Growing up in rural Essex, England, the idea of America seemed so big, hot and alien. It never struck me that on the flip side, village post offices and pubs full of "Toby Jugs" would seem strange or exotic to someone from the States. So when I found myself expecting an American baby with my American husband and bringing him to the U.K. for his first British Christmas, it set up a weird challenge: How would I see my home country as an outsider? There is a special sort of beauty in constant rain, constantly saying sorry, and a national obsession with tea.
Eventually, after much trawling of the internet, I settled on heading to Gidleigh Park in deepest Devon. An imposing Tudor style house overlooking 107 acres of private woodlands in the wilds of Dartmoor National Park, it was luxe and cozy, and it had a large garden for my beach-ball-like 7-month-pregnant self to waddle around.
Companion: Someone you'd be happy to play scrabble and drink hot chocolate with; so your partner...or maybe your grandma?
Drink: I was very pregnant, so I only drank gallons of hot chocolate; my apologies for slacking.
Safety: If you can navigate the foggy country lanes in pitch darkness with traffic coming in both directions on a road one car wide, you'll be totally fine.
WiFi: Yes; it's a bit slow, but it works.
Pack: A waxed jacket, preferably from Barbour, and something cashmere for dinner. Think Lady of the Manor.
Must: You must wake up early and walk by the river that runs through the grounds while everything is still covered in sparkling dew or frost.
Awful: It's a little (very) quiet, and if you don't really like your roommate you might go a little stir crazy.