Spring is in full bloom—finally! Each time I look out the window I marvel at the transformation. A few weeks ago, the trees stood brown and bare. The blooming bulbs with their vibrant colors served as the only signal that spring was on its way.
My Lily-of-the-Valley, one of my favorite blooms of spring, erupted with their fragrant, bell-shaped buds over the weekend. Heavenly!
During the cold, wintry months, when winter feels permanent and never ending, I dream of these days.
England and February feel like a distant memory.
Soon, Anna will return home from her year abroad (where has the time gone?) and that means I need to finish Part II of this travel roundup.
First, a book recommendation. I read At Home in the World: Reflections on Wandering the Globe While Traveling the World by Tsh Oxenreider before Brad and I left on our trip. It isn’t a book about England, per se, although the UK does receive a shout out. Instead, it’s a story of a young family embarking on a year-long trip around the world. Tsh and her husband sell their home, store their belongings, and take their three children on an incredible journey.
Anyone who has been frustrated by flight delays or long TSA lines or dashed travel plans, will find Tsh’s reflections helpful. We learn about ourselves when circumstances beyond our control impact our plans. Little did I know that when I read this book, Brad’s and my return flight to New York would be cancelled and we would spend two extra days in England before we could fly home.
But, this isn’t a book chronicling frustrating travel experiences. It’s more. Tsh explores themes of belonging and home as she wrestles to balance her own wanderlust with the need for stability and structure for her young family. This is where the book sings. As readers, we enter into the Oxenreider’s travel experiences vicariously, feeling their exhaustion after a long day of travel, their delight in an African safari, or savoring a delicious meal in Thailand. The book is beautifully written by a writer who loves travel and the larger world. I highly recommend it. A great summer read!
We put 1500 miles on our rental car over nine days. We saw a lot. In hindsight, we probably tried to see too much.
For us, the struggle was to balance a desire to see as much as possible without creating too exhausting of a schedule. As we planned our itinerary, we purposefully chose to visit places that Anna wouldn’t be able to see on her own in the UK. She’s done a fair bit of travel already, but most of that has been outside of England. We wanted to see places that she couldn’t reach easily by train.
I enjoyed all the places we visited, but I wish we had more time Edinburgh. We arrived on a Friday evening, grabbed some Indian takeaway recommended by our Air B&B host, and planned to get out the door Saturday morning to explore. Glorious sunshine greeted us both days we were there, but the temperatures were cold. We spent several hours exploring the Royal Mile, stopping at a few places along the way.
Around noon, we drove to St. Andrews to see friends—another lovely city, and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Forgans. The duck shepherd’s pie was amazing! We returned late to Edinburgh and fell into bed. On Sunday morning, we had a bit more time to explore before returning Anna to Ackworth.
The rolling landscape of Edinburgh, with its castle dominating the high point, made some of my history lessons come alive. I could see the importance of this fortress and its strategic placement. I also loved the architecture of the homes—row houses with tall, shuttered windows, wrought iron embellishments and front doors with character, delighted as we rode the city bus. Definitely a city I hope to visit again.
Lastly, some travel advice that bears repeating: embrace serendipity when you travel.
Yes, we definitely had an itinerary to follow, but one of my favorite moments on the trip was an unplanned stop in the town of Windermere, part of the Lake District. It was probably 4 pm. We knew we wanted to take a short hike, but we had no idea where a trail or path was. We walked into the local Visitor’s Centre—another piece of advice—stop at these places! The people who work here know the area and can offer suggestions. In our case, I told the woman we had about 45 minutes before sunset and we wanted to do a hike. Could she suggest something? Of course, she could.
She pulled out a map and quickly showed us a walk that would take us to an overlook and give some amazing views of the area. In England, trails are referred to as “public footpaths.” Off we went. Moss-covered and reminiscent of scenes from The Secret Garden (think: crumbling stone along with twists and turns and you have the correct image), this particular path rewarded our senses repeatedly. It was the perfect way to end our day. And, another reminder that every day doesn’t have to be scheduled.
Thanks for reading. Hoping you have some plans to visit some new places this summer.
Leave a comment and let me know where you’re headed.