Well rested after our first outing to Bath, UK., we were ready to hit the local villages again.
We've become experts at tea time. We've tried every crumpet, biscuit and bun on the market.
And found a favorite herbal tea flavor.
Nothing says English countryside like a horse back excursion. We found one at Bourton-on-Water.
I think Charlotte spent the days leading up stating that she was going to be given the reigns of a horse all by herself.
And then when she actually was ....
Eliza's face was every bit as magical.
After our journey, we took a picnic by the lower Slaughter "river".
It's the most beautiful countryside. Every house is made of stone with incredible gardens.
All those years of watching Black Beauty episodes as a kid, my dreams were coming true.
I'm kind of in love with the English gardens. Mine look really rough in comparison.
We stepped into a local church and cemetery.
This parish chapel was incredibly historic and full of artisan beauty. All the kids were in awe and walked around in hushed tones. I just love when art touches them.
I explained to Charlotte and Eliza about the cemetery as we walked along. They were both fascinated and a little worried.
Charlotte finally called it a "scary place" and said we should leave.
But the other kids loved looking for any names that might seem familiar in our family lines from pedigrees my mom had sent of ancestry from Glouchestershire.
We've had a few more "adventures".
As we drove down the narrow streets of little villages following Newel in our separate car, we noticed he was honking his horn to alert on-coming traffic.
We followed suit thinking this customary. After all .... he did live here for two years on his mission.
Soon, we realized his horn was blasting continuously and steady.
Maybe we weren't doing it correctly.
So we joined in.
Until he pulled his car out, ran around the front end to pop the hood quickly and pull out the fuse that had gotten hung and stuck in the blasting process.
We laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks.
We've experienced a serious lack of internet connection for our GPS. We've flown blindly from hotspot to hotspot.
One day, we went looking for the town of Purton.
Discovering that we were at the wrong Purton, Newel pulled us over for a breather. Venting his frustration in the moment, he hucked his phone toward the nearest hedge and we promptly heard a large splash.
His emotional toss had sent his phone through the hedge directly into the only pond around.
And if we were a sympathetic lot, we would have cowered.
But we're not.
So we laughed and laughed until more tears rolled and our sides hurt.
Then we helped him pull it out of the water.
We've had plenty of family discussions over how the things that don't go perfectly according to plan are just the things that mark our path through life and make it memorable.
Those challenges ... even though we wouldn't choose them ... give us so much to remember.
While we were laughing, we took a moment to pet a roadside milk cow ... which sneezed all over Christian ... and then we were pretty much laying on the ground in peals of laughter.
Eventually, we found the Purton we were looking for.
It was a town with beautiful views of the canals that lead out to the ocean.
Wales was over there on the other side of the canal.
We took a walk down to the levy which was build by shipwrecking old ships along the bank to hald back erosion.
As the sun set, we walked along the embankment and took in all the old ruins of ship hulls and old rudders.
This sleepy community was full of boat house residents. We walked along soaking it all in as a gentlemen played "Waltzing Matilda' on his accordian by his evening canal-side fire.
We wandered to the village center pub for a traditional fish and chips with mushy peas.
The little girls took the wait to make more friends on the playground. I just love how easily children make "new best friends".
And thought the magic is peppered with the unforgettably unexpected, we've learned so much and hope to carry it all with us.
Just a few take-aways:
Internet is limited everywhere. Newel and I rush right down to the pub at night to sit in the corner and madly connect for work and such. The locals come in and order a drink or dessert and sit to talk, catch up on the day, and visit. They have truly perfected the art of conversation. Our typing away feels rude. So ... please forgive the imperfections in writing. This effort to hold on to all that we hope to never forget is rough.
I've loved watching the locals conversing. So fun to listen to their interactions, interests and connection with one another. It's an art. A group of friends discussing political views easily rest their opinions on those of their friends rather than the sway of television ... I'm in love with the jewel of true conversation.
I have yet to see a phone or camera. I love how "present" the people who live this simple lifestyle. Wouldn't it be something to embrace that more fully??
And so we work to gather that up and make it our own.