Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Our Trip Across the Pond - England 2014

What a trip! We had such an amazing time visiting with grandparents, cousins and friends.  England will always be "home" to Steve and after countless visits across the pond, I definitely see how it could easily feel like home for me and my girls! 

I must say the flights had me a bit worried when it came to Stella.  But she really surprised me.  She did amazing.  The flight crew and passengers continuously told us what great little travelers we had.  So proud of my girls! 

The flight to Heathrow was 8 hours and overnight, so Stella probably slept a good 5 hours in my arms.  Yes, I thought my arms were going to fall off by the end of the flight, but we survived.  Lottie must have watched The Little Mermaid a hundred times that night, but soon passed out and slept a good 4 to 5 hours herself. 

During those 5 hours of sleep Stella had, she PEED all over me!  Thankfully, I brought a change of clothes for us both!
This time over was the first time we have flown into Heathrow.  We have always flown into Gatwick.  Holy Heathrow!  It is the 3rd largest airport in the world!  Massive!  Everything went really smooth except for the rental car pick up!  We landed at 8:00 a.m. London time and after successfully going through customs and baggage claim, the rental pick up took forever!  It was so crowded!  We finally left Heathrow around 10:15 a.m.  From there we headed 1.5 hours north to Steve's parent's house. 
It's funny seeing Steve back behind the wheel in England.  It is no easy thing to drive over there.  But seeing him back in his element is pretty awesome and HOT!  :)
No sooner did we pull up in the driveway, Steve's two mates and kid showed up to pick up Steve and Lottie to head to Lincoln to watch Steve's smaller football team, Torquay play.  He has loved that team since he was a boy.  Stella and I hung behind to get unpacked and hang with Steve's parents.  Steve's dad ran to Rubys to pick up one of the best fish and chips I've ever eaten.  It's most definitely a tradition of ours to head to Rubys as soon as we get there.  The fish is truly some of the best in the world! 

Lottie sang all of the football chants with her dad!  Her favorite was, "YELLOW ARMY"

What a busy week to say the least!  Any time we travel to England, I always make it a point to visit a city / town / village I've never traveled to before.  I LOVE learning about and visiting new places.  With that said, this time around we hit the open road and traveled north to Liverpool!  Liverpool is so rich with history between the docks, The Beatles, Liverpool Football Club, etc. - it was such a fun, exciting way to spend the day! 

Walking along the docks, headed to The Beatles Museum

Me and my girls walking along Mersey River!

We took a fascinating tour of the Liverpool Football grounds (Ansfield) - It's been about 12 years since Steve has visited Ansfield.  Liverpool is his premiership team that he has followed since he was a kid.  I will say that outside the grounds, it was major SKETCH!  There were signs everywhere that read, "HIGH CAR CRIME AREA".  I was a little worried about our rental the entire time we were inside taking the tour.  But, it turned out just fine.  I guess the car crime / theft generally occurs when the place is flooded for a home game.  Steve did say that when there is a home game, kids run around the place telling people they will watch their cars for a quid.  Steve said you absolutely need to give those kids a quid to watch your car.  If not, they will jack your car up and steal your tires!  It is very well known around that area!  "Hey Mister, I'll watch your car for a quid!"  Cracks me up!  Little Scousers!

These girls!  Maybe one of these days I'll get a great pic of us all!  :)

This is where Liverpool does their press conferences.

Lottie volunteered to go first!  She looks a little cray is this pic!  :) 

Steve signing his big contract with Liverpool!

I love this pic!  For Steve, this pic is a framer!  He and his little girl in the Liverpool dressing room! 

The locker room was really small!  The benches in this locker room are as old as the stadium itself!  We are talking hundreds of years!  And the opponent's locker room had an interesting story behind it.  They use florescent lighting to screw with their eyes, they don't provide any air conditioning and when it's really cold, they don't provide heat until it's basically too late.  They also don't have sound proof rooms so anything that is said within that space can be easily heard right outside those walls.  I found it so interesting that they do this, but I guess it works both ways.  When Liverpool is the away team, they get the exact same treatment before, during and after games.

This is where the players walk onto the pitch - it is good luck to high five the red sign hanging above the stairwell before walking out! 

Lottie sitting in the manager's seat!


Stella - bless her, when the camera comes out, her big, beautiful smiles goes into hiding!

Lottie and I pretending we are at Shea Stadium

The Yellow Submarine

John Lennon's famous glasses

They had a children's play area at the museum - we danced on pianos and colored /painted pictures of The Beatles

After the museum, we headed into the center city for lunch.  Lottie is such a hippie / rocker chick!  She truly cracks me up with her style and personality.  She is my little rock star!

Mommy and Daddy indulged in a little afternoon vino and cider.  Stella - well you see that cup of peaches she's holding???  Yep, within a matter of seconds taking this photo, those peaches ended up all down the front of her!  Ha!  The rate that girl is going with her messes, I am never going to be able to consign any of her clothes!

A quick cone before he hit the road!

One really great, funny thing about England is that they have a lot of play areas at the pubs!  They might be old as dirt, but it keeps the kids entertained while us parents sit back and relax with a pint.  This particular pub is situated on the canal.  Every few minutes, you see a house boat pull up to the pub for a quick pint.


Another beautiful sunny day, we met up with our friends Richard, Vickie, Matthew and Owen.  We headed to one of the coolest places - it was a farm, but every corner you turned, there was a play area / something to keep the kids constantly entertained.  What a sweet, sweet family.  I just love them!  Matthew is 4 and Owen is almost 1, so the kids played really well with one another.  Lottie LOVES Matthew.  She couldn't get enough of him!  I think he might be a future boyfriend!

Matthew - what a cutie!  Both Matthew and Owen have the blondest hair and the bluest eyes!

Stella was so happy roaming around this HUGE farm.  She walked and walked and walked!

This slide may not look fast, but it was - and there was a sign to remind you just how fast!  Lottie and Matthew flew down it!

Pirate Ship Play Area

Donkey Rides

Steve, Owen and Richard

We tried to get a decent pic of us all!  :)

Precious babies!  I could eat them up!

Hold an owl for a pound!  Matthew and Lottie loved it!

We ended up meeting up with Matthew later in the week for a steam train ride from Loughborough.  Richard and Steve grew up together and their parents have been friends for 40+ years.

Typically, on the first Sunday afternoon we are there, we usually meet up with the Whitwick crowd.  These are the people Steve went to elementary, middle and high school with before he moved to Loughborough.  I LOVE these people.  Year after year, they remain the same.  They are the most loving, funny, genuine, rock and roll kind of people.  Absolutely the best!

Shaun (This is what we call him) loves Guinness.  You'll never meet anyone who loves or drinks it as fast as he does! 

Sharon and Emily - ladies of Whitwick

Johnny and I

Stan and a ton of empty pint glasses

The White Horse - old pub in Whitwick - there are several pubs in this small village.  We walk to all of them from Steve's parent's house!

The place above has been there for a very long time.  But, it is about to be ripped down and turned into a small grocery store.

Steve, Mackey, Me, John and Emily

My favorite pub owner, Keith!

Love this Scottish chick!

Another great thing about these peeps is how honest they are!  Pretty sure Steve's mate Lee told me that curly hair doesn't suit me and I should never wear it that way again!  HA! 

On another day out, we visited Tramworth - they have an indoor ski / snow dome!  It is nothing short of amazing!  It is the perfect place to take the little ones to learn how to ski and ice skate.  I have been skiing since I was 12 and love it.  I hope to teach both my girls how to in the next couple of years. 

Of course you can't go to England and not SHOP!  I swear, they have the MOST adorable clothes for kids!  Lottie and Stella both came back with some pretty cool things!  Steve's mom cracks me up.  She's always out buying clothes for Lottie, but the sizes she buys is always for 6/7 year olds.  Maybe one of these days she'll grow into them.  Stella might get to them first the rate she's growing.

We straight wore these girls out most days!

Later in the week, we met up with Madeleine, Tony (grandparents) and Matthew for a steam train ride from Loughborough to Rothley Station for lunch.  They have a cute café and play yard.  Again, Lottie was ecstatic when she learned she would be seeing Matthew again. 

Crazy babe on the train!  She just wanted to be free!

Little love birds! 

Playing at Rothley Station

I love this pic!  Stella's face screams, "Suckas, I'm not posing!"

And here they go again!  HUGS!

Lottie misses Matthew!  She's asked about him a few times since we've been home!

Another afternoon - another visit!  This time, we visited Steve's cousin Luke, his wife Maria and their son Blake, who is 3!  He answered the door in his little Panther jersey!  So cute!

Maria and I and the kiddos!

As you can tell, we used every spare minute of every day to visit with friends and parents.  On another day out, we went to a nice pub with friends Rich, Jen and their son Billy for a meal followed by a trip to a beautiful park in Nottingham! 

I love this picture of Stella - I could just squeeze those cheeks!!

Billy pushing Stella in this massive swing!

Wild and Free!!

Feeding the ducks

They had a really cool sensory trail that the kids loved!  I have to say the parks in England are soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much better than they are here! 

Finally on one of our last days in England, we shopped til we dropped in Nottingham!  I got to visit all of my favs - H&M, Top Shop, Warehouse, Zara, FCUK, Dorothy Perkins, etc.  I can't tell you enough how much I love shopping in England!  The shops literally take my breath away!

We ate lunch at one of my all time favorite places - Ole Trip to Jerusalem

Lottie really got into wanting to "Cheers"

She also made me buy her that floral headband at Top Shop

Lottie also wanted to play photographer and took pics of Steve and I!  Not too bad if I must say so!

Fish & Chips with mushy peas!

Ham & Chicken pot pie with mash / veg

Princess Lottie at Nottingham Castle!

Princess Stella hanging at the castle! 

My girls!

Start behaving or your daddy and I will throw you in jail.  :)

On our way back to Steve's parent's house we popped by to see Marlene.  Steve spent a lot of time at her house as a kid.  She is one of his childhood friend's mom.  While we were there I got to meet Marlene's daughter Karen and her daughter Holly.  Such a sweet family!

Another night out in Whitwick, we ran into A-Dog!  He is such a sweet guy, well, he's a train wreck, but sweet guy!  Although, every time I see him, I swear I need a translator. 

Pedigree is Steve's most favorite beer in the world.  It is a local beer in his county / village. 

Local cricket game w/ Lottie while Stella napped at grandma and granddad's house.

So sweet!

On our last night, we met up w/ friends at The Copt Oak for one last meal!  Of course, they had a play area with swings, slides, etc. for the kids to enjoy.  The above photo is Sophie and Lottie.  Sophie adores Lottie.  She wanted her to come home with them and be her sister.  She is such a sweet girl!  As soon as we got home, she asked for our mailing address so that she could send Lottie a letter.

Stella hates everyone (not really) but as you can see she is not very keen about being picked up in this photo.  She also hates taking photos!  When she sees anyone whip out a camera, she immediately starts frowning and tries to run away.


Last but certainly not least, we spent quite a lot of time with Steve's parents.  This was the first time meeting Stella in person.  They of course adored her!  Steve's dad read her lots of books and Steve's mom spoiled her with lots of sweets!  I didn't capture as many photos as I'd like, but here are a few pics with grandma and granddad.............

Heading back to Heathrow - Lottie did not want to leave her granddad!


The flight back was the flight I had been dreading for weeks - it is normally a 9 hour flight during the day and if you know anything about Stella by now, her love for naps is practically non existent.  But, I have to say, they both did great.  Lottie watched movies and ate snacks the entire time while Stella and I read 100 books, ate tons of snacks, pretended to watch Rio 2 and took an hour nap.  I can't tell you enough how proud I was of these girls!  They are seriously really great travelers!
Well, that about sums up our trip - a great trip it was!

We are truly blessed to be able to travel and show our girls the world.  I hope we can continue to show and give them everything this life has to offer. 


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