For the first time in eleven years, I spent Christmas in the UK. This was the first time our girls celebrated Christmas overseas, and they enjoyed all of the new traditions and experiences that Christmas in the UK has to offer.
Christmas morning was spent at the Cotswold Centre, a military chalet in the west country that my brother-in-law booked for us all. This accomodation allowed each of the family members to have a space together to celebrate. Having all of the cousins together to open presents and play games was magical. We ate so much food and were spoiled by our English family members.
Although our stay was only nine days, we are thankful for the time with family and friends to refresh us as we enter the second half of the school year.
I’m excited to join my FMF community this weekend to discuss our prompt. I already know what I want to talk about and this title is a great way to describe the subject at hand. Join me as I explore the generosity of a woman who gave of herself in the name of country and God and remained generous in that service until her final moments.
Yesterday the world stopped spinning for a moment. We joined in a collective silence as news broke that Queen Elizabeth II of England had passed. You don’t have to be British to admire the country’s longest reigning monarch, and one of history’s longest legacies. Her Majesty was beloved throughout the world and remained a solid foundation throughout her 70 years of service to her country.
While she reigned on the throne, England experienced…
-15 prime ministers
-The expansion and union of the Commonwealth territories
-The tragic death of the beloved Princess Diana
-The Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union
-Several acts of violence
-Periods of both economic hardships and prosperity
-The death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II
Over the next several days, the country will mourn a woman who saw her duties as Queen through until the end. She served her country even in her final days by appointing Liz Truss as the new Prime Minister of England less than a week before her own passing. The sacrifices that Her Majesty made to remain the grounding force in a rapidly changing world will be remembered. She was generous with her life and gave in service to her country for 70 years.
May her legacy live on through the reign of Charles III.
Over the past two summers, I’ve been taking classes for my Master’s in English. So many of those courses required me to read works of literature selected by an instructor. While many of them were enjoyable reads like Station Eleven, there was a missing element to my reading life: Choice.
This is my first summer since 2020 where I have had the freedom to select my book choices and so I decided at the beginning of the summer that I would chase the reading fads–just because I can. I turned to TikTok and blogs that I follow for recommendations and so the three books that I read while in England came highly recommended by social media’s elite readers and all for great reasons.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Atria Books
Being an A-List celebrity came at a great price for the glamorous Evelyn Hugo. Not only did she abandon her heritage by bleaching her ebony locks, but she also abandoned the notion that love can be genuine through her long list of failed marriages.
For most of her life, marriage had been a tool she used to gain fame, but one love came in unexpected ways and changed Evelyn’s life for the better.
In her final days, Evelyn seeks out a young journalist to share her life story with, but is the world ready to learn about the real Evelyn Hugo?
Title: Book Lovers
Author: Emily Henry
Nora Stephens is the cutthroat agent of a book-turned-Hallmark movie set in Sunshine Falls, NC. When her pregnant sister, Libby, suggests a trip to the town that served as the backdrop for the famous novel, Nora is hesitant to leave her New York life behind for a few weeks. She decides to take her work with her to enjoy some quality time with Libby.
While immersed in the quiet setting and working in the local coffee shop, Nora runs into her editor nemisis from the city: Charlie Lastra.
As an avid reader, Nora is aware of the archetype she is playing and the tension that is being created with Charlie throughout the summer. Despite all of his advances, Nora refuses to fall for Charlie and tries to distract herself by going through the bucket list that Libby created for their summer.
Before the summer ends, Nora learns of the real reason behind the trip and must decide her own path moving forward. She must decide if the corporate life in the city is worth losing those people she cares about most. What Nora saw as a summer adventure before Libby’s labor turns into a crossroads that forces Nora to make the choices she’s been avoiding with her busy life.
Author: Colleen Hoover
Verity Crawford was a bestselling author. WAS. As a result of a terrible accident she was left unable to communicate or control much of her own body. Her publisher and husband sought out Lowen Ashleigh, a struggling writer, as the solution to the writing contract that was broken prematurely by the disabled author.
Lowen met Jeremy Crawford on her way to discuss the deal with her publisher. A man was struck by a car on a busy New York street spraying blood all over Lowen. Jeremy helped to clean her up and prepare for her meeting without knowing her identity. Still in shock, Lowen attends the meeting and agrees to take over Verity’s series as a ghost writer and to bring closure for Verity’s beloved readers.
In order to finish the series, Lowen must spend a few weeks in Verity’s home going through her notes and reading her earlier works. But when Lowen finds a journal written by Verity she can’t stop reading. Within those pages, Verity admits to horrific crimes and truths that chill Lowen to the core. Before long, Lowen notices some strange activity going on in Verity’s bedroom and realizes that someone is lying to her about why she is there.
The stranger that Verity gets the closer Lowen gets to Jeremy. Their relationship begins to flourish, but he is still married to the woman who can’t interact or love him back. Lowen realizes that if she would share the journal with Jeremy, that she could have him all to herself. If he can see the true Verity that Lowen had met in those pages, then he may find room in his heart for her.
All three of these books mastered the art of a good plot twist. They all caused me to think about my life and to measure it against the values that I hold dear. I’m so happy that I decided to listen to the recommendations on these books because each one was engaging and kept me invested until the end.
As my trip came to a close, I picked up The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. It’s a British bestseller. I love going to Waterstones and looking at the top fiction and non-fiction books in England. Every summer I try to read a top 5 book. The Thursday Murder Club has been a fun read and I’m nearing the end so look for a review in the next week or two. You can see what else I’m reading and my own reviews of books on Goodreads.
Our fourth week in England was a lot more chill than the others. We still traveled a lot and made the most of each day, but the pace was a little slower. Most of the week, it was just the four of us doing our own thing, but we still had some larger family outings too. The girls went to Puxton Park with their auntie and uncle while Sam and I enjoyed an afternoon tea in Yeovil and some drinks at a local pub. This week we also went to an indoor play park in Eastleigh, shopping in WestQuay (Southampton), a steamfair in Lyndhurst, and a bootsale and a traditional roast dinner in Bishopstoke.
As we enter the final week of our trip, it’s been fun to look back on all of the adventures we’ve had so far this summer with our English family and friends.
It’s Friday, and finally the heat spell has broken in the UK! This week the weather broke records and while it felt like we may all just melt we have survived in a country lacking the infrastructure to stand up to excessive heat. I’m joining my positive writing community at Five Minute Friday for this week’s theme: Chance.
What are the chances that I will make it home next week without delay?
I’ve been following the news out of London Heathrow, and things are looking grim. So many long-haul delays and flight cancellations flood my newsfeed. I’ll be heading home at the end of the month, and I am not looking forward to all that is involved with airport travel.
Security can take ages when you travel with a family of four. I’ve stood in lines at Customs for over an hour with a whining toddler in tow. Airports are not always the most efficient at moving people from Point A to Point B.
The chances are pretty high that we will spend more time than at the airport next week.
And if I am stranded in an airport next Friday, chances are that I’ll not be able to join in on the weekly link-up.
Here’s to hoping my chances are better than I’m predicting for arriving home without interruption. If all goes to plan, I’ll be joining you all next week from AMERICA.
Our third week of our annual family trip in England was marked by a massive heatwave. We spent a lot of time outdoors including our very first tent camping experience. In addition to our camp photos, I have so many wonderful snapshots to share with you this week including some trampolining in Hedge End, shopping at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, swimming at the Fleming Park padling pool in Eastleigh and exploring the creek in Yeovil. We’ve had several barbeques in the past couple of days and stayed hydrated and refreshed to the best of our ability.
Happy Friday from the UK! This week I’ve done a lot more relaxing and reading and that has been my way of coping with this British heat wave. This morning I am joining my favorite little writing community with our Five Minute Friday prompt: Propose.
This weekend our family is embarking in our first ever camping adventure. I’m embarassed to admit that at my age I have never camped in a TENT. Cabin adventures are some of my favorites, but when my sister-in-law initially proposed a family camping trip I was a bit nervous. I love the great outdoors–so don’t get me wrong. It’s just the idea of only a thin layer of fabric separating me from the nocturnal animals that has kept me from really pursuing this type of experience.
Now, it’s the morning of the trip and I find myself excited. I’m looking forward to all of the family time ahead. We have packed some great foods and plenty of drinks that I am also looking forward to devouring. I even walked into town yesterday and bought a new book to read while camping.
So while I was nervous when this idea was proposed initially, I am pleased for the day to be here and to be preparing to make these memories with my family. Who knows, this may be the beginning of a long line of camping trips in our family’s future.
(Photos of this trip will be here next week so be sure to check back!)
It’s the second week of our family excursion to England to visit family and friends. We will be here the entire month of July and each week I’ll be checking in with photos and short descriptions of what we’ve been up to. Our time has been filled with making memories with those we love so we can store those up in our hearts until we meet again.
During this second week, our itenerary has taken us to The Play Shack in Hedge End, Bognor Regis beach, Itchen Valley Country Park, and the historic city of Winchester. We’ve visited with my mother-in-law and her partner along with my soon-to-be brother-in-law. My husband’s aunts visited from Dover as well and enjoyed being worn out by our energetic children at the park. Our menus this week have been filled with the customary British foods: fish and chips, sausage rolls, picnic sandwiches, and I tried cockle for the first time on the seafront (not sure I’d ever order again, but it was fun to give it a go!)
Our family has made is safely to England and as we continue to adjust to the change in time, we have already experienced many adventures. We flew from Detroit to London Heathrow and despite rumors of delays and nightmares in UK airports, things went smoothly all the way through.
At this point in our trip, we have been to Eastleigh and Drayton. We’ve spent half the time with my father-in-law and the other half with my mother-in-law. Aunties came to visit in Drayton and we spent the weekend feasting with them. Already, we have visited two country parks: Staunton and Lakeside. Of course, we have stopped at nearly every playground we have passed on our pedestrian journies. Reuniting with family (and the girls’ COUSIN) has been a blast and I am thankful that our girls have not lost any time getting comfortable with life in the UK.
It’s Friday and my first weekend in the UK. I’ll be here throughout the entire month of July and so the next several FMF posts will be inspired by my travels abroad to spend time with family. This week our prompt is Trust.
When we travel abroad there is a wealth of trust we put in others. We trust that the pilot has been trained and knows the flight path well. We trust that TSA is completing the security checks to prevent dangerous people from embarking with us. We trust the airline to check our bags in correctly instead of damaging or losing our cargo. We trust customs officers to let us cross the border. We trust that taxis and trains are running on time to get us to our final destinations. All of this trust is to ensure that we are safely delivered and the mission completed.
Have you ever had a flight where trust was misplaced?
I’ve flown to England every year since 2007 and so I have a mental list of times when my expectations were not met by those I trusted to get me from Point A to Point B. I’ve had luggage lost. I’ve had to spend six hours on the tarmac. I’ve had flights delayed and flights cancelled.
Luckily, my most recent excursion was free from mishaps. My trust in the airlines and their personel was not betrayed (this time). And as I sit here, thinking about our journey from Columbus to Detroit and then to London, I am thankful that things went off without a hitch this time. These next few days will be spent adjusting to the five hour difference from EST. There will be lost of naps, exercises, and reading sessions to help my body adjust to moving ahead in time.