Thursday, June 27, 2013

On Moving

Our first week in England
One year ago, we arrived in England. In our minds, we were going to be here for at least three years. We embraced the change and opened our hearts to living here, to settling here for awhile. And once we were settled, it felt perfect in every way but one: Roo was not happy with his work.
Last February, a long prayed-for opportunity arose for a completely new line of work in a completely different place. We felt like we should go for it, but only on the condition (I insisted) that we stay in England another year. So that was the plan outwardly, but inside I felt our time would come to an end sooner. A letter from our landlord kicking us out in July made it very clear that our time would come to an end, much, much sooner than anticipated. It was like getting the wind knocked out of me.

This means another move in July.

We have moved a lot. Let me share with you a brief timeline of our geographical locations since being married.

2004: Provo apartment #1
2005: Provo apartment #2
May 2007: Ridgecrest, California
August 2007: Pleasant Grove, Utah
2008: Taylorsville, Utah
May 2009: Sausalito, California
August 2009: Pleasant Grove, Utah
August 2010: Houston apartment
August 2011: Houston house
June 2012: England house #1
July 2012: England house #2

This time span includes two Bachelor's degrees, a Master's degree, one internship, and two different salaried careers.

That is a lot of miles to go, a lot of upheaval, a lot of money to spend on education, on relocating. And yet here we are changing our minds again, choosing a completely new path. Not staying put. One might argue that it makes for a lot of wasted time, a lot of wasted money, a lot of wasted education.

On that account, I have two points to make:

1. I thank the Lord every day that I am married to a person who has the courage to make his life what he wants it to be--to make our life what we want it to be. He doesn't settle, despite the pressure of time or expectations or perceived educational investment. I don't think most people are that brave. He is remarkable.

2. If I had to go back ten years, knowing full well what was to come in this serpentine journey, having mapped out in my mind the miles of moves and added up the dollar figures; having known what people I would love and then have to leave, and that my status would be more often than not that of perpetual outsider--if, having all this before me, I knew that it would lead here--to England, to this year and this place and these experiences, there is not one mile I would not re-travel or one dollar I would not re-pay to get me here. If everything we've done in the last ten years was for the sole purpose of getting me here for this one year of life, then I do not regret one single thing.  This past year has been a gift.

And with these thoughts, I face our next move. July 17. To Idaho, then who knows where.

On to the next journey.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Day at the Track

Despite having a houseful of girls, Roo managed to have a very manly Father's Day. 

It started off At the mall. Okay, so the first half was still pretty girly, but Roo did end up with a very manly plaid shirt from the expedition.

On the way home from the mall, we passed the Top Gear track. (Top Gear is a hilarious British TV show about cars. I don't really care about cars, but this show is so enjoyable that I actually kind of started to care about cars.) Anyway, as we passed, we saw a sign saying today was a Super Car Charity day. We've always wanted to see the track, so we decided to drop in, not knowing what to expect.

It was cool just to be at the place where they film one of our favorite shows. But along with that, there were booths of activities, food, displays, and lots and lots of very fast cars zooming around the track. Because we got there late in the day, we only paid a fraction of the price for entry, which was nice. This was how we justified paying a lot of money for Roo to ride three laps in a super car. (The proceeds went to charity, so it was all for a good cause.) He got to choose, and he chose the red Ferrari. He got up to 140 MPH. It was a great way to channel some testosterone. It was really fun to see.

After that, we had a nice date out to see Superman. There was a lot of destruction and muscles and people getting beat up, so it was the perfect end for such a manly day...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Spring walks

I used to take the sun for granted. Now when it makes an appearance, I stop whatever I'm doing so we can get outside and enjoy it. Springtime in England is beautiful--overgrown, lush, blooming. When you add sunshine and blue sky, it feels like heaven, almost too beautiful to handle in more than a few hourly doses a week. I think that's the real reason for all the clouds and rain--without them we all might fall into beauty-induced comas.

A few weeks ago we drove out to the temple and wandered the grounds.

On Sunday evenings I love to take a walk past my favorite church. This time, the bell rang out while we wandered through the graves.

This is my favorite Horsham tree.

This week I expected rain, so when we had a non-wet day, I rushed the girls out to Ardingly Reservoir for a walk. Last time I tried this we got caught in a massive downpour. This time turned out great.  Esme picked flowers, watched the bees, and even went potty in the grass, which she was very excited about.

Our rose bushes are blooming. Last year, I was excited to see one or two little blooms. This year we have a bush so heavy with puffy yellow roses that it is sagging under the weight of the blooms. I feel proud of my roses. I love this time of year.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Good Times

She's just sitting in a bin with a wooden horse and a Burger King crown singing and watching the washing machine spin.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Two Troopers

I've talked a lot this last year about how hard it is to travel with kids. How tough it is to take them important places. But now I want to tell you how proud I am of all they've put up with: being made to sit still for so long, moving from strange place to strange place, new beds and new food, going everywhere mom and dad want to go and looking at things that aren't very interesting, having to keep little hands to themselves when it is so tempting to touch everything, having to walk when they want to be carried, and having to be carried when they want to walk.

We've asked a lot of these little girls so that we can do everything we want to do, and despite some meltdowns and frustrating moments, they have been mostly amazing little troopers to go along with all our travels.

I love them so much!

Thank you, babies!

p.s. Aren't they gorgeous?!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Haddon Hall

The last place we visited was Haddon Hall. This seriously old manor house has been used in loads of films, including The Princess Bride, Pride and Prejudice, and at least three adaptations of Jane Eyre. I really love the BBC production of Jane Eyre from 2006, and this was where it was filmed, so for all intents and purposes, this was Thornfield Hall to me. It felt exactly as you would expect, too.

It felt so old. Every piece of stone and wood was crooked and worn down. The place seemed to lean and buckle under the load of time. It wasn't impeccable or extravagant like Chatsworth; it was quiet and full of secrets with just the perfect amount of romantic dilapidation and mysterious passageways. I expected to see Mr. Rochester brooding at every turn. I loved this place so much!!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What are Men Compared to Rocks and Mountains?

On the fourth day of our trip, we found out why it is called the Peak District.

The area is an interesting mix of landscapes--rolling hills with lush river valleys in between. When you crest the hills, you find an expanse of relatively flat, brushy, desolate moorland. Crops of dark cliffs stand like petrified waves atop the hills.

The day was bright and perfect. We parked our car at the top of a hill and walked out to Curbar Edge. I suppose cliffs like these would probably go completely unnoticed in the places where we grew up, but here in this gentle country, they felt wild and amazing.

We were all feeling happy. We didn't have to corral the kids or keep them off antique furniture (yes, we did have to keep them from running off the cliffs, but that wasn't too hard). We clambered over rocks and jumped from boulder to boulder. We stood on precipices and took in the perfect view. We had fun!

From Curbar Edge, we drove about 20 minutes to Stanage Edge, almost 2 miles of cliff edge. We climbed and walked as far as we could, sat down for a picnic, then headed back thoroughly impressed and satisfied, dirty and exhausted.

We have seen a lot of places in this country. On this day, we found out that the Peak District is our favorite.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Shades of Pemberley

This is Chatsworth House, usually attributed as the inspiration for Mr. Darcy's Pemberley. The latest version of Pride and Prejudice was filmed here.

We've seen our share of grand houses, but this was the grandaddy of them all. It was massive, run with Disneyland-like attention to detail, with tons to see and do. There was the house, gardens, restaurants, and a farmyard area and playground for kids. We were here on a Saturday, and by 2 pm there was a sea of parked cars and an army of people milling around the place. It was so popular with the people! Mr. Darcy would have been appalled.

First, we explored the gardens.

Then we ate lunch and decided to have a look inside the house. We made it through the impressive main entrance before all hell broke loose. Penny refused to be held. When we picked her up, she screamed and cried. Meanwhile, as per usual, Esmé tried to sit on antique 16th century furniture and pull the drapes. We were scurrying about trying to contain them until it got to be too much. Roo, exasperated, decided to take them out after seeing only a few rooms. "You stay and finish the tour. I'll take them outside to play," he told me.

This sounded like a great plan to me. Esmé did not agree. Roo left with the kids, and a few moments later, I (and all the hundreds of other people in the house) heard echoing through the place, "MOMMY, MOMMY! WHERE IS MOMMY?!" I thought about chasing Roo and the kids down to calm Esmé. Then an old man next to me shook his head and muttered, "Oh dear!" about the ruckus, so I pretended to have no connection whatsoever to it and continued on my way.

I took a speed tour through the rooms, snapping a few pictures along the way.

I caught up with my gallant husband and wiggly kids in the statue room.
Not impressed by the antiquities.
From the house, we went straight to the ice cream stand. We sat on the lawn, eating ice cream and listening to a live string quartet and recovering from the trauma of the house. It was lovely. After that we pet a goat and some pigs then headed home. The girls fell asleep in the car, and in order to maintain the peace and keep them sleeping, we just kept driving and driving all through Derbyshire. Down tiny lanes, past stone fences, and endless green hills.
Happy Penny with a runny nose.

Commoners lounging on the lawn. Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?