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Hay-On-Wye and the Waterfall Centre

1 Aug

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So I’ve gotten a bit behind — there are at least three entries in my to do list that start with “Blog post: ….” But we’ve been pretty busy, and a three week trip to the States got everything a bit backed up (more on that in the next entry). For now, however, I wanted to share some of the fun we had for my birthday (which, yes, was May 29th…quite a while ago).

In traditional Jones fashion, we did things “Indiana Jones” style (adventure in the country, then adventure in the city). Caleb had initially planned on a two day adventure with a one-night stay in the middle, but due to a tight budget (and the fact that staying overnight with a baby is typically a bit more planning than a normal night at home), we just broke things up into two days.

Day One: City

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Hay-on-Wye is an amazingly adorable little town known for being full of bookshops. I’ve wanted to visit since before we moved here but hadn’t had the chance until Mr. Jones planned a lovely day for us — made even cooler by the fact that the Hay Festival (a celebration of creativity and thought) was happening that week. If you’ve ever watched Gilmore Girls, all you really need to know is that this place is basically a Welsh Stars Hallow. For real. It’s quirky, village-y, and chock full of eccentric shops and vintage bookstores. So yes, I was in love.

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Day Two: Country

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For our second day, Mr. Jones found an amazing hiking trail to one of my favorite country things: waterfalls! We packed a picnic lunch and thanks to the Ergo (so handy), the three of us hiked nearly three miles and saw a load of waterfalls, both big and small. There were multiple trails and loops, so we definitely plan to go back (especially hike by the old gunpowder factory).

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So yeah…my birthday was a blast. I can’t think of a better way to spend my first birthday in a new place than exploring even more new places!

Trip to Bradford, England

22 Apr

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Two weeks ago, Mr. Jones was accepted as a volunteer Financial Counselor for CAP (Christians Against Poverty). It’s an incredible organization, one that allows us to help people who are in financial need while also sharing the gospel with them: the good news that Christ died to pay our debt and give us eternal freedom. We are looking forward to seeing how Caleb will be used, as well as how it will help connect us to people in the community.

To start, though, he had to complete three days of intense training. The training was at the CAP headquarters in Bradford, England (about 4 hours away). Charlie and I figured we’d tag along and see what Northern England was like. We took a whole day to drive up, and stopped in Manchester to take a break from the drive. There’s a giant mall there called the Trafford Centre and the food court was EPIC. It felt like we were in a Disney theme park or something. It’s funny, because while we tend to enjoy indoor shopping more here (due to not having to worry about the weather and it being easy to push Charlie around in the stroller), we don’t really buy anything. Consumer goods (clothing, shoes, etc) are much more expensive here, and just knowing how cheap they are in the States makes it hard to pay the prices. I know eventually we’ll need things, but for now we’re holding out until we make a trip back to the US (after which I know we’ll return with full suitcases).

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Heading out of Manchester was a bit crazy, because we hadn’t realized that there was a huge football (soccer) match between Manchester and Manchester United. It was funny seeing people on Facebook talking about the match later after knowing we had driven right by the stadium. We arrived at our hotel fairly late, and got an American guilty pleasure — Pizza Hut. Definitely not healthy but pizza is pretty much the perfect eat-in-your-hotel-room food.

I had planned to do quite a bit of exploring over the next few days with Charlie, but we both were feeling pretty under the weather with this sore throat/coughing bug that has been going around. We did, however, make it to the National Media Museum, which was pretty cool. Charlie slept the entire time and I enjoyed looking at a giant exhibit on Bollywood, as well as learning more about the history of British radio and television. There are so many shows I had never heard of, but lots that I had, and it was neat to see how the history of the BBC compared with what I know of American television.

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Bradford is home to a large Indian population, so they’re known for having some of the best curry in the country. We got takeaway from Omar Khan’s (which looked lovely to eat at, but Charlie wasn’t up for hanging out) and it was incredibly delicious. Bradford also has some really lovely historic buildings that are still being used for shops, like a Waterstone’s book store that looked like it was straight off the set of a Harry Potter movie.

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On our last day there, I hung out for some of the training and then headed over to the Texure Yarn Shop. It was like yarn heaven…so big, so much yarn — they even had a cozy sitting area in the back with shelves full of knitting books and patterns. I’m sure I could have spent all day in there, but Charlie slept just long enough for me to ogle all of the yarn and pick out three skeins of super soft green that will soon become his own sweater.

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The one spot I’d hoped to see but didn’t was Saltaire. It’s the home of Salts Mill, an old mill that snow full of little shops and a beautiful art gallery. It’s a bit outside of town, though, and though we’d planned to stop on our way out of town, it was super rainy and we were ready to head back to Wales. If we’re ever back in the area, though, I definitely plan to go check it out.

All in all, it was a fun trip, and we enjoyed seeing a new part of England. Our hearts are definitely in Wales, though. Just crossing back over into the mountains, I felt like we were “home” again. It’s crazy still to think that this is our home, but it is. Slowly, as one day stacks on to the back of another, we are settling in.

 

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