March 22, 2017

Our British Home

We've been in England for six months now which is over a quarter of our time here! Crazy how fast it is going. I wanted to share pictures of our house here, mostly so years from now I'll have a record of it and can remember what it looked like, but also because I took pictures of rooms only when they were clean so needless to say it took awhile...

We looked at several places when we first moved here (we stayed at two Air BnBs for a month total until moving into our home), and this house was definitely our favorite so I'm glad it worked out. We are only a half mile walk from Finn's school, a ten minute walk from the grocery store and a few shops, and we are lucky that we don't live directly off a busy street (like a couple of the others we looked at). Plus we have a driveway which is a big deal here. A lot of places have street parking only and that would have just gotten old. We live only two miles from the city center which makes Miles bike commute very easy. It's funny though because even though we feel super close to everything a lot of people have commented how we live "so far away." Living right in the city center isn't really ideal for a family, so we are happy with our part of town.



Out back we have a nice little garden and patio area. The pole to the right of the below picture is a clothes drying rack which I have never used because it rains too much and has been chilly since we moved in. But maybe I'll get some use out of it later this spring/summer.




Once you enter the house, we have a little entry way (with raincoats always at the ready) and a hallway that leads to the kitchen/family room.





The kitchen (and several other rooms) was completely remodeled prior to us moving in (in fact waiting for the remodel is what our move in date was based around). And the room next to the kitchen that we've made a family room was an addition to the house. The family room used to be upstairs (called a sitting room here), but that would have made things a little too tight and we already left a good bit in storage, like our big farmhouse table which I love, but we were worried about it fitting through doorways here. We bought a cheapie little kitchen table which works just fine, but it certainly feels small when we have company over (first world problems).





Even though I don't have my gallery ledges, I was able to use these wide windowsills to my advantage.

When you go upstairs our room is what used the be the sitting room. It's an odd shape and because of the windows it makes furniture layout even more bizarre. A full bath was added, but this room doesn't have closets, but because of the size, it made the most sense to make this the master bedroom. Miles uses the closets in the office and I use the closets in Mary's room.






 Across the hall is the office/guest room/Miles' yoga room. There is a full bath in it as well. It's another oddly shaped room, but it can fit an air mattress if we need it, though usually when we have company we give them Mary's room and Mary and Finn share a room.





The third floor is the kids rooms on either side and a bathroom in the middle. Finn's room is the largest bedroom in the house, but we didn't want to make it our bedroom as then we'd end up having the kids on separate floors and with the bathroom layout it made sense to have them sharing a bathroom. So we put the playroom stuff in his room, which he was SO excited about when we first moved in, but the novelty has worn off. For about a month or so when we had people over to the house Finn loved to show off his room and on more than one occasion asked our house guest, "is my room bigger than yours?" He's very humble, that one.







We also have a messy garage (not pictured) which is mostly full of bikes, scooters, storage items, and the washer and dryer. Another very British thing we discovered is that most places have a washer/dryer combination, meaning it's one machine that does both, but we found it does both rather poorly. Thankfully the Air Force Base nearby, which has been so good to us, has some dryers that they lend out to people free of charge for the duration of their time here. They also hooked us up with a table, beds, and a kitchen starter set until our furniture arrived which was so great.

So there you have it, our little British home sweet home.

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March 8, 2017

Trip to Wales

Finn (and Miles) have a big term break every quarter. Finn also has a mid term break in between those, but it's during the larger term break that we want to always take advantage of living here and do some traveling. Over the winter break our big trip was to Paris, but after the holidays we still had a little bit of time before school started up for the boys so we decided to drive to Wales for an overnight trip as it's only a couple hours away.

We drove to Cardiff, the capital of Wales, where our first stop was at the Cardiff Castle. It's the second Castle we've been to here (Warwick being the other) - this one dated back to the 11th century, but when it was relandscaped many, many years later they discovered old Roman remains dating to the THIRD CENTURY. 








After visiting the Castle we drove to St. Fagan's which, according to a review Miles read, was like the Jamestown of Wales. It was pretty, but the better time to go (like most places) is in the summer as they have a lot of activities for kids and a lot more educational entertainment.






We stayed at an airbnb that night and then the following morning went out for breakfast and a quick stop to the Cardiff bay before heading back home.

Photo from the Cardiff City Center the day prior

We miss living near the water. The WARM water.

Cool building in the Roald Dahl Plaza which also has a soccer stadium (seen just behind) 
that was used during the London Olympics

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February 23, 2017

The Lake District

Last week Finn had his mid term break, so we took the opportunity to get out of town for a few days and do some traveling around England. We had heard great things about the Lake District, a National Park in northwest England, so we rented an Airbnb for a few days to check it out. We debated driving a little further north to have lunch in Scotland, but we couldn't find any decent options that weren't too far out of the way.  Since we will be back to Scotland in April and May, we skipped it this trip. But we did drive to Hadrian's Wall - a wall that used to stretch from coast to coast and was the northern most limit of the Roman Empire. There are still lots of areas with large chunks of wall up. It's probably the oldest thing I've seen in person (outside of a museum) and despite the crummy weather, it was really neat. The kids weren't as impressed with a super old wall.




The following day we did some hiking in the southeast and central portion of the Lake District. The wind was crazy that weekend and it was really cold, but the views were still breathtaking. Finn did pretty well hiking and enjoying being outside, but Mary wasn't a fan of the weather. 



I thought this was so simple and sweet. The photo below is of the view he loved. I can see why.




The photos above were all taken during a hike at Scout Scar and the ones below were from a walk in Elterwater after having lunch at a really great pub. Side Note -I love how dog friendly places are here and how dogs are welcome in most pubs. People in the Lake District all seemed really friendly and social - much more than we have experienced in Oxford. It seems like the north is similar to the south in the states in terms of hospitality and social etiquette.


Sheep are spray painted as means of identification. 




Here are some pictures of the place we stayed. It was an old barn made into a cottage retreat and was probably one of the nicest Airbnb's we've stayed at.  The property had fields of grazing sheep and a small waterfall we walked out to see, during which Mary fussed, I slipped, and Finn complained about sheep poop. BUT it was pretty!



We definitely want to go back to the Lake District during the warmer months - there are lots of good trails and places to check out, each with beautiful views and many that are family (stroller) friendly.

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