Saturday, June 29, 2013

Visiting Belton House with Kids

One of the things I'm learning from this experience is the value of a personal recommendation. You see in Indiana, I was already pretty well-versed on the great spots to visit, best hikes, gorgeous parks, and fun weekend getaway ideas. While occasionally someone would suggest something I hadn't done or wasn't aware of, it wasn't my primary source of travel ideas.

Now here I find myself, staring at a map of England without much guidance other than brochures or websites, all proclaiming to be the best sites to see. So I'm learning that word-of-mouth to be extremely valuable, the places our realtor or a new friend or our neighbors suggest as a good place to go with the kids.

A visit to Belton House is the perfect example. Had I stumbled upon its listing in the National Trust guidebook or flipped through the pamphlet, I probably wouldn't have planned an outing there. Not that it didn't look beautiful. It just didn't seem to be anything beyond a fancy house. But someone told me they used to visit often with their kids, so we gave it a try.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Half Day in London: Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace

One of the goals we have as a family during our three years here is to really get to know London as well as we can. It seems only natural to take advantage of our close proximity to one of the world’s greatest cities (we’re just a couple hours away by car, or 45 minutes by train).

So I’m kicking off what I hope is a series of posts on how to spend a full day or ½ day in London with young kids.

For our first day trip, just 4 days after arriving, we hopped on a train in Peterborough bound for King’s Cross station, one of the main train stations in London. Given that it was a rare sunny day, we planned to spend the bulk of our time in Hyde Park, so from King’s Cross, we took the tube to the Queensway stop on the red (Central) line. (This stop does not have elevators, so you'll have to navigate your stroller up some stairs.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Exploring Peterborough

Our first two days in England were full of errands. Tracking down car seats, car shopping, unpacking our few belongings, finding a grocery store, etc. And negotiating with overtired kids, one of which was sick. But since we were in a very small temporary apartment during our first week, after a couple of days we were itching to get out and explore.

We still had a lot on the to-do list, so we didn’t venture far that third day. Our apartment was in Peterborough, a fairly large city by English standards. My husband’s company is in the process of opening an office here and he’ll eventually be commuting here. So it was a good chance to familiarize ourselves with the area.

The boys were up really early that day (thanks, jet lag). Naturally our first stop was here.

There should really be a limit on how many tantrums can be thrown before parents are properly caffeinated.

Fueled up and ready, then it was on to St. Peter’s Cathedral. Probably what Peterborough is most known for, at least from a tourist’s perspective. It dates back to the 12th century, although it has sustained some damage over the years. Henry the VIII’s first wife is buried there, and more recently Queen Elizabeth has visited on a couple of different occasions.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Take A Stroll Around Our English Village

We didn't know exactly where we would be living for our three years in the UK until two weeks prior to arrival. (And even then, we got a call the morning we were flying out to say our lease was in limbo. A bit stressful.)

My husband found a beautiful home in a small village a few miles outside of Stamford, itself a charming town and popular tourist destination. While I was confident in his home selection, I was unsure about village life. 400 people? Sounded pretty isolating to me. Especially knowing I was arriving with no friends and few connections.

But guess what I love more than the house itself? Village life. I thought I'd take you on a walk around Collyweston, our village in Northamptonshire.

Do you mind if this cutie joins us? He loves an evening stroll. And he just celebrated his 18 month birthday!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

We are here.

Having an ice cream cone in Hyde Park, London
I've been trying to find a way to sum up my emotions, mostly for my own personal reflection when I look back on this experience years from now. So here's where I stand, two weeks in.

I am trying mightily to adjust to the new lifestyle, learn everything there is to learn as quickly as possible. All the changes, right down to how we wash our clothes, is frankly exhausting, but also exhilarating. And I'll readily admit to being a little homesick, particularly after two weeks of no Internet connection and very little contact with family and friends back home. But not in a "I want to go home" way. Just in a "I wish this place felt more like home already" way.