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