Covent Garden is not a garden.

About ten years ago, I met up with a friend in London and we spent a few days doing the most touristy things: we bought tea at Fortnum & Mason, ate bangers and mash (weirdly, there were potato chips on top and the memory haunts me still), posed for tasteless off-with-her-head photos at the Tower…

My Best of Northwest (London)

I’ve lived on a big hill in northwest London for the last two years, first in Belsize Park and then partway between Hampstead and Golders Green. It’s a lovely part of town, bustling but peaceful, and a bit hoity-toity (but fortunately the views of the London skyline, and Hampstead Heath’s tangled, leafy expanse are both…

Day Hike: Aviemore to the Pools of Dee Along the Lairig Ghru

One extraordinarily sunny, warm (dare I say, “hot”?) August day, I took a short train ride from Inverness, Scotland to the charmingly-named Aviemore. From there, I walked about a mile and a half along the road and into Rothiemurchus Forest, part of a massive estate at the foot of the Cairngorms mountain range and which gives…

5-Day Wander: Inverness

“We lost your car.” I suppressed an eye roll and forced an insincere giggle as I humored what I thought were the late-night flirtations of the sixty-something year-old ticket-taker and tried to edge past him toward the waiting sleeper train. “No, really.” No, really: my train car was bust, and not only would I and…

If you listen closely, you’ll hear the Brits go “ribbit”

“Frogs.” A not-very-polite-or-modern but surprisingly well-used British nickname for the French. Over the years I lived in France, I came to know the relatively-harmless, mostly-unreciprocated contempt my British friends and coworkers had for the French. Here’s the thing, though. I’ve now lived in the UK almost as long as I lived in France, and I…

Jolly Good: 5 British Expressions I Love (and 2 I Hate)

OK, so I laugh derisively whenever one of my coworkers, who’s basically an old Englishman trapped inside a young Englishman’s body, says “jolly good”… but secretly I find it a little endearing. British expressions are excellent day-to-day entertainment for this expat, and I’ve even adopted a few of them (with mixed results). Here are just five of…

One Giant Mud Puddle: Getting Lost in the Lake District

England is not known for its mountains, especially when compared to the rest of the UK. Before I visited the Lake District, I pictured gently ambling among low lakes and rolling hills. The first indication that I might be mistaken was the expression on the Derwentwater Hostel manager’s face when I described the route I…

My Muddy Valentine

What did you do for Valentine’s Day? Candle-lit dinner? Chocolates? Roses? Hurriedly arranging to leave the city so you wouldn’t be lying when you told someone you’d been on a few dates with that you already had plans?  Ahem.  The “Night Riviera” train leaves London Paddington at 11:45pm several times a week and travels the…

Walking in the “Peak” (Hill) District

Yes, I am throwing a little shade with that post title, mostly because the “peaks” of the Peak District throw almost none. But despite its decidedly tame topography, this national park’s gentle hills and misty moors are completely enchanting. I had the good luck to make it up there twice this spring– once on my…