Wow. What a beautiful weekend I have had! I cannot get over the stunning weather, wonderful people, and historic places I have so close to me here. I truly feel like this is where I am supposed to be at this point in my life, as cheesy as that sounds. It’s a calming sensation during a time that has been so chaotic.
I spent my Saturday in the lovely town of Chichester, which is about a 35 minute bus journey from my village. This week, I had been asking anyone I met where are some places nearby that would be good for me to visit, and most of them brought up Chichester. When they spoke of Chichester, it went something like this. “Lovely cathedral there. And the shops are brilliant!” And they were not lying! That is exactly what there was! So I hope you all love old cathedrals and loads of shopping, because that’s what this blog is all about. You have been warned!
I had done my research the night before and figured out which bus would take me from Felpham to Chichester and how often it leaves. I walked to the stop near my house, looked at the map, and then the bus pulled up 5 seconds later. Luckily, Pat had just told me as I was leaving to hold my arm out when I wanted the bus or else they would drive right by. That could’ve been upsetting otherwise. So I stuck out my arm, climbed on board, and paid for my fare there and back. I went and sat in the back and looked around for a map of the stops. There were none. I looked for a sign saying what stops we were coming up on. There was none. So when it came time to get off, I honestly just hopped off when I saw most of the people on the bus getting off. And it worked! I was right where I needed to be. But for the future, I’m going to print my own map and save myself some confusion.
I hopped off the bus at Chichester, with a dream and my leather jacket (I am so sorry for those who got that reference). I saw a flea market right next to the bus stop, so I decided that would be my first exploration. As I was walking past local food stands and fake jewelry, something caught my eye. Something soft. Something light blue. Something I definitely didn’t need…And yet, I found myself asking the lady how much it was (“It’s a fiver” which is what they call 5 pounds) and taking it along with me for the rest of my day. Yes, you guessed it, it is a fluffy, Cinderella blue blanket with polka dots and was hand-stitched with love and goodness. Or at least that what it feels like as I sit here bundled up in it.
My blanket and I made our way down East Street and were completely overwhelmed by the number of people who had come to shop on this glorious day. We were also completely overwhelmed by a lack of caffeine and protein, so our first stop was The Real Eating Company. I saw the words “coffee” and “food” on their window and was completely sold. I got a ham and cheese croissant and a caffe latte (I almost got an Americano just for kicks and giggles) and took my #16 to a spot by the window. Once I was there, I realized that this might be the first time that I have sat down in a restaurant and ate by myself. I figured I should get used to it now, and devoured my croissant (which was actually amazing) and sipped my coffee while writing in my travel journal. It was no where near as bad or awkward as I thought it might be.
Onto the shops! First stop was Next, which is a big deal here. It has women’s, men’s, and children’s clothes, and my students freaked out when they found out we don’t have them in America. They had plenty of cute stuff and did a surprisingly good job of having options for all ages and types of women. It wasn’t specifically targeted to my generation, like Forever 21 would be, but it wasn’t targeted straight to my mom or my grandma’s generations, as well. It was a nice mix, and I ended up leaving with a Cinderella blue cardigan that I just could’t walk away from (To justify myself, I wear a cardigan to school every day and it’s my favorite color and IT WAS JUST SO CUTE!).
Next (hahaha like the store we were just at), I went to Poundland! AKA, the equivalent to the Dollar Tree. I personally thought that Poundland had better quality and branded options, but I have heard from a Brit turned Hoosier that she believes Dollar Tree is better. I will have to look into this and return to buy more cheap items like I did on Saturday. I bought a hairbrush (I accidentally left mine at home), another box of biscuits (I want to try them all), and a reusable Belle bag. I asked if they had Cinderella and the man looked through all of them for me, but Cinderella must have been too popular for her own good. So I decided since the new Beauty and the Beast just came out, I would snag a Belle bag in its honor. So Belle, my blanket, and I were on our way again.
We felt overwhelmed yet again by a lack of caffeine (or probably just a craving for more) and went into a coffee shop called Costa, which seems pretty popular as there were two in Chichester alone. I got their equivalent to a frappachino, which is called a Costa Ice, in their Bulgarian cream flavor.
It was very, very good, but at the moment Starbucks still has my heart. I will try Costa again and keep an open mind, but considering two of my past students wrote as a warning to my English students “She has to have her Starbucks!” it’s obvious that it will be hard to beat. Speaking of Starbucks, I did stop in there, however I did not get any coffee. I know, I was shocked, too. I needed a travel mug and for whatever reason, Starbucks was the only place I could find one. Not that I’m complaining, because it’s really stinkin’ cute.
The next store I spent some quality time in was Marks & Spencer. It’s sort of like a Macy’s or JcPenny sort of store (except some sell food?), and is also a very popular store. I happened to walk in on a very good sale, which is dangerous because cheap clothes are my kryptonite. I was very impressed with my ability to rationalize that I will have to fit all of my new things in my already full suitcases going home, and only bought three shirts. Yes, that was me limiting myself. BUT! I ONLY SPENT 17 POUNDS! HOW CAN YOU PASS DEALS LIKE THAT UP?!
I walked in and out of random shops that looked interesting, but I noticed that those were always a little out of my price range. AKA they weren’t 17 pounds for three shirt, a fiver for a blankie, or called Poundland.
I made my way down East Street and reached the Chichester Cross.
It was this beautiful building at the intersection of the shops with places for people to sit and enjoy the shade. It was scattered with street performers with guitars, pianos, and even horns performing for the shoppers. It made the environment feel light-hearted and electric, and I couldn’t keep the smile from my face. I turned to my left, and there it was. The Chichester Cathedral.
I cannot say enough about this cathedral. It is 909 years old, so you can imagine how much history is packed inside of its stained-glass-covered walls. It was built from 1076-1108 and is full of art, architecture, and the Holy Spirit. I really can’t put it into words, so let’s pretend you’re sitting next to me and I’m scrolling through my phone and showing you all the wonderfulness it had to offer!
Once I (hesitantly) said goodbye to the cathedral, I continued to fuel my shopping addiction. I went to TKMaxx, which is exactly like TJMaxx. Same logo, same set up, and lots of the same products. I asked one of the workers if they knew why they decided to change one little letter? She had no clue, so I might have to investigate further. I bought a metal water bottle (that was on my list originally going into the day, YAY ME!), a Red Nose Day tshirt (I was so moved by the program the night before that I needed to make a contribution), and a denim jacket (okay, I didn’t really need that one…but my mom was going to bring mine from the states anyway when she comes, so one less thing she has to pack, right?!).
I then finally experienced Top Shop, as I have heard lots about it from the internet, and it was super trendy and packed with young people. The thing that caught my eye though was the “STUDENTS GET 10% OFF YEAR ROUND” sign, and my heart was full of joy. I know Adidas merch is huge over here (remember, they pronounce it AH-DEE-DAHS), and Top Shop was full of jumpers, backpacks, joggers, tops, and shoes by Adidas. I decided since Adidas is IU’s athletic sponsor and YOLIEO (You Only Live In England Once) that I would splurge and buy an Adidas hat. The tag said 28 pounds, so this was a bit steep for a bargain shopper like me, even with the 10% off. HOWEVER, I went to check out and was in a friendly conversation with the saleslady when she said “That’ll be 13 pounds.” I still have no clue how it happened or if there was some sale I was unaware of, but I didn’t question it and walked out the door feeling proud that even when I’m not trying to bargain shop I do.
AND WE STILL HAVE ONE MORE SHOP! H&M! This one was familiar to me, as we have it in America, but this store was two floors and seemed to have more options. Or maybe it just seems that way to me because I’m in a new country seeing through rose-tinted glasses. Either way, I waited 25 minutes for a fitting room and walked out of there with a comfy black dress, velvet blue shirt, and some classic black British joggers. All for 19 pounds. I needed none of it but you know I LOVE ME SOME GOOD DEALS! The ladies at the register were so friendly and gave me 10 hangers after I told them I ran out of the ones that were already in my closet. They even gave me some of the metal ones they are supposed to keep for the store. (:
I walked into the store next to H&M called New Look, which reminded me of Forever 21 but BIGGER, and was overwhelmed by the amount of pretty clothes they had and sales that were going on and walked right back out of the store. See?! I can use self control!
I somehow managed to figure out the bus home with ease (I did accidentally press the STOP button a stop too early but still) and made it back with time to get ready for the dinner Sue and Pat were hosting for the night.
Two of their friends just returned home from a long holiday in Spain, so we had a proper dinner with Sue, Pat, Me, their two friends and their son. It was quite a meal, including your standard topics of castles, Red Nose Day, Minecraft, IndyCar, the use of swear words in comedy and on TV, American politics, Brexit, and caring for the elderly…I bet you can guess which I brought up (and which were asked toward me). There were times we all got into debates, which was very interesting because there were some strong opinions and some mediators (I like to think I was a mediator speaking for both sides) and it ended up being a very interesting discussion. I learned a lot about the different opinions found in England, and also how similar people in both countries are about topics they’re passionate about. It’s nice when you can be so vocal about important topics because of the trust around the table, so everyone spoke freely and reiterated that we respect everyone’s opinions and thoughts. That doesn’t happen too much nowadays!!! I was invited over to the couples’ house to play Ticket To Ride (THE TRAIN GAME!), which is a game I play frequently with my family at home, and I plan on doing so if they pick a day. I have been so blessed to meet such sweet and welcoming people!
Things I’ve Noticed:
- Everyone and their mother (literally) had babies out and about. In strollers, in their arms, barely walking. So either England has baby fever or I do for noticing them all.
- We have different swear words that we find offensive in America and they don’t here and visa versa. I’m not going to write them, as I know I have some lovely kiddos who read this, so if you are curious feel free to message me!
- Everyone I meet asks me about Donald Trump.
- We eat potatoes with every meal and I’m not mad about it.
- The fact that we have cheese and crackers/bread before meals or just as a midday snack is amusing to everyone who finds out about it.
- They have had Heinz Ketchup all the places I’ve gone and we have a bottle at home.
- I’m getting strangely addicted to biscuits.
Sunday is yet to come, I’m afraid. Teaching kids, exploring the town, spending time with my host family, communicating with my family at home, assignments, and this blog don’t leave me too much time in between. Sunday was a lovely day with (of course) more English sights and American jokes. Trying my best to keep you all a part of my journey ❤
“I like my money where I can see it: hanging in my closet.” -Carrie Bradshaw