what they sound like, and are a necessary component of an authentic fish n' chips experience soooo...that just means I'll have to return for more later!
Today, after dropping Wills and James off at school, Liz, Baby B and I drove into Weston-Super-Mare, a Victorian coastal resort town that is famous for its Grand Pier. Back in 2008 (actually, the day Wills was born!), the Pier tragically caught on and was recently rebuilt. 2011 has been declared the "Year of the Pier":
Weston-Super-Mare gets its name from the Anglo-Saxon "west tun" (tun = settlement) and the Latin "super mare" meaning "by the sea" - hence, Western settlement by the sea. It is right on the coastline of the Bristol Channel leading out the Celtic* Sea. Weston-Super-Mare really earned its spot on the map in the Victorian era boom of seaside holidays, when Bank Holidays sent city dwellers flocking to the town on the railway that opened in 1841.
While we strolled along the promenade, the salty sea air ruffling my hair and the sun warm on my skin (we have had absolutely amazing weather here since I've arrived - yesterday was the hottest September 29 since 1895!), I could imagine myself in a corset and Victorian-style dress, with a big hat and a parasol. Although the Pier has been rebuilt, there still lingers a strong feeling of being back in time, a time that was slower, more relaxed, more somnolent.
Weston-Super-Mare has the largest tidal range in the world, and when we first got to the promenade, the water was all the way up against the wall. By the time we left an hour later, it had receded back several metres, leaving soft, wet sand behind that made my toes positively curl in delight at the thought of squelching barefoot along in it!
We stopped at a Victorian tea room for some drinks and sponge cake, then made our way back to the car to pick up Wills from preschool. I know the words "charming" and "quaint" get thrown around a lot in regards to Victorian towns, but Weston-Super-Mare really is charm personified. What a great way to pass the morning and make the most of the sunshine!
*I ended the debate of "hard C" versus "soft C" once and for all - Liz says that Brits pronounce Celtic with a hard C, so...there you go! I always went back and forth, never knowing which one was correct!