What I did on my summer vacation [week 1]

This summer, we are once again in the idyllic Cotswolds, reconnecting with the UK branch of the family. As always, Dr. T can only be with us for one week out of the four that we’ll be here, but the boys and I are well taken care of by his side of the clan.
As the most recent member of the family, Layla, arrived about four weeks ago, we were expecting a rather relaxed trip, what with the whole “just gave birth” thing. However, in the week that we’ve been here, we’ve already:
– attended a medieval festival in Tewkesbury, complete with battle reenactment
– made our annual pilgrimage to Bournton-on-the-Water’s model village
– eaten at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant in Oxford
– toured the Corinium museum in Cirencester
Tomorrow, we’re off to Raglan Castle in Wales, and on Friday, the boys and I will take the train to Glasgow to spend a few days with my grandmother. The rest of the month will be filled with trips to Milton Keynes, London and Paris.
But the highlight of this summer, as it has been for the last two, is the scenery right outside the front door of the house*.
Granted, being here has made me appreciate having kids who are no longer infants or toddlers, not to mention having my own bed, in my own bedroom, but the bottom line is that I lucked out in the in-law department. My sister-in-law is someone with whom I have a great connection – not surprising, really, given that her brother is Dr. T and her mother is TWGMIL ™, but wonderful, nonetheless.
I had a longer post planned, and partly written, but I goofed and inadvertently shut down the computer, after which there was supper, and dessert, and wine, and tea, and, and, and… so I’m posting mainly for the benefit of Dana 😉 But there will be more, certainly – in fact, Colin now has his own camera, so there are two of us recording it all for posterity.
*There are loads more photos from our first week on my flickr page.

Pret a (ap)porter

We’re off to the UK on Tuesday evening, and I am in my traditional just-about-to-pack-but-not-yet phase, in which the simple act of getting dressed becomes terribly complicated because I might want to pack that t-shirt, so I can’t wear it now.
This situation is newly exacerbated by Colin, who has been asking, every day for at least two weeks, “should we start packing today?”
Further complicating matters is the fact that the UK is apparently experiencing some weird heat wave, which is anomalous with the past three summers we’ve spent there, which have been cold and frequently damp. Obviously, I have to pack for the hot, dry weather that seems to be happening, but based on previous experience, I also have to pack for cold, damp weather.
In past years, I have tried to be minimalist in my packing, with the strategy that a quick trip to one of the myriad charity shops will fully supplement my wardrobe for the duration of my stay, at the end of which everything can be regifted to the very same shop. This is, of course, a brilliant plan, but in actual execution has proved to be seriously flawed, primarily because the selection of clothing at the charity shops is, naturally, limited and frequently amusing/terrifying. So the result of the carefully-laid plan is that I end up spending a month in the same pair of jeans and increasingly tattered t-shirt, insisting that we go shopping again, like some kind of deranged treasure hunter who believes that this next expedition will be the lucky one.
So this year, in an effort to appear slightly less shopping-mad, I am trying to pack as if there are no charity shops, or Marks & Spencer, or Clarks, or BHS, or woolen mills, and so on, so that our visit can be about reconnecting with family and celebrating the arrival of Layla, the newest member of the family, rather than about me channeling Becky Bloomwood.
One might think that since there are three of us travelling, and we’re each entitled to two checked bags, that the obvious solution is to get six suitcases and cram them full of everything we own; however, once packed, the six suitcases would then have to be transported to the airport in one car, then retrieved by one adult at the baggage carousel at Heathrow, manipulated onto a coach, and then stuffed into an even smaller car for the final leg of the journey – not to mention the inconvenience of having six suitcases in active use in a relatively small house for four weeks.
Mind you, my in-laws are relatively laid back, and if the weather really is hot and dry, maybe the solution is clear – I have to convince them of the benefits of life au naturel.
Then all I’d need to pack is sunscreen 🙂