Winner of the American Christian Fiction Writer's Carol Award for Dauntless!!!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Me and Merry Olde England

I now have three published novels set in England, which probably raises the question, what is my experience with England? First of all, I feel like England is a big part of my heritage. Although in many ways I am the typical American "mutt," the majority of my roots are from the British Isles. I have ancestors from England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. Altogether, those make up for well over half of my origins. I have a good dose of English blood on both my mother's and my father's side. Supposedly, I even have an English nobleman somewhere on my mother's side of the family. When I look back over time and imagine how my ancestors would have lived during the middle ages, I mostly think of England.

And although I can't afford research trips before writing my books (trust me, if I could I would be on a plane to England tomorrow!) I have in fact spent a summer in England. In 1990, when I was twenty years old, I went on an international mission trip to England with my Christian university. That might seem like an odd place for a mission trip, but Christianity has been on the decline in England for some time. And it was a great trip. We worked with an organization that did a lot of church planting and street ministry. I learned so much about how to evangelize and had many weeks to completely immerse myself in British culture. We worked with Brits all day, reached out to Brits, and slept in British homes most nights.

Taking the ferry to the Isle of White.

During my summer there we traveled around the country, spending time in London, Cambridge, Southampton, and the Isle of White. Although I did not have the opportunity to go very far north, I met people from all over England. One of my favorites was a guy named Ashley from Yorkshire. He had the most delectable accent, and we couldn't get enough of trying to copy it.

My team at the London Hard Rock Cafe

Although touring was not high on our priority list, we did get to walk throughout all those cities. We saw lots of old buildings, especially from the outside, and all the major sites like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, and London Bridge. We also visited a medieval church, which was definitely one of my highlights. Sadly, I don't have a picture of it, but I also loved these little canal boats the we road on.

As I searched through my old pictures, I found a surprising number featuring cute British guys. What can I say? I have a soft spot for both Brits and missionaries. This one also shows my favorite outfit that I purchased at a boutique in London. While most of my teammates were shopping at Laura Ashley (anyone remember those awful flowered, puffy dresses?) I found this very mod little number that I wore regularly for at least a decade. If you can tear your eyes away from the gentlemen in the background, you can see the outfit below in black and yellow.

So that's me and merry olde England. Have you ever been to England? What's the most interesting place you've ever visited?


  1. Thanks for sharing this part of your life with us. It's wonderful that you got to go on a missionary trip to England. It would be great to visit there, but I would have to get over my fear of flying first! lol My sister has been so I know it's a really long flight.

    I love the pictures, the guys in the background of the last picture look like they were enjoying your company! lol I bet they were mesmerized by the pretty girl in the great dress! :-)

    1. Ha ha! We actually liked the guys criss-crossed from us. But of course we weren't allowed to have romantic relationships. Both of the guys worked in volunteer ministry almost full-time if I remember correctly.

  2. How exciting! I haven't been to England, but would love to travel all over Europe (especially Ireland)! Thanks for sharing all the pictures! Totally cool! :)

  3. That is so cool. I've never been out of the states. I was given the opportunity to study abroad in England as well while I was in college but my family couldn't afford to send me. The most interesting place I've been to is Niagara Falls, NY. It is really breathtaking especially if you see it from the Canadian side. We decided to go the Canadian side and it was worth it. That was in 1999 before the US required passports.

  4. Well I for one am glad to see an American clearly distinguishing between the countries of the British Isles- and I would not worry about being a 'mutt'- we Brits ourselves are a pretty mixed bunch . Celts, Romans, Saxons, Vikings, French etc.....not to mentioned peoples of non-European backgrounds.
    On the matter of nobles, its been said a third of the UK population is descended from Royalty or nobility- so its probably quite a high percentage in the US too.
    In fact I recently heard it said that it if you can trace your English ancestry back a certain number of generations, there's a 90% chance you're descended from Edward III (or it might have been John of Gaunt his son).

    My trouble with travelling is that we my family travelled so much in Europe and beyond that I have not seen much of my own country. l loved visiting York (before the whole debacle over Richard III's remains), and yes, thier accents are great. I try to imitate by saying 'were' for was and missing out the the two letters of the so it become t'. So 'on the wall' becomes 'on t'wall'- but you can say that in a Dorset accent, and I don't think I'm being very accurate.

    Would love to go in Lindisfarne and Bamburgh, on the Northumberland coast, because of the connection with the earliest Saxon Christian Kings and Saints, and probably need to explore more of my maternal ancestors stomping grounds in Kent and Sussex.....

  5. Thanks for sharing, ladies. I do get to travel with my husband for his work and to see his family sometimes. I've been to Stockholm, Paris, Cairo, and Beirut. Maybe one of these days I'll gt back to England.

    1. Oh, and Helsinki Finland too. Can't forget that one.