Please fasten your seat belts. It just got a bit bumpy here on the flight to the states, but that’s ok cause the last week has been as smooth as a freshly sheared sheep. (i know because they have a few of those in the English countryside you see).
We had a fantastic week in England and a good day or so in London too. We spent the first few days in Shropshire, where we now plan to retire, with Robyn’s friend, affectionately heretofore known as English Connie. She has certainly earned the title of best hostess ever. Not only did she take care, entertain and feed us, but she did it all in the most pleasant of English accents. I really wanted her to let me record her reading bedtime stories to play for our kids. It was almost like a week with Mary Poppins minus the flying and Dick Van Dyke but plus two beautiful, sweet kids and one fun Ned. It’s always good to be around good people.
(please appreciate that i’m working through the thumb cramps as this post is taking twice as long to type on my phone).
It all started with an insider’s tour of Oxford thanks to Ned (after cramming way more bags than should have fit into his car at the airport) and a tasty dinner in the garden of a little pub. Maddox quickly found a friend to kick a ball with while we enjoyed a tasty beverage and waited on our food. Love it. Less than two hours after touching down he’d found some footy to play.
Oxford was beautiful in only a slightly different way from App State. Ha. Ned got us inside one of the colleges and it was like stepping into a time warp or a Harry Potter movie. There were even kids in white sweater vests playing croquet on the lawn. I still kind of think Ned called ahead and set that up.
On to a late night drive through the rain to Shropshire. It wouldn’t have been a proper visit to England if it hadn’t rained right? Luckily most of the week was absolutely beautiful with just a few showers here and there. Church Stretton was a perfect little village with fantastic little parks and hikes literally right outside their back door. So much green. It almost hurt my eyes after so much time in Accra. We played in the park, hiked, scooted, laughed, talked, visited Ludlow Castle, a couple of pubs and stayed up way too late every night. Just how vacation should be. Robyn and Connie seemed like they had seen each other just yesterday instead of nine years ago (the last time was at our wedding) and it was cool to see how comfortable our kids were around her family as well. Josie has said several times already that she is going to miss her friend Kitty.
We eventually had to leave this little fairy tale land and head into London, for eventually we had to get on this plane you see. So with a round of hugs on the train platform and just a few tears we hopped the train to continue this big ol adventure. It was cool being on the train and watching the countryside breeze by. We even managed a stop in Wales before our London calling.
London is a big city. I think we all felt a bit if longing for the green again as we stood in line waiting for a taxi and then rode through the crowded streets to our hotel. But what’s an adventure if it’s all roses (or green hills and sheep). So we settled into our Heathrow TravelLodge and headed out to find some dinner once we opted against an hour on the tube to get back into fancy London. We found an acceptable pub just a few blocks away and spent the evening at a neighbourhood park. You see, we’ve learned a thing or two traveling with these little ones, and basically all they want is to eat from time to time and a little space to run and play. They just were not itching to see Big Ben or the Tower Bridge. Which is good because we never saw either one. We did do a ton of walking around the next day, but the majority of our sight seeing was in the parks. Just got to do what keeps everybody happy sometimes. We passed the football all the way through Hyde Park. It was pretty amazing how the energy came back into those little legs once the ball came out of my pack.
We finished the day with some tasty pizza a train ride and a long walk home. Oh and there was a World Cup game to watch as well. We watched the first half together and Maddox was determined to watch the second, but the bed was soft, the covers were warm and they both dropped pretty hard after a couple of books.
For the record, I’ve had the Shaun the Sheep theme song plastered in my brain for the past week. Hopefully the lack of sheep in North Carolina will help eradicate the problem.
So it’s been a fantastic week of adventure in a new country, time with an old friend, some new friends made and a summer that just started.