Wednesday, October 31, 2012

taking the ferry

back of boat

stena line

This post is going to be about taking the ferry, but I'm having trouble gathering my thoughts as I sit down to write. Yesterday we were supposed to be back in the U.S., but Hurricane Sandy seems to have changed our plans, and England has taken us hostage until Saturday. My prayers have been with all of our friends on the East coast during this crazy time.


on the ferry

So, the ferry, oh yes. Guess we might as well ride out this theme of water in this post. I have never in my life taken a ferry from one country to another. I must say it was a pretty cool experience. We drove our rental car right onto the boat, put it in park, and walked up to find some seats. Man, if airplane travel could be as relaxed and easy that!

car park

In our three hour journey we slept, did school, I blogged, the kids watched a movie. It was fantastic. The ride there was smooth sailing with beautiful skies. The ride back was a little more choppy but still nice.

sun and sky


We spent most of our time inside but we did venture outside for a bit to see the sights. Just beautiful. I didn't mention it on this blog, but before we left S. Africa, I had to turn down a Disney cruise. Major bummer. The kids would have loved it. The irony of it is that the cruise was the same week as our time in Ireland. Maybe not a full on cruise, but it was a ferry ride to another country. God is good with a little sense of humor that makes me smile.

Have any of you taken a ferry before? What did you think?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

exploring dublin

fall and graffiti

rent a bike

After only spending five days in Ireland, Jeremy and I have decided we must go back sometime. To visit friends again, of course, and also to see more of this country! On our last day before heading back to England, we decided to explore Dublin. I would have loved to have another day to explore some of cliffs. Another time. Another time.

leo burdock's

ordering fish and chips

fish & chips

In Dublin, we visited Leo Burdock's. I'm not really a fish and chips kind of person, but we heard about Burdock's and several celebs have dined on their fare, so we thought we would give it a go. The line was long. Maybe because it's Dublin's oldest chipper. :) We shared smoked fish and fresh cod. The smoked fish wasn't bad, but honestly, my stomach was protesting later. We dined in front of Christ Church which was beautiful against the Fall leaves.


We also visited Trinity College. The courtyard was beautiful, but the main reason we visited was to see the Book of Kells. I was trying to wrap my head around just how old the book is. My kids certainly had trouble understanding that. The script and images were amazingly detailed. If you're unfamiliar with the Book of Kells, it is a manuscript written on calf skin that contains the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It is believed to be written around the year 800. Unfortunately, no photography allowed, so you'll just have to make a visit there to see it for yourself!

kids being silly

trinity college

It was a chilly day in Dublin, but we had a great time exploring a new city. Until we meet again, Ireland...peace.

dublin view

blue door

Linking up with Communal Global for Sneak Peeks Around the World.

Monday, October 29, 2012

kilkenny with friends


I met Rachel in 1996 when we both showed up in Tyler, TX to do a discipleship school with Youth With A Mission. Thirteen years ago she moved back to Ireland and I hadn’t seen her since. It’s quite remarkable how so much time can pass and it’s like you pick up right where you left off. I love that!

fall streets

red leaves

Our time was short with Rachel and her husband, James, but we made the most of it with late nights chatting and a trip into Kilkenny! Did you know Kilkenny used to be the capital of the Republic of Ireland? It was a lovely little town. At only around 50,000 people, it was hard for me to imagine it as ever being a capital city. It seemed so small!

kilkenny castle

so green

It’s home to Kilkenny Castle. We didn’t pay for the tour, but we enjoyed the grounds and watched a free video talking about some of the history. I think maybe the best part was letting the kids get some energy out on the playground while the adults had great conversation. I think Rachel and I had our own little home school support group going on!

sun peeking

Thank you, James and Rachel and Life Church for such a great time! And thank you, Ireland, for greeting us with the sun and sticking around for a bit. We know that was a treat. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

fall in england

beautiful fall in england

I really can't believe I had the thought, "I wish we were flying back sooner so I could see Fall in New England." Instead I'm seeing Fall in England and it's just as beautiful! Last week (or maybe that was a few days ago, I can't keep up), we stayed in a little town near Hayward's Heath in the South of England. There's a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) location nestled along the country road.

along the drive

his laugh

Holmsted Manor was just beautiful. I've always loved trees lining the drive. It just feels so welcoming when you drive onto the property. We had fun exploring a bit of the grounds (even in the rain) and sitting by the fire to warm up.

Went for a walk. In the rain. In #wellies. Gorgeous.

Emma G said she wanted to live in the manor but then was worried how it got cleaned. There is a price to pay for living in a huge home!

holmsted manor

(Side note: We fly into NY next week and will spend some time in New England. Hence my Fall in New England comment.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

arundel castle

in front of the castle

While staying in the South of England, we mostly took it as a bit of a holiday in the midst of our sharing at churches and gatherings. We had three full days to do fun things. Originally I thought we would go to Stonehenge. It would have been a two hour drive, but I thought it would be fun to see a famous monument. Then I got worried that we would drive a whole two hours and the kids would be unimpressed by rocks. We deviated from the plan and decided to treat them to a castle experience.

castle view

I read on the Internet that South England has more castles in it than the rest of England.  There were so many to choose from, but Arundel Castle came highly recommended both from the web and the folk at the YWAM base where we were staying. It was the first outing that we paid for (yay for freebies!) and a bit pricey, but it was worth it. I mean how many times do you get to see a castle? 

after my own heart

It was amazing. It took us about three hours to see the entire castle and the grounds. We tried to ask the history of it throughout. I’m still trying to understand the monarchy and exactly how everything works. I don’t have it all figured out, but I did learn so much. Did you know King Charles I was the only king beheaded in England? His original portrait hangs in Arundel Castle.

the keep

top of the keep

The creativity inside those castle walls was amazing. You could only take photos in The Keep, the oldest part of the castle and of course, the outside. The rooms were decorated so beautifully but you’ll just have to take my word for it. There was an entire room dedicated to Queen Victoria. They had two years notice that she was coming and had to make a whole set of bedroom furniture for her! She was shorter than I am (which is saying something, if you know me). There were little step stools and short chairs throughout the room. 

out of the keep

What I found so interesting is that Arundel Castle is still a working castle. The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk live there. Apparently, after castle visiting hours, they have free reign of the entire castle. Their kids are older now, but can you imagine being a young child and roaming about a castle??


Have you visited a castle before? What about Stonehenge? I’m curious if it’s worth a visit next time we might be in the area?

Linking up with Communal Global for Sneak Peeks Around The World.

Monday, October 22, 2012

brighton pier

through the street


walking down the pier

Last week was our first time to England's South coast. We ventured to the town of Brighton and had a great walk along the pier. It was windy with a chill in the air, but I don't think the kids cared. They could have thrown rocks in the sea for hours!

throwing rocks

happy kids

Jeremy and I decided that perhaps the easiest job in the world is that of an English weather forecaster. "Today will mostly be overcast with the sun peeking through for about an hour. Expect a light mist on and off throughout the day." :)

mushy peas?

And how about mushy peas? I don't really like fish and chips to begin with but mushy peas? Really? BlissfulE cracked me up on Instragram referencing a joke about how the English conquered the world in search of a good meal. I can't stop laughing. We went for a curry the other night and Joshua said, "Why are we eating curry in England and not English food?" I said, "Well..." It's all in jest, my English friends. All in jest. :)

royal family

Emma G couldn't get enough of the "insert your face here" photo opportunities. I will spare you the seven or so others that she posed for. They're not as royal as this.

converse family

On the pier, I finally had to get a photo of our matching sneakers. I don't remember at what point I realized that we were all wearing Converse. It was unintentional for sure. I find it quite funny, especially that we're still matching even after noticing it!

our fam

And finally, special thanks to the nice Taiwanese guy that offered to take a family photo of us even after Emma G photo bombed ALL of his in front of the sea. She's pretty and all but I don't think that's quite how he wants to remember his time on England's South coast.

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