After arriving into London’s Heathrow airport on a long sleepless overnight United Airlines flight in economy class, I was dead tired. I was picked up by a retired relative who lives in Ashtead, a village about 40 minutes southwest of London. Although I had been to England twice before, to London and Birmingham, I had never seen this part of England, the countryside. It was very different from the hustle and bustle of the city, and to be frank, I liked it. It was quite relaxing and a chance of pace from what I am used to on my trips, which usually involve frenetic days of seeing as many things as possible.
Here, the situation was different. Just across from where I was staying was a serene park, appropriately named Ashtead park. I went for a walk here; hilariously, the end of the park ended at a pub. I noticed that pubs manage to insert themselves one way or another in England, it is a cultural social activity. I ate fish and chips with English mustard and HP sauce, a local sauce that I can’t really explain the taste of. English mustard is notably spicy, you don’t need to put much of it, as it is quite hot. Colman’s is the best known English brand but this pub served Heinz.
From here, I went to see Epsom Downs, a world famous horse racing venue. Unfortunately, racing season had ended, but it was still worth seeing. I can only imagine the rollicking crowds on race day. Across from the downs was yet again another pub. It is well-known, but I was pubbed out and just had a glance from the outside.
The next day, the plan was to go to a winery in the nearby village Dorking. To be honest, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as English wine, but apparently it was. The local winery we went to was called Denbies, which is a company that only sells within England. The tour guide later joked that Brexit wouldn’t affect their business for that reason, though I had my doubts due to the fact that the laborers are from Bulgaria.
The tours were priced very affordably, about 10 pounds for one hour. I went on two tours, one of the internal winery, and one of a drive up a hill on the property where one could catch a view of Dorking. The weather was cool enough for a light sweater, quite a change from the caldron of Houston which I was coming from. The second tour was more for just the view and an explanation of the property at large; I personally found the first one more interesting, as the factory and its inner workings were explained. All in all, this fit into the relaxed theme and was a nice way to spend a couple of hours.
After this, it was off to the house for a relaxing home-cooked dinner and planning to go into London the next day. I really enjoyed this area of England, it was different from my norm, and I would like to go back if given the opportunity.