Ever since I can remember, I've been in love with England. I'm not sure how it happened or why, but I'm pretty sure that I'm not alone in my fascination. It got really bad when Lady Di married Prince Charles, culminating with me getting the obligatory "Di 'Do" and getting up at an unimaginably early hour to watch the fairytale unfold. It returned with a vengeance when Bridget and Shannon received orders to an airbase in England. Finally . . . an excuse to visit the country I adopted as mine.
Nothing really prepared me for that first trip. Sure, I thought I had everything under control by reading every conceivable travel book. Hell, I had some itineraries memorized for that trip, but it was the goofs that are the best part. Asking for cheese in Cambridge and finding a gem of a cheese shop. Getting caught in the rain with the Girls in the park. Missing a train to Scotland and then watching the Girls charm a more seasoned traveler.
On the subsequent trips back, we found new places to explore, new things to savor, new favorites to file away. Dave and I stumbled upon Charbonnel et Walker when we were looking for another sweet shop; one look in the window at these tiny, pink boxes sold me . . . one taste kept me going back. The last trip to London was in 2007, and the chocolates lasted about a week after we got home. See, the problem was we always went back to London, even after Bridget moved to Omaha so I figured it wouldn't be too long before I got that pink fix. But then saving for college and reduced travel and budgets got in the way, and we haven't been back.
I opened up my last Christmas present this year, and I burst into tears when I saw the top of the box. The lettering hasn't changed nor has the slightly showing gilt-paper. It's not that I'm selfish, but I didn't open the first box until the 27th and then I didn't share a whole lot (so maybe I am a little selfish). Part of me thought that if I left the chocolates inside their pink home, I could make them last a year. The other part - the more rational part - knew that I wouldn't stop eating them. I ate the last one today, savored the final, sweet bite . . . and pretended I was in London.