Our friends the VanderKlippes came to visit us for their summer vacation! We hosted them for a week here in our little flat – and to our delight everything went very well. And even in the close quarters of a tiny flat we all managed not only to fit, but also get along. In Cambridge, we walked around the busy streets (crowded by thousands of tourists) and showed them passed all the fantastic college sights, Richard took them into Kings College Chapel, and punting along the Cam (there are, unfortunately, only 6 people allowed per punt… and since Richard is far better and can endure punting for far longer… he is ever the tour guide). Of course we went to Ely Cathedral and had fish and chips, and a favourite – Hampton Court for a day. We also took the kids for walks around the fens and spent hours blackberry picking and had little picnics along the way.
After a week here, we took off for Northumberland (Northern England)! We rented a cottage a stone’s throw away from the Scottish boarder, very near the coast. The countryside up there is just stunning. We loved every minute of driving. All the land is farmed, but mostly it’s for grazing sheep and cattle amongst the rolling hills. An idyllic sight. There are ruins from forts, castles, bridges, walls, etc, everywhere. We went to see some of the major sites including Bamburgh, Lindisfarne, Dunstanburg, Arthur’s seat (a craggy hill in the centre of Edinburgh), and ruins right around where we were staying at Norham castle. (This was an important medieval defence against the raiding medieval Scots…) We had so much fun exploring. The kids leaped over old stone walls, and ran around like mad. Not really the safest way to go about learning history, and at times makes a pretty harried trip for mom, but mom’s sanity is over-rated anyway 😉 My favourite part was walking amongst the ruins hand-in-hand with Richard, with the kids playing around us, imagining what it was like to live there, with the warm summer breeze coming in off the ocean, the sun on my face and beautiful (seemingly completely unkept) wild, tall grasses and varied landscapes all about. I love rocks and trees and hills… mountains are of course preferable but one can’t be too picky.
It was wonderful to watch the children play so well together, to learn more about Seth, Charis, Olivia and Alexa and what lovely people they are becoming. And in the evenings after all the kids were tucked into bed, we would sit around until far too late catching up and enjoying being back in each other’s company again.
Thank you M&S for being such encouraging, steadfast friends. Thank you for coming all this way with all your troupe to spend time with old friends. Love to you and yours!