Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Growing Up in England

Surprise! I was an Air Force brat, and we lived in England for almost ten years. The first school I ever attended was at Feltwell, in Norfolk. In the beginning, I was the only American student in the school, and quickly adapted my speech patterns to fit in. For instance, "Mommy" became "Mummy," and I started asking "to use the toilet" instead of "I have to go potty!" With my ethnic background of Mexican/Filipino on my mom's side, boy, did I stand out among the redheaded and blond English kids!

We went to Peterborough one cold day and stood outside in the rain for 2 hours in order to catch sight of the Queen! On another occasion, we saw the Queen Mother, and my brother (then about 9) jumped out of the queue to touch the hem of her coat. We moved back to California a few years later, and when I was 13, we moved back to England, but in the Cotswolds region of Gloucestershire. I attended a U.S. owned boarding high school, which gave me an extraordinary education. All of the students were military or government brats like me, and there was a closeness I have never seen in kids since.

Going home to the serenity of the Cotswolds every weekend was the best part of the week. Mom and Dad would bundle us in the VW bus and we would go touring to the stately homes and castles and palaces in the area. I've stepped in sheep poop at Blenheim Palace (birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill), laughed at the monkeys in the safari park at Longleat, and talked to a ghost at Berkeley Castle. At least, I think it was a ghost. It might have been my brother making a scary noise!

I once crossed a busy street in our local town of Cirencester to say good morning to HRH Princess Anne, who nodded politely and said good morning to me. I was floating in the clouds for months, thinking that I had actually spoken to a princess. I sent birthday cards to HRH Prince Edward when he was in Cambridge University, and hoped I'd be the first American princess! No luck.

England, Scotland, and Wales are beautiful places filled with rich history, culture, scenery, and with as many varied characters of people as you could hope to find anywhere. My first few romance novels I wrote are all set in England, and I believe it's because of the history and romance of the countryside as well as the towering spires of London that first inspired me all those years ago. If I close my eyes, I can picture myself in the hushed mezzanine at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden before the ballet starts. Or I'm in the National Portrait Gallery studying Richard III's piercing gaze. Or I'm wandering through a pasture, treading a well worn path that has been traversed by other walkers for the last few hundred years.

I hope to return some day, but in the meantime, please enjoy my little glimpse of English life in my books. I promise there will be more to come!


  1. I like the historical aspects of England. My wife studied aboard there and I visited when we were both in college. A great place:)

  2. I wish I could take my kids there one day! I still miss it. Sometimes there's a certain smell in the air (even here in Florida!) and I will think, "ah, that smells like England."