It had been nine months since we had visited our friends and relatives in England. We were going to have a very busy schedule.
We began this adventure by visiting our friends Jemma, Kevin and Sienna in a quaint village in Greater Manchester called Marple.
This was our first introduction to Sienna who had just turned 7 months old.
We spent two days with them, walking into the village of Marple Bridge through a beautiful park and stopping along the way for a delicious lunch at a cozy restaurant overlooking the river.
The next day we visited Lyme House Park & Garden where Pride and Prejudice was filmed.
Everywhere I looked was a photo opportunity.
The last stop of the day was at Kevin’s parents’ house where we were welcomed with a cup of tea and biscuits, and some very interesting conversations with the whole family.
We had such a good time with everyone, however it was time to say good-bye to our friends in Marple and hello to our friends in Lincoln, where Steve and I used to live. We had a three-hour drive through some beautiful scenery, especially crossing the Pennines.
Lincoln still feels like home and we had a wonderful time catching up with many friends that we met for lunch and dinner over the four and a half days that we were there.
We went to our favorite cafes, restaurants and shops, and I was able to squeeze in a pedicure at my favorite spa salon. We had a bit of rain but also some sunshine every day. It always feels good to visit Lincoln.
Our main reason for this visit to England was to attend my cousin Brad’s son, Alex’s wedding party in Sheffield. Alex and Lia were married in Greece last month with the immediate family in attendance. In order to have their family and friends at the wedding party, they held it locally, in Sheffield.
Since they wore their wedding clothes, did some speeches and had a wedding cake, it felt like we were at the wedding, not just the party.
It was a wonderful event. We got to see relatives that we had not seen since last year and reconnect with others.
During the four days that we were in Sheffield, we stayed with my cousins Brad, Max and Lissie.
We always look forward to the long walks every day, exploring the surrounding areas. This time we went to Forge Dam, Linacre Reservoir and Eccelsall Woods. Of course we stopped at fabulous little cafés for tea and scones, and for Sunday lunch at a great pub. We had lots of family time with our cousins, which is what we enjoy most when we visit England.
We arrived at our next stop, Stratford-Upon-Avon, in time for lunch. We stayed with our friends Kath & Tony in the village Shottery, adjacent to Stratford-Upon-Avon. We settled in and had a cup of tea and a homemade sweet, just what we needed to walk into town and have a look around.
This is Shakespeare Country so we enjoyed strolling among the character buildings. We saw the house that Shakespeare lived in as well as the Ann Hathaway house.
Along the way we saw a beautiful thatched house in their neighborhood.
We walked back into town on the following day. We had warm weather and plenty of sunshine so we walked through the whole town and along the Avon River. We met a couple who owned a narrow boat that they lived on year-round. We started talking with them and they invited us on-board for a tour. It is pretty amazing how they can fit all of the things they need in it and call it a house. It is inspiring to learn how little we really need to be comfortable.
With most of the two-week adventure behind us, we drove to Gloucester Cathedral, where we met up with our American friends Marcy and Mark from Southern California.
Marcy is the conductor of an amazing orchestra (as well as a violinist herself). We had arranged to see and hear Marcy’s Musique Sur La Mer youth orchestra perform.
We heard them perform in Southern California just a few weeks earlier. After the performance we followed their coach to the Cotswolds for some sightseeing including the obligatory pot of tea and a scone – you are never too far from a café in England as they like their tea and scones.
We joined the group for a moving farewell dinner. The orchestra was heading back to California the next morning and we had to say good-bye and head to our hotel in Wales.
It was a very scenic drive from the Cotswold’s to our hotel in Chepstow, Wales. It was full of green fields, trees and sheep grazing as well as a long bridge that we drove over to get from England to Wales. It was a welcome sight to finally arrive at our hotel – St. Pierre Marriott Hotel & Country Club.
We had time to relax and reflect on this amazing two week visit to the UK. The following day we were on our way to Stansted Airport in London to fly back to our home in the South of France. Back to the sunshine and hot weather for now.