Saturday, May 29, 2010

Part Three: Devon

After our whirlwind trip to see Rich's siblings and families, we headed back to Cheltenham on the Monday evening, and on Tuesday morning we headed down to Devon, two hours in the other direction to stay with Rebecca. I grew up in Devon and so all my childhood friends are there as well as my sisters Rebecca and Fiona. I was hoping to see quite a few people but it just wasn't possible with the time constraints. But we did get to see my oldest best friend, Sam, who is expecting a little girl (any day now!). It was so great to see her.. she hasn't changed a bit.. although the bump was new :)

After our visit with Sam we headed to the seafront in Teignmouth with a bag of chips. Perfect! I have been dying for some proper chips for a long time. These were divine!

Next we went to Combe Cellars, a pub on the waterfront in the little village I grew up in. We lived up the road from here, and when we moved to Combeinteignhead (the village) it was basically a shack on the beach. It went through many owners, and me, and many of my sisters, all worked there at one point or another. Indeed Rich did too! Now it's a fine dining restaurant... things really do change!

This is a photo of our old childhood home... you can barely see it, but it's across the water: see the house to the far left? There's a little white house to the right. That's ours. There's another house to the right, much closer to where we're taking the picture.. that's not ours :). It's been totally renovated since we lived there, but the views are just the same: pretty magnificent. I felt so homesick driving past there...

Some photos taken from Combe Cellars.

To walk to Combe Cellars from my childhood home, we would often walk through Hearn Field... a local field which seemed to serve numerous purposes - from dog walking to cricket matches. I remember walking the dogs there with my sister Melissa and I remember lying down in the tall grass before it was cut.. lots of memories. Here we are with Raf..

After our visit to Combe Cellars we made our way to my sister Rebecca's house in Newton Abbot. There she lives with her husband Habby and their little boy Archie Bear who'll be 2 in August. This was the first time we'd met Archie. Raf was much less reserved here and he had a fine time playing with Archie and all his wonderful toys.

Cheeky Archie.

Rafi and Archie had a super time playing with one another... especially since Archie has more toys than any little boy I know!

We also met up with Fiona (my other sister) and her daughter Grace, but unfortunately I forgot the chip-thing for my camera. Gah. Still we saw them again on the Saturday - of which there are many pics!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Part Two: A visit with the Oliver-siblings

After a whirlwind trip to London, which was, though busy, really lovely, Sam, my brother in law, very, very kindly picked us up from London and drove us to Cheltenham where my sister, Melissa, lives with Raf's cousins Freya (3) and Rory (13 months). Here are a few pics form Sunday afternoon...

Freya takes Rafi in hand.

Rory and Rafi playing.

Raf enjoys a bath with his cousins. Freya likes to give her cousin kisses and hugs :)

Our next real phase, though, was our trip to see Richard's brother (Christian) and sister (Stephanie) and their families. Between them they have 4 children and yet we'd only met one! So we had a lot of catching up to do. We drove to Derby - a couple of hours away - and got to see Christian and Alice's new house. More important we got to meet Gabriel and Rafe. Rafe is only 2 months older than Rafi and he's already walking!

After lunch we walked up to the local primary school to meet Joshua, Stephanie's son, who we were also meeting for the first time. We met Steph there and after we walked back to the house Rhiea, Raf's oldest cousin, met us there after she finished school.

Here are some of the pics.

All the cousins.

Rich, Christian and Steph... all the cousins sans Rafe.

Friday, May 21, 2010

UK trip. Part One: London

We're finally back from our trip to the UK. We came home to the USA yesterday and we've been trying to gently reenter normal life. It was a lovely trip, though absolutely crazy in terms of our schedule. We stayed in London for a couple of days, went to Cheltenham, visited Richard's brother and sister and their families on Monday, back down to Cheltenham the same day, hopped down to Devon on Tuesday to see my sisters and oldest best friend and then back up to Cheltenham... and then to Birmingham, then to Cheltenham,... and MORE! Poor old Raf would fall asleep in the car and awake to a new set of faces. He was pretty amazing. It's too much to cover in one blog, so I'll separate it into parts... Part one: London!

The flight out was quite uneventful, though AA are truly an awful company to fly with when you have kids.. at least in our experience. Raf, though, slept most of the way (it was a night flight) and we arrived Friday morning. We booked a taxi to get us from the airport to Louisa's parents' work-owned flat in Earl's Court where Lou met us. It was so wonderful to see her and for Lou to meet Raf!

Rafi in his first London taxi!

That afternoon Lucy met us for coffee - which was really just great. I wish I'd had my camera (hoping Lou has some photos!) as Lucy also met Raf for the first time. After we met Lucy we returned to the flat and then I went out again to meet up with an old friend, Alex, from primary school! My first time in an English pub in a few years.. oh, I really miss that. Alex came back to the flat and met Raf, as well... All these old friends meeting our son was quite odd, though also really nice.

raf meets Louisa! Lou is one of the most kindest people.. as well as putting us up, she had the fridge and cupboards stocked, she'd bought us a phone to use while in the UK, AND she bought many pressies for Raf, including some really adorable t-shirts.

Hanging out with Louisa on Friday afternoon...

On the first Saturday we took a trip across London. We had a busy day visiting with friends.. but this involved getting the Tube. The underground is an extremely efficient way of moving around London, but it can be frantic, busy, and overwhelming. We popped Raf in his Beco carrier but also took the stroller.. Fortunately it was the weekend so it wasn't as busy as it can be during the week, and Raf really was great! He took it all in his stride, except he was a bit taken aback with the strong breeze you can feel when you leave the train and walk out the station as the said train departs down the tunnel.

We had a lovely visit with my old academic supervisor. Ben supervised my PhD at Cambridge even when he moved to King's College, London. Ben and his family invited us for lunch - and with two of his three sons and his wife, we enjoyed a lovely spread. It was the FA cup, though, so we left shortly after kick-off :)

We had a spare hour after visiting with Ben before we were due to meet more friends... So we jumped onto the Tube and took a quick ride to Oxford Circus. For those not familiar with London, this is one of the most busy parts of the city. Take a Saturday afternoon and add some rain sprinkles and you have a recipe for masses of people. But Raf, in his Beco carrier, fell promptly asleep as we shopped for clothes for Raf...

Next we met up with our friend Tim and his wife Mariko. They were celebrating their 7 year wedding anniversary and this was the first time we met Mariko... it had been a long time. They came to see us in Earl's Court and we headed to the noodle bar, Wagamamas, for a lovely evening. Raf was not very happy sitting in his baby seat, though, and spend the evening knocking things off the table, sometimes resting to swoosh his hands in my fizzy water.

We took a walk with Tim and Mariko to the very regal Holland Park... Beautiful park in the borough of Kensington.

Still jet-lagged... waking up Sunday morning, very reluctantly.

Our final goodbye with Louisa before we left London.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Some firsts

1) Raf crawled on his hands and knees for the first time on Monday. He is very much a commando crawler, but he seems to be enjoying practicing the more traditional crawl, as well as the bear crawl (when they effectively crawl doing a downward dog).

2) Raf has his first ear infection :(

3) Raf has his first french fry.. I know, I know... And I gave it to him because we were in a posh restaurant and it was a sort of bribe to be a little bit quiet (bad mama).

4) Raf dined in his first floating restaurant.

5) Raf visited court for the first time (don't worry, he wasn't in trouble!).

6) Raf, tomorrow, will depart for his first trip to the UK where he'll meet lots of family members.

7) and, a first for me.. I will have my first birthday as a mama tomorrow!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mama's Day!

Happy mothers' day, everyone! this time last year I was sick as could be and my friend Kate was dropping around a package of sweets and dayglow chips. This year Raf is with us and we had a super day. I am not the most confident person in the world, as my friends will attest, but I do feel pretty comfortable in how we're parenting. And even though much of what we do goes against conventional norms - cosleeping, no crying it out, and more - I feel really good about the decisions we're making. I think, for me, doing things differently would feel counter intuitive so we're happily - if tiredly - going along feeling our way as we do.

And today was a great day. I'm totally bogged down in work right now, so we couldn't do a lot, especially as leave for the UK on Thursday for a trip to see family, but I got up early to do a bit of work and then, when Rich and Raf got up, we went out for breakfast. We had to drive around for an hour as Raf fell asleep, but it was nice because he was well rested and not so grumpy. We went to O'Naturals in Falmouth, and we had some lovely food, including tempeh scramble, fruit, and sweet pannini. Raf enjoyed strawberries and melon... and other stuff which fell on the floor (after he threw it there).

Yum Yum

Yep, he can make a mess!

When we got home Rich and Raf had both fallen asleep in the car, so out there they napped for almost an hour! But when they came inside I was treated to some lovely cards, a book - In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (Rich had remembered that I had wanted to read this), a pencil case (I LOVE stationary!) and an absolutely beautiful necklace and earings made by a local artisan. (must take pics)

This evening, though, we all went on a family run. I wasn't feeling the running love before we went out as I was so tired, but we had a wonderful run. After 3 miles we came home, Rich grabbed the dogs, and we headed back out. The pups can't run for too long so I ran another loop and we met up and ran the final half mile again together. Perfect ending to the day.

Getting ready to go!

Rich and the pups running to catch up with us.

Someone fell asleep by the end!