My Mom & My Sister: Southwest (ish) England

With my mom and sister visiting for two weeks we had to get out and see more of England than just Birmingham and London. The first stop on our road trip was Salisbury Cathedral, where we got to see one of the original copies of the Magna Carta.IMG_3029 IMG_3041IMG_3033The highlight of the day though, was Stonehenge. We went to Stonehenge when we had family visitors last year, but there’s a new visitors center and exhibits with neolithic houses. IMG_3049IMG_3043We weren’t strong enough to pull one of the blue stones. Props to you, prehistoric man!
Prehistoric Huts CollageDaughter likes to get up close and personal with history. Walk a mile in prehistoric man’s moccasins, stamp out a fire, sleep in a hut; she takes it all in stride.
In addition to the huts and the visitors center, the set up for parking and getting to the henge is also new (I’d recommend buying tickets in advance since everything is more structured now). You park at the visitors center, see the exhibits, then either walk or take a shuttle out to the actual site. We chose to ride halfway and walk the other half. This meant we got to gradually get closer to the stones and we walked past some long barrows (prehistoric burial sites). The long barrows are the grassy lumps behind Derek:IMG_3055 IMG_3125 Continue reading

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Mi Madre & Mi Hermana: Around Birmingham

My mom and my sister came to visit us for two whole weeks in August. We had a glorious time. We sat around, played games, ate chocolate, discussed all things pregnancy and newborn (my sister is pregnant with her first!) and we saw England. Well, not the whole country, but some important bits. Their visit was so significant I’m breaking it into three posts. : ) Around Birmingham, London (weekend #1), and Southwest England (weekend #2).
On their first full day here we went to Cadbury World, Birmingham’s best attraction. I mean, chocolate tasting + a cheesy ride + a little history + more chocolate + a 4D show + a playground + more chocolate. And it’s only a few miles away from home.
IMG_2748I think my favorite discovery from this trip to Cadbury World is a very Wonka-ish chocolate bar with popping candy (like mild pop rocks), jellies (like little bits of gummy bears), and candy shells (like bits of mini M&Ms). A bit bizarre, but certainly a fun treat.
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Oxford, Windsor, and Roald Dahl

Yay for three day weekends! After we had so much going on in August, we took it easy after getting home from Norway in September. It was necessary and appreciated. However, Derek and I don’t sit still for long, so this past weekend we took off for Oxford. 
IMG_4088Oxford is a beautiful town. I was breathing in autumn and scholastic learning and dreaming of my days back at university. Continue reading

Norway Travelogue: Oslo

IMG_3644Our trip to Norway was significantly shaped by our first three days in Arendal (read about it here) where we spent time with a family from Derek’s Dad’s LDS mission. However, not wanting to waste our precious time in Norway we traveled away from new friends to see more of the country.
We got into Oslo in the afternoon and had plans to meet up with more people Derek’s dad knew so we only had a few hours on our first day. We took some time to walk up to and around the Royal Place and see a bit of the main area of town. Continue reading

To Snowdonia and the North

We try not to be wasteful. Be it food, or belongings, or most especially, days off. So when Derek has a Friday off, we have to use it! For some reason a hiking trip sounded fun for this three-day weekend, so we planned to hike the PYG track (pronounced pig) up to the top of Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales. You can take a train to the peak, which frankly, about three-fourths of the way up sounded like it would have been a much better decision than walking, but I’m happy we hiked.IMG_2197IMG_2212 Continue reading

Europe’s German-Speaking Countries

Can you name them? There are three countries where German is the only official language and two where it is the majority language. Of those five we were just in four.
We flew into Munich, Germany (I know you knew Germany was one of the five), drove to Salzburg, Austria a few days later, then back through Germany, into Liechtenstein, and on to Switzerland.
IMG_0714A few things I learned or re-learned:
I may love the Rockies, but the Alps are more gorgeous than I ever expected.
It is worth it to spend some time to learn a few phrases, if only to sound less American and touristy.
Teething gel is a necessity.
My German accent is pathetic.
Deer goulash is pretty great.
I will never be able to fathom the devastation of WWII.
Sleep is another necessity.
Daughter is a travel trooper.
Zurich is crazy expensive.
I love family time.

München (Munich) Continue reading

Easter in England (and Wales)

I love Easter and springtime! Who doesn’t? I also love that since Easter is a more important holiday to this country Derek had both the Friday before and the Monday after off of work. Friday we took off towards Wales.
IMG_0005We stopped at Tintern Abbey on our way. We’ve seen a lot abbeys lately, but I was interested to this one because of this pin I found right after we moved here.
IMG_0010IMG_0023Derek was really excited to find some original (medieval!) stained glass.
We drove farther into Wales to Cardiff, where we stayed the night and saw the castle.
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