ENGLAND: Days 3&4 – From Barnsley to Bristol

I better start posting more regularly if I’m going to write about our whole trip!  I love looking through our photos and reliving each day.  To me, each represents a special moment or beautiful place that I’ve experienced.  I think that’s one reason why I am known (and teased by some) for taking SO MANY PICTURES!  I don’t care if I’m ridiculed for it – I blame it on the fact that I’m half Japanese.  🙂

Anyway, on our last full day in Barnsley, we started by splitting up.  David took Charlie to the Barnsley football (soccer) stadium so they could watch the professional team practice.  David used to play for their youth team as a teenager, and he is still an avid supporter of the Barnsley football club, so I think this was just as much fun for David as for Charlie!

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The next day we all went to the club shop and bought some official Barnsley tops for the kids which was really fun!  Their English cousins have some too so later in the trip they all wore their Barnsley kits (uniforms) and it was so cute!

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But back to Barnsley: while David and Charlie were at the football club, I took Sienna and Henry to the town centre to walk through the open market and visit a toy store in the mall.  Wow, it felt so different walking through the town!  I loved that there were stalls set up on streets that were closed to all car traffic.  However, I couldn’t believe how much cigarette smoke we were exposed to!  David and I noticed that both here and in the center of London, we encountered more people smoking than we have for a long time.  I don’t know exactly why this is, but it was not pleasant.  I still loved being in the midst of a foreign town with such a different feel to it though.  As we walked through the streets we were surrounded by buildings much older than those in a typical American town, built in a different style, and lining winding roads that were probably designed for horses and carriages rather than automobiles.   In the air around us were voices speaking in a thick, Yorkshire accent that can be a little tricky to understand even without the numerous phrases singular to that area.

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Speaking about the Yorkshire dialect reminds me of a funny incident from that morning in our hotel.  As we entered the lobby, some women working there greeted us and one saw that Henry held a little toy car in his hand.  She said she liked his car and remarked, “That car wants mekin’ bigger, that!  So me and Lynn can go for a ride in’t town!”  Henry stared up at her with a blank expression!  🙂  Even after being married to David for almost 13 years and visiting England about ten times, I still need a translation sometimes!!

After our morning in Barnsley, we drove a little outside of town to meet David’s great Aunt and Uncle for lunch.  It was so nice to see them again after four years, and they really loved getting to see how much the children have grown and to meet Henry for the first time!

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Meeting Henry was very special for Uncle Howard, because his actual first name is Henry too.  He was named after a family member, but always referred to by his middle name, Howard.  So our little Henry is carrying on an old family name.  🙂

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Sienna and Charlie were old enough this visit to appreciate some of the remarkable talents of Uncle Howard in gardening and marquetry.  He has won awards for growing orchids and has even created his own unique types.  He still does all of his own gardening in their yard and greenhouse, and both are immaculate!  In addition, he used to create beautiful pieces of artwork using the technique called marquetry, which involves fitting pieces of wood together to form a picture.  It is much more complicated and detailed than that of course.  I love admiring the pieces he has created when we go to their house, and this time the children appreciated them as well!  Here you can see one that is flanked by some of the orchids he has grown.

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This one with the birds is my favorite:

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This is Uncle Howard’s favorite piece:

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David and his siblings always loved this one as kids.  Here is the beautiful princess….

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But she looks quite different upside down!!

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After spending some time with David’s great Aunt and Uncle, we drove over to his cousin Catherine’s house, where we were able to see Catherine, her husband, and their two kids, along with David’s Aunt and Uncle.  It was so nice to catch up with them all, as we have not seen most of them for four years!  Catherine’s daughter, Charlotte, did come and stay with us three years ago, so we had seen her more recently, but as she is now 18 she has changed so much in a few short years!  Catherine’s sister Joanne and her family couldn’t make it, but we got to see them the next week in the days around his brother’s wedding!

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Henry with Catherine’s husband, Phil.  Henry has a unique camera smile at the moment!

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Beautiful Charlotte and her mum, Catherine.  I love these two girls!

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Catherine’s son, Joseph, was so sweet with Charlie.  He played football with him for nearly the entire time and gave him so much attention!

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All in all, our trip to Barnsley was fantastic!  Each night David was also able to meet some old childhood friends to catch up with, which was so special.  He didn’t take any pictures though, much to my chagrin!  On Saturday morning we drove down a few hours to David’s parents’ house in Bristol.  His sister, Ruth came by soon after with our three nephews, and there was a joyful reunion between the cousins!!  It was the first time David’s parents have had all six of their grandchildren all together!!  Ruth’s family came to visit us in 2014, so over two years had passed since we had seen them, but the kids picked right up where they left off.  Skype really is amazing for keeping in touch!

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The youngest boys in the tent, or as Peter called it, his “spaceship.”

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Our littlest nephew, Peter, is so entertaining.  He is always telling creative stories with so much enthusiasm and plays in such an imaginative way!  Right here he has taken the sprayer from a toy fire truck but I believe he was using it as something to cure hurt feet.  Hahaha!  I miss hearing his sweet little voice!  In fact, I miss all of my sweet nephews and wish I could give them a squeeze right now!

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ENGLAND: Days 1&2 – Traveling and Barnsley

DSC_1219We were fortunate enough to spend three amazing weeks visiting England this summer.  My husband, David, grew up in South Yorkshire and came to New York as a college freshman to play soccer.  We met soon after he graduated, got married, and he has made America his home.  It has always been so important to us to go back and visit, since all of his family still live there and we are very close with them.  However, between Henry being born in 2013 and our relocation from New York to North Carolina in 2014, we had not managed to make it back for FOUR YEARS!!  In that time we did have a visit from David’s brother and girlfriend-at-the-time (now wife! Yaay!), a week with his sister and her family, a visit from his cousin’s daughter, and numerous visits from my mother and father-in-law, so we did get to see some immediate family in that time period.  But we were aching to actually go back to England and see all the extended family, some friends, and the country David and I both love.  This trip also had the joyous focus of his brother Steve’s wedding, which was one of the most beautiful weddings we have ever been to.  But more on that later!  Our trip began with a LOOOONG drive from NC to NY, since our flight was leaving out of New York.  There is a reasonable explanation for why we flew from NY instead of close by, but it is long so I will just say it saved a ton of money this time!  The drive went really well, partly because we were all so excited.  We saw an amazing sunrise on our journey!

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We stayed the night at my parent’s house, and woke up early the next morning to drive to the airport.  Then I did something I have never done before in my life.

I LOCKED THE KEYS IN THE CAR.

Actually, I like to think it was a joint effort between me and David.  Long story short, we called the police and the responding officer fruitlessly attempted to unlock the car.  He actually said, “This is the first car that beat me.”  Guys, we ended up BREAKING INTO OUR OWN CAR and rushing to the airport, praying the entire way.  God answered our prayers and allowed us to reach our gate with time to spare!  He is so good!  I’m still so thankful my carelessness didn’t make us miss our flight.

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David’s brother and fiance picked us up at the airport Wednesday evening, and we stayed the night at their house.  The next morning we piled into our rental car and drove about four hours north to Barnsley, the town that David grew up in.  I am so glad that David is the one who drives in England!  For one thing, the steering wheel is on the right.  For another, everyone drives on the left side of the road.  In addition, nearly all the cars are manual, which I have basically zero experience with, and even if I did, the stick is on the left, not the right!  Finally, there are roundabouts EVERYWHERE, which are intimidating to us Americans who rarely encounter them.  Bottom line: I am very thankful to my husband for doing all of the driving!

After arriving in Barnsley, we immediately headed to a “chippie,” or fish and chip shop.  There are many of these places in England that sell little more than fish, chips, and mushy peas!  We were going to take our food and eat in the local park, but on the way we drove past the church David grew up in, and he saw a woman he knew that used to babysit for him!  She helps run a cafe in the church now and invited us to sit and eat in there.  It was so nice for David to catch up with her, and he ended up seeing a few other people he knew who still work in the church.  One of them took us on a little tour of the school there that David went to as a young child, which was a fun and unexpected walk down memory lane.  I took a picture of the church door which I thought was cool, since it mentions the fact that an influential missionary to China, James Hudson Taylor, was born in Barnsley.

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After our satisfying lunch and walk through the church, we headed over to a friend’s house.  David met this friend Andrew because they were both recruited to play soccer at a college in New York together.  They quickly realized that they lived only minutes away from each other in England, but had never met before!  Andrew moved back to England after graduating, but they stay in touch and we have visited him and his family each time we return to England.  Him and his wife have two sweet girls and all of the kids get along really well.  We went for a walk near their house along some beautiful country lanes and then stayed for dinner.

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I love how lush and green it is in England.  I guess it’s related to the frequent rain and moderate summer temperatures (80 degrees would be a VERY warm day for England).  It was such a welcome change from our 90+ sticky, humid summer!

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Kids mark the passage of time like nothing else.  Look at how much has changed since our last visit in 2012 –

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Look at those baby faces!  Henry was still in my tummy.  🙂  It was so nice to start our time in Barnsley with good food and friends!

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