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.


February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day 2017

I failed to take any Valentine's Day pictures last year and that's gonna annoy the crap out of me. I'll need to look back on my hard drive as I know I have some pictures of Finn from his Valentine's Day program at school, but I didn't take any staged pictures like I did all these years:

2012: Finn at 7 months
2013: Finn at 19 months
2014: Finn at 2.5, Mary Newborn
2015: Finn at 3.5, Mary at 1

In my defense last year on Valentine's day I ran a marathon which left me pitifully upset and disappointed, but I should have taken pictures prior to the race because it's not like I can make up for it. Argh!

Mary is sporting a hand-me-down sweater, or jumper as it's called here in England, from when I was a little girl (or perhaps it was my sister's, or maybe both?) regardless I think it's safe to assume Mary wore it best:

And then I wanted to do another train-track like Valentine's picture and since the obsession now is with Legos, it only made sense to make a bit Lego heart.

I had a silly thought that I should try to get him to play with Legos while taking some pictures, 
but duh, of course he is going to play with them - took him no time at all!

Aren't those smiles so sweet and natural? 
All I had to do was make fart noises. Living the dream.


February 9, 2017

That Time We Went Out Twice In One Weekend

Last weekend Miles and I had TWO date nights! The first was a Friday night where we were invited to attend the formal dinner at one of the colleges here. Each college (there are 38) hosts their own formal dinners somewhat regularly, but you can only attend your own college's dinner or be the guest of someone from another college. Some friends invited us to dinner at New College (don't let the name fool you - New College was founded in 1379) however, prior to going to dinner we attended Evensong, which is a fairly short religious service mostly sung by the New College choir. It was really beautiful and I'm so glad we got to experience it.

You sit on either side of the church and the choir is in pews in the middle (where I was standing for the picture).

The Formal dinners are held in the college's dinning hall at large banquet tables in (think Harry Potter, or for those of you from West Point - think one wing of the mess hall) and the food is often incredible - it's always a three course meal and some colleges (like Miles') also offer unlimited wine!

Then we got to go out again on Sunday, this time to a ball held at one of the nice hotels in town. The "spring ball" which was very obviously held in the winter was put on by the international students association and it was just a fun excuse to get dressed up and have a fun evening. It also happened to be my birthday that night and who doesn't love wearing a billion sequins on their birthday!?

One of the event organizers heard that it was the birthday of one of the students and one of the guests (me) the day of the ball so they had cupcakes and a cake brought out which was so, so sweet and so, so unfortunate that I happened to be in the bathroom when they brought it out signing 'Happy Birthday.' Oh well, didn't stop me from eating three cupcakes later on!

It was a nice weekend and my birthday was definitely a special one that I'll remember. No pressure for next year, Miles! ;)