England Recap: Cambridge

I’m back with more from my big epic adventure in England!! I wrote a few days ago about what we did in Hitchin and Letchworth, and today I’ll be showing a ton of pictures from the day we spent in Cambridge!

One of my dad’s favorite stories to tell from our time in England (and one that I sadly don’t remember for myself because I just wasn’t old enough) is that on a Saturday when my mom needed a morning alone to get things done or run errands or just not have small children hanging on her at all times, my dad would take me and my sister to the train station, we’d hop on the train, and we’d ride all the way to Cambridge. Once there, we would cross the station, get on the return train, and ride it all the way back home. So while we were back in England, we wanted to take this train ride together once again.

But this time, we actually got off the train and explored Cambridge, which might have been my favorite day of the trip! Everything there was so old and seemed so important and historic and it was so dreamy just to be walking around there for part of a day – I can’t even imagine what it must be like to live there or go to school there and have that be the backdrop for your life for YEARS!

We did a lot of walking around and had a great lunch at a restaurant in town, but one of the coolest things we saw was the chapel in King’s College. My mom made it a point for us to see that, and I’m so glad that she insisted! It was just unbelievable. So grand, and so intricate, and so gorgeous, the pictures don’t even do it justice!

I’d have to say that my favorite part of the whole day was when we took a punting tour down the river and along the college backs. I saw online that it would be a possibility and I knew that we just HAD TO DO IT!!!! It was cold and my brother-in-law kept getting dripped on, but it was so amazing!! It took about an hour to go along on the tour and our guide told us all about the colleges, stories about famous students, facts about the history and the architecture, and it was all just so informative and interesting and beautiful.

We also lost the pole in the water for a few minutes, but another boat helped us out!

Even though it was chilly and grey the entire time we were there, I just had the BEST time in Cambridge! I could honestly have spent our entire trip there and have been very happy (but I’m glad we didn’t and got to do everything else that we did!) There was just so much to see and do and we only barely scratched the surface. If I ever get to go back to England, you’d better believe I’ll be going back to Cambridge!

 

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England Recap: Hitchin and Letchworth

Ok. It’s only been 3 months, but it’s finally time for me to do a recap of my trip to England aka the best trip ever. So get ready for LOTS of pictures, a little recap of my favorite things we saw and did, and then even more pictures. Like, so many pictures. We just had the best time and there are so many cool things I want to share!

And again, since it’s been 3 whole months, let me give a quick reminder of why we took this epic trip. My family and I used to live in England when I was little (for my dad’s job) and I haven’t been back since we moved 23 years ago. We wanted to take a family trip down memory lane while we were all able to make it and while my dad was still up for making the long trek. He remembers EVERYTHING and we wanted to get his memories, his stories, and his company on the trip. I was so excited to go back and see what I would remember! I was 1 when we moved there and 6 when we moved back to the states, so I don’t actually remember a lot. It was great to see some familiar things and put a visual to some of the stories I’ve heard from my parents over the years.

To start, I’m going to share our time in Hitchin and Letchworth. We stayed at an AirBnB in Hitchin and it was perfect (we actually lived in Letchworth back in the day, but there were no AirBnBs available there and Hitchin is just one town over)! It was within walking distance to a few restaurants, we were able to walk into and explore town center, and we could also walk to the train station when we needed to go elsewhere.

I would also just like to mention real quick that my brother-in-law “volunteered” (was pretty much forced) to drive a GIANT van through the TINY streets of rural England, and he was a CHAMP. Not one ding or scratch or death – and I don’t think he relaxed until we returned the rental after a few days.

The town center was SO cute and exactly what you’d imagine to be in a cute little town in England. My mom said it was similar to what she remembered but obviously 20+ years had gone by so some of the stores were different and there were a few newer areas she didn’t recognize.

Going back to Letchworth was so surreal. The bulk of my England memories happened in this little garden city and it was so special to be back there with my family. We got to see the houses that we lived in, and they look (basically) exactly the same! Some of the greenery was different, but everything looked just like it did in my memory.

 

We walked around the streets where we used to live, and saw some of our old favorite places. The post office where we used to walk to get a treat, the school field where we used to play, the cow pasture where we used to pet the cows (which is now a housing development, btw), and the hotel where we would walk around back and play on the playground. My dad said that it was the ORIGINAL playground equipment that we used to play on 25 years ago, and it definitely looked like it. It seemed a lot newer and nicer when we would go back in the 90s!

During our time in Hitchin and Letchworth, we also popped over to Old Warden to look at the thatched cottages. My mom said that they look exactly the same as the last time we saw them, and they were so unique! I wouldn’t be upset if I got to live in one of those cute little houses. Not upset at all. My very best friend Kelsey just happened to ALSO be on a trip to England with her hubby, so we got to meet up with them! Kelsey and I met at school in England, so it was REALLY special to get to be back with her at the place where our friendship started 25 years ago.

One of the coolest things we got to do on this part of the trip was getting to go on a tour of the Chicksands Priory. This was an AMAZING get, since the Priory is on an RAF military base, and the building is only open to the public (for pre-scheduled tours) twice a month. This let us get on the base, which is where we all went to school and my dad worked, and we got to see the inside of this very old, historic building. (It was built back around 1150 and housed monks and nuns.)

We even got a special tour of the grounds that most people don’t get to see which was so beautiful – the tour guide was thrilled to learn that we lived on the base in the 90s and all of the workers loved hearing my dad’s stories of his time on the base.

Had enough pictures yet?!?! I thought so – I’ll share more of our amazing trip later (mainly our day in Cambridge and 2 days in London) but it was so fun to look back on these pictures again. I’m not sure if/when I’ll get to go back, but I’m so glad that I was there with my family once again!

The Best Things I Brought To England

Oh my goodness that was such a fun trip! I just got back from spending a week in England with my family and it was just so wonderful. A 6 hour time difference is no joke and we were all a little bit tired for the entire trip, but we still managed to see a TON of great things and eat some food (England is not known for its food… we know that now…) and enjoy time together.

I plan on doing some more specific posts coming up soon to share what specifically we did and where we went, but for now I wanted to share some of the best things I brought on my trip, what I could have left at home, and what I wish I would have brought.

The Best Things I Brought:

Bobby Pins || Seems like something silly, but I am SO glad that I brought bobby pins with me! I wore my hair down every day, but I pinned the front of my hair back so I wasn’t constantly brushing hair out of my eyes while walking around.

Walking Shoes || I probably would have been fine with booties or flats, but I’m really glad that I brought extremely comfortable walking shoes (specifically, I brought a pair of New Balance casual sneakers). We just did so much walking, and my feet still got a little bit sore, but I know these helped out a lot.

Sleep Mask || Blocking out light was so helpful on the plane. The cabin was pretty dark, but people had their screens on to watch movies and it got pretty bright.

Portable Charger || THIS WAS THE BEST THING I BROUGHT FOR SURE! The one I got off Amazon was seriously so great. It kept all of our devices charged all day, which was essential since we were using our phones to navigate the streets, call up an Uber, sending snapchats, etc.

Hand Sanitizer || This was a no brainer, but I’m also glad I brought it. Traveling is very dirty and disgusting. And we ate a lot. This helped.

Things I Didn’t Need to Bring

Rain Boots || If it would have rained a lot, then these would have been great! But it rained for about 20 minutes of our trip (seriously how did we luck out like that?!?) So I really didn’t need to have these taking up space and weight in my suitcase.

So Many Clothes || We had the opportunity to use a washing machine on our trip (at our Air BnB) so I could have brought half the amount of clothes that I did and just done laundry one night.

So Many Snacks || I definitely overdid it with the snacks. I brought some Cheez-Its, some cashews, some candy for the plane, some peanut butter crackers thinking that I would want snacks and my family would want snacks, too. I ate the candy, 1 pack of cashews, and 1 pack of peanut butter crackers. At least now I have snacks ready to go at home!

What I Should Have Brought

Eye Drops || I probably didn’t actually need to bring these, but my eyes did feel pretty dry and tired and I bet eye drops would have helped.


I feel like I packed pretty well, overall! There really wasn’t a lot that I forgot to pack, but there was obviously quite a lot I didn’t need to bring with me. (But I’d rather have over prepared than forgot all the essentials, right?) I’m really glad that we went, and I’m also really glad that I’m home. I can’t wait to share more about our trip later!

What’s In My Carry-On (for an International Flight)

The last time I took an international flight (before this trip), I was 6 and my mom packed my bags for me. This time, now that I’m 29 and can pack my own bags, I was seriously stressing about what I should bring on the plane! What would I need? What should I keep in my checked bag instead? The flight to England is a red-eye, so I needed to make sure I packed things that were good for trying to sleep on a plane. The flight back to the states is during the day, so I needed to pack things that would keep me comfy and occupied. Here’s what I came up with- hopefully I didn’t forget anything important!

Sleeping mask
Ear plugs (a MUST on a red-eye flight)
Hand sanitizer (airplanes = germs = gross)
Snacks
Blanket scarf (use for warmth AND fashion!)
Under eye moisturizing pads (some people swear by these – use right before landing!)
Lotion
Tissues
Water bottle (airplanes always make me thirsty)
Compression socks (again, some people say these make all the difference!)
Neck pillow
Mints
A bag to put it all in
Chapstick
Book to read (this one takes place in England, so it’s appropriate to read on my trip!)
Notebook
Glasses (and the case!)
Portable charger
Airborne (don’t want to get sick on my big trip!)
Pens

Obviously there are other things I’m bringing in my carry-on that didn’t get mentioned, like my cell phone, cell phone charger, earbuds, wallet, and passport. I definitely didn’t want to forget those, either!

Have you been on a long international flight? What was the best thing you brought? What did you think you’d need, but actually didn’t?

Sparrow Conference 2017

Oh boy, this weekend was an extremely good one. A friend and I signed up to go to a women’s conference (a very popular pastime among Christian ladies) here in Dallas called Sparrow Conference and y’all. It. Was. So. Good. Like, I’m still trying to unwrap all of the awesome things I heard and I’ve been re-reading my notes and just wow. I’ve been to a few conferences before and they were all good, but this one was the best I’ve been to yet. The speakers (all women from the DFW area or somewhere near-ish in Texas) were knock your socks off phenomenal, the worship music was so beautiful and moving, and the little nuggets of wisdom- WOO I learned a lot! My notes page is FULL!

Sparrow 2017 was held at The Village Church (the Dallas campus) and if you’ve even been there, you know that the church by itself is pretty cute. But the decorations were just plain adorable! Every wall and corner had some serious photo ops and it gave the whole weekend a fun and comfortable vibe.

The worship music was seriously beautiful, and was led by Lauren Chandler (the wife of Matt Chandler, the lead pastor of The Village.) The gift shop was also filled with lots of great goodies! I got a few books that I can’t wait to dig into (all written by ladies that were speakers at the conference, of course!) and I even got a little print to be added into my gallery wall (it’s for The Happy Hour, a podcast that I enjoy listening to by another one of the speakers.)

And the content. Again, just, wow. We went through the book of James. If you have read it or studied it before, then you know it is small but can pack a punch! If you’ve never read or studied James before, then here’s a quick overview- it’s 5 chapters, it’s written as a letter, and it contains a lot of good instruction on how believers should (and shouldn’t) live their lives. There’s some really good bits of hope, and there is a lot that really convicted me and just left me nodding in my seat like YES OMG THAT’S ME. The speakers (Rachel Joy, Jada Edwards, and Jen Wilkin were the main speakers) made the words seem so relevant and so applicable to life today, and it was awesome.

I seriously can’t wait for the conference next year! I might have already signed up for the early registration…. yeah… but I know that it will be just as great. I kept thinking all weekend of people I wanted to be there or people that would get a lot out of the conference or people I wanted to share it with, and hopefully they can all come with me in 2018! I want to end this by sharing a few things that I jotted down in my notebook from the weekend. Just little nuggets that were said that I felt needed to be saved and looked at later. I know they’re going to be out of context for you, but hopefully you enjoy them a little bit, too.

How we respond to trials and temptations has everything to do with our faith.

We can lean on God during our trials and temptations because HE does not change.

Are you changed, or are you just churched?

Treat one another with eternity in mind.

Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.

God’s “no” is just as sweet as his “yes.”

Everything we do will either illuminate or obscure the gospel.