Spring Break 2018!

photo courtesy of tsreptilien/pixabay

When I was in college my roommate and I went to Florida for spring break. No, we didn’t party on Daytona Beach or go clubbing in Panama Beach.

We visited my grandparents.

We hit a Cincinnati Reds spring training game and bought strawberries in Winter Haven. We got sunburned lying around the pool in their fifty-five-and-over community in Lakeland. And we visited Disney World with my grandfather (my grandmother stayed home because, well, she just didn’t want to deal with Disney).

It was a fabulous spring break.

Fast forward (ahem) a certain number of years and I’m still not spending spring break partying or clubbing. This year we visited our daughter, Carolyn, in England, where she’s studying this semester. We didn’t spend more than a night with her because she still had classes, so the rest of the time we stayed in a house a little over an hour away.

For those of you who are friends with me on social media, I promised a recap of the vacation. So here goes.

We got to England early in the morning on Friday, March 30th. I hate to fly, so that’s why my first photo is of a very large, very strong Bloody Mary I had at the airport. It definitely helped.

Carolyn studies at Wroxton College, which is part of Fairleigh Dickinson University. Each semester a new crop of kids goes over to study, and this semester they were very lucky to have just 31 students. The abbey, part of which dates back over a thousand years, is where they live, play, and take their classes. We spent the first night there and it is an incredible place, from winding staircases and mile-high ceilings to suits of armor and stone floors where generations of people have walked.

       

Saturday we explored the grounds of Wroxton, then said good-bye to Carolyn for the day (she and the rest of the students went to a football game–aka soccer–nearby) and went to the place we had rented, a house in Croome, in the Midlands.

  

Croome used to be a private estate, owned by a pedigreed family and designed by famous architects and horticulturalists from centuries past. Now it’s a National Trust property (kind of like a National Park would be in the US) and there are several miles of walking trails on the property. It’s truly a beautiful place.

       

Sunday was Easter. John picked up Carolyn from Wroxton, brought her to Croome, and we spent the day exploring Croome, topping it off with a dinner at the Plough and Harrow, a carvery located not far from Croome.

On Monday John took Carolyn back to Wroxton in time for her first class, then he returned to Croome and we left for Hereford, a town less than an hour from Croome. Hereford Cathedral is a place I read about recently and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The photos don’t do the place justice, and the artist’s exhibition of poppies weeping from an upper window in the cathedral was breathtaking.

    

  

On Tuesday we went to Wales. My favorite part of the day was our drive through the Brecon Beacons, a mountain range in southern Wales that gave us spectacular views across the ranges, peaks, and valleys dotted with sheep and cows. We took an unexpected side trip to a distillery to try Welsh whisky and found a new taste we loved.

   

On Wednesday we went to Stonehenge. If you’ve never been to Stonehenge in the pouring rain with wind lashing it sideways, I would suggest waiting for a sunny day. But even with the abominable weather, it’s an incredible place surrounded by fields and farms. You can see the stones from a distance on the road, but when you get up close you realize how massive they are and what a feat of engineering it must have taken to get them standing. And I had no idea some of the stones had come from over a hundred kilometers away. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to get the stones to Stonehenge. The theories about Stonehenge (who lived there, why they’re there, what is the significance of the stones) are fascinating. We could have spent longer there, but we were soaked to the skin and we wanted to get to Bath.

 

Bath is a city where we wish we had been able to spend more time, but we enjoyed our short visit there. It’s so named after the Roman baths that were built there during the height of the Roman empire. There are hot springs under the city and the Romans used ingenious methods to use the springs to create an awe-inspiring series of baths, pools, saunas (called sweat rooms), and heated floors where Roman citizens of every stripe would come to bathe, exercise, and socialize. The hot springs are still there, still providing hot water to the pools and baths, but today there’s a large interactive visitors center on the site rather than a place for bathing.

 

On Thursday we visited Stratford-Upon-Avon, the town of William Shakespeare’s birth. We had only intended to stay for a few hours, but it’s so fascinating that we ended up spending the entire day wandering the crooked streets and visiting the homes and places that were instrumental during Shakespeare’s lifetime. We visited the house where he was born, the house where his daughter lived as an adult, the grounds of the home where he lived with his wife and children in the (almost) two decades leading up to his death, the home where his wife, Ann Hathaway, grew up, and the home where Mary Arden, Shakespeare’s mother, lived as a child. It’s still a working farm. We also had a proper English tea, complete with scones, clotted cream, and strawberry jam (though I preferred the lemon curd). It was, we agreed, our favorite day of sightseeing.

            

On Friday we went to see Carolyn again, this time to celebrate her twentieth birthday exactly one week early. We had a lovely time walking the grounds of Wroxton again, and we hated to say good-bye when the time came. But we needed to get back to Croome to start packing for the trip home.

 

Saturday we flew home, all of us exhausted and happy after a whirlwind week seeing all the things we had wanted to see and walking miles upon miles in the process. And on Sunday I picked up the dog from the kennel! That, to me, is the best part of coming home.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a vicarious trip to England through this post. Our next vacation won’t be for a long time, so I’m going to have to come up with new post ideas…

Remember that this month’s book club selection is Stolen Memories by Mary Miley. I still haven’t started it, but I will in the next couple days. I hear it’s really good!

Next week: a book recommendation. I haven’t done one of those in a while and I have a great book to share with you.

Until next time,

Amy

 

 

 

The Life She Was Given for May, by Ellen Marie Wiseman.

24 comments on “Spring Break 2018!

  1. Lise says:

    What a great post! England also has so much beautiful architecture, it’s incredible. 🙂

    Like

    • amreade says:

      We kept saying to each other, “It’s amazing how old everything is!” We never get a chance to see things that old living in the US and it’s a wonderful opportunity to see incredible, inspiring architecture.

      Like

  2. johnrieber says:

    A terrific adventure, especially Stonehenge…you can just walk right up to it! thanks for sharing so many great photos!

    Like

  3. What a FABULOUS trip to merry ole’ England. I see another book coming out of this sightseeing, Amy. I’m in the middle of Murder in Thistlecross and so immersed in that countryside and the estate of Thistlecross. Your descriptions are wonderful, as is the mystery.
    I loved re-visiting England with you. I went to Stonehenge many years ago, and it was a gray day and I got such a mystical reaction to being there (and it was a quiet day, hardly anyone else there!) We stayed two days at Bath on that trip, and also enjoyed Shakespeare’s home, although it has become a bit, ahem, touristy.
    Thanks for bringing us all along with you. Hope your daughter is having a wonderful experience. xo

    Like

    • amreade says:

      Thanks, Pam. I’m glad you’re enjoying the book.

      I was just mesmerized by Stonehenge. The stones were always shrouded in mystery to me, and I think they are even more so now that I’ve visited. And aside from the stones, I found the burial mounds fascinating. I would love to visit again on a day when there aren’t quite so many people there–I’d love to experience it in quiet.

      When we went to the Roman baths, my favorite part of the visit was talking to the actors about living in ancient Bath. They never broke character and I was amazed at how much I learned from them. They were John’s favorite part, too.

      Carolyn is having the time of her life–she comes home a month from tomorrow! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stonehenge had a silent sound to it (almost like the sound that only a dog can hear, but in this case, I think only certain people can hear it). Of course, my guy couldn’t so I was being a bit “weird” again, but still…. definitely a mystical place. I think it would make a great setting for a mystery! Hmmmm.
        I’ve JUST your book – in the tub, if you most know. Terrific. I’m off to review it. xo
        Carolyn is a lucky young woman. What an amazing experience.

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      • amreade says:

        “Weird” is good! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. Thanks for reviewing it!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Dru says:

    Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. Wow!

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  5. Thank you for sharing your adventure, Amy. I also loved Stratford-upon-Avon and I recently saw a post from Sue Vincent about it too.

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    • amreade says:

      We knew we would enjoy Stratford-Upon-Avon–we just didn’t realize how much we would enjoy it! Even the crowds didn’t detract from our experience. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

      Like

  6. macjam47 says:

    What a wonderful “Spring Break” you had! The beautiful landscapes and buildings, towns, and school were beyond amazing. Thank you for sharing your fabulous vacation.

    Like

  7. maggie8king says:

    Amy, thanks for sharing your wonderful, and illustrated, trip. I’m so envious.

    Like

  8. What a trip, Amy! You must be exhausted. Your photos are like a breath of fresh air for me, tinged with nostalgia. My family still live in Worcestershire, not very far from Croome actually. Stratford-upon-Avon was our go-to place on sunny weekends and many an ice-cream was devoured there. So glad you had a good time. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

    • amreade says:

      Thanks, Lynne. I’m glad the photos brought back some happy memories. I would have had ice cream in Stratford-Upon-Avon if I hadn’t been so stuffed from the scone and clotted cream, etc. Your family is very lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world!

      Like

      • Funny how we never see the beauty of a place when we see it every day and in all weathers. It takes a scone to convince us too LOL

        Like

      • amreade says:

        You’re absolutely right. I tend to take this part of New Jersey for granted, and sometimes it takes a summer resident to remind me how lucky I am to live here. It was the same when I lived in NYC!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. What a spectacular trip that must have been. Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos. Hugs.

    Like

    • amreade says:

      Thanks, Teagan! We had a wonderful trip, and it went surprisingly well, considering how most of our vacations usually go. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the photos.

      Like

  10. I have but one word… WOW! But you know me, I can’t stop with one word…

    I was smiling from the first paragraph… having lived in Florida for 15 years, I know exactly where you were. As a matter of fact, I lived in Valrico which is approximately 30 minutes from Lakeland and I have been to The Reds training center, Winter Haven and of course Disney!

    Now, England… there I have never been, but, It has been fun visiting (vicariously, of course) through your post. Your descriptions and pictures are amazing!

    I know that Carolynn was happy to have her family with her for Easter… Holidays are all about family and it sounds like yours was wonderful.

    I especially loved all the animals, seeing them must have been surreal! You can’t drive through New Jersey and see those views! 😀

    And Shakespeare, well, now I can say I have quoted him on more than one occasion… awesome!

    Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful vacation. Welcome back to reality! 😀 enjoy your week.

    Like

    • amreade says:

      I’m glad you liked the post. 🙂 I should have known you would be familiar with the area where we visited–my grandparents loved living there. I would have loved to write more about the places we visited, but in the interest of keeping it as short as possible, I had to stop at just quick explanations. It was so nice to see Carolyn. She’s having a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it was nice to share it with her, even if only for a few days.

      I hope you have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

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