Wow, I am exhausted. Friday, we drove to Stratford-upon-Avon so that Allison could attend the very first Wild-and-Free homeschool conference here in the U.K. Before visiting the town, someone from England that now lives in Edinburgh said, “Oh, that is the “chocolate box of England.” They were right. From feeding swans on the river, to the quiant shops, to the architecture of the city and homes, to the Airbnb cottage we stayed in, this place was magical. We really experienced a bit of England!
When the conference was over, we drove two hours south to see Stonehenge. Honestly, I thought that 50 GBP for seeing some rocks was a bit much before I went. What nation has ever benefited so greatly from rocks! I do not feel that way now. It was truly a wonderful experience. When you visit, you park and take a shuttle out to the rocks. You find yourself surrounded by fields and fields of grass that gently sway in the wind. It was a cloudy, which in some ways was best for taking pics. Of course, our five-year old son had to take one of his toy spinosauruses, so the creature made it into most of our pics. We even had some fun towards the end trying to make it look like the spino roamed the fields many years ago. We had to lay in on the ground it happen. OMG, it was so fun. It was worth it to hear him laugh so hard. Take a look!!!
Needless to say, we took a few deep breaths, absorbed the experience, and snapped some photos that we will remember the rest of our lives. Seeing these rocks really makes you wonder about the people. I could not help but think, “Almost 5,000 years have passed since these rocks were moved and arranged. These were people like me; probably feeling that the days go by slow and the years fast; probably feeling that life would last a long time. But almost 5,000 years have passed since these people worked hard to build something special.” They died. Time keeps passing. It is passing quickly. Having kids, I remember this now more than ever. My question, “How can I live so that the time passes slowly?”
We then left Stonehenge around 2pm and drove through Oxford so that we could stop at the “Eagle and Child.” Oh my, how special it was to visit and sit in the same place where the Inklings (C.S. lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, etc.) sat for years hashing out ideas and stories that would be read and heard throughout the world. I love C.S. Lewis and read him now more than ever. I am so glad that Allison made me do it. Surprised? Do not be; I have an uncanny ability to choose efficiency over experience. It is a curse, of course, and my wife looked at me and did not give me an option. So we went, and the rest is history!
From Oxford, our plan was to drive about two hours and stay in a cost-efficient airbnb. This was not a good idea. With my family in the car, I walked to the front door to meet a man and found that a couple who had rented the property had just moved out the day before. The landlord and the tenants were in a dispute over the property. The landlord showed me around, but when I went back to the car, the tenant wanted to know how I had rented the place. I told him, and he was angry (not at me) because they had paid through midnight that night. The landlord suspected there might be trouble (though I had not issue with the guy), so he stopped his car before pulling off. They got into a back-and-forth argument that began to esculate just a bit. I walked over the landlord, handed him the keys, and said, “Can you please reinburse us? I do not want to be in the middle of this.” He assured me that he would and then the tenant apologized. I told them both that it was fine and that no one owed us an apology. We just wanted to leave. Also, I did not know what was about to happen and I did not want my son to see a horrible fight. So, we took off, and I told Allison that I was feeling “charged” with a bit of adrenaline (I sort of enjoy conflict in a twisted sort of way) and felt that I could now finish the drive if she was okay arriving in Edinburgh around midnight. It was about 6:45 pm when this happened. We pulled up to our flat at 1am.
From there we drove. And drove. And drove. Somehow, the kids were amazing that last six hours (Rhema slept for a good bit of it!). We stopped and grabbed some decent food, some snacks. and put gas in the car and air in the tires. I then put in the headphones and finished the audiobook that I had begun when we had left Friday. It was my first book to read/listen to by Frederick Buechner. Let’s just say that I will be reading more of his stuff. His new book, The Remarkable Ordinary, was good. It is difficult to summarize this book because he told stories and processed a good deal of his past through story and the action of God. But it was good for me. The book was not overly structured and definitly was not analytical. It was good for my heart. I could not put it down and more than ever, I realize the need for me personally to read books that give my PhD mind a break. To say it differently, I need books that make me feel like a human being.
All-in-all, we had a wonderful time. Lots of memories, laughs, making up stories in the car, and time together. This is the stuff that life is made of, and I want to live it in a way that it goes by slowly.