A SOUTHERN STORY

Life Is More Interesting With English And Southern Roots

Growing up in the South was a different experience for me compared to most people, and that is because my father is from England. Many people in my life have pointed out the obvious, my absence of a Southern accent, not owning a gun or hunting, and preferring hot tea over iced tea.

I remember reading Rupert Bear books long before discovering the Berenstain Bears and preferring my dad’s riddles over any joke. Being brought up in this lifestyle has made my life better because it taught me to appreciate and understand cultural differences. 

England has always been a big part of my life, and I have traveled there multiple times to see my family. My cousin is the same age as me, and although our lifestyles are still quite different, we talk every day and relate through our witty humor.

I have also learned many things from living in the South. I have learned true hospitality and what it means to have neighbors that feel more like family. This is something that was quite different from my dad’s experience in England, and something he wanted for his children. 

Unlike my dad, I grew up going to church every Sunday and made a home there. Our church family and the church experience is something I am grateful for. It also added a new element to our England trips because we have visited churches and seen old religious landmarks that my dad did not see during his lifetime in that country. 

Bleheim Palace in England
Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire

The South and its people has an undeniable way of making everyone feel at home. Little things like holding doors, saying “Yes ma’am” and “Yes sir,” and offering an abundance of food to anyone is a phenomenon I hope to continue throughout my life and pass down to my children. 

It is easy to feel culture shock wherever one may travel, but learning to accept all cultures and lifestyles is a blessing and an important lesson I believe all people should get the chance to learn. 

Having been to so many places in England, I have selected favorite towns and villages that most people overlook. Two summers ago, my family and I discovered Bourton-on-the-Water, an idealistic village that embodies English life. 

In this small town, we switched from Google Maps to footpath maps as we made daily trips to the fresh market, river bend and local hedge mazes. It was easy to find a little piece of heaven amongst the ducks swimming through the main canals, children playing in the grass, and the amazing pub scenes. My favorite stops in England are those with castles and hedge mazes because it is truly breathtaking and fascinating. My first hedge maze was at Wyken Hall Garden, and my love for them has only grown. 

I have especially enjoyed Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire because the entire palace was massive, filled with gardens and history. As one of the largest palaces in the world, there were seemingly endless rooms and gardens to explore. 

A more personal place was my dad’s elementary school in Rougham, Suffolk. The area was small, but putting visuals with my father’s stories was irreplaceable. 

If you travel to England, I highly encourage ditching the hotels and booking a cottage or pub. Cottages provide a homey feeling and come in all shapes and sizes, all while maintaining the classic English feel. Pubs, on the other hand, are more like hotels, but there is nothing like walking downstairs for breakfast or a Guinness and playing a game of darts with the locals.

I still remember my earlier trips to England, when my sister and I rolled down grassy hills without fear of mosquitoes, and ran through meadows with sheep. England is my favorite place in the world, but growing up in the South is a lifestyle I will always be thankful for. I like that I can celebrate the 4th of July and Boxing Day without thinking twice, and that we have encouraged our English family to celebrate Thanksgiving each year. 

It is an experience like no other, being able to celebrate various holidays and ideas with our family across the pond. The lessons I have learned and the memories I have made because of my family background means the world to me. And even though I still prefer hot tea, I have learned to love sweet iced tea just as much.

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