I’ve been in England for about three weeks visiting my sister, waiting on her to have her first baby. Her due date was last week but they had to schedule an induction for this week because the baby is being stubborn. In that time, though, my sister and I have been able to take a couple adventures together.
My sister lives in Mildenhall which is a small parish town in Suffolk, England. In town there are cafes, groceries, a butcher, hair salons and much more, including the bus station. For £20 you can get a round trip ticket to many neat little towns where there is always something to do Cambridge there’s the University and shopping and Norwich there’s a castle and even more shopping. If they know how to do anything here it’s create an awesome shopping mall. The malls I’ve seen are both indoor and out, with so many shops you couldn't possibly enter them all in one day, you’d need like two weeks. It’s a good thing I’m here for awhile so I can really explore.
Mildenhall is small and there isn’t much shopping but I found a sweet little cafe called Webbs Sandwich Bar and I’ve been there so many times I couldn’t count. The lattes and their fresh daily soup is always to die for. They announce their soup flavors early each morning on their Facebook and I’m usually checking as I’m waking up to see what will be concocted today. The first time I went it was a chicken curry and chickpea soup and today, I looked, it’s a Stilton, bacon and chicken soup. Their menu also has paninis, sandwiches, desserts and salads. I’ve tried a few sandwiches and they’re always good. I love the granary bread in this country, it doesn’t affect my stomach like the processed bread at home.
Not only is Webbs a great place to check out, there’s another breakfast cafe around the town square called Crumbs Cafe and Food Bar. I got the English breakfast, which typically includes basted eggs, (you can order them scrambled but most places either do basted or scrambled and they’re usually pretty runny all the places I’ve been), bacon and/or sausage, tomatoes and/or mushrooms, beans and toast. The beans aren’t what you would be used to in the states when you get barbecue baked beans, but the consistency is the same. The flavor is sweeter but not smoky or barbecuey, but they’re good. The bacon is different here, too. It’s thicker cut and has extra meat on the strip as they don’t cut our the extra fat or the piece of meat that’s known as Canadian bacon in the states. That piece of meat is from the loin, or the back of the pig, whereas American bacon leaves that part out. I’m not sure if they cure it or not, but it doesn’t get that crispy texture, it’s more like ham texture. The flavor is always good, I enjoy it. Not too salty but still smoky. If you want to learn more, I found this Buzzfeed article explaining it, if not a little biasly, but I agree so check it out HERE.
Angels Cafe is pretty good, too and while you can get an English breakfast there, I think they’re more popular for their humongous burritos, though. I haven’t gotten a burrito because they’re not my thing, but my sister and her friends always get them and usually can’t eat the entire thing. It’s usually good for two meals. They have breakfast burritos as well as lunch/dinner ones. It was the first place I went for an English breakfast, so that’s where I experimented with those. I’m sure that once my husband joins me I will give one a try. He’s way more into burritos than me.
One of the things I found interesting about where I am in England is that you have to buy the jelly or jam if you want it for your toast. It usually comes in little glass jars that would be useful for 2-3 visits and the price is usually not bad, like 80 pence or so which is like $1.15. Usually in the states jelly, jam and honey are just given away with each meal, but not here.
I’ve drank more coffee since I’ve been in England than I have in the past year and that’s because the coffee here is amazing. Usually, coffee at home tastes much stronger and makes my stomach upset. Here I can drink three lattes with no affect other than a huge boost of energy. I see a Starbucks on every other corner but wouldn’t be caught dead in one because why would you want that crap if you have so many other options? I was surprised to see so many Starbucks here, as well as KFC and McDonalds.
My sister and her friends have taken me to Cambridge a couple of times as that is where they usually go on their outings when they go shopping or to see a movie. They usually go to the Grafton Centre which is an indoor/outdoor mall within walking distance of the University of Cambridge. The first time we went, we decided to walk around the universities and take pictures and just kind of see what it was about because I’ve heard about it, just never actually saw it. Now I have and I must say I enjoyed it a lot. The architecture is by far my favorite part because you can just see the history in the bricks. Walking around all these cities the buildings speak for themselves. There is a lot of new growth and buildings being built but then there are centuries old buildings standing right next to the new apartments and shops.
After checking out Cambridge a few times, I was ready for something new. I planned on getting a bus ticket from Mildenhall to Norwich, a town closer to the coast, an hour Northeast of where I am. There wasn’t anything in particular I chose it for, other than the castle and cathedral there. I tried to find a city that I could take a bus, walk around for a few hours and not have to worry about any other transportation because I didn’t really want to spend my money on that. Turns our Norwich was the perfect place.
My sister ended up joining me on my first trip to Norwich, so I didn’t end up needing to get a bus ticket, which would have only been £22 round trip with flexible ticket times. Usually, when riding the bus here they have an option for flexible scheduling in case you miss your bus or need to change it. I didn’t even need to use it, so that was a plus. I greatly enjoyed Norwich and ended up bringing my husband with me once he got to the UK. That day was a disaster!
The week my husband got here, the Beast From The East decided to slow us down. That’s what the locals were calling the biggest snowstorm to hit the UK since like six years ago. Coming from Kansas, 4 inches of snow isn’t a big deal but over here it’s almost unheard of and there really isn’t a protocol for that sort of thing, either. We left in the morning around 11 and it
took us until 2 p.m. to get there when it should have only been an hour drive because people we abandoning their cars and driving like maniacs, and not in a good, fast way but in a slow, annoying way. After braving the highways, (where, yes we drove on the left), we finally got to Norwich and everything was closed. Including the castle we came to see. The cathedral was open, but not the cafe or any of the tourist attractions, just the actual cathedral, which was still pretty cool with the stained glass windows and high ceilings. I was glad we could at least do that while we were there because I knew we couldn’t come back.
We walked around the town a little bit, but like I said, everything was closed and the streets were empty. The first time I had gone to Norwich it was packed and traffic was busy but this time it was like a ghost town. So much so that when I was looking for a parking garage I ended up reverting back to driving on the right and went the wrong way down a couple streets before realizing I was supposed to be on the left and was looking at the back of a stoplight. It was scary but also hilarious. I’m sure if there had been cars driving around I would not have done that, but with nobody around I also just didn’t know where I was going.
Our trip to Norwich was an interesting one although maybe a little disappointing. I would definitely recommend checking it out if you’re ever in the area. The castle is small but there are art galleries inside and they’re working on renovating the basement so maybe when I come back I will get to see it. There are also gardens around the castle on the top of the hill where you can see the entire city. The day we went with all the snow was cool because so many locals were there making snowmen and snow forts and having snowball fights. They don’t get this and they were taking advantage of it while they could. The snow was melted after two days, too.