(On the South Bank of London's River Thames with St. Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Footbridge behind me)
I have been afflicted with Anglophilia ever since my mother put the first lip-smacking drops of Waterbury's Compound gripe water into my infant mouth. By the time I graduated to Britannia biscuits and Cadbury's chocolates, I was well and truly smitten by all things British. Majoring in English Literature in college only strengthened my love affair with Great Britain. When I did eventually make my first visit to the country, twenty years ago, I found it to be everything I had imagined and more...
Over the years, I have had several opportunities to travel in the British Isles and each time I have discovered something newly fascinating. After I covered the Must-See Sights found in every tourist itinerary, I turned my attention towards the roads less taken. In the process, I developed a huge love for walking over ancient footpaths and canal tow paths, over hilly dales lined with hedgerows and sandy coastal trails , through busy highways and empty byways, along quiet river banks and over mountainous meadows. Whether in the company of my beloved family members, with fond friends, or entirely on my own, my rambles in the United Kingdom have given me some of the most pleasurable moments of my life.
Are there things about the UK I dislike? But, of course. Their frosty reserve, for instance, which for someone from the United States, borders on unfriendliness. The choice of either boiling or freezing water in their dual faucets. When will they introduce mixed water temperatures from the same tap? The high cost of living and their frugality--I was once asked to pay 10p for the plastic spoon that accompanied the cup of takeaway soup I ordered. I could go on...
But as every seasoned traveller knows, every country in the world has its shortcomings. And when it comes to Great Britain, I'm willing to give it a long rope.
Come with me now on a tour of some of my favorite corners of the United Kingdom. Let me show you My London. Let me take you on a unique walking tour of Oxford, one of my most beloved cities. Let me accompany you on an exploration of Regency Bath and the seaside resort of Brighton. Let's stop to forage for rare books in Hay-on-Wye or see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform in Stratford-on-Avon. Let's lose ourselves in the wild mountain pathways of the Lake District and hunt for antiques in the elegant shops of the Cotwolds. Let's down draught beer in Liverpool and stop to smell the roses in a garden in Kent. Let's stumble over cobbled streets in Rye where smugglers once plotted to stash contraband and novelists plotted scenes for their contemporary masterpieces. Take your pick and go wherever your fancy leads you through the travel secrets contained in my enthusiastic pages .
Only don't be surprized if like Susan Allan Toth (My Love Affair with England) and Bill Bryson (Notes from a Small Island), Paul Theroux (The Kingdom by the Sea) and Jan Morris (Oxford)--fellow-Anglophiles who have been equally smitten by this rainy isle in the Atlantic and in whose eloquent company I have taken many a jolly jaunt--you too are seriously afflicted with Anglophilia by the end of your armchair wanderings with me.