Friday, October 19, 2012

Journal: England Trip 2012 - Part I

After a year of planning, 7 months of sitting on tickets waiting to be used, several unexpected twists and turns--the biggest being the discovery that this trip would occur when I was going to be 5, almost 6, months pregnant--a week of insanity trying to get everything set up and done as far in advance as possible to help out our wonderful Relief House Parents, and experiencing a tearful farewell from our cottage girls, September 21st finally dawned and we left on our adventure.

Our flight left Little Rock around 10:40am. Flew to Chicago. After a layover of several hours (during which Blueberry was running around the airport and crashing into poles to "fall down"), we finally boarded for Manchester in the evening. Seven and a half hours later (Saturday morning UK time), Blueberry was still awake. She had taken one 15 minute nap on top of me, but that was it.

We were met at the airports by my parents (who had arrived a few days earlier, done some grocery shopping, and rented a car), and we drove another few hours to Keswick in the Lake District. Due to my tendency for severe car sickness (and my ever-burgeoning waistline!), I sat up front in the car during this trip. Which meant I was quickly set to helping navigate the trip. For the record, Internet directions are a lot clearer in the US of A than they are in England.

For those unfamiliar with Keswick or the Lake District, you have my pity. Keswick is found in the Northwest of England, very near to the border of Scotland.The town itself is located in the Lake District of England--the land of inspiration for Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransome, Shelley, Keats, and many others. Its easy to understand how the natural beauty and yet complex landscapes are so inspirational to any writer or artist who is a lover of nature.

On a personal note, my grandparents, now both deceased, retired and lived in a house there for many years. My family used to stay there for weeks at a time when we would visit my UK relatives, so for me, the memories extend through my whole childhood.

Upon arrival we did a bit more grocery shopping (getting some essentials but realistically waiting for the right time to go to our stopping spot for the next week), met up with the owner of Primrose Cottage which we were renting for the week (owned by an old friend of the family), and after lugging in a very full car of suitcases, food, people, etc, I finally crashed for a nap around 2:00pm. Woke up an hour and a half later, and wandered down the stairs to find my husband and daughter. Found my husband comatose on a couch.

Freaked out upon not finding my daughter. Finally discovered her buried by the side of the couch, nestled up to one of daddy's shoes (yuck!), sound asleep.  

In returning to the Lake District after so many years, I had been haunted by the thought that surely it could not be as beautiful as I remember it being. After all, the last time I had come was when I was 16. Fortunately, it took only the drive to Keswick and a short walk that afternoon to convince me that my memory was not faulty and the Lake District truly is the land of beauty of my memory.

 Walking along the river Greta with Nana and Papa, notice the sleepy face of the Blueberry. 

 View of mountains from the Keswick Park. I have a lot of memories of this park as a child--walks here with my grandparents, playing on the playground. It was a shortcut from my grandparents house to the towns central shopping area, and I have frequent memories of playing Pooh Sticks from several of the bridges in the park. 

Speaking of her Nana and Papa, Blueberry's memory of them has been limited primarily to Skype video calls and photographs. Her concept of them has been more of a single entity: NanaPapa. So she spent the entire first week figuring out who was who. For a few days she attempted to resolve this conundrum by simply saying, "Hey!" whenever she needed/wanted one of their attention. Eventually though, she did sort through the confusion and hopefully will have a better experience even with Skype in the future with her better understanding of who they are.

Part II to come.

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