It has again been awhile since my last post, but to be honest, when you’ve been spending your whole day trying to write your dissertation, you don’t want to write anything more at the end of the day. Even if it is for fun.
On the 28th of May, my Grandma Margaret and two of my cousins, Maggie and Kaitlyn, arrived in Exeter. They had flown into London and spent a few days there as well as in Bath, but by this Wednesday they had made their way down to me. I was so thrilled to see them! It was almost surreal to see them walk out of Exeter Central station. They were here for five days, during which I showed them around the city I now call home.
The first day we grabbed some pasties and then walked around. We saw the Cathedral, Guildhall, and did some general exploration of the city including Gandy Street (Diagon Alley!) and my favorite candy shop on South Street. When Grandma got tired out, Maggie, Kaitlyn, and I walked down to the quay. We walked further than I had been that way across the cutest little suspension bridge, and I think by that point Maggie and Kaitlyn had already made up their minds to move here 😉 We ended the day with dinner at Nando’s.
The next day, it was time to see campus. The walk up there about did Grandma in, but we made it–and of course took the obligatory picture by the “University of Exeter” sign! I showed them my lab and one of my skeletons, and I loved that they were completely interested in everything I showed them. It was a cool crossover with Kaitlyn’s knowledge of human anatomy as well, with us piggybacking off of each other and her getting to see what it does to the bones when illnesses are left unchecked. I showed them my favorite spots on campus, like the staff/postgrad common room balcony in Laver and Reed Hall. That evening we got fancy desserts at Patisserie Valerie and then went on the “Ghosts and Legends” red coat tour, before ending our day with dinner at Ruby’s.
On the third day, we did some more Exeter city centre exploring, which consisted of Northernhay Gardens, the top of John Lewis for a great view of the city, and also got our ears pierced! We tried to convince Grandma to get her ear pierced with us, but she just kept reading her book and shaking her head at us as we panicked in the waiting room over our spontaneous decision. haha it was definitely a great memory! We wandered around the rest of the evening with bloody paper towels held to our ears as we looked for a place to eat, which ended up being the Imperial. It was here that I introduced them to my favorite drink, Brothers Toffee Apple Cider, and then for the rest of the trip Maggie kept asking if the pubs had Brothers! I think I got her hooked 😉
Since they had been in England almost two full weeks and still hadn’t seen the ocean, I proposed a trip to the coast. We settled on Plymouth since I had never been before, and though the weather wasn’t ideal, it still turned out to be a nice day. We walked all around, saw the sights, and they got their first taste of an ice cream cone from a British ice cream truck! Something about it is so different than what we have at home–its creamier, I think. And when you get the chocolate-dipped waffle cone and a stick of chocolate flake in it, it really is to die for. Maggie and Kaitlyn couldn’t stop raving about it the rest of the day! My favorite part of this trip had to be seeing the Mayflower Steps; it was just so neat seeing what was essentially the start of our home country, the place that the pilgrims set out from to create a new world. What a place of history. When we got back, we headed to the Chaplaincy because my Korean friends had invited us for dinner. I just love the food they make, and I think Maggie and Kaitlyn did too. It is so fun to share in other cultures! We ended this very busy day by getting all dolled up and hitting the town. What memories we made that night! From helping each other pick out outfits to the time we walked into a bar that was empty except for one guy, and Kaitlyn dragging Maggie and I out because it was weird, to watching a pub fight, drinking the worst cider in the world, dancing and singing all night long, and ending with ice cream from McDonald’s…this was my favorite night out I had ever had in Exeter, and I have my cousins to thank for that!
Sunday was the last full day they spent in Exeter, and after attending church at the Chaplaincy (which was a fiasco in and of itself), we had lunch there and they got to meet the priest and other wonderful Catholic friends I have made here 🙂 This is a place where I have always felt comfortable, like a second home. After hanging out there well into the afternoon, we got cream tea at Tea on the Green–one of my favorite parts of living in Devon is this custom, and I loved being able to share it with my family. If I recall correctly, that evening we had dinner at The Ship Inn, the supposed “favourite port of call” of Sir Francis Drake. No Brothers cider for Maggie, however. haha we did have “mocktails,” though, as they were cheaper than cocktails!
Monday was the day I put them on the train back to London, but not before grabbing brunch at the Farmer’s Union. It was definitely sad watching them go; the hugs were long and the words were short. As hard as this was, I was comforted by the fact that my parents and sisters would be arriving in two short weeks!
I had forgotten how nice it is to spend time with my Grandma and cousins. We four have done girls nights before, but taking those to another country was just next level awesome! This blog post covers the things we did, but cannot even begin to describe all the laughter we shared and conversations we had. I know I am so lucky to have cousins who are among my best friends (and bridesmaids!!!), and we have my grandparents to thank for creating an environment where we could all grow up so close. Siblings can drive you crazy, friends can too, but I have to say it is so easy to be around Maggie and Kaitlyn. Maybe it was because we had so many unintentional trust exercises growing up…like getting my hair cut by Maggie! haha I love them to death. And this trip was the first time we were able to go out for drinks together (Kaitlyn turned 21 while I was in England). I look forward to many more nights like that once I am back Stateside!
As my Grandma said, money can’t buy the good times we had–all those nights of uncontrollable laughter and memories we will carry forever! I love my family.