Ok, kinda late with this one, but whatever. We had a lot of fun on our trip last week (Monday through Thursday) but I think it’s also safe to say we learned loads as well, so here’s a little rundown in the form of Little Discoveries list:
- Eric is a superstar at driving Brit-style–in London rush hour, on the big motorways, and all around the roundabouts!
- Roundabouts make way more sense than traffic lights–so much more efficient, no wasted time, only slightly terrifying but I suppose one would just have to get used to it.
- Yorkminster is, in fact, a cathedral (despite my smarty-pants claims that it wasn’t because no bishop presides there, but he does). Yorkminster also has some wonderful tour guides, and can now be put on the list of strangest places I’ve had to nurse the baby. But who could argue with a big, beautiful gothic cathedral as possibly the very best nap location ever?!
- Everett still loves stained glass windows; shown here: looking at the amazing ones in the chapter room at Yorkminster with daddy:)
- Betty’s Tea Room is delightful! They were so accommodating to us bringing in the pushchair since Everett was happily snoozing, despite being super busy at lunchtime. The hostess was excellent, as was our waiter, and I enjoyed a true English afternoon tea for the first time since we got here
- So, apparently, despite my note when I booked online, our poor innkeeper Julian was not expecting us to have a baby with us! He was very kind though, and gave us a choice of some of the other rooms to have space for the travel cot. The Aaron guesthouse was overall a good place to stay, brilliant location and yummy English breakfast.
St. Mary’s abbey ruins and Museum Gardens–we didn’t really know this was there, but tucked behind the City Art Gallery on the way through the walls of York (yes, the city still has it’s medieval walls, so cool) is this beautiful little park. We stopped on our way into town in the morning.
- The Victoria in Durham another great place to stay–we were way up on the 4th floor so the very sloped ceiling proved challenging (and I may or may not have bumped Everett’s head against a ceiling beam sometime in the middle of the night), but it was very nicely decorated, a great location, excellent breakfast (with a sweet hostess!) and amazing location just across the footpath from the cathedral.
- The pub at the Victoria has 3 fireplaces, an excellent selection of beers, and serves Bailey’s by the double shot. Also, the baby monitor more or less had signal between the pub and our room upstairs. Score.
- The Romanesque Durham Cathedral and it’s cloister are as imposing and utterly enchanting as I remembered them from my stay as a student nearly 6 years ago. We took some pics outside, but you’ll notice none inside or of the cloister–cameras are not allowed inside, which I find totally appropriate, and the cloister was just so peaceful and beautiful we kinda thought taking a picture would somehow spoil it.
- The tower at Durham Cathedral is really really tall! Eric kept Everett while I paid to walk up over 350 steps, all in a spiral and cut from stone hundreds of years ago, to the very top where I could see for miles and miles.
- Cobblestones, particularly medieval cobblestones on steep hills, are not particularly friendly to umbrella strollers or their passengers.
- It can get very cold in Northern England at the beginning of March, and many buildings, including the lovely Victoria, turn the heat off completely at 11pm. Would have been kinda romantic if it weren’t for the tiny freezing human who ended up in bed with us by morning. We requested a space heater for our second night.
- Everett is no longer a newborn who can just drop off to sleep whenever he needs to and is happy to be confined to a carrier, stroller or car seat for hours on end. His threshold for activity, not to mention being strapped into anything, is understandably low. He wants to be part of the action and not being able to walk around with us is pissing him off. This resulted in some bad nights for sleep and overall fussiness.
- Everett is also increasingly difficult to nurse in public as this desire to be in the action apparently makes it hard to concentrate on eating, no matter how hungry.
- I knew this before, but a nice big, lightweight pashmina is a MUST HAVE for the traveling mama–warm around the neck, good nursing cover, and nice for draping over the stroller when the sun is super bright! Also, in a pinch, it’s pretty good at hiding stains so if a little spit-up needs wiping, it’ll do. As fairly lightweight cotton, it can go in the wash or be washed out in the sink and will dry overnight without much trouble.
- Everett likes to sleep on his side, but gets mad when he accidentally rolls onto his stomach sometimes. Kinda tricky, but the side sleeping is super adorable.
- We had the family room at the Victoria which included one double and one single bed. This proved useful when the only cure for Everett’s restlessness after we dragged him all over kingdom come was to sleep with me in the double bed on the last night, and Eric took up residence in the single. Everett likes to sleep all sprawled out, so there wasn’t quite room for all three if any of us wanted any rest.
Overall we had a very good time, though unfortunately both Everett and I came home with colds, which is one reason it’s taken me so long to finally write about the trip. These holy places were a great prequel to thinking about Lent, even if I didn’t think about that until just now. To see more pics, go to my flickr photostream (see the link on the sidebar) and look for the York and Durham set. I also realized I never posted anything about our trip to the Tower of London, but it was kind of a miserable rainy day, so not much to write about but there are some pics on flickr.