Friday, August 21, 2015

Up North.

IMG_3619When we lived in England back in 2012 we tried over and over to plan a trip up north with the Schwartz's.  Rob lived up in Cheshire when he was a teenager and Ames had told me so much about the beauty and magic of that place.  But it never happened.  So, Ames and Rob made it happen for us. And it was every bit as magical as they had professed.  IMG_1843

It took us the better part of a day to get up there, but that was mostly due to unlucky traffic and potty/snack breaks.  The first thing we did after arriving and meeting Amy’s good friends who so graciously let us stay with them was to go to Teggs Nose to take a country walk.  It was FREEZING, uncommonly so for June.  While my bones were screaming with cold my eyes were feasting on all that lush green, the vistas, the craggy hills, the wildflower paths, the rock walls.  It was all pretty magical.   IMG_3638My stellar niece Elle was spending the summer in London for her pre-senior year summer internship so we kidnapped her to come up north with us.  My kids were so delighted to spend some quality time with her and I was too.  It’s so fun to have a little more one on one time with her since I usually only see her when she is one of the 27 grandkids.  She pretty much rocks.  IMG_1849I loved watching these kids scamper through this countryside.  Makes me wish they could interact with the natural world like this all the time.  The world wakes us up.  Especially children.  IMG_1852IMG_1854IMG_1860Em’s relationship with Lambie hasn’t really changed in the past 3 years, but they both look a little older and more worn.  (see here for more Lambie adventures in the countryside)[IMG_78423.jpg]IMG_1862IMG_1874Here’s the best group shot we could manage.  Calling all those kids down from their wanderings was an impossible task.  I loved this family that we got to know (and stay with).  They were so gracious and funny and good and took us to see incredible things. IMG_1881IMG_1884I’m gonna let these pictures mostly tell this story.  My words can’t do it justice.  I guess the pictures can’t really either.  I wish you could smell and hear and feel the thrill of an experience more than you can through pictures.  IMG_1886IMG_1889IMG_1895IMG_1900Exploring and climbing on old machinery was another, different thrill for those kids.  IMG_1902IMG_1904IMG_1906Peter always with a stick.  Usually the stick is a sword.  And he’s slaying dragons.  IMG_1908IMG_1914I love these shots of these two friends.  IMG_1916IMG_1930IMG_1931IMG_1936IMG_1945IMG_1951IMG_1952IMG_1954One of my favorite things about this trail was the little library someone had built there, perched on top of the hill, surrounding the countryside.  What a beautiful thing. IMG_3649IMG_1957This kid was cracking me up with his modeling poses.  IMG_1960IMG_1964IMG_1968These girls?  Stunning.  IMG_1970IMG_1975IMG_1977IMG_1984I love this Peter boy.  And I hope one day he’ll marry this Elsa girl.IMG_1990IMG_2003IMG_3669IMG_3677Picking wildflowers, making daisy chains.  This are the crystal moments of childhood.  IMG_3678IMG_3691



Oh England.  I love you.  Your crags and moors and flowers and your green.  Everything in you makes me feel green and lush and alive. 

Monday, August 10, 2015


IMG_1702On day 4 we headed back into our beloved London.  While London doesn’t seem to have changed too much, things for us sure have.  Look at how much bigger these kids have gotten since our last adventure there!  Things seemed so much easier to navigate, without a baby and with excited older kids.  IMG_7987

It was especially fun to have Peter there.  His only memories from our time in England are stolen from photographs that we look through every once in a while.  I think he was pretty psyched to live it in real time.  He was almost the same age that Emmeline was when we went in 2012.  As I watched him on the tube and traipsing through the streets and over bridges I had the same feelings I had for that little Em in that big city three years ago.  Little boy.  Big City. 


All I see now in these London pictures, a month later, are dreamy happy times.  But, here’s my journal entry that I wrote that night for the real stuff:

We went into London today!  I love New York, but London might be up there tied with it in my book.  It is such a beautiful city, so rich with age yet so new and modern too.   It is so aesthetically pleasing.  And there’s something about it that feels a little sacred to me.  It’s the place where I learned to love adventure with my kids.  It will always have a really big space in my heart.  IMG_7919

Ames came in with us for the first half of the day.  We started at Green Park and happened upon the changing of the guards.  We watched from up on a wall and ate Hobnobs as all that pomp and circumstance paraded by. 

IMG_1586Peter was especially excited by the horses and the official looking guards.  Happening in on the last hour of the changing of the guards like we did is the way to go.  It get’s a little too long for my taste start to finish.  IMG_1590IMG_1585IMG_1593IMG_1595

IMG_1597We then walked down the mall to Trafalgar square.  I love that walk all lined with British flags.   We were sad to see that the Lions were fenced off so that they could set up for an event.  My kids have been really looking forward to climbing on those lions.  But at least we saw them, and some really strange floating Yoda street performers and that seemed to do the trick for the kids.  IMG_1600IMG_1606IMG_1607IMG_1615IMG_1616We popped into the National gallery and picked one room which was full of rich early Christian art and snuck a peek at a really great little exhibit all about frames.  We spent all of 15 min in that amazing museum. I knew that was all my kids could handle today, but I didn’t want to skip it all together, I want to expose my kids to beautiful art museums any chance I can. IMG_1617

Next we got on a double decker bus and rode down to London Bridge.  Peter has been dying to ride up on a double decker bus.  He was glued to the front seat the whole journey.  Love that boy.  I love riding up high through all those white old buildings down the Strand and Oxford streets.  IMG_1629IMG_1630IMG_1635IMG_1638IMG_1644Here are our little friends again, this time on the double decker bus:  IMG_7939IMG_7943


We walked across London bridge and headed to Borough Market.  Which I quickly realized is not the place to eat when you’ve stretched your kids for too long and they’re starving and tired.  They did not enjoy the aesthetics of that awesome place filled with amazing food stalls.  They just wanted the first thing they saw, and were very impatient waiting for it.  These guys must still be a bit jet lagged, they were not entirely pleasant.  IMG_7950

IMG_7948We did manage to get some food and sat in the church yard of a beautiful cathedral nearby.  I had my first Burgito (burger burrito) which was pretty tasty.  And we ate some Turkish delight and some of the most delicious cream filled donuts imaginable.

Ames had to leave from there and we headed towards the Themes to walk along the river walk towards the Tate Modern and Millennium bridge.  I loved having Amy with us with all my heart, a total dream come true to be with her again in her city, but I also loved to get a little time with just my kids.  There’s just something I love about it being just me and them in a big city, exploring.  They are awesome. IMG_7951IMG_7952

I love that walk along the south side of the Themes, from the market to the Tate.  So many cool old buildings mixed in with new ones.  And the river gives off the most amazing light.  I hope to go back one day to that walk with out any little slow going tired kids to take lots of pictures.  It was such a beautiful place.

Half way through that short walk the kids demanded we just sit and rest.   So we sat on the wall overlooking the river and played for a while.  I had bought some funny little cheap plastic wild animal toys which I had planned to give Peter as good traveler prizes, but I gave a few to each of the kids and they were so happy just playing with them for a while on the bank of the river.  So interesting to me how much kids need to play.  They need it like water and food and sleep. IMG_7954

We popped into the Tate Modern, just saw one room of crazy abstract art.  Enough though to recommit hazel to her passion of becoming a modern artist one day.  I think the Tate Modern might be one of my favorite museums in the world (so far). IMG_7956

Then we sat almost under the Millennium bridge for a while and played with little plastic wild animals while a girl sang some pretty scene setting stuff.  The light there took my breath away.  IMG_7958IMG_7955

We walked over that awesome Millennium bridge.  I pointed out to Peter that the last time he went over the bridge he couldn’t walk and he was pretty proud to march over it now in his big four year old body. IMG_1657

IMG_1672IMG_1676We tried to recreate this picture here, only with bigger kids.   IMG_1690

IMG_1693We made it to St. Paul’s just in time to hear some of Evensong.  That is by far the best time to go there.  That place is so beautiful, but filled with music it feels like heaven.  I really felt the spirit in there.  The reading scriptural reading for Evensong was from Matthew where he talks about being kind to your brother, but in their reading they included Sister too.  Perfect reminder for Hazel and Charlie who had been at each others throats all day.  We had a little family prayer in there, and all the kids lit a candle.  I think everyone left there much happier, filled with light. IMG_7963

(an illegal hipshot of Peter’s head)

We grabbed some Pret sandwiches for dinner (Hazel was DYING for her regular London fare, the Pret BLT) and ate them on the steps of St. Paul's.  The weather was so perfect, the light was so beautiful.  I just wish there was a little less fighting.  I guess that’s just the stage we’re in.  And Jet Lag.


IMG_7972IMG_7985We were really done with London at that point, but decided that taking the train at rush hour was not going to be nice, so we boarded the next bus that came by and it took us really close to Parliament and Big Ben, so we walked down there to recreate our old Phone Booth picture from 2012.  I think that might have been Peter’s favorite part of the day, and Hazel’s least favorite.  But I insisted on it.  So cool to see how much we’ve grown and changed.  IMG_1700


Finally, we headed back home.  It was a FULL day.  Full of lots of amazing sights and experiences and memories flooding back together, merging with the present.  And full of  tired, whiny, fighting kids.  But I ‘m pretty sure we’re all going to remember the good bits the most.  There really were loads of them.


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