To say we have been on the move would be an understatement. From Bath to Stratford-Upon-Avon (stopping at Stonehenge on the way) to Ironbridge to York…we just keep moving. I have every intention of writing about our adventures in each of these places and sharing some of the fantastic things we’ve found to do with the kids, but I just haven’t had the time. (Did I mention that we haven’t stopped moving?)
And then we landed in Arlesey — a town 38 minutes north of London by train (just one of those facts you quickly commit to memory). And suddenly the frenzy of the previous 10 days seemed to disappear.
Ironically, we got to Arlesey on July 4th. Yes, that July 4th. You know, the one where we declared ourselves free of the British Empire? As in, sorry Brits — we are INDEPENDENT of you — so there!
Except that we were going to the house of a British family. And, the kids were actually a bit worried. “Are they going to be mad at us?” “Is it bad that we are going to their house on the 4th of July?” “Will they be sad because we no longer belong to them?”
I may have had a few worries myself, but not about it being the 4th of July. More about the fact that we were going to be staying with my former
roommate flatmate whom I hadn’t seen in 23 years. And, honestly, we hadn’t been in touch much — a few times over the years, but now we were going to be staying with them for 10 nights. That’s a lot of time for anyone to host guests they know really well, but what about guests you don’t know and one you haven’t seen in a few decades?
As Hubs has now mastered the whole UK driving thing (Adventures in Driving), we got to Arlesey exactly on time, and I sent a text to my pal, Lisa, saying, “I think we’re here!” To which she responded, “You all need to come to the house with the red door.”
So, we did, and this is what we found:
When the door opened, Ms. H was standing at the door with the perfect 4th of July cake. The entire family was singing The Star Spangled Banner (with lyrics in hand), and Ms. K was accompanying them on her flute after quickly learning the piece perfectly the day prior.
We all then proceeded to toast one another and enjoy a lovely lunch in the
After getting ourselves settled, we walked over to the local fête. Basically, these are British outdoor summer celebrations where people perform, you can get food and drinks, and everyone just hangs out enjoying one another’s company. This one was put on by the local school’s parent association, and Ms. K was performing with the school choir. I kept thinking that if our PTO did an event where you could buy beer and Pimm’s (haven’t tried one? I highly recommend it — see Pimm’s recipe), we would make quite a substantial amount of money for the school. But alas, I’m not seeing alcohol showing up at any of our school-related functions any time soon.
We all bonded over music, food and getting soaked.
The remainder of the day and the next continued to go well as everyone hung out back at the house. No rushing anywhere, no entrance fees to pay, no sights to see, no hotel rooms to cram into at night. Only Legos, games, water balloons and natters (I’m assuming you can pluralize it. And, if “natter” means nothing to you, check out Lessons Learned.)
By the end of the following day, two decades seemed like 2 days, and new friendships had been formed. The siblings fought like all siblings should, which helped us parents to realize that families are the same regardless of the continent.
And kids are kids. Regardless of the accents, the different words they use (although JJ is now calling junk “rubbish”), or how long they’ve known each other, they find ways to quickly connect. Just the way it should be.
We may be 4,600 miles from where we live, but we feel like we’ve come home.