Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Back to Old Blighty--2, Saffron Walden and Sunday Lunch in Cambridge

A few nights after we arrived in England, we had our first-of-many meetups with old friends. Mike shared a house with Vicky when he studied for his M.Phil in Victorian Literature at Linacre College, Oxford University. Vicky and her husband Nigel live not too far from Cambridge in a lovely, historic old mill house with their three children. Last time we were in the UK in 2007, they were the only ones we saw (being so close to Cambridge). Since then, their oldest son Jacob (and Mike's godson) visited us during his gap year.

We had a lovely evening with them, starting with a brisk walk through the countryside! 

Beautiful old church






Nearing the end of our country walk
One of the fun things about our visit back to England this summer was getting to know our friends' grown (or nearly grown) children. Jacob, Joshua, and Isobel are all lovely!


So nice to have three weeks off work and spend time with my family!

Chris made friends with Jacob and Joshua and later in our trip,
he took a trip to Thorpe Park (an amusement park) with them

Chris and Nick

Kieran

Joshua

Isobel

Jacob, who was also a preemie


Yummy English BBQ, including potatoes they'd grown in their garden








Photogenic Isobel




Cuddling under a blanket as the evening got chilly

Sweet mother and daughter
The next day we went out for lunch in Cambridge at a buffet restaurant, followed by a trip to the movie theater, en masse, to see "Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again." We all enjoyed it, but some more than others!


The following day we had most of Mike's extended family over for lunch. Mike's dad had four sisters, and sadly all of that generation is gone now with the exception of Mike's mum and her brother-in-law...and one other brother-in-law in Scotland.

We had a great time catching up with the cousins, and the kids got along splendidly!

The lunch spread

Mike's cousin Kevin with his son Ali, who came to visit us several years ago on his gap year

Mike's cousin Paul's wife Sue, with niece Emily and her boyfriend

The last of the generation!

Lots of table tennis games!

Mike's cousin Kevin and his wife Kym

The younger set

Ali is now an engineer in Edinburgh,
and he came down to Cambridge for the visit!
When he visited us a few years ago, he was a huge hit with the boys!

Emily with her boyfriend Will

Mike with his sister Kath, our wonderful host!

The whole family!
The under-30s!

The over-30s!

Such a sweet couple!
Hugh Gilmartin's part of the family (missing four in Australia)
It turns out that Kieran is a beet lover, like many others in Mike's family!
(I am not much of a fan)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Returning to Dear Old Blighty--1, Home Base Cambridge

We didn't mean for so much time to pass after last visiting Dear Old Blighty.* We went to a Christmas extended reunion in 2007, when Nicholas was just one year old. This is what we all looked like then:


We snared decent fares for a nonstop flight to Heathrow. Flying nonstop was fantastic!

We had an amazing trip. Everything went well, with just one exception...a fall I had in London (more on that later). 

The requisite Portland airport carpet photo, with Jane Austen in tow
(my first conversation with Mike was about Jane Austen,
so she has a special place in our lives...
and Chris enjoys taking her places and putting on an English accent!

Waiting in the airport



Clowning around with the statue of former Oregon governor Vic Atiyeh


On the plane
(nonstop Delta flight to London!)

I've gotta say--those in-flight entertainment systems
really make the overseas flights go more quickly!
The best film I watched (of about six) was "Marshall"
(about Thurgood Marshall)--I highly recommend it!)
After an uneventful flight, we landed at Heathrow and had to lug our heavy carry-ons through the enormous airport. (We did only carry-ons because Delta charges $60/bag on economy flights now!) Then we went to the car rental place, which always takes longer in England. And finally, poor Mike had to drive 2 hours to Cambridge after our red eye flight. It always amazes me how he can do this!
Relaxing in Cambridge the afternoon of our first day,
in my sister-in-law Kath's lovely back garden!

My mother-in-law, Olga

The prodigal Brit!

So wonderful to see my sister-in-law again!

Kieran with his cousin Victoria

The lovely guest room where we stayed many of our evenings in England
Our first few days in Cambridge, we took it slowly as we got adjusted to jet lag. The second day we attended a concert in the Cambridge Botanical Garden, which sadly was pretty yellow and dry because of the ongoing drought and hot weather.


Apple tree descended from Sir Isaac Newton's apple tree

The flora and fauna around the water features were the greenest!








The wheelchair for Mike's mum helped her get around to keep up with her grandchildren!






Beauties in the garden!

These wooden greenhouses reminded me so much of Harry Potter!



Who is that urchin behind the leaf?

Greenhouse sisters

Forcing Victoria to pose by the Victoria lily pad!


Love my new iPhone 8+ camera!


Waiting to hear the music

The prosecco grandma!

So very civilized when you can order a Pimm's Cup
from the bar and drink it on the lawn!



Closeup of my yummy Pimm's!

Cool tree




Sweet boy I found in the garden! :)

The botanic garden cat!

Dinner!


First time to eat mushy peas, and I actually liked them!
These chips were too mushy for me, though.


Jane among the flowers


Watching "Mamma Mia" in preparation for the "Mamma Mia Here We Go Again" movie
Lunch at Wagamama in Cambridge after shopping and wandering




So nice to spend lots of time with my oldest in England,
since we don't see much of him when we're home!

My yummy noodles!
We saw the first of three shows in Cambridge. "Six" is a musical about the six wives of King Henry VIII. It was great feminist fun, an all-female show (including the band). After leaving Cambridge, it moved onto the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and now it's on the West End. We all enjoyed it!




*During World War I, "Dear Old Blighty" was a common sentimental reference, suggesting a longing for home by soldiers in the trenches. The term was particularly used by World War I poets such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.