a blog about life, family, and faith

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English Tea vs Southern Sweet Tea

I’ve never really enjoyed hot tea.  I’m a southern girl.  We like it cold and sweet.

With all his trips over, Brian has come to enjoy a cup of hot tea in the evenings and he has been wanting to get me to change my ways so I can enjoy a pot with him.

So, I had my official first English cup of tea at the Chatsworth Farm Shop Cafe.  We sat outside on the patio which overlooked fields filled with sheep and their new wee lambs.  The sun was shining, a cool breeze blowing, and you could hear the lambs calling their mommas.

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After about 4 cubes of sugar, I could drink my cup of not-so-bitter tea.

IMG_0161editedNow, the chocolate brownie and lemon drizzle cake we ate with our tea was delightful.

IMG_0160editedI did experiment with other cups of tea throughout the trip and what I finally decided was it was the people and the setting that made it enjoyable.


IMG_0204editedI did find a strawberry tea that I enjoyed (thanks, Tabitha!), but…

I’ll stick to my Southern sweet iced tea.

Sorry, Phil!

Living thru faith,



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Spring Laundry

I can know say it is officially spring!

I put out the first of many loads to hang dry outside!

We have had so much rain, that the weather and my laundry schedule has not meshed till now.

photo 1editedI love how fresh clothes smell after drying on the line.

Yes, I know I’m weird!

I also like the thought of lowering my electric bill by not using the dryer so much.

Of course….

I forgot to add the fabric softener, so I’ll be putting them in the dryer for a little bit.  🙂

Eli was so excited he couldn’t contain himself.

photo 2-2edited

Living thru faith,


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An Afternoon in Manchester

We spent Tuesday afternoon in Manchester.  Manchester is a mix of old and new, ancient and modern.  It was pretty much a typical city.  Busy and dirty.  An afternoon was plenty for this quiet small town girl. 😉


IMG_0269edited Here is one thing I never would have thought to see in a city center in England…

IMG_0267editedYep, that’s President Abraham Lincoln.  The statue was given as a tribute for “the support that the working people of Manchester gave in their fight for the abolition of slavery during the American Civil War…….By supporting the union under President Lincoln at a time when there was an economic blockade of the southern states the Lancashire cotton workers were denied access to raw cotton which caused considerable unemployment throughout the cotton industry.”  You can see a better picture and read more about the statue here.

While conducting research for his dissertation, Brian spent a lot of time in the special collections area of the John Ryland’s Library.  He was able to actually handle (very carefully and with gloves) original letters written by or to John and Charles Wesley.  The Library was originally opened to the public in January of 1900 and then merged with the University of Manchester in the 1970’s.

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About ten years ago, they began an expansion of the library.  Again the modern was mixed with the old.  The brick is part of the original building and the white is part of the new extension.

IMG_0252editedThose arches on the bottom floor are like study carrels.  There were students in each one we passed, so I couldn’t get a picture of those areas.  They were just as ornate as the rest of it.

IMG_0255editedIMG_0256editedAfter the library, Brian took me to the actual University campus on the other side of town.  That was a bus ride and then a 20 minute walk down busy city streets (did I mention I’m a small town girl?).

The University has a free museum which was cool.  In our typical family fashion, we breezed through it record time and we didn’t even have kids with us.  (My lovely children can go through a museum in a fraction of the time a normal family would go through one.  They won’t stop to read anything!).  We only had 45 minutes till closing, so we kinda had to move swiftly.

But we saw everything from whale and elephant bones…

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to Egyptian artifacts….

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IMG_0275editedto prehistoric fossils…

IMG_0287editedand actual Easter Island statues…

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The main campus didn’t disappoint with their mix of old and modern buildings.


IMG_0302editedAnd in typical student form that crosses all campuses anywhere, the students were all congregating in the grass filled center laying around and enjoying the sunshine.

IMG_0303editedIMG_0304editedAfter all this city touring, I was ready to get back on the train and head to our hotel.  We started our journey home the next morning and after a crazy 20 minute round and round trek to the car rental place (should have only taken us 5 minutes – might I suggest better signage?!), we finally made it to the airport, through security, and boarded another Virgin Atlantic flight for home.  As much as I enjoyed my first trip across the pond, I was ready to see my kiddos!

Oh! And the food on the flight back…much better than the flight over.  Heehee!

Living thru faith,


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Chesterfield and St. Mary’s Crooked Spire

While on our trip we stayed at a friend’s house in Chesterfield. The house was right across the street from a grocery store which proved helpful in a couple different ways.  Street parking was almost non-existent during the day. So in addition to easily grabbing a few grocery items off and on, we would park the rental car at the grocery store for a little bit and then move it in the evening.  Thankfully, it didn’t prove to be an issue.

Monday was Brian’s defense at the University of Manchester.  While Brian and Phil were taking care of dissertation business, the girls went out to play!  Phil’s wife Sam and their daughter Tabitha took me to Market Day in Chesterfield.  Of course, we had to start the day off with a pot of tea!

IMG_0244editedIMG_0245editedWalked along the cobbled streets of downtown Chesterfield, Tabitha introduced us to a precious little shop along the way, and then they showed me the church with the crooked spire. It’s actually the Parish Church of St. Mary and All Saints, but architecturally it is known for it’s unique spire.  If you click on the name of the church above, you can see pictures of the inside of the church.

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It is thought the spire was added to the church in 1632.  While there are some unique theories on why the spire is “crooked” (including the devil did it), it really is due to the use of green timber and the lack of skilled craftsmen after the “Black Death”.  Click here and you can read a little bit more about the spire and the church itself.

Sam took Tabitha and I to this wonderful little cafe in Barlow for lunch.  It was so cute and the food was absolutely delightful.  And, of course, I took no pictures.  I can’t even tell you the name!  You’ll just have to take my word for it.  I had a cheese and onion potato pie with a fresh salad and coleslaw.  Yummo!  The pie was kind of like a pot pie in that it had a pastry shell, but there was melted cheese and sauteed onions over thinly sliced potatoes baked inside the shell.  *Sigh*

Good news!  Brian passed with minor revisions, he should have his corrected thesis submitted this week!

Living thru faith,


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Bakewell, Cliff, and Baslow’s Edge

After a long day Friday of touring Chatsworth House, Saturday Brian took me to the village of Bakewell.  A busy, but quaint English village. It was raining in the morning so we went a later than we had planned.  By the time we left the rain had cleared, but it was still cold and windy, typical English weather so I’m told.  Thankfully the sun began to shine later in the afternoon and it turned into a really pleasant day.

We walked around Bakewell, enjoyed jacket potatoes (baked potatoes) topped with coronation chicken (something similar to chicken salad) and a side salad garnish (without dressing) at a little coffee shop called the Bean and Bag, then walked up a very steep hill to the All Saints Church.

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IMG_0178edited   IMG_0197editedAll Saints Church overlooks the city centre (center) and although not the original building, the foundation dates back to the 900’s! Parts of the current structure was built in the 13th & 14th century and it is still an active church today.


IMG_0180editedIMG_0194editedUndoubtedly there is an ongoing dispute on who actually has the original Bakewell Pudding recipe.  There is the “first and only original”

IMG_0200editedand then there is the “old original”.

IMG_0174editedThe River Wye runs through Bakewell and we walked along the river enjoying the ducks and swans.  We even saw a momma duck and her 12 little ducklings.

IMG_0206edited IMG_0214edited IMG_0201editedWhen we left Bakewell, Brian drove me up to Cliff College to show me where he stays when he comes over.

IMG_0220edited IMG_0219edited IMG_0217editedThen he drove me up to the cliffs above the college, Baslow’s Edge.  This wasn’t a planned excursion, so I ended up walking from way down there (down where the cars are parked on the side of the road-click on the picture and you can see them better).

IMG_0224editedto way up here

IMG_0230editedin these shoes.

IMG_0231editedBeing the world’s biggest klutz, it’s really a miracle I didn’t twist my ankle!


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IMG_0222editedBrian then took me around Calver (the little town closest to Cliff College) and then Grindleford where he would get off the train, walk up a very steep hill, and then take a bus to the College.

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Yep, the train stop is just a platform.

Living thru faith,


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Chatsworth House

After a crazy day of traveling, we woke up to a beautiful sunny & warmer day, which I’ve been told is a bit rare.  They pulled out the best just for us!  We decided Friday would be our day to tour Chatsworth House.  I had been looking forward to this since we first started planning our trip.  We had seen a documentary on the House and I couldn’t wait to see it in person. (Did you know one of the Pride & Prejudice movies was filmed here?!)

We made sandwiches and had a picnic lunch on the grounds by the Derwent River.  It was a lovely, quiet spot to begin our new day of adventure.

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IMG_0034editedHowever, to get to our bench we had to walk past a few lazy sheep that had been grazing on the grass, which meant that we walked with our eyes cast downward if you know what I mean.

IMG_0035editedDuring our lovely picnic, Donald joined us for a brief time waiting for a few handouts.  (Yes, I named him Donald.  Seemed appropriate.)


We never did find out what this structure near the river was, but it was cool looking and had a garden on top.  The door was locked so we couldn’t step onto that part.

IMG_0038edited     IMG_0040edited IMG_0045editedThis is the hunting tower.  It was farther away than it looks, but you can hike up there if you wanted to.

IMG_0041editedAfter our picnic we hiked up to the main house to begin our tour.  We really enjoyed seeing all the historical displays and were amazed at the elaborate furnishings and paintings.  I do believe every ceiling was covered with a painting of some sort.  The moldings and intricate wood workings were beautiful and we learned a few of the stories of the family that has served as Dukes and Duchesses through out the years. The fourth Earl of Devonshire received the title of 1st Duke of Devonshire in recognition of helping William and Mary to the throne.  The current Duke and Duchess still live in Chatsworth; however, the estate is now owned by a trust.

IMG_0046edited IMG_0047edited IMG_0049editedThese first pictures are from what I believe was called the Great Hall.  From the floor to the ceiling, the stairs to the walls this room was exquisitely decorated.


IMG_0051edited IMG_0113editedIf we are remembering correctly, it was the 6th Duke who was known for excessive spending and had the chapel built. The chapel is no longer used for religious ceremonies other than a few family Christenings.

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This is the balcony at the rear of the chapel.  Occasionally, the staff would join the family in a special service.  The staff would sit below, the family above.

IMG_0061editedThis was one of the walls in the room beside the chapel.  It was added on at the same time, but I did not hear what the room was called.  It was just as ornate as the chapel.

IMG_0056editedThe stairwells were just as elaborately decorated as any of the rooms.

IMG_0067editedA suite of rooms was built specifically to house the King & Queen when they visited.  Which King & Queen, I can’t really remember…

IMG_0070edited IMG_0076editedIMG_0080editedBehind this door is another door (where it leads, I haven’t a clue).  Can you guess if the violin is real?

IMG_0079editedThe knob is real.  The door is real.  The violin is painted to look like it is hanging on the door. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but it really looks like a violin is hanging on that door!

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This portrait of Duchess Georgina Spencer (the 5th duchess, I think), was quite scandalous for her time.  There was another portrait of the Duchess much more prim and proper farther down the hall.

IMG_0084editedOf course the library was Brian’s favorite room, even though we weren’t allowed in the main part.  There are over 30,000 books in the Chatsworth library although not all were housed in that room.  I read that the 2nd Duke Henry Cavendish was noted for recognition of the hydrogen element and was the first man to determine the density of the earth.  His collection of scientific papers are supposedly in the collection at Chatsworth.


IMG_0118editedIt was hard to believe that one of the duchesses had a false ceiling constructed to close off this beautiful cupola in one of the stairwells. Why would you want to cover that up?!

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During WWII, Chatsworth was occupied by Penrhos College, a girl’s boarding school.  This dining room served as the dormitory.  Can you see that ceiling?!  Those are all flowers carved into the ceiling trimmed in gold.


IMG_0124editedThis was the Coronation chair and footstool for George III (circa 1750).

IMG_0128editedNot all the chandeliers were girly…

IMG_0127editedAs much as we enjoyed the house, we both agreed the gardens were our favorite part.

IMG_0131editedIMG_0149editedIMG_0145editedBrian said that on some days you could see this fountain all the way to Cliff College.

IMG_0139edited IMG_0140edited IMG_0150editedThe stables now house a restaurant and some shops.  It’s supposedly pretty popular as a wedding venue.

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After all that walking, we walked around Chesterfield that evening and then had to have the traditional fish and chips take-away (take-out) for supper.

IMG_0171editedWe didn’t last long after supper.  Jet lag set in and off to bed we went.  Had to get some rest so we could visit Bakewell the next day…

Living thru faith,


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Our Trip Across the Pond

Thanks to the loving generosity of friends, I was able to go with Brian to England for his dissertation defense.  This was my first time to get to go and it was wonderful just being the two of us.  We plan to take the whole family in June for his graduation and I feel so much better prepared having already been.

Brian’s parents came up to stay with Daniel and Sarah while we were gone which was such a blessing.  We knew they were in great hands and so many friends were ready to help if needed.  I don’t think we were missed too much! 🙂

This trip turned out to be an adventure before we ever left Lexington.  Our flight was delayed about 15 minutes because one of the crew had not arrived, then it was delayed again because of a mechanical issue.  The second delay gave us only 30 minutes to catch our connection in Detroit for Amsterdam which was making us a bit nervous.  The third delay to switch aircraft had us arriving at the time our connection was leaving….obviously, that wasn’t going to work.  There was a flight to Atlanta leaving in time for a connection straight to Manchester, but it was overbooked.  Not a chance getting on that flight.  So they gave us a taxi voucher and booked us on a flight out of Cincinnati then on a direct flight to Manchester.  We collected our luggage back at the ticket counter, grabbed a taxi and set off on the 1 1/2 hour drive to Cincy. (Glad the airline paid that bill…over $200!).

We had no problems in Cincinnati, we were even pre-checked for security.  Even got to leave our shoes on!  🙂  The plane was boarded and ready to leave the gate when the pilot announced one of the doors was giving an error saying it was still open & they had to call maintenance.  Thankfully, that was fixed quickly and we taxied out to the runway.  Oh, but wait for it… they grounded traffic departing for Atlanta due to weather down there.  I had visions of spending hours sitting on the plane and was so thankful those thoughts did not turn into reality! After about 15 minutes we were given the all clear and off we went.

We arrived in Atlanta with just enough time to make it to the international terminal and try to get our seats reassigned.  When the Delta lady re-booked us, she wasn’t able to select our seats because our new flight was on Virgin Atlantic (which I can now highly recommend!).  After a little bit of technical difficulty, we got our seats reassigned together, made it to the restroom, and boarded on time.  It was so nice to finally feel like we were almost there (even though we still had an 8 hour flight ahead of us.)  And I can also say that airplane food is really just as bad as everyone says…but I did survive.

Brian usually zips through customs on his trips over.  However, with at least 2 overseas flights coming in at the same time and only one poor guy working the non-European passport line…yep, it took as at least an hour.  I thought a poor girl in front of us was going to fall asleep standing up.  I’m pretty sure she was trying…

We made it through customs, took the shuttle to the rental car place (sorry, car hire place – must speak British now).  After an almost terrifying 1 1/2 hour drive from the airport, we made it to Chesterfield.  (The terrifying part was mainly me adjusting to being on the wrong side of some very narrow roads and insanely crazy roundabouts in city traffic with written directions that looked nothing like what we actually did on little to no sleep.  It really had nothing to do with Brian’s driving skills, although I’m sure I didn’t help him feel any more confident.)

IMG_0157editedWe got settled into the home we were staying in for the duration of the trip (Thank you, Graham!  It was lovely!), ate lunch & bought groceries at the store across the road, and then came home and CRASHED for a few hours.  After enjoying what I realized was my first real meal in over 24 hours (thanks to the nasty airplane food) of Chinese take-away (take-out) with Brian’s mentor (Phil) & his family, we were pretty much dead on our feet and were ready to call it a night.  Pretty sure I never moved till morning!  Friday we woke up to a beautiful sunny & warm day ready to see some of the local sights.

More of our trip and lots of pictures to come…

Living thru faith,