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Archive for the ‘living over-seas’ Category

 A (very overdue) glimpse of the little village we call home these days. 

And until you can make it here in person – consider this your first “WELCOME to Great Malvern!”

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And no “view” of Malvern would be complete without a mention of “the Hills.” 

But I’ll save that for next time.

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This past Easter we saw our candy stash triple in size. And because we aren’t huge candy eaters, these goodies are around for ages.  The girls love dumping their entire bags onto the floor and taking inventory.  I remember loving this too – the sight and sound of all that candy, spilling and tumbling out of the bag, surrounding me in a colorful and delicious halo of (Mine! All Mine!) sugar. 

Like me, the girls spend ages humming-n-hawing over “which one to try tonight.”  My eldest and most cerebral lass always asks for my opinion,

Should I choose this one…or this one mama?”

Lately, perhaps because we’re in a new country and absolutely everything around her seems new and mysterious, she’s even more intent on getting me to weigh in on the hits-n-misses of All Things British.  Sweets and treats are no exception.  Since Easter, it has been my job (piece by piece) to describe the flavors and features, pros & cons of each potentially-delicious candidate.

This past weekend, while walking over the Malvern Hills, I brought out a small bag of sweets and let the girls take their pick. As usual, Layn quickly chooses two things and runs off; thrilled to welcome sugar in any form, yelling a wind-swept “Thank You!” over her shoulder as she disappears around a turn.  Wynn, on the other hand, is pensive and methodical. She takes forever (foreeeeeeeever) making up her mind.  She’s narrowed it down – this one, or that one? …or maybe that one? She’s most curious about a small bag of malt balls and asks what they are.  And so I describe them as best I can…

Well, these are covered with a thin layer of chocolate, and the inside is airy and milky and sweet.  These can ‘pop’ open in your mouth or melt on your tongue – your choice. They’re good. I think you’ll like them.”

She’s intrigued, and she chooses the malt balls. 

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I smile at the fact that, at six years old, the world is still a place that has malt balls up its sleeve…still a place full (FULL!) of first time sights and tastes, textures and lessons. 

And quite suddenly, I realize that this malt-ball-moment just might be the perfect way to explain why I have loved living a life of constant movement.  A life that includes packing up, relocating, discovering, settling in — and then doing it all over again.

In my experience, once I have lived somewhere long enough to know how most of the candy tastes…what aisle the cereal is in…where the two best Indian restaurants are in town – it often feels as though it might be time to move on. {I have found that this takes between 2-3 years.}

Familiar things are wonderful and I am constantly thankful for the comforts – the scent/tastes/sights/friendships — found at home.  But there is also something equally wonderful about being in a place where life is constantly introducing you to malt balls. 

This way, as a girl in my late thirties, I get to be six again. I get to be curious, take a risk, and try something new. I might love it. I might not. But, it’s hard to beat the feeling of waking up and knowing there is (there truly is) a whole world outside my door waiting to be discovered.  And savored. 

For the very first time.

To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson

 

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This space was quiet last week.  And while we sipped tea, side by side for the first time in nearly two years, we talked about throwing some photos on here; for the moms & dads, grandparents & friends who have been (almost) as excited as us about our sisters-n-cousins reunion.

Instead, we decided (wisely, I would say) to just be together. To leave all things cyber in the land of all things cyber. Instead, we did what we have always done – explore and sip, embracing the busy and the quiet moments, running (a bit), confiding (a lot), knitting here, window shopping there, talking endlessly and late into the night and trying to squeeze as much as possible into one short week.  

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It was everything I hoped our Copenhagen reunion would be – cupcakes and wine, museums and parks, street food and candlelight, sun and snow(!), birthdays and lazy(‘ish) days, the hustle&bustle of a cool European city, followed by the quiet calm of your center city apartment and a view that I still miss waking up to…

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There was also the bonus of more ice cream than I anticipated for a cold (cold) week in Denmark.  DSC05563

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And, of course, the (very) added bonus that this time I only have to wait five weeks until I see you again.

Somehow (!?) I managed to take 777 photographs in 7 days.  And, while I’ve already included several, I had to share this last string…because they capture the week perfectly to me – seven days of beautiful sights, little people in tow and lots of laughter (credit: to our 4-year-old photographer…who just didn’t think one shot was enough!). 

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Thank you again for having us, feeding us and touring us. I can’t wait for the City Mouse (that you’ve become) to visit the Country Mouse (that I’ve become). 

How happy (happy!happy!) I am that we are closer. ♥ ♥

 

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This past weekend we took our girls and introduced them to Scotland.  To the unforgettable hills and streets, cottage and cobblestone Steve and I called “home” before they were born.  And much like we did upon first arriving, they reveled at the sight of each kilted fellow and Highland Cow (or “Coo” as we call them in mock Scottish accents), at the sound of bagpipes and the thought of haggis. 

I thought of all the times that mom and dad have “taken us back” to places where they were young and footloose – to the cafes where they waited tables or the pubs where they met for drinks, to the shops where she spent her first paychecks, or the rocky English bays where he learned to scuba dive.  Like watching the scenes of a great story unfold, I would soak it all in (I still soak it all in) –- wanting to remember every detail, to envision a younger mom and blond, tousle-haired dad, writing those first chapters. Their story…and my prelude.

And, as the great circle of life dictates, now it’s my turn…to take them on a tour of streets and shops, cafes and pubs…to add views and color, tastes and texture…to fill in blanks and set the stage…as my life becomes a prelude to theirs. 

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We weren’t great tourists this time around.  Mostly, we visited friends and favorite haunts, but we’ll be back — to introduce them lochs and thistles, to Nessy and Burns, to islands and highlands and of course, to Layn’s stunning castle namesake.  After all, now there’s nothing but a scenic stretch of the M6 separating us from one of our favorite places on the planet. 

Scotland, chi mi a-rithist thu (We’ll see you soon)!

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Weather can be a gamble around here.  Sunny, clear-skied and mild — then blustery, brittle and cold.  A lot like the northwest really – the kind of climate that makes you dress quickly and SEIZE a glorious moment before it passes.

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Thankfully, England has approximately 140,000 miles of public footpaths, so you are never far from a spur-of-the-moment stroll through the countryside. We found a footpath stile just outside our gate here on the farm and had just been waiting for a (clear) day and (dry) time to follow it. 

We set out yesterday, for a late afternoon walk – eager to explore and meander. The girls ran ahead much of the time – chasing after waymarks as though they were clues on a great treasure hunt.

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One of my earliest memories (and first loves) was chasing those same waymarks and public footpath signs…hopping over stiles & stalls across the English countryside…a little girl in Wellington boots, on a grand adventure with her sister.

As you can imagine, as I watched my girls do the same, the world felt balanced and familiar. The moment, both ironic, but inevitable.

Of course they would learn to love waymarks and stile-hopping. Of course they would grow up traipsing and touring the hills & vales of Britain in colorful rubber boots while the sun set behind them.

Because even though life is uncertain – memories and nostalgia are powerful things; forces, as they say, to be reckoned with.  Like waymarks, perhaps they have a way of guiding us back towards places & spaces where we’ve been wild & careless, loved & brave. Just a big happy heart in tiny boots.

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Moving house isn’t easy. Crossing an ocean has its hiccups. Saying goodbye stinks. Getting resettled is Hard (with a capital H).

But – as the sky turned a deep, royal, endless blue and the stars came out around us – I watched two tiny shadows hop and run towards the farm they now call “home.” And I couldn’t help but think about why we left and why we came here – and why it is that roads less travelled have their lure. 

Life, I guess, can be like fickle weather.  Can’t it?  If it gives you a moment to reach for your coat, put on good boots and find a path to explore – you should jump; because the weather may change at any moment.  And if you go, I’m fairly convinced you’ll be glad you did.  Even if you all lose your boots in the mud for a while…like we did. <smile>

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So. As I mentioned in a previous post, our “living arrangements” have been a bit up-in-the-air since we arrived (three weeks ago today). 

In some ways, this has caused a fair amount of stress, resulted in seemingly endless property searches and involved many (many) late nights.  In other ways, this has been an amazing gift (perhaps best appreciated in hindsight…but appreciated nonetheless). It’s not everyday you get to view your town/life from three unique vantage points. 

This was our first “home” (a sweet and delicious B&B on the banks of the River Severn)

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And this was “home” for one week…(a three-storied townhouse on a quiet street in the heart of Worcester City…also where Wynn had the stomach flu for four(!) days…but that’s another story)

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And now this is home for the month of February…a working farm just three miles from the centre of town — full of blue sky, mountain views and bright (bright) stars.

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Our next home? Who knows.  There are still neighborhoods to visit, schools to find, transportation to arrange, realtors to meet, etcetera (etcetera).

But — while many things feel a bit “hard” at the moment – it’s nice to know that living here (if only for a short time) is not one of them.

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Predictable and organized? Ummm…no. 

A one-of-a-kind introduction to the hills and vistas, towns and varying landscapes of Worcestershire? Yes.

Now – you’ll have to excuse me – I have two little girls in Wellies reminding me that, for now, we live on a farm and it’s time to explore…

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The details

I had forgotten how much I miss the little things on this side of the Atlantic…the out-of-a-corner-of-my-eye and unexpected; the tucked-away and who’d-have-thought.  They meet you as a round a turn, stop to tie your shoe or stand and feed the pigeons.     

It’s those little things that remind me (all the time) that I am in living in an old (old) world.  A place full of history and storied — royals & lore, legends & hauntings.  A place rich in details.

We snapped these pics while ambling along. Destination: nowhere-in-particular.

There is much I miss about our-most-recent home (west of the Atlantic) – but today, two weeks after we first arrived, I’m stopping to appreciate the little things. 

The details.

Yes. I’ve missed the details…

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