Few places entrance me as Devon, England. I traveled there when I was 13 to do my first study-abroad, and since then, it’s been one of my favorite places in the world. From the tiny town of Thurlestone, population 821, I’d wake up facing the cold, impressive sea, which was visible through the sharp cliffs running down from my host’s house. (My host, Lucy, and I are still trans-Atlantic friends 15 years later). Fixed in my mind are the gorgeous riding trails we’d take up high into the cliffs and the slope we’d run down to get to the town pub, wind blowing both ways. Wind always blowing.
It was there my specific Anglomania (Devonmania?) was born: I love everything from the moors of Sherlock Holmes to Burgh Island, a chic and glamorous Art Deco hotel where Agatha Christie set several novels and Noel Coward stayed. This satisfied my deeply literary self, even back then. Suddenly, there I was—in the 20’s, draped in a Gatsby-esque dress, teaching my sweet English friend the newest dance fresh from America, The Charleston.
While technically only an island during high tide, I used to be fascinated by the Sea Tractor  that would take guests from tiny, hearty Thurlestone across the water to the sophisticated hotel. Lucy and I would sit on the shore, watching, wrapped in a large, itchy wool blanket  sharing all the secrets and thoughts thirteen year-old girls share.
I loved taking day trips to larger coastal towns like Dartmouth and Salcombe, where I tried my first taste of Devon cream (clotted cream, scones, and jam), a completely indulgent, thick, and rich treat. And we’d run up and down Fore Street ducking into knickknack shops to pick out ubiquitous tea towels.
While I travel to England occasionally, I was unable to make Lucy’s wedding this year in Devon. I almost prefer preserving the memories of us bopping around to Blur in her room, the wind whipping against the thick lead windows of her traditional English cottage house on the coast. Wind, always. But I didn’t mind.
- Lauren Finney