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A jolly good time

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St. Paul’s Cathedral

Hello friends! I apologize in advance for the next several posts- I’m NOT a travel blogger and am absolutely not qualified to tell anyone how to spend time abroad. However, I positively MUST document what turned out to be the single most satisfying trip of my life in true mom-blogger fashion, with all the fun, over-exaggerated and super enthusiastic detail that you’ve come to know and love. Or at least tolerate 🙂

So, to bring you up to speed, if you haven’t been following me in other forms of social media, the hubs and I took our official honeymoon last week. When we got married, we had an incredibly secret relationship (like, no one outside of the very closest friends and family even knew we were dating, let alone getting married), so we resumed our normal lives immediately thereafter and pretended like nothing had happened. And in the three years since, we’ve saved money and gotten ourselves effectively organized in terms of family and careers, and were thankfully in the perfect place to take an 8-day, 7-night excursion to the U.K. It was heavenly.

Because I do not know how to do anything in small-scale, I’ll break this trip down into a series of posts, complete with gobs of photos and my usual gushing. I can’t help but gush about this stuff. So here’s what you can expect in the coming days (in no particular order):

  • Why England?
  • How did we make it work/how did we afford it?
  • Where did we go/what did we do?
  • Ah-ha’s and takeaways

To peak your interest…a few pictures, and a little backstory.

  1. I am the quintessential nerd woman. While I am the stereotypical geek who loves Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, everything CS Lewis, and Downton Abbey, I am also the supernerd who is absolutely fanatical about medieval European history. I just finished two books that I borrowed from the library and loved enough to buy: Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval Englandwhich focuses on all aspects of 14th century English life, in all social classes, and John Julius Norwich’s Shakespeare’s Kings: The Great Plays and the History of England in the Middle Ages (1387-1485). Yes- it’s a good thing I’m married, because those two books would not be awesome for creating banter at Atlanta Speed-Dating.

    The Chapter House at Westminster Abbey- in all its 13th-century architectural splendor.
  2. My husband is absolutely not obsessed with medieval history. Nor do we have terribly deep conversation about the plight of serfs in the time of the Hundred Years War. And he has not read Harry Potter or watched the movies. But he is a pretty big fan of Tolkien and Lewis, and he is basically well-versed in most world history, at least enough to have an appreciation for my desire to go to England during the rugby world cup and watch absolutely ZERO matches. Good man, I tell ya.
  3. This was my FIRST international trip. I’ve been a mom since I was eighteen, okay? A little hard to study abroad or go on adventures when you’re nursing babies and changing diapers. And it was the FIRST time we’ve ever left the kids for this long. The bigger reason behind not taking a honeymoon immediately following our marriage was that we couldn’t leave the girls. Our oldest daughter was nowhere near as sufficient as she is these days, and the prospect of going beyond the point of immediate possible return was just not there. My, how times have changed.
  4. I grew up in a family that did not take vacations. The vast majority of my childhood/adolescent travel experiences came from riding along with my cousin and best friend, and going on church trips. My daddy owned a small business, and it just wasn’t feasible for him to be away for a week at a time (or more), and my mom was never a fan of taking us off on adventures alone. The idea of taking regular family trips is still incredibly foreign to me, and this trip was no exception to that rule.

    Graffiti from the walls of the Tower of London. It was written by an imprisoned Catholic priest, and reads: “Jesus, have mercy on me. Mary, pray for me.” A bit more pious than all those “Lauren wuz here” markings I left at multiple Pizza Huts back in the day.
  5. Finally- the clincher. The one that made this trip extra-special and gives me super warm-and-fuzzies. I love home so much. Tolkien was speaking of me, I just know it, when he talked about hobbits never leaving home in favor of adventures. I think that literally every time we have stayed overnight away from home, I’ve said to my husband, “oh Frodo, we should’ve never left the shire!” I cannot think of even one trip in my entire lifetime (and my friends, cousins, and youth choir director can vouch for this) where I left home and didn’t cry to go back, almost immediately. My house is my sanctuary- my safe haven from a scary world. I’m surrounded there by my letters from friends, journals of happy thoughts (and melancholy ones), my chipped tea cups and coffee mugs, food that I make with my mother’s recipes, my warm bed, and most importantly, my sweet family. I know there are many virtues of travel, but venturing into the world can never, in my mind, compete with home. So this trip was both the experience of a lifetime, which led me to so many of the things I’d only experienced in books and onscreen, and a confrontation with my deepest fear- that there is a world beyond my door that I cannot even begin to imagine.

In writing that, it seems like a silly thing to fear. We should all want to be surrounded by things so great we cannot even imagine them- but to me, the unimaginable is actually quite scary. There’s unimaginable wealth, unimaginable beauty, unimaginable strength, unimaginable fortitude, and unimaginable poverty, unimaginable cruelty, and unimaginable ignorance. What a world in which we live. I am still in awe of how small I am in the grand scheme of things, but I’m also reaffirmed in my belief that we all leave marks on the world, with impact on future generations we cannot see or even begin to comprehend. I think that’s where travel typically gets me all worked up- I see the challenges of others around me and want to fix them, only to find that I don’t have a very good understanding of my surroundings at all (like when a homeless man outside the Tube didn’t want me to buy him a sandwich, and was NOT happy with me giving him an American $5 bill). I let that get into my head and then let it scare me from doing anything else. The difference for me this time was having the right partner- who didn’t trivialize my fears, but reminded me that life is about experience, and letting those experiences shape us, good or bad. So while there were some challenges on this little adventure, they all added to an absolutely beautiful experience, and one that will definitely have a long-lasting impact on my life.

Here’s to adventures. Little ones, big ones, and however else they may present themselves. Cheers.

xoxo~ LWH

2 thoughts on “A jolly good time

  1. We loved having you on our many adventures when you were young. All except the time Marc took you girls to Gulf World in Pc and Logan feel asleep on the way back but you talked and sang the entire way back to the condo and wore him out!! He loves to tell that story when Ella starts talking nonstop!

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