Monday, December 27, 2010

Family Time

This past week has been mostly filled with traveling from place to place and then nesting. Our little cottage is adorable and very comfortable and we’re settling happily into a quiet lifestyle compared to the traveling marathon we’ve been on the past five months. It has also been interesting having other people in our little group. We have so much to share with our new family members that we all want to talk at once as though there isn’t enough time.

On Boxing Day we had my aunt Alison, my cousin Richard and my parents accompany us to the nature reserve on the North Sea coast. It was a beautiful day; sunshine and happiness. It was cold with an even colder breeze on the beach but the reserve was lovely.

We walked along the sand watching the waves roll in and the wind turbines spin in the distance. The turbines have been controversial here. This is the best place because of the geography but it is also reserved land. How do you balance the need for ecological preservation with the need for renewable energy resources? Even on our walk we could see that part of the sand was covered in slick black goo. Oil strikes again.

Today we drove into the nearby town of Lincoln with my parents and aunt to visit the cathedral. It was a magnificent cathedral, if a bit chilly. They don’t heat their churches over here but I suppose it makes sense if you see the size of them. Today I learned that a church becomes a cathedral when the bishop’s seat is there. The bishop’s seat in Latin is called “cathedra”. Another interesting fact is that the Lincoln cathedral was considered the tallest building in the world…in 1411. It had a higher spire on it that has since fallen. Rhys thought it was interesting that a copy of the Magna Carta was there. We saw a copy at Salisbury Cathedral back in August. There are only three copies so I guess we’ve seen two thirds of them.

We will have to go back on another day to see the castle and explore the shopping area. We decided to buy our own Christmas present for ourselves sometime before we leave England and visions of sugar plums are dancing in our heads.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve we attended a church service in Horncastle with Neil, Richard, my mom and Ian. It was a candlelight service so we each got to hold a candle. The church was neo-gothic renaissance in style, as only those who have visited hundreds of European churches would know. We admired the gothic stone archways and interesting wood ceiling. We sang Christmas songs together and listened to Mary, Joseph and a shepherd give their eyewitness account of the big night. It was a nice evening, we all agreed.

The weather on Christmas Day was everything you could hope for. In the morning there was bright blue sky. The air was crisp and clear. A dusting of snow lay over our car and on the ground outside. By the afternoon, the sky had clouded over and snow began to fall. It was quite lovely sitting in the parlour with the Christmas tree and fireplace lit, surrounded by brightly wrapped packages and people we care about, watching the snowflakes fall.

My mom and Ian came to our cottage for breakfast and presents. We had our traditional breakfast meal of cheese soufflĂ©, bacon and sweet rolls. Tom spent a loooong time whipping the egg whites to get them stiff for the soufflĂ© as we don’t have beaters. That’s real dedication to a breakfast.

At noon we went over to Neil and Shelagh’s house. Neil is Ian’s brother. His sister, Alison was there as well. It was the first time in many, many years that they have spent Christmas together and it was fun to be a part of that. Neil and Shelagh have a lovely old house filled with beautiful furniture and decorations. Our Christmas dinner was also very traditional with turkey, brussel sprouts, carrots, potatoes and more. For dessert we had Christmas pudding, mincemeat tarts and a stollen. We stayed to share gifts and conversation until almost ten o’clock. It was a wonderful Christmas Day in Horncastle, England.