"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Thursday, June 9, 2016

arrival, roman baths, england's cotswolds, and a few bumps and bruises

It's hard to believe we're in a world away.

And that last week we were scrambling with preparations to make the journey.

Selling houses, selling cars ...

And downsizing to nine weeks of bare minimals.

A lot of mouths dropped when we announced we would be traveling around Europe with seven children. Rightly so.

I'm no end of fanciful illusions ;)

But right out of the starting gate, I learned I'd over estimated my abilities when Newel returned with the keys to the ignitions of two manual drive cars in a country that drives differently with signs not entirely clear to my understanding.

Did I mention the gear shift was on the opposite side from where I'd learned?

And that late afternoon traffic out of the rush hour of the airport, was driving in the opposite direction?


On top of that, the unfamiliarity of the car ... the new sort that shuts off to save gas at a stop ... led me to lay on the clutch just enough to produce a nice grey smoke ;)

And this boy ... this boy ... jumped to my rescue. He took the one lesson my father had given him in gear shift driving on that Bear Lake, Utah hill, and hit the British road like a pro.

It took the two of us to get it down.

One to drive ... the other to shout, "your on the wrong side of the road, your on the wrong side of the ROAD!!!"

At one point we found ourselves separated from Newel in the car ahead and no internet service to keep our maps working.

There was a brief moment of heartfelt prayer on a small village roadside to calm our heart rates before finding our way and rejoining the caravan.

I couldn't have been more grateful for him.

I think the picture below is the moment I asked him if he was having the time of his life.

He answered, "Yes ... but I'm not having fun yet!" with biggest grin that told me when our anxiety hit an end, he'd be dying to take over again.

Our amazing journey led us to our rental property for the next two weeks.

We pulled up and Celia gasped, "Be still my heart! Where is my Jane Austin novel!!"

I think we all seconded the motion.

Burrow's Court and Burrow's Court farm. Even though we were exhausted from our travels, we still had to do a little exploration of our surroundings.

After a good night's sleep, we were out to see the city of Bath known for it's Roman influence and healing hot water bath's from that era.

Apparently not enough sleep because I set my camera down while making the arrangements to drive in one car and my forgetful misstep resulted in our backing over my pack containing my big camera with our car.

Not enough hot water in all of Bath to heal that.

At that point I couldn't have been more grateful for Annie who jumped right in with a comforting arm to my tired frustrations and backup camera in hand.

Oh how I love that girl for her immediate compassion.

Bath was simply beautiful. Though somewhat touristy, we soaked in the atmosphere and absorbed the beauty of the architecture.

Research had shown me that the Bath Abbey Green would contain a small local art and science fair.

I loved watching my kids just jump in with the visiting British school groups to take in the presentations.

This one on the science of our senses had Grant enthralled.

These kids loved the simplicity of the experiments. 

We took a tour of the Roman Bath after a lunch and rest at Parade park.

The museum had done such a nice job to make their display family friendly. They had audio recordings for children to listen to explaining what they were seeing.

There were also actors in costumes pretending to be from the times to draw on the imagination.

This guy had a basket full of wares he was "selling" from Roman times.

Among his basket, he had a tablet of wax with a stylus. Little did he know he was talking to a little girl with a passion for drawing. He asked her if she wanted to buy anything he was selling. She told him she didn't have any money but that she could trade.

Then she took of her audio recorder and offered it up as a trade.

He couldn't help but break character and I think he nearly traded that sweet girl his wax tablet. And though I redirected her attention, he and I both shared a laugh.

I think at the end, a bit of jet lag began to set in.

We walked the rest of town but our legs began to give.

On our way back to our car, the kids got suckered by a street performer. They didn't seem to mind though I'm not sure how Annie felt about those pigeons.

We used the next day to recoup from our travels. I woke up earlier than the others and enjoyed a stroll around our village parish.

It was pretty stunningly peaceful.

When I got home, I had a friend join me in my explore.

We hit a grocery store in the nearest large town. I'm not sure who had more fun. Us taking in all the new surroundings or the locals watching us do it.

And then ....

All that I had hoped for was happening in our garden below.

The neighborhood children joined my children and it became the highlight of the day.

We've enjoyed the disconnected days and the opportunity to reconnect.

Each day bringing on a new adventure and so much more to see.

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