One benefit to living in London it's a destination for a lot of tourists.
So our friends and family come to see it... I mean us... I mean London.
The month of April in particular was a revolving door around here. And then we got another couple in May. We LOVE playing tour guide around here, and these folks didn't disappoint.
Round One: My Mom and Grandma
My mom texted me on a Sunday night, asking if she could come and visit. She arrived four days later. And, she came with a stowaway of sorts - my grandma!
Oh my stars, we went and went and went. Windsor Castle. Hampton Court Palace. Blenheim Palace. The Cotswolds (think charming country towns with little houses topped with thatched roofs). Jersey Boys musical. Bath. We also enjoyed several croissants and some shopping.
All in just over a week's time.
Four generations of ladies take London by storm; Grandma meets Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn at Hampton Court
Peppa Pig Snuggles; shopping with two crying girls
Grandma meets a Windsor Castle guard; Caroline gets in some reading time with Oma
My grandma is a talented online scrabble player. And Caroline would NOT let her sit in peace to play her games. Caroline was sure she could help out with the "wetters."
This is Blenheim Palace, a colossal country estate near Oxford. It is the birthplace of Winston Churchill and the historic home of the Dukes of Marlborough. Definitely worth a visit!
We all took the train out to the charming little cathedral town of Winchester. The cathedral itself didn't disappoint - beautiful and grand. And the town? Cobblestone streets, a market, and even a fabulous tea shop? Yes, please.
It was SUCH a joy to see my grandma spending time with the girls. Like any great-grandmother worth her salt, she came bearing gifts: dress-up clothes and a princess book.
This puts my mom's total visits to London to THREE! Love it.
Round Two: Sarah, Jason, and Holland
Years and years ago, back when I lived in Indiana and actually blogged consistently, I struck up a friendship with another blogger, who happened to be married to one of my colleagues. And over the years Sarah has become one of my dearest friends, despite the fact that we've never lived in the same place. It was especially fun to both welcome baby girls into the world this past December. So when we found out that Jason had a business trip planned in London, Sarah and I immediately schemed for her and baby Holly to tag along. And it WORKED. Hooray!
We enjoyed London. We ate a lot. We nursed babies. We shopped for little girls' clothes. We talked and talked and TALKED. It was such a blessing to spend face-to-face time together and love on each others' babies.
Sarah, if you're reading this, any chance you can come back next year?
Round Three: Phil and Katie
Phil is one of Josh's oldest and best friends. They first became buddies back in third grade, became buddies again in high school, and still remain close. Phil was Josh's best man, and Josh was Phil's. Phil and Katie had already been planning to take a trip to London before we knew we were moving here. So it worked out really well that they could come stay with us!
And come to find out, this London trip was also a babymoon for them. Extra exciting! Congratulations to you two!
We had a blast together. Josh was able to get tickets to a Tottenham Hotspur match (pro football/soccer) which is Phil's favorite team. We enjoyed Camden Market. And Hampton Court, the Tower of London, good food abounding, Richmond, Borough Market, and basically all around downtown London.
We all also share a common bond with Phil and Katie: we're major Harry Potter nerds. And wouldn't you know, much of the Harry Potter movies were filmed just 45 minutes from our home. So OF COURSE we went on the Warner Brother's studio tour, getting to see movie sets of the Great Hall, Diagon Alley, the Griffindor Common Room, and Umbridge's office at the Ministry of Magic, to name a few. And an amazingly cool model of the castle they used for filming aerial shots. Fascinating.
Phil and Caroline on the Hogwarts bridge
Cupboard under the stairs!
The Night Bus; the Dursley's house
Round Four: DeeDee and Chris
A few weeks after Phil and Katie left us, we enjoyed yet another visit from old friends. I've mentioned DeeDee and Chris a number of times on this here blog. Most recently here. During our years at the University of Michigan, Chris and Josh lived together in a house with some other guys, while DeeDee and I lived four doors down in a house of girls. DeeDee and I actually shared a dorm room as well. So we go way back! And - even better - we've made a point to get together as couples (and now, families!) regularly ever since. Chris and DeeDee didn't let an ocean stand in their way of a visit this time around! But they did leave their boys at home this time.
We once again enjoyed a blissfully hectic tour of London - and beyond. We hit up Borough Market, the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Bath, Windsor Castle, the London Eye, St. Paul's, and a variety of other things I'm surely forgetting.
Caroline desperately wanted to ride on the "Wondon Eye" so DeeDee and Chris graciously took her; DeeDee and Juliet about to visit the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London
All four of us dressed for the part at Hampton Court Palace; Chris, DeeDee, and Juliet meet a Beefeater, Tower of London
Chris' request: visit the historic Black Friar Pub; DeeDee and Chris babysat the girls so I could nap (bless 'em!)
We met early in our freshman year at Michigan - almost 12 years ago! And we've been close friends ever since.
Windsor Castle. If my memory serves me, one or both of my children were screaming, so we moseyed around Windsor while the LeComptes enjoyed the castle in peace.
DeeDee and Juliet; the four of us Browns (it's nice to have ready-made photographers around so I can actually get in a pic from time to time!)
Whew! What wonderful memories we made with all of these people. The late nights watching Jim Gaffigan stand-up. The meals out. The tube rides and jokes and my grandma putting a tiny bit of makeup on Caroline's face in the mornings (the day she gets into my makeup I'm blaming you, Ruth Sharpless!)
But what I remember most about all of these visitors is that they loved on us. All of us. They did our dishes before I realized there were any to do. They played with the kids while we showered. They made meals and took turns baby wearing and helped us clunk clunk clunk the double stroller down the steps to the Tube stations.
And they really, genuinely, took interest in our girls. Not just in a helping me and Josh way (although that was appreciated!) But they took the time to coerce Juliet to smile and play dollhouse with Caroline. They snuggled the baby and talked Peppa Pig with the big girl. Nothing made me feel more loved than when I saw our friends and family loving on and enjoying Caroline and Juliet.
In fact, in hosting so many fabulous guests I learned a lot about how to
be a good guest in someone else's home. I can only hope I am as much
an encouragement as these folks were to me. Thank you, each one of you. Your visits meant more than you know.
Come back anytime.