It is better to travel well than to arrive


“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
Winter is dead.”

A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

More and more I find myself looking forward to writing these “life lately” type posts. A lot of the little things we do were getting lost in the shuffle of travel stories and, as much as I enjoy traveling, it’s these little moments I’d rather be preserving here anyway.

Picking up where my last post left off, we kicked off the month of April by celebrating Easter, our second one in London. As far as holidays go, we’ve been pretty lucky being able to keep up most of our old American traditions here in London (except for July 4th) with only a few slight variations.

This Easter, we had to sacrifice our annual picnic because April in London is freaking cold and windy and rainy. No bueno. Our first year, we still had a picnic, but it was inside. On our living room floor. Using the comforter on Lexie’s bed. We just decided to scrap the whole thing altogether this year because a living room picnic is such a far cry from the outdoor kind surrounded by curious baby chicks that it’s almost depressing.

Easter morning is still the same, though. We get up early and fill Lexie’s Easter basket with surprises and then watch her open it all. And we get dressed up in clothes we haven’t worn on Easter before. They just look a little more fall-ish that spring-ish now, because wearing bright colors and exposing skin for longer than it takes to shoot a family picture in 40 degree weather is just silly. That is definitely one thing I am looking forward to when we return to Tennessee – there, spring and Easter go together like peas and carrots. Here, they’re more like chalk and cheese. (A new expression I just learned from one of my British friends over the weekend!)

The day after Easter, my parents flew into London to see us. We spent a week with them exploring London and traveling through the Scottish Highlands. We spent most of our time on the Isle of Skye, but to get there, we needed to drive all the way from Inverness, so road trip it was! I’ve never been anywhere so scenic in all my life. It’s the kind of place you could easily spend a month living and traveling around in, but unfortunately we only had just a few days. We made it count, though. We went on at least five different hikes and drove around to see some of Skye’s prettiest spots.

It was hard to return to London. Really hard. We’re almost at two years here and living in the city has started to grow a bit, well, old. I’ve never been a city girl and I knew moving to London wouldn’t turn me into one, but even I’ve been surprised by how quickly the novelty of living in the city has worn off. City life was a fun distraction for a while, but I really miss fresh air that isn’t tainted by car exhaust. And lovely as London’s old buildings are, in my opinion, they just can’t compete with the natural beauty of the mountains and the sea. Luckily, we’ve got another hiking/outdoorsy trip planned for later this month in Wales. I can’t wait to see how the scenery in Wales compares to England and Scotland. I’m so glad we’ve made a point to finally see more of the UK. Maybe blowing our budget in Sweden and having to keep our travels closer to home for awhile wasn’t such a bad thing after all. 🙂

Speaking of traveling, we just recently returned from Liverpool. It was a trip centered almost entirely on the Beatles, so we hit the Beatles Story museum, booked a 3-hour taxi tour that took us around to many of the places mentioned in their songs, and spent our last night singing, dancing, and sweating it out underground to a Beatles cover band in the Cavern Club. (Freaking amazing.)

So many people wrinkled their noses when we told them where we were going for the bank holiday, but I’m calling their bluff. Liverpool is an awesome city, and not just for Beatles fans. After two days of non-stop Beatles touring, we spent our last day by the river and Albert Dock, even taking a ferry ‘cross the Mersey, just like the song. 🙂

This weekend when we leave for Wales, that will make three trips taken in a span of only six weeks. That is a lot for us, so I think we’re going to cool it for a bit and wait until after Lexie’s birthday in mid-June before we go anywhere else again. As exhausting as it can be to travel and plan this much, I’m really glad we’re doing it. We’ll be in Europe one more year and we’re determined to make it count!

In non-travel related news, I finally got to do something I’ve been waiting to do for awhile – see a performance at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater! The reason it took awhile was because I had a very specific performance I wanted to see – Romeo & Juliet – and the tickets for that tend to sell out only slightly slower than that of a Justin Timberlake concert. Last year I dropped the ball, so this time I had an alarm set on my phone to alert me when the ticket sales were opened to the general public and I managed to get us good seats on the only night we could go the week it was at the theater.

Then, because Murphy’s Law, the night we were set to go it seemed all of the tubes in the entire city were delayed. A journey that should have taken an hour on one tube, took six. (Tubes, not hours!) We were late, of course, but luckily didn’t miss too much. And let me just say, if you do ever have a chance to see something at the Globe, go. I doubt it’ll even matter what you see, it’s just a cool experience. I loved that in the absence of elaborate sets and fancy costumes, the focus was on the acting alone. It felt so intimate and personal, like watching someone perform in your gigantic living room with hundreds of friends. I hope to take Lexie again next year if they put on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s her favorite. 🙂

Somewhere between Easter and Mother’s Day, the warmer weather we’d been waiting on finally rolled in. And with it, my let’s-spend-every-single-moment-we-can-outside good mood. And so we’ve done. Every weekend that we haven’t been traveling, we’ve walked down to the river near Strand on the Green and watched the tide come in. There is something about this area that I just love. It feels more like an island or a small river town than a part of London. We even considered not renewing our lease at our current flat and moving down here, but with it just being a mile from home as it is, we decided to stay put.

This is where we spent Mother’s Day last weekend. It still wasn’t quite warm enough to leave our jackets at home, and probably won’t be for awhile, but at least we could sit outside, our legs dangling over the embankment, and soak up a little sun without shivering uncontrollably. This, and Thai take-away for dinner equals a pretty perfect Mother’s Day in my opinion. Oh, and surprises like this to wake up to…

Gosh, I love that girl! June is looking like it’ll be a slightly less busy month than May and I’m really looking forward to that. Especially since it’s the month my little chick turns 13. I’m about to be a mother to a teenager! Don’t even ask me how I feel about that because I’m not sure yet. I can’t quite seem to fathom it. I can still remember when she was a toddler, counting up how old I’d be when she was a teenager. And now here we are. I can’t decide whether the passage of time is more beautiful or cruel.

On the subject of time passing quickly, next week marks our 2-year anniversary in London. I swear it feels like we’ve only been here six months. Three years seemed so long when we signed that contract, but now we’re over halfway through. It’s hard to wrap my head around it, actually. If I can get my thoughts gathered together in time, I hope to be able to share a little more about that next week. Anyway, thanks for tuning in for another episode of my ramblings. Hope you all have a great week!

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