We've been in the UK for 16 days, and today is the first really rainy day. There's been the odd sprinkle now and then in the past fortnight, but really, we've been extraordinarily lucky weatherwise, especially given all the precipitation that fell here in the month before we arrived. Today, though, Mother Nature is making up for her two weeks off, and really dumping water on us ~ the forecast is for four inches in these 24 hours, and I believe it. There are remarkably large puddles of water everywhere you look, and everything looks waterlogged. Although the temperature is supposed to be 18 C, it's damp and chilly, despite our sweaters and warm socks. On the bright side, now it feels like England!
We've spent a few days in Milton Keynes, which is where the World's Greatest Mother-in-Law (TM) resides; while there, we've enjoyed all sorts of holiday treats, like seeing the latest Harry Potter movie, and a day of Mummy-only shopping in Central MK, where I scored bargains like the 55£ skirt, on sale for 7£ (in Canadian dollars, that's $118, reduced to $15).
Most of our time has been spent in the idyllic Cotswolds, with Nicole and Adam and the impending Small (name TBA, upon arrival). I took this on one of those sunny days:
If you follow the link through to the flickr page, you can mouse over for notes that explain which building is which.
There are loads of other photos on the flickr site, chronicling our various adventures, including the boys first ride so far.
We've also helped harvest onions and raspberries from Nicole and Adam's small vegetable garden, and made friends with the resident hedgehog, who devours slugs, much to the delight of Adam, whose reaction to slugs makes me wonder if he had a bad experience with one as a child.
On Tuesday, the boys and I boarded one of Richard Branson's trains and went to Glasgow to visit my gran. The last time I saw her was exactly thirteen years ago, when she came to my wedding! I was thrilled, too, that my aunt Bernadette was visiting at the same time. She now lives in India, where she has worked to build a home that brings together orphaned children and abandoned women. Although she is my mother's sister, she's actually closer in age to me than to Mum, and in the past I've always had a blast with her.
I was a little trepidatious about this trip, for a few reasons. Although my gran still lives on her own, in her own house, and by all accounts is very active, she is in her late 80s, and my children are, well, children. I was also a little worried that I had exaggerated my past closeness with Bernadette, and we'd end up spending three days in awkward silence, punctuated by the terrible sounds of breaking china figurines as the boys destroyed the house. Thankfully, my fears were not realized ~ I knew from the moment we met on the platform at Glasgow Central that Bernadette and I would very quickly reestablish our bond, and I was not disappointed. We had a great time, with lots of revalations and laughter, and the boys loved her too. As for Gran, well, 87 she may be, but she's still, in her own words, inde-bloody-pendent! Although she needs a walking stick to get around, get around she does, and God help you if you try to stop her. And she comes with a disabled parking sticker, which means we got the best parking spots everywhere we went.
On Wednesday, we went to Loch Lomond, and had a wonderful (if unbelievably delayed) lunch at the Duck Bay Marina, then spent a couple of hours at Loch Lomond Shores, a shopping/amusement complex on the boardwalk at the southern end of the loch. In the shops, I discovered that I come by my shopaholism honestly ~ both Bernadette and Gran were hard to tear away from the bargains! The boys had a great time running around on the boardwalk, and while Bernadette and I continued our quest for the perfect sweater (alas, fruitless at that point), Gran supervised the kids ~ including Colin's bungee jumping. So perhaps "supervised" is not the right term...
Yesterday, we headed into downtown Glasgow a little early, and found the perfect Scottish sweater at Pringles (yay!), then had lunch together at the station before Bernadette and Gran saw us off at the platform. We had a great time, and I have every intention of returning to Glasgow next year, assuming we can repeat our extended summer vacation over here.
Now, though, we're back in the more-sodden-than-idyllic Cotswolds, helping get the house in order for the most anticipated arrival of Small, who is expected any minute now.
The official due date is, in fact, today ~ and there are still a few hours left, so watch this space!