Cheers Madame! Special Memories

special memories

If you don’t have at least one story that begins with “remember that one time…” you have not lived. My entire year in London is filled to the brim with special memories such as that. For the third installment of the Cheers Madame! series between myself and Selena of Oh, the places we will go! we thought we would throw in a bit of a plot twist: she would write about Paris, and I would write about London. For those of you new to the series, Selena is an American expat now living in London, and I am an American ex-expat once upon a time living in Paris. Catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 of our collaboration to see how we’ve played up the rivalry between these two cities. We’ve had a riotous good time here!

Now, just because we love to play up that historic animosity doesn’t mean we don’t both love both cities. Selena has had some very special times in Paris, and I in fact lived in London for a year before I moved to Paris. Therefore, it holds a special place in my heart as it is the first international city where I was ever a true expat. And they spoke my language… that was fabulous!

In that year I formed many special memories. Sure, I hit the tourist hot spots. I ticked those boxes and took my photographs. My most special memories however undoubtedly consist of the more mundane daily events. Walking into my laundromat and the lovely attendant remembering me and helping me fold my sheets. The guys at my local wine shop getting to know my tastes and recommending bottles they knew I would like. Going to a pub quiz at the same location every week, and winning a free Sunday roast every single time (it was the consolation prize for coming in last place…). And cups upon cups of tea. That is a part of British culture I have since carried with me anywhere I am. I’m even sipping on a cuppa right at this very moment, my 8th of the day. Not all English Breakfast mind you, or I’d be up until next Tuesday. But if there are any problems in the world, a hot cup of tea can start the ball rolling in the right direction.

I remember my first High Tea, all proper and sophisticated at The Lanesborough near Hyde Park Corner. So posh for us little university students, but we tried our best to look and act the part. I remember buying boxes of my favorite herbal teas at the organic grocer by Portobello Road, near where I lived. I didn’t drink coffee you see, so tea was what kept my thin Floridian blood from freezing in the wet British winter. And scones… fresh from the oven, with clotted cream and jam. Yum… there’s something about a good brew of traditional English tea that Starbucks just can’t touch.

I do realize that my “special memories” of London might not be connected to visiting the sights (did that), having late nights out in the pubs and clubs (did that too), but rather an indulgence of something to distinctly British that it can’t help to leave an impression. Because for me, travel is not about checking the highlights off the list. It’s about opening your mind, being introduced to something new, and hopefully absorbing parts of that experience to take with you when you move on to the next place. For me, a hot cup of tea will always and forever remind me of England, and that fabulous year I spent as a student in London. It made me feel like maybe I wasn’t such a fish out of water, and I could also fit in with this cosmopolitan European capital. More so than any photo in front of Buckingham Palace, although I do have one of those too…

Now it’s your turn!! Add your link below (open until November 29) and share your stories!! We are dying to hear about your own experiences in our two cities, whether it be London, Paris, or both! Also, don’t forget about the #CheersMadame Twitter chat in which Selena and myself host a discussion on our two favorite cities, taking place at 12pm EST/5pm GMT. Hope to see you all there!

  • I liked tea before living in the UK, but it became much bigger for me once I moved in. I never really understood afternoon tea until living here… its the only way to stay warm! 🙂 Oh and give yourself a good afternoon sugar high for a few moments before it puts you in a food coma haha

    • Haha very good point!! That hot cuppa goodness is a great way to thaw out from a damp winter day! There’s something so delicious about those little finger sandwiches and pastries too, better than if they were normal sized lol. 🙂

  • I went on a big tea kick when I first moved here, but coffee won me back. I def agree it’s the little things that stay with you. We have a cafe we go to quite a lot and even after not being there for a while, the waitress recognises us and asks if we want the usual. It’s times like that I feel like I really am home 🙂

    • Funny thing is I didn’t start drinking coffee at all until I lived in Paris, but was at a friend’s place in the Netherlands. She made delicious cinnamon vanilla lattes, and I was hooked! I do love when your local place gets to know you and your order – really makes you feel like you belong and less like an intruder lol. 🙂

  • I’ve always loved tea but after moving to the UK, I became even more addicted! Afternoon cup of tea? Yes, please! I still drink coffee every day, too (I guess I just like caffeine? Ha) but I love english breakfast tea with cookies. Nom.

    • Yep. We’re pretty much the same!! lol. I have my tea in the morning, a coffee late morning, and my herbal teas through the evening. I just find something comforting about having a warm mug of something! Of course I have to crank the air conditioning to properly enjoy it down here in south Florida without sweating… 🙂

  • I’m drinking a cup of tea right now. (:

    • I’ve already had 3 for the day, and then I was caffeinated out!! 🙂

  • I love my tea!

  • Also I tried to link up twice but I think linkytools is down. http://bonnieroseblog.co.uk/2013/04/travel-pere-lachaise-cemetery.html

    • Got you covered!! I just needed to remove the .html at the end of the link. Thanks for joining!! 🙂

  • You made memories, and I think that’s the utmost important! Tea for me will evermore be an English ‘thing’ – I didn’t drink it before I lived here, and now can’t leave the stuff alone.

    • That’s the idea! The souvenirs and things I bought, but those memories have lasted and lasted. And I LOVE tea now, as I sit here with a cup of English Breakfast blend. 🙂

  • Elle

    I loved walking through the Cotswolds villages and exploring Windsor Castle.

    • I never made it out to the Cotswolds or Windsor!! Seems almost sacrilegious now… must put that on my list for when I go back some day! 🙂

  • Aw I loved this BUT it made me homesick. How do you do these things to me?!?!

    • Haha well I guess that’s a good thing, in a way? lol Believe me, I’ve been nostalgic for London and Paris for almost a month now, even more than usual!! 🙂

  • I love this post. We are so lucky to be building all of these great memories. I’m so impressed with all of the posts from the Link Up! This has been such a great series, Amy! Thank you so very much!! xoxo
    Selena

    • Thank you!! Your post about Paris was fantastic as well! And yes, I try to remind myself everyday as I get lost in the daily grind, how lucky we have been to have been able to do so much! This series has been fantastic – and you have been an absolute pleasure to work with!! xoxo