East Grinstead, a Place Much Nicer Than it Sounds

The fun thing about dating someone from another country is that you end up seeing much more of the country than you would otherwise. For example, before I met Dave, I studied abroad in London and visited a few other cities in the UK. I had been to Edinburgh, Bath, Windsor, Oxford, and Birmingham. Now, I end up flying to the UK, and I don’t even set foot in central London.

This weekend was the second shortest trip I have ever done to England. The flight time really isn’t bad for a weekend or long weekend trip, but I find the time difference jarring to say the least. As I lay here and recover from a quick 36 hour trip I can’t help but wish the time difference was a little easier on my body.

This weekend, we were back in the UK for a very special reason, a wedding! Dave was one of three best men for a childhood friend of his. The trip was lovely, albeit chaotic. I was there three nights & slept in three different places. Dave only had one more night than me, as he left Wednesday and landed Thursday morning. I am a HUGE advocate of day flights. There’s an 8AM flight from JFK that gets me to LHR at 7PM (although usually closer to 6PM because of the tailwind). Dave booked me on a 10 AM flight though, and I was supposed to land around 11PM. However, because of all the storms and wind in the UK currently, I landed at 9:30PM.

I think one day, when I have money, I will just fly business overnight to the UK and premium economy back. I love the day flight because I get up at like 3:30 and get to the airport early and nap early on the plane and then feel ok, but I always always sleep on the plane and laying down is so much better. I luckily got upgraded over Christmas to business and it was the best experience of my entire life. But for now, I like the day flight because I feel a little bit better than landing on a new day, having only slept for a few hours.

Friday morning I left NYC and it was a chilly -8C, 23F. I was in a leather jacket, and well that was it because I didn’t want to bring a large overcoat to the UK. Like I said, we hit a massive tailwind and I landed quite early, which was nice. Dave picked me up at Heathrow and we made the long journey back to Croydon.

Croydon is just below the River Thames, and is usually my homebase when I travel to London. The problem with driving in the UK is that there are very few highways or motorways or parkways or whatever you want to call them. So there is no direct route to anything really.

After a quick cup of tea and a banana (because I sure as hell wasn’t eating any fruit or vegetables on the plane-not that they were offered), I headed to bed. As with any landing, I immediately put on a face mask and then have a shower. I have combination skin, but drying really tends to make me oily and dry me out at the same time. I always choose a hydrating sheet mask, and the exfoliate well in the shower to reduce the oil buildup. Finally, at about 12.30 I climbed into bed. Unfortunately for me, I was up until about 3.30 AM. I did quite well in terms of getting into bed quickly, but I couldn’t sleep. At 2AM I accidentally woke Dave up because I remembered I had a KIND bar in my purse and my stomach was growling. I finally fell asleep and slept until about 9.30AM, which was quite early for me to wake up. Usually, I am impossible to drag out of bed at 11 AM because that’s still only 6AM in NYC.

We had a lovely morning, and went for brunch at the Coach House Cafe in Coombe Gardens. I wasn’t particularly hungry, and I tend to listen to my body when I travel because I know it’s just the jet lag, but in an effort to eat something I ordered a salad. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how nice it was.

Mediterranean salad with grilled halloumi. Unfortunately peppers made their way into the salad which I absolutely despise.

I was the only one who didn’t order an English breakfast (which is eggs, sausage, tomato, mushroom, toast, bacon, beans and could have more like black pudding etc.

English breakfasts are very traditional to get or make even on a weekend. Dave had one every single day we were in the UK, except the morning we flew home and he said to me “I’m really craving some healthy food.” No shit, look at that plate and tell me where the health is. We do tend to eat pretty healthy at home. I’m sure we eat too much sugar, but I try to make our lunches/dinners very veggie heavy and there’s always a lot of fruit in the fridge!

After our brunch, we headed to East Grinstead for night before wedding activities. The wedding itself was at the Ravenswood, but the night before we stayed at the Ashdown Park. Okay, the Ashdown Park was insane. When we booked it, it was a lot more expensive than what we would usually spend on a hotel in the UK, but that’s where the groom and other best men were staying and where the boys would get ready in the morning. I have to say, it was well worth the money.

We took the train to Lingfield, which is a 40 minute drive from where we were, but only a 20 minute train. Our original plan was to take the train all the way to East Grinstead, but because of all the aforementioned storms, there was a landslide and the train was terminating at Lingfield.

It was a 20 minute cab from Lingfield to the hotel and we made it just in time for my massage. Ashdown Park has a huge spa menu as well as indoor pools, a huge indoor gym (with weights machines etc.) and outdoor tennis courts. I had a 60 minute aromatherapy massage with Ella, and I highly recommend it. I brought a bathing suit as well, to go to the spa or pool, but the pool was filled with children and it was noisy and I couldn’t be bothered. I later read in the room on the “about us” menu that the pool was only open to children until 6pm, and then it was adults only until the pool closed at 9pm. I think that’s a great idea for a hotel and I wish I had had the time to take advantage of it.

The boys went out to dinner, but after my massage I just needed to chill, which is why I ended up ordering room service. I got a much earlier night and fell asleep around 12AM. Waking up the next morning was exciting because it was wedding day!!

Dave went to get ready with the groom and other best men, and one of the best men’s girlfriends’ came to get ready with me. We stayed in a different hotel because there was another wedding at the Ravenswood on Saturday night and I guess people from that wedding stayed there. The only problem was that we had to check out from the Ashdown at 11 AM and the wedding started at 2pm and check in to the Ravenswood was at 3PM. We ended up paying 50 pounds to check out late at the Ashdown so i could get ready. It was definitely worth it.

My goal for this February wedding was to look like a walking freaking valentine. See below.

The Ravenswood was lovely as a wedding venue. The food was very traditional English, but very tasty. The canapes were fried cheese of some sort, mini fish and chips, and mini sausage sandwiches. I only tried the fried cheese, as I am a flexitarian (but mostly pescetarian and only eat meat once/twice a week for one or two meals). The food during dinner was also exceptional, my starter was also fried cheese of some sort. The main was a roast, which was nice because it was Sunday, and then we had a trio of desserts.

After dinner and the speeches, which were great, (and I’m biased of course) there was a break for tea and coffee, as well as a sparkler picture. We all lit sparklers and stood in a semi circle around the bride and groom and the photographer took a billion photos. I can’t wait to see how they came out. After that, the bride and groom had their first dance. During which, Dave told me I have awful music taste and he doesn’t know what ours will be. I snuck upstairs after that and got into bed. I was absolutely shattered. Weddings in England go on for more than 12 hours. I had started getting ready at 11 AM and I got into bed at 9.00. Dave came upstairs sometime after midnight and of course was quiet as a mouse when he got into bed, having only had a beer or two (can you feel the sarcasm dripping off that sentence?)

Between my jet lag and Dave’s hangover, we missed breakfast the next morning. It was okay though, because we pretty much went straight to the airport and right to the No. 1 lounge. My valentine’s day present was Priority Pass, which is incredible. It’s a membership, and you pay once a year to have access to like thousands of lounges at airports. You can bring a guest for 32 dollars, although sometimes it’s less I think. And you can reserve your space in advance online at a lot of lounges. I swear the time from going through security to boarding went SO quickly as we had tea and coffee and coca cola and beer and mac and cheese and curry and cookies etc. in the lounge. It was a really nice experience and highly recommend!

This post felt exceptionally long for some reason so TL;DR: stay at the Ashdown Park & go to the spa. Ravenswood is a really lovely wedding venue but the rooms make you feel like you’re in a motel. Lastly, get priority pass if you fly often!

No upcoming trips unfortunately. We have one in June, and I think we might try and sneak a weekend one in before or just after, and we are planing a little getaway for late July (maybe, don’t quote me). So the next few blog posts are TBD. Might have to catch you up on some other English cities/ places in Europe I’ve been to recently!

xx

j

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