A Jaunt Through London, England: Revisited

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

In the new plan of bringing previous articles to life in an effort to see them for the 1st time, or to get something new from them, we present this edition of Where To? Wednesday.

In 2014 the goal was to share a memorable experience of someone we know in Europe. The result became Where To? Wednesday.

In 2017 we’d like to continue that commitment. If you or anyone you know would like to share a story of traveling in Europe we would love to share it with a wider audience.

Today’s Where To? Wednesday features another special lady in my April Norrislife. Not only is she my sister-in-law, but she is also the mother of my only niece and nephew, whom my wife and I absolutely adore.

She has added a lot of love and joy to this world and those lucky enough to meet her can testify to that. Please give a hearty Rome Across Europe-welcome to the wonderful Mrs. April Norris!

Rome Across Europe: Thank you for taking time away from work to talk with us today.

April Norris: Of course! My pleasure.

RAE: I know I was lucky enough to get a moment of your time in between clients. Before we get started please tell us how is everything going with Optimal Vitality?

AN: Great! Getting people healthy for the New Year. Lots of people are motivated right now so it’s great to see people inspired to make a better life for themselves.

RAE: I love your positive outlook. I hope you are able to spread it to others.

AN: Me too! A positive outlook on life has SO much to do with overall health, the research is really fascinating.

RAE: And since you were so kind to give up some of your time to us, I will have our audience be sure to check out your site – http://www.optimalvitalitywellness.com/

AN: Thanks!

RAE: So where are you taking us today, April?

AN: Jolly ol’ London, England.

The Armada Memorial in Plymouth depicting Britannia.

RAE: Ooh to Britannia? Nice. I think I even heard your accent through the computer.

When were you there?

AN: Haha. I was there in March of 2008, while I was 5 months pregnant with my daughter. My mom and I went to visit my sister who was studying abroad there.

RAE: Wow. That is a trip I am sure you will never forget.

How was the flight? Being pregnant and all?

AN: Flight was really long. Thankfully we flew business class and the attendants were really kind to me, letting me get up and stretch in the back, giving me extra heating pads and things. Special attention for the uncomfortable preggo lady.

RAE: Well you deserved it. What time of year was it?

AN: March, so it was still “blustery” (as my mom liked to say) and cold in London. But beautiful all the same.

RAE: How long were you there for? Did you visit any other places, or just keep it in London?

AN: I was there for a very short 3 days, and then my mom, sister and I flew to Moscow to visit my dad who was working there at the time.

RAE: Moscow must have been even more “blustery” I’m sure.

Tell us about London, please. What caught your eye during that 3 day jaunt?

AN: Well, we saw the various touristy things. Went up in the London Eye, saw Big Ben and Parliament (said in my best Chevy Chase voice) and Westminster Abbey.

RAE: Classic. European Vacation. Nice touch.


Did you do anything “off the beaten path” or did you stick to the big sites?

AN: We stuck to the big places, since we were only there such a short time. And being pregnant, my energy wasn’t the greatest.

RAE: I can only imagine your energy level. Such a trooper.

AN: We also went into the church itself, which was absolutely amazing. I got a little freaked out when we went into where all the kings and queens were buried. But just the depth of history blew my mind. It made me realize how very YOUNG America is.

RAE: Oh yes. As Americans, we tend to forget that most of our origins were made in Europe. England especially.

AN: I will say, on a side note, that my interest was piqued with all of the holistic health clinics I saw. A lot of homeopathy, natural herbal things…

RAE: In London, overall?

AN: Yes. All over London.

RAE: Europe has a tendency to be at the forefront of lots of ideas and positive ways of living these days.

AN: Well, we can get into the various natural health issues being suppressed by the US, but that’s an entirely different blog! Haha.

Inside WA
The Nave of Westminster Abbey.

RAE: Will you please share more about the Abbey?

AN: Westminster Abbey was gorgeous. I remember it being very cold inside!

RAE: What about Westminster Abbey stuck out for you, aside from the cold and the royalty that was under the floor?

Elizabeth I tomb effigy (digitally altered so railings do not sh
Elizabeth I tomb effigy.

AN: Haha. Architecture was unreal. The amount of time that it must have took, and gargoyles that must have weighed HUNDREDS of pounds, how they hoisted them up…without all the different engineering tools that we have nowadays.


There was an organist practicing while we were there, which vibrated throughout the entire church. It gave me Goosebumps.

The Abbey
Known formally as the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster.

RAE: True. Rome Across Europe does its best to recognize the genius of ancient architecture, along with its lasting impact today. Glad to see others have a similar appreciation.

That organist was a nice addition. I doubt you could have that moment replicated ever again.

AN: Very true.

RAE: Knowing you are into food and health, what did you eat while in England?

AN: It was a bit challenging while we were there. I did my best to order soups, stews, maybe a salad or two. English people aren’t known for their fresh, California style vegetables, so there was some give and take with the menu choices.

RAE: Very carbohydrate loaded?

shepherd’s pie
Shepherd’s Pie

AN: Yes, heavy foods, shepherd’s pie, potatoes, pasta. But it was so cold. It makes sense why people try to eat warming, comforting foods.

[Break to take care of the kids]


RAE: While we had a break, I checked out more about British foods. It is interesting, and I shall end it there.

Since you have returned to the US, and are no longer pregnant, have you tried to recreate any of the dishes you had while in England?

AN: A little bit, only in the past few years have I gotten more creative in the kitchen.

RAE: That is certainly understandable. There are not a lot of culinary experts that are immediately created. It does take some time, and effort.

What was your favorite English food and what would you do to make it healthier? More suitable for your own eating habits

AN: I would say the best English food I had wasn’t really English at all. I love Indian cuisine and London had the BEST Indian food!

Chicken tikka masala, served atop rice.

I loved the Chicken Tikka Masala, which my husband and I now eat frequently. But, if I’d make a healthy swap for a “typical” English dish, like Fish and Chips, I’d swap out the fried part. I’d bake the fish.

I would substitute the wheat flour with quinoa flour or almond flour to make it Gluten-Free. I’d bake the “Chips” and switch the white potatoes for sweet potatoes.

Fish and Chips
Fish and Chips

They are more nutrient dense. I’d cook them in coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. Then I’d season with garlic powder, sea salt and a little black pepper. Awesome! I might have some inspiration for my dinner tonight.

RAE: Perfect! See this is not only about inspiring others to go somewhere new, but to try new things as well. We try to inspire each other.

Let us transition from food to drink now. Is tea really as big of a deal to the British as the world makes it seem?

Tea TimeAN: Oh yes. It’s so deeply integrated into their daily routine. Never separate a Brit and their tea.

I think it’s a great ritual to take a little time out every day and decompress. They’ve really got something there. Americans should pay attention.

RAE: I agree. As a whole, I think there are many European traditions of daily living that could really help out everyday people here in America and it would not really be a hard change.

Enough preaching I guess. For most Americans who have never traveled abroad, I believe England (or the UK overall) would be a good starting point since the Brits also speak English.

Was it hard to understand Proper English, and the accents, compared to the English spoken here in the states?

AN: Sometimes it was a little confusing when they would talk real fast. But like you say, it’s still English so a lot of guesswork was taken out.

While I was there I noticed different accents, and I found out it depends on what part of England you’re from. Kind of like the US.

A deep southern accent sounds nothing like someone from the Pacific Northwest. Same goes for England.

It was fun listening to the different “twangs”. My ears were on overload!

RAE: I can imagine. The explanation of the regional dialect was very helpful.

How was the lifestyle in London? Were locals hustling and bustling around? Do the folks there take mid-day breaks like other European countries, or are they more similar to America in how daily life goes?

AN: London was pretty busy. Lots of tourists. Very busy locals. I’m not real sure of the mid-day breaks but I’m assuming they all had tea-time about 4PM.

RAE: Did you have any positive or negative experiences with the locals that come to mind?

AN: Nope. I can’t remember anything specific.

RAE: That is understandable. For most people, only situations that were really great or horrendous tend to stick out. If you had a good time then it would probably all blend together.

I realize you were pregnant at the time so you were not drinking, but did you visit any English Pubs with your mother and sister while there?

English Pub
A large selection of beers and ales in a traditional pub in London.

If so, were they like what is portrayed on TV or in movies? Or was it completely different?

AN: Yes, we went to dinner in a pub one night. Which was really fun. The one we visited was really dark and dingy. Lots of locals hung out there. So yeah, kind of how they’re portrayed in TV.

I can’t remember the name of it, but my sister recommended it and said it was one of the more fun pubs. She could probably give you more insight as to what pubs to visit and how the nightlife is.

RAE: Thanks. We will have to look into that.

How did you get around? Since your condition at the time, plus the weather, was there less walking than you would usually do?

England’s version of a subway.

AN: My mom and I walked quite a bit. I would say at least 4-5 miles a day. When I got really tired, then we’d hail a taxi to get where we needed to be. But it was great to walk.

When you go to a place like London, you really notice how walkable European cities are, and it makes me sad sometimes that I don’t live in an area where it’s pedestrian friendly. We took the “Tube” or the London Underground, which was great. Really cheap and easily accessible.

RAE: That is American suburban living for you. Maybe in the future you can get back to life in the city.

If you were to return to London now, what would you do? Or would you even want to go back?

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace. This is the principal façade, the East Front; originally constructed by Edward Blore and completed in 1850. It acquired its present appearance following a remodelling, in 1913, by Sir Aston Webb.

AN: Yes, I would love to go back. Next time I’d want to visit Buckingham Palace. Maybe a museum or two.

I’d definitely love to experience the London nightlife. Dance clubs, bars, etc. Mama likes to dance! Haha.

Also I’d want to see more of England itself, more of the countryside. My parents say it’s beautiful. I haven’t really investigated it too much because I need to convince my husband to go somewhere other than a place that’s tropical and sunny.

But when I do, I’ll have a list of places!

RAE: Oh, I understand that. My brother is kind of set in his ways like that. If you need some help in changing that, just let me know.

April, thank you for your time again. You have been such a joy. Lots of love go to you for sharing, and please pass those feelings to the rest of the family.

AN: Thanks Shawn, same to you and Jenn!

We thus complete another wonderful interview for another Where To? Wednesday. Please join us next time for another unique look at somewhere special in Europe. If you have an questions or comments for Rome Across Europe, or about the articles, please let us know. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

I, Claudius

History: There is evidence of the area having scattered settlements from local tribes. The first major settlement, however, was founded by the Romans after the conquest of 43 AD led by Emperor Claudius.

The settlement then grew into a rather large city by 50 AD. The Romans named this location Londinium. It was established at the point where the River Thames was narrow enough to build a bridge, but deep enough to handle seagoing marine vessels. This only lasted until around 61 AD when the Iceni tribe, led by Queen Boudica, stormed the city and burned it to the ground.

The next, heavily planned, incarnation of Londinium prospered and superseded Colchester as the capital of the Roman province of Britannia in 100 AD. The city was a major commercial center for the Empire.

At its height during the 2nd Century, Roman London had a population of around 60,000. This made Londinium one of the largest cities in the Roman West.

Trajan at London Wall
Statue of Emperor Trajan in front of London Wall.

Between 190 and 225 AD, the Romans built the London Wall, a defensive wall around the landward side of the city. Along with Hadrian’s Wall and the road network, the London Wall was one of the largest construction projects carried out in Roman Britain (About 3 miles long, 20 feet high, and 8 feet 2 inches thick).

In spite of all dangers and hardships faced, the wall would survive for another 1,600 years. The perimeters of the modern London are roughly defined by the line of the ancient wall.

Between AD 407 and 409 large numbers of barbarians penetrated Gallia and Hispania, seriously weakening communication between Rome and Britain. British troops elected their own leaders.

Constantine III
Coin depicting Constantine III.

The last of these leaders, Constantine III, declared himself to be Emperor of the Western Roman Empire. Constantine III took an expeditionary force across the Channel, leaving Britain short of troops.

As Rome’s impact started to decline, so did its impact on Roman Britain. The area of Londinium remained largely uninhabited for about 200 years, until the site was resettled by Anglo-Saxons.

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey. We look forward to more Where To? Wednesdays with you, and sharing other explorations as well.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

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