England UK You've been where?

Gretna Green, Warwick Castle, Hadrian’s Wall… need we say more?

What happens when a Brit living in New Zealand returns home as a tourist? In the latest in our ‘You’ve Been Where’ series Rachel Sawyer takes us to her home town in Lancashire, in north-west England.  You just know she’s going to take us to all the best bits! Even if you’ve been before, we guarantee you’ll want to go back to see more of this beautiful country.

Who are you and what do you do for a living?
My name is Rachel Sawyer and I’m a freelance Marketer. I gave up the 9 to 5 a couple of years ago and decided to ‘go it alone’ – mainly so I could travel home a little more and work whenever and wherever!

Rachel Sawyer on Lancashire
Our guest author Rachel Sawyer

Where is home?
I’ve been in New Zealand for the last nine years, becoming a citizen a few years ago. I love being here and adore the people and lifestyle, but ‘home’ will always be a little part of England they call Lancashire!

Where have you been? When did you go?
Since moving to the other side of the world, I’ve made the trip ‘home’ to the UK every couple of years. Just recently, with a bit more freedom up my sleeve, I decided to make it a twice yearly trip, cheekily enjoying two summers and avoiding the worst of NZ winter! This year we spent a most enjoyable ‘almost white Christmas’ there, heading off at the beginning of December and returning in January.

Who did you travel with?
The Christmas trip home is always particularly special as I get to take my partner Shane with me. And the family love him! Although I don’t mind travelling alone, the 32-hour trip home can be tiring, so having someone you know at your side makes everything just that little bit easier. And more enjoyable.

What were the highlights of your trip?
The best part of travelling with someone who is new to your country is the fact that you very often end up visiting spots that you haven’t been to yourself. First on most ‘Kiwi’s to do lists’ is ‘history’ and lots of it! From exploring the ramparts and towers of Warwick Castle, to seeing in the New Year clambering over Hadrian’s Wall, we saw our fair share, including unearthing some fascinating Roman Baths in the North West city of Lancaster. We experienced the silent magic of snowfall in the stunning Cotswolds on our way down to the thriving city of Bournemouth and took the ‘ferry across the Mersey’ in the big hearted city of Liverpool.

What did you least like about your trip?
The short days can always be a little challenging. And it’s no myth that the UK winter goes on for a while! On a good day, you might see sunrise at 9am, disappearing some time after 3pm. That said, on the other end of the scale, in summer the days go on forever and you can happily still find yourself sitting in the garden, glass of wine in hand at 11pm.

Do you have any funny stories from your travels?
We spent New Year’s Eve in Carlisle, pretty close to the Scottish border, so decided to cement our 2018 travel resolutions with a quick trip over the border to the nearest town – Gretna Green. For those unfamiliar, this tiny Scottish town, is famous for runaway weddings, dating back to when Scottish law allowed for marriages without parental consent, unlike England at the time. It’s now one of the most popular wedding destinations in the world, a fact unbeknown to Shane, who arrived looking rather alarmed, considering we’ve made our very own pact to never say ‘I do’ and just be happy ever after instead! Once he’d gotten over the shock, I managed to persuade him to get down on one knee. To tie his shoe lace and pose for a ‘comedy’ photo. Definitely one for the album!

Gretna Green
What were the locals like?
One of the most fascinating parts of a trip to the UK is the difference in accents and personalities between bordering towns and we encountered a fair few on this holiday. From the quick witted Liverpudlians to the ‘ever so slightly’ snooty Cirencester folk. But if you’re looking for a bunch of people to truly warm your heart, you need go no further than the North West county of Lancashire. As my parents live there, we spent most of our time in and around it’s myriad of towns, mainly in Lytham St Annes, a small holiday town on the Fylde Coast. The locals are often referred to as ‘salt of the earth’ which basically means they’re thoroughly decent and will do anything to help you out. Especially if it involves brewing a pot of tea!

What was the food like?
You won’t go short of anything in the UK. From fabulous Sunday lunches in your local pub, to a plethora of supermarkets and food outlets serving up anything you can think of to eat in your own home. Things to try in Lancashire include its legendary hot pot, a hearty stew consisting of lamb or mutton and onion, topped with sliced potatoes and baked in a pot. Hence the name! It’s also worth hunting down a serving of fish and chips from a local chippy. And no trip is complete without pie and gravy. A ‘North of London’ staple.

Did you learn anything about yourself or the world on this trip?
I learned that no matter where you travel to in the world, there is nothing quite like walking back into a room full of your friends and family to remind you of where home lies. And that you should never forget just how cold a December day in Lancashire can be! Pack layers!

Would you recommend others travel here?
If you’ve never been to England, it’s absolutely worth a trip, but my advice would be to head out of London. Yes, there’s heaps to see and do in the capital, but to discover the ‘real’ UK, you need to hit the road and travel. Visit Scotland, head to Shakespeare country, discover the South Coast. Visit Lincoln Cathedral, the New Forest, the Pendle Hills. Take it all in and discover what it truly means to be a Brit.

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