Monday, February 18, 2008

My parents dragged me to the countryside and all I saw was a big pile of rocks (subtitle: uh, Julia, that was Stonehenge...)

The kids had last week off of school (yes, again), so we headed off to Wiltshire for a few days to see a bit more of the English countryside and enjoy some uncharacteristically sunny February weather.

It was one of those lovely last second trips that comes together as if you'd spent weeks on end planning every detail. (We'd been doing plenty of that planning stuff, in truth, but none of it had resulted in any concrete plans. Instead we'd waffled so endlessly about where we might want to spend this February Half Term that we had never actually booked anything, with the end result that this charming "winging it approach" was actually more default than design. But shhh... don't tell anyone. I like the idea of appearing to be a spontaneous and carefree traveler even if nothing could be further from my nature.) When the weather report showed an unprecedented number of sunny days ahead, we borrowed a guidebook, booked a room in one of the B&Bs the book recommended and set off a day later. (True, true, all true. This had been the only plan -- to do some last minute planning -- and it worked. But the angina it caused me... oy.)

For three beautiful days, we enjoyed the great outdoors as we tracked wild horses in the New Forest, collected sea shells on the Christchurch beaches and bounced on the giant trampoline in the yard of our B&B. We got a bit of culture visiting the cathedral and city of Salisbury and we ate terrifically at the local pubs. We even did the typically touristy thing and visited Stonehenge, which I have to say interested and even awed me far more than I'd anticipated. And throughout all of this fun spontaneity, we were treated to the newest word in my daughter's vocabulary, repeated endlessly at each stop along the way.

Apparently, 6 is the new 16 where family outings are concerned because seemingly overnight, our engaged and interested travel companion has morphed into a pre-pre-pre-teen. Everything is boring and lame and unworthy of her excitement. We are boring and lame and unworthy of her excitement for suggesting any of these activities, not to mention how boring and lame we are for daring to show our own (gasp) enthusiasm.

Thankfully, she hasn't quite perfected her technique yet. There are still flashes of delight that she can't quite hide and quite a few moments when she plumb forgets that she's not supposed to be enjoying herself. She's still conditioned enough to smile whenever I stick a camera in her face. The sneer is not fully formed yet, the disdain still overruled by her overwhelming desire for our affection and attention. Pieces of our cheerful world traveler still remain for now. But she's increasingly... bored (or so she claims). At six.

I suddenly have a feeling that our impending return to American life and the end to our regular traveling adventures which it will bring are going to arrive not a moment too soon.

The last of the happy family travel photos?


Blogger Steph said...

Glad to hear that you, Paul and (I assume) Evan still found things to be amazed with and enjoyable. ;-) That picture of Julia is priceless.

I am hearing from other friends that the kids are hitting the pre-teen and teen stride years earlier these days. Lucky us!

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Gretchen said...

Oooh, Stone'enge! Always wanted to see it in person. (By the way, I have been meaning to point out that your written diction, as well as of course some of your colloquialisms, are getting more British all the time. So charming.)

The Julia face just floors me because Sam has a very similar theatrical pout, and "Boring" is one of his favorite remarks -- we call him "Chairman of the Bored". (You're welcome to borrow that for your jaded little girl.)

11:22 PM  
Blogger Iota said...

You've still got Easter and May bank holidays. Time for a few final flings I'd have thought. Lake District? Yorkshire Dales? Welsh valleys? Cornwall? And that's without crossing the channel...

Stonehenge is awesome (in the true meaning of that word). And I enjoyed seeing a picture of you!

2:27 PM  
Blogger denzylle said...

I've mentioned the Lake District before because it's my 'home' and I love it, so here's backing up Iota's suggestion. And if you had long enough, you could combine it with the Dales.

And Cornwall is stunning!

I know Chichimama is coming over in March so perhaps that takes care of the Easter break.

How about a day trip to England's version of the Jersey Shore? Margate, Clacton or Southend are just as tacky! Or, if you want a bit of class and a nicer experience for the children, try Whitstable or Broadstairs or Bournemouth.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

Love the photo of Julia - cracked me up! And girrrrrrrl, I *love* your hair!!!! Great family photo.

2:05 AM  
Blogger Victoria said...

I've seen that same look and heard the same "bor-ing" from my well-traveled kiddos. Ack.

But, *Stonehenge*! I loved Stonehenge too. It was a magic moment for me. At 16. When I was definitely not bor-ed. =)

3:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

HA! I love it. (And I will be living it soon, I'm sure. My girlie just turned five...ack.)

Those photos are fantastic, too. Both of them. *grin*

3:11 AM  

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