Well the kids have come and gone and many tears were shed with the goodbyes. Many sweet and wonderful memories were made, lots of photos taken to remember those cherished times and the days flew by way too fast.
I think it is safe to say that they all fell madly in love with England and all things British. From tea time to long ambling walks through sheep filled pastures and treasures unexpected, like making friends on the zipline at our favorite Priory Park, a block from us. Orchard Barn, the fabulous holiday let the kids rented in Up Marden, was a haven for us all, complete with a fully stocked huge kitchen dining area, 4 bedrooms all en suite and a totally fenced safe yard with ‘sheepies’ on the other side of the fence. There were a few rainy days and they were happily spent at the barn playing with the many borrowed toys that our friends lent us. We are so grateful for that perfect house and all its amenities. We even had an American style barbecue for 20 friends there without feeling crowded!
After Nathaniel and Hilary went home, it was quite a different experience having Tim and Heather and their kids here at our wee flat in Chichester. There was hardly a square inch of floor space unoccupied, but we made it work and though cozy, it was memorable! My biggest concern was our steep narrow stairs and Faye falling. We had a secure baby gate and she seemed to intuitively glean the danger and we had no mishaps, thankfully.
Some of the places and things we were able to do included: Two National Trust properties, Claremont Landscape Gardens and Petworth House. We caught crabs at the beach on a blustery day at West Wittering, threw rocks at Bracklesham Bay, took a canal boat in the Chichester Canal, visited Arundel Castle, spent hours on the playground at Priory Park and Stansted Park, visited West Dean and the Gardens and tea room many times and ‘did’ London for a day, took a steam train ride in Alton and ate in many good pubs.
The guys did a motorcycle trip to Wales and Tim and Heather spent 4 days in Spain alone together, celebrating 11 years of marriage. Owen turned 5, Mostyn turned 63, the girls and I had a spa day to celebrate Mother’s Day and we spent time with extended family and some of our friends too. Though it was not a chill relaxing vacation, it was certainly full of many good times. There were challenges too, but thankfully they were discussed and worked through to resolution and we all moved on to enjoy many hours of precious family time and deeper connection.
Now for the last innings of our time in Chichester. Mostyn is extremely busy with school. He worked ahead on his Masters work and was able to join us for a few days out and evenings for dinner and family time. But now its nose to the grindstone and intentional planning to finish all the writing and course work required before graduation in July, then all summer honing and completing the thesis for the Master’s degree.
We are also looking forward to visits from friends from California, Mostyn’s brother and family from Austria, and Tim’s parents in August. It will be fun to show them around here and then spend a few days together in London exploring, to include a Let It Be concert.
I will continue with my Knit and Natter group, the ladies have all been so sweet to me, and expressed delight when I returned this week. I will miss them when we leave. The Women’s Bible study will continue till mid July, then will break for the summer. I may get a few weeks with them again in September, but they too will be greatly missed as women who have embraced me completely and whole-heartedly.
We are looking forward to getting back to our routine at home, not because we want to leave England, but we are excited to see where the fruits of this year will lead us and what the future hold for us next on our journey.
Enough nattering from me,
Best to all of you,