The next leg of our European Vacation with the kids took us to Lincoln, where we live. Jonathan and Joshua visited us three and a half years ago and stayed with us in Lincoln. We took them to our favourite restaurants, the Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln Castle, Jew’s Court and the High Street. We also had a weekend of parties that our friends were invited to so that they could all meet our sons.
Since this was Liz’s first visit here, we wanted to do the same for her. We could only stay in Lincoln for three days but we were determined to squeeze it all in.
We arrived at our apartment at 5 o’clock on Friday evening and unloaded the car. Everyone unpacked their suitcases and settled into their rooms for a few minutes before freshening up for dinner at our favourite Indian restaurant in Lincoln, Castlegate Indian Restaurant. Steve had made the reservations in advance, as he was looking forward to his favourite menu item, “Ghandi’s Revenge”, which as he puts it, makes his head feel as if it would explode if not for one ear on each side holding it together.
After a wonderful dinner we walked over to our friend Brian’s house to visit and introduce Liz. The boys had met Brian on their first trip and became friends right away talking for hours on end. After a while of non-stop conversation we walked back to our apartment and enjoyed a relaxing family evening talking and enjoying being with the kids in our home.
We finally slowed the pace down a bit on Saturday as it was the first morning to relax and enjoy just being together in our home. For lunch we went to our favourite Italian restaurant, Gino’s, and then took a walk to our local shops in the Bailgate. The Bailgate is the name of the main street in our neighbourhood, and it would make a picture postcard. It is one of the few streets in the UK that has still retained its charm from years gone by. The kids did a bit of shopping for presents to take home, and then it was back to our apartment to get ready for the party at our home.
We had about 20 friends over for drinks, refreshments and great conversations as we introduced Liz to everyone. Many had already met Jonathan and Joshua on their past visit, however there were a few new friends for all of them to meet.
On Sunday we were off to Sheffield to visit some of our relatives, including cousins that I have been close with since my first visit to England 40 years ago. Steve and the boys met them all 24 years ago on their first visit to England. We have stayed in touch with them and stayed with them on our many trips to Sheffield. It is like our second home. We began by visiting my mom’s sister – our Aunt Lorrie. At eighty seven, some days are better than others, and she wasn’t feeling well that day, so the visit was just long enough to see the boys again and meet Liz. Then it was onward to our cousins Brad & Maxine where they put on a family dinner party for us.
We had some time before dinner, so we decided to visit the local animals. Maxine gave us some fruits and veggies that they put aside for the horses, and off we went. The main attraction were a pair of horses. She warned us that one of them would try to weasel her way in front of the other one to get all the food, so we needed to divide and conquer to give the other one a chance. When we approached the horses, they were about 50 yards up the hill from the stone wall that we were standing behind. After calling their names, it was easy to tell which one wore the trousers in that relationship.
Bridie came down to the wall and George stayed behind. After a few minutes of coaxing from a bit further along the wall, George eventually came down too.
In spite of their strength, as they are solid muscle, they gingerly gobbled up their treats from our palms.
Now that the horses had their snacks, dinnertime for the rest of us was quickly approaching, so we headed back to Brad & Maxine’s home.
But we did go to see the chickens at the far end of their garden first.
Everyone at the dinner party were cousins – Brad & Maxine’s kids, Warren & Carrie and their kids, and Warren’s mom Jackie, as well as Adrian and his son Joel. All of whom managed to squeeze together for the pictures below.
They have a beautiful house in the small village of Apperknowle. It in the country with horses, sheep, and chickens, yet just 15 minutes from Sheffield city centre. We had delicious dinner and lots of fun conversations remembering past visits with Jonathan & Joshua and now introducing them to Liz.
Just over an hour on country roads – it’s like over the river and through the woods – and we were back in Lincoln to re-pack our suitcases and get a good night’s sleep as we were leaving Lincoln tomorrow to drive down south to Folkestone to celebrate New Year’s Eve and then onto the Chunnel Train to Paris, France.
Before leaving for Folkestone, Liz and I got up early enough to do a little sightseeing and take a short tour of Lincoln. The guys decided to sleep in as they had already been on this tour on their visit a few years ago. This gave Liz and I a chance to have some “Girl Time” together and go shopping. But first we did a quick tour through the Lincoln Cathedral.
We walked past the castle for a few pictures, then onto Jew’s court where we were able to go upstairs to see where the Jewish Community still meets for Shabbat Services. Jew’s Court and Jew’s House next door date back around 900 years and are among the oldest continually lived-in buildings in the UK.
We continued down Steep Hill to the High Street to shop. Liz bought a beautiful knit hat to keep her warm throughout the trip as well as a few other bit and bobs (the English term for bits and pieces). We popped in to some of my favourite shops to show Liz.
What goes down must go up and the walk up Steep Hill can take your breath away when you are new to it as it is very aptly named. Liz almost made it to the top but decided to take a little rest on a bench as you can see in the picture.
But it didn’t slow down our shopping as we passed boutique shops on the rest of the way up the hill. I wanted her to meet a friend that wasn’t able to make it to the party so we stopped in her shop.
With suitcases, people and snacks packed into the car we headed down to the south coast of England, about a four-hour drive. This gave us plenty of time together to talk about all sorts of things. The kids took turns catching up on sleep with a catnap between our conversations.
It was like old times when we used to go on driving trips in the States as well as Europe. It was so good to have them all in the car with us. It reminded me how much I miss seeing them on a regular basis, although I have been back home to California for four visits in ten months due to my parents’ declining health. But it was different having then here as we spent a full ten days together.
We arrived at our hotel all refreshed, checked into our hotel, freshened up and then braved the rain and went into town for a Chinese dinner to celebrate New Year’s Eve. It was a great celebration and having us all together made it so special.
We had booked an early train to Paris, so a lot of sleep was not on the agenda, even for New Year’s morning. As it was our first trip on Le Shuttle, we followed the signs to the catch the Chunnel Train to Calais, France.
Steve was wondering what it would be like to drive onto a train.