Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Some Randomness from England

A collection of random photos from the past few months here in England.

When I look out the front window of our house, off in the distance I can see this beautiful church perked high on a hill.  In fact, it's called Breedon on the Hill.  Well, actually the town sitting below it is called Breedon on the Hill (although the town isn't on the hill at all, it's below the hill and below the church so it seems a bit odd that the town is called "Breedon on the Hill" but that's just the way it is - did you follow all of that?), but everyone just refers to the church that you can see for miles around as Breedon on the Hill. 

We can walk to the church from our house.  It's a bit of a hike, but there is a trail that takes us into the town and another trail that takes us up the hill...

past all the sheep munching on the now brown grass...

and right up to the church.

The official church name is The Priory Church of Saint Mary and Saint Hardulph.  I can't find the exact construction date for the church, but inside are tombs dating back to the 16th century.  This site was used as far back as 676 as a monastery.   

You can see for a long, long ways from up on the hill at Breedon.  

In fact, off in the distance there somewhere is our house.  

It was a beautiful old church to hike to on a beautiful fall day...

and the perfect place to sit and read while your father takes loads of pictures.  I'm glad I get to see this church from my front window every day.  I'll miss it when we return to the US. 

Down in the village of Breedon on the Hill (which is actually below the hill) sits an adorable little circular stone structure.  You see these little round houses a lot in England, in fact there is one in our little village as well.  When you see one, your first reaction is usually, "Oh, how cute is that little round stone building with a little wooden door.  I wonder what it was used for?"  

And then you read the plaque sitting beside it:

The Village Round House or Lock Up was built in or about 1793, for the detention of human offenders against the Law, until they could be removed to a town prison… The Round House was last used for prisoners in 1885.

Ohhhhh - that is what it was used for.  It still is cute though.  And this is why it is so fun to live in England because you get to see things like this everyday, things you just don't see back in Indiana or Wisconsin or wherever you live in the US.

On another note, maybe the most important thing that has happened for us recently…

Leah is now tall enough to wash dishes.  Yeah! In fact she loves washing the dishes.  Double yeah! How can I argue with that - except that she also likes to do it very, very slowly which draws out after dinner dish duty much too long.  Ah, but part of being a parent is learning patient, right.

Leah celebrated birthday number 8 here in England back in October.  She received some gifts and cards from home (thank you family - we LOVE getting mail here even though we know it's ridiculously expensive to send).

Last year on her birthday, we had barely lived in our house here for a week and didn't know anyone so we just had a quiet family celebration for her birthday.  But this year, she invited some friends over for a Halloween themed birthday party.  We had so much fun planning it because we've never had a Halloween party before and there are so many cute, adorable and sometimes just down right gross ideas for Halloween themed food (we did not have the green hot dog witch fingers because seriously, who would want to eat that).  

We had ghost and spider sandwiches, and pumpkin clementines and ghost bananas.  We froze gummy worms in ice cubes to put in their drinks (sounds cute, but in actuality, the freezing process left the gummy worms disgustingly mushy and much to like what you would think of when eating an actual worm).

And for dessert, cat cupcakes.  

The party goers all came in costumes and got to decorate pumpkins.

They danced to The Monster Mash and ate candy corns while watching the Charlie Brown classic "The Great Pumpkin."  The funny thing is that some of Leah's friends from England that she invited thought it was weird that she was having a Halloween party because it just seemed too early in October to be thinking about Halloween.  And if you recall from an earlier post of mine, I had to order most of the supplies from the internet because no stores had any Halloween stuff out yet, and we had to have the pumpkins personally picked for us from a local farm because there wasn't a single pumpkin for sale yet in this country on October 1.  This is clearly not the USA, but Leah and all of her friends loved the party!  And so did I because despite the fact that Halloween has never been my favorite of celebrations, planning a Halloween party is a blast!

One day this fall, we went blackberry picking on the trail near our house and I made a pie (I told you this was going to be a random post).  That is something else I will miss when we leave here - being able to grab a couple of pails and head out the front door to pick berries on the trail down the road or in the hedges.  They grow everywhere here and they are juicy and delicious.

Back in September, we spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon in a town just up the road called Melbourne.  Melbourne is a lovely old English town and on this particular weekend they just happened to be holding their annual art fair.  

This wasn't your typical art fair with tents set up in the park.  This art fair was unique in that not only did it feature a load of local artists but it also gave you the opportunity to get a peak behind the closed doors of the many cute, historical and unique houses in Melbourne because the artists actually set up their displays inside peoples homes or in their back gardens as they are called here (that's backyard to all of you Americans).  

I've walked the streets of Melbourne many times wishing I could see inside some of these dwellings and finally we got to.  

Fun fact:  The much much larger city of Melbourne in Australia actually got its name from this little town in Derbyshire, England.  Australia's Melbourne is named after Lord Melbourne, whose real name is William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne.  He was Queen Victoria's first Prime Minister.  

During the art fair, we got to visit the inside of St. Michael and St. Mary's Church in Melbourne, a beautiful old church that dates back to the early 12th century.  This church is a bell ringing church, and I don't mean a table full of bells that people hold and ring on cue.  No - this church has several bells up in the tower and to ring them, a group of people need to pull on the ropes that hang down to the church floor (you can see all of the ropes hanging down in the photo above).  

It takes talent and practice to be a bell ringer like this, and as luck would have it, the girls got to try their hand at it. Not on a real bell mind you because they don't want any amatuers harming the real bells, but on a practice bell.  Ellie stepped up to the big practice bell apparatus first...

And she listened very carefully as she was given instructions on how to ring the bell. 

Bell ringing like this takes great concentration and coordination to pull and release and then catch the rope in the right order.  It was a bit intimidating to climb onto this crazy apparatus and try bell ringing as we had stood in line for several minutes and watched other kids try to master the catch and release of the thick rope only to have it fly back and hit them in the face if they didn't do it correctly.  But Ellie did it. 

And then Leah did too...

And she showed as much concentration and determination to master bell ringing as her big sister did.

Another random but somewhat related photo because of it's location.  

This is one of our favorite pubs in the area and it just happens to be located in Melbourne - Harpur's.  Delicious food, good beer, and cozy ambience.  Just what you want in a good pub.

I leave you today with a few more photos from Melbourne, most of which are from Melbourne Hall and its surrounding gardens.  

Melbourne Hall is the seat of Lord and Lady Ralph Kerr, but it once was the seat of William Lamb, aka Lord Melbourne who I mentioned early (where Melbourne, Australia got its name).  Sorry about the randomness of this post, but I warned you back at the beginning.  I hope you enjoyed it! 

There was a dream, and one day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it
 - The Avett Brothers

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