Sunday Morning 10/20/2019

YaYu said she needed this picture to prove she had been in England.

We have had quite a time since I last wrote a Sunday post! Our visit with YaYu was great but went far too quickly. London was a (wet) whirlwind followed a relaxing couple of days back in Blockley, and then we ended her visit with a terrific day and a half in Oxford. Poor YaYu though – she not only suffered from jet lag most of the time she was here but caught the worst of English weather as well. She said she had a good time though and especially enjoyed her visit because she got to “feel like a kid again,” meaning Mom and Dad took care of everything and she got all of our attention. We really felt the generational difference between us when following our tour of Notting Hill she let us know she knew none of the celebrities our guide had mentioned on the tour (Julia Roberts, Jimi Hendrix, Peter Sellers, and Daniel Craig to name a few) other than George Orwell, and even more shocking, after we stopped at a hidden recording studio where the Beatles and other artists had recorded in the past (and artists like Beyoncé still do today) she said, “The Beatles were British?” Yikes! Anyway, we’ll be seeing her again soon as she’ll be back in Portland in just another couple of months when we all get together for Christmas.

Enjoying a walk through the countryside in the Cotswolds with her mom and dad
I know what I’m ordering next time we stop at our village cafe – this was YaYu’s hot chocolate!
YaYu’s only souvenir was a small pillow decorated with an English hare that we got her for her dorm room (she collects rabbits).

Speaking of getting together in December, I got a real scare on our last night in London when right before I went to bed I happened to check on where we’d be staying in Portland and discovered the host had been canceling reservations right and left for the past three months! I sent her a message and she wrote back that she was going to cancel our reservation too . . . on November 1! However, since I had contacted her she would go ahead and cancel it now. Thank you very much! Finding a new, affordable place to stay for the five of us with only a month left would have been difficult if not impossible (unless we were willing to spend thousands of extra dollars), but even with a six-week window, I knew choices were going to be very, very limited. I was up well into the night going through Airbnb, VRBO, and other hosting sites and eventually found a place that would work for us at a somewhat affordable price. I wrote the host of the new place and she quickly answered and accepted our reservation. On the plus side, it’s a much nicer place in a better location, with more space for us as well but we are paying more and I could have really done without the headache of having to find a new rental at nearly the last minute. I learned a valuable lesson though – NEVER, EVER book an Airbnb rental with anyone other than a Superhost!

The living room of where we’ll be staying in December and early January. I think it will fit the five of us quite nicely (I’ve already called the chaise over on the right side of the sofa as “Mom’s spot”).

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I had very little time to open a book during the past week, so I’m still reading Resurrection Men, but have a reader-recommended book, The Salt Path, ready for when I finish. When we were in Oxford, I met a woman who leads Inspector Morse tours, and she recommended I read through the entire Colin Dexter series, so think I’ll start that after I finish The Salt Path.
  • Listening to: It’s a lovely, quiet Sunday morning, and not even the wind is blowing outside (for a change). The sky is overcast, but rain is not predicted today so we may get out of a walk later. It is cold though – we’ve got the fireplace going this morning. The church bells ran a few minutes ago, but otherwise, there hasn’t been a sound as we’re both reading and working on our computers. It’s perfect.
  • Watching: We’re still watching the Great British Baking Show (this coming week is the semi-finals), and a few other mysteries although nothing has really caught our attention. I watched an episode of Endeavour last night and recognized a couple of places that we’d just visited in Oxford! YaYu figured out how to access Netflix on the TV in the cottage, so we’ll be ready for the new season of The Crown when that arrives next month.
  • Cooking: We’ll be going over to Moreton tomorrow to do our weekly food shopping, which I don’t think is going to be very big because we still have things on hand from before YaYu arrived. Tonight we’re having Cornish pasties – we found them in the marked-down section at the village store and tucked them into the freezer for after YaYu departed. Other dinners this week will be chicken and vegetable soup; barbecued pork sandwiches with coleslaw; a cheese and pâté platter; roast chicken with roasted vegetables; and quiche lorraine with some sort of salad or vegetables. Aldi didn’t have the lamb burgers the last time we visited, so if those are back in stock we’ll pick up those as well.

    Cold temperatures, rain and wind were our near-constant companions during YaYu’s visit.
  • Happy I accomplished last week: Besides getting through a busy and somewhat tiring travel week with YaYu, my big accomplishment was finding a new place in Portland and getting it booked. I was quite worried I wouldn’t be able to find something appropriate that would fit all of us but I’m happy with the new place although not happy about having to pay more. Meiling and Brett and I had already purchased our airline tickets so we couldn’t look for someplace other than Portland. WenYu gave me her vacation dates and I found a good flight for her to and from Boston so that’s reserved. Now I just have to get YaYu’s flight booked and our holiday reunion will be set! I also found and reserved an Airbnb in Bath for two nights next month so that trip is set other than purchasing our train tickets. I’m especially proud of Brett, YaYu and me for getting through this past week in spite of some particularly lousy weather and a crazy schedule and having a good time in spite of it all.
  • Looking forward to next week: For the most part both we’re looking forward to not having to go anywhere or do anything this coming week other than a food shopping trip tomorrow. We want to rest and catch up on our reading and take walks around the village, weather permitting.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Besides having a great time with YaYu, the other really great thing that happened was Meiling was hired for her dream job! She won’t start until the first week of November but she will be doing work she loves (technical writing) while earning a very good salary, and she will also receive a nice signing bonus as well. The job comes with great benefits too: health, vision, and dental insurance, education reimbursement, transportation costs, and so forth. We are all thrilled for her, and so proud of her too! In other Good Thing news, I was able to get my favorite cereal (muesli) at Marks & Spencer and also discovered the most delicious black pepper cashews there – perfect with a gin & tonic – so I’m a happy girl. We had great weather on our one full day in Blockley and went out with YaYu for a long walk (3.2 miles) around the entire village and out into the countryside. The paths were a bit muddy but the views were gorgeous and YaYu was happy to get a “real” look at the English countryside.

    We had beautiful weather on our one day in Blockley – perfect for walking.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: This past week didn’t feel particularly frugal, although we did only eat one meal out each day in London and Oxford, combining lunch and dinner (our London Airbnb came stocked with breakfast things). We bought Oyster cards in London to get around on public transportation, including the boat ride on the Thames, and left with only a little over 1£ remaining on our cards. Outside of our one meal per day, the Oyster cards, some cereal and a few snacks from Marks & Spencer, and indulging in some decadent doughnuts one evening we did not spend any money in London. We bought souvenirs in Oxford though – Brett got a Cheshire Cat coffee mug that says “We’re all mad here!” on the back, and I got a lovely mug from the pottery shop we visited instead of the £100 bowl I really wanted. Our village store has a markdown shelf and this past week I found packages of Swedish meatballs for 50p (we bought two) and Scotch eggs, also at 50p each (we had those for breakfast this morning – yummy!).

    Meiling and K
  • Grateful for: Both Brett and I are extremely grateful to Meiling’s boyfriend, K, who has supported her for the past four months in New York City while she looked for work. He’s kept her fed and sheltered and she wouldn’t have made it without him.
  • Bonus question: What was your and Brett’s first travel experience together? When I finished my Memphis “A” School in September 1977, Brett took a week’s leave (vacation) and we drove together to my new duty station in Pensacola, Florida, camping along the way in my car. We first drove to Maryland to meet his mother, who considered me a “gold digger” out to take all his money. She softened a bit after that trip but we never really warmed to each other. Our first night after Maryland we camped in Virginia, where I was nearly bitten to death by mosquitos – they were so bad that they bit the soles of my feet and in between my toes through my socks! It was agony. From there we went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, and visited Nags Head and Kitty Hawk, then drove over to a state park in Alabama, arriving at dusk. What I remember about that stop was that on our initial walk over to the bathrooms we saw a sign warning of alligators so we did not get out of our car again until daylight the next day and then hit the road for Pensacola. Brett stayed there with me for two days while I got checked in and moved into my barracks, then he drove back up to Memphis with my car so that he could drive back down each weekend (six hours each way). What I remember most about that first trip was how much we enjoyed each other’s company and what a good time we had, mosquito bites excluded.

    Forty-two years later we’re still enjoying each other’s company and traveling together.

In spite of my current desire to do nothing and go nowhere for a week, I have my doubts that we’ll be able to stay put in the village for that long without getting restless. I imagine that if the weather is as nice as predicted for the coming week that we’ll probably be off to visit another location in the area. There are two we still very much want to see: Bourton-on-the-Water and Stratford-upon-Avon, and both are only a short bus ride away. We’d also like to visit the nearby Batsford Arboretum and Falconry Center. We’ll just have to see what happens, but for now, all I feel like doing is resting. Both our trips to Edinburgh and London/Oxford were too hurried and not the way we prefer to travel. London is at the top of our list for a revisit, but we said next time we’d pick a location closer to the center of the city and stay for a minimum of three weeks versus three days. We’d love to do a longer stay in Oxford as well. (P.S. I’m thankful we were not in London this weekend – we wouldn’t have seen anything as the whole city appears to have been shut down by massive demonstrations).

That’s it for now – I hope everyone had a great couple of weeks with lots of good things happening for you, and that you’re looking forward to another great week ahead!


19 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 10/20/2019

  1. So glad you had a fun time exploring with YaYu! Nice to see blue skies in a few of your pictures! How lucky you discovered your Portland rental was about to be cancelled and were able to find a better place. I will look for super hosts in the future, I never thought to do that.


  2. So glad you had a fun visit with YaYu! Nice to see a few pictures with blue skies. How lucky you discovered the issue with your Portland rental and found a better place! I will look for super hosts in the future, I never thought to do that. I enjoyed a wonderful production of Taming of the Shrew at The Royal Shakespeare Theater in Stratford Upon Avon preceded by a riverside picnic from the markdown shelf at Marks and Spencer.


    1. We looked into seeing a play at the Globe Theatre but there was nothing on the weekend we were there. Oh well.

      Superhosts work very hard for that status and can lose it if they cancel on a customer. Our original host was not a superhost but we thought we’d take a chance because of the price. Lesson learned.


  3. There is a building in Stratford-upon-Avon that I believe is the old guild hall. Downstairs are a few historical exhibits and a wonderful painting on the wall that was discovered during renovations. It’s kept behind a curtain and only opened for short times to see it. Upstairs is a schoolroom complete with ‘time period’ teacher where we got to write with quills. We stumbled upon it by accident but it ended up being a high point of our day there. We also really enjoyed a number of the Shakespeare houses (one site has a lovely garden with statues representing different plays).


    1. Thank you for this information! We really have no idea yet what to visit if/when we go to Stratford so the guild hall is a great place to start. Today it’s too cold though to think of going anywhere!


  4. Wow! I have always tried to use Superhosts, because I’m still a little skittish re: Airbnb. You’re so fortunate you discovered that in time. Can you review someone in a place you haven’t actually stayed to warn others off?

    Great pics of your visit. YaYu looks happy…don’t all kids (grown and otherwise) love having their parents’ undivided attention? LOL And so happy for Meiling! Sounds perfect.

    I have The Salt Path on my TBR list, so will be interested in hearing how you like it. And I’m really excited for another season of The Crown. Leave it to the younger generation to figure out the technology. Ha!

    So my heritage is Finnish and pasties are a big thing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A little competition goes on between the Cornish and the Finns because the miners brought them over when they immigrated (they were perfect food to take underground in a lunch box with a hot stone keeping them somewhat warm). So there are competing recipes, but of course, whatever your heritage, that is the “right way” to make and eat them. We eat them with ketchup (Heinz only, of course) but there are those who like gravy. I also like them cold with nothing but a bit of salt. YUM. I think I’ll make some. 🙂


    1. This was the first time I didn’t book with a Superhost. There have recently been many complaints about non-Superhosts cancelling reservations, but this still surprised me, especially since I had had such a great interaction with the host when I booked (the dates got messed up and she worked hard to get them straightened out). Her rental price was quite low for Portland considering it was such a nice space, so I wonder if she cancelled current reservations and will resist at a higher rate (which is what seems to be happening with many cancellations). Anyway, we’re happy with the new place and the location, and the host is a Superhost so we’re safe.

      Tonight will be my first ever pasty experience – I’m looking forward to it! The filling appears to be steak and potatoes so I’m going to have mine with ketchup or brown sauce.


  5. Wow! I didn’t know about the Superhosts vs others issue. Thanks for sharing. A sudden cancellation is scary! We’ve only been cancelled once and that was within 24 hrs., when the host decided our cat didn’t fit her definition of “pets welcome.” So glad you were able to find a new place; it looks great!
    It looks like all of you had a wonderful time in London and Oxford. “Grownup”kids can be so much fun!


    1. I just recently learned about the whole Superhost/cancellation thing a couple of months ago. I feel that people starting out deserve a chance, but a problem seems to be non-Superhosts canceling reservations so that they can re-list and charge more. Not sure if that’s what this host is planning to do or not, but I’m happy with the new place.

      We had a good time with YaYu – she can be “prickly” at times but was a trooper on this visit. It felt sad coming back to the cottage without her (she went to Heathrow from Oxford).


  6. I live in South Alabama and usually swim at a Army Core of Engineer’s park where I definitely watch out for alligators…lol. So happy to see couples who enjoy each other and I love Pensacola! Loved the rabbit pillow. Your daughter looks so happy! I am glad she had a good time despite the bad weather.


    1. I enjoyed my time in Pensacola back in the day – Brett drove down almost every weekend and we would go out and see what there was to see in the area. The base had a couple of BIG alligators living in the water hazards on the golf course, and I’m sure there were others around the area as well.

      We had a great time with YaYu and looking back I’m surprised at all we fit into the trip, especially since the weather was so lousy. We had one beautiful day with her here in the Cotswolds and we made the most of it!


  7. Who doesn’t like being the kid spoiled by their parents!?! I still like to go to my mum’s and have my fav dinners be cooked for me.

    What a pain having to find a new place. I’ve never had an AirBnB place cancelled but do worry about it – not that we’d be stranded as there is only the two of us, but after all the work reading reviews etc to make the decision.

    You’ve inspired me. I’m going to read the Dexter series and watch the TV series before our visit in 2021.


    1. YaYu has disliked being the youngest at times (for a variety of reasons) but has figured out that it means she gets her mom and dad to herself more often – that part she likes. On this trip she got to pick restaurants, and order what she wanted – she especially liked that part!

      I was up for at least two hours looking at new places, reading reviews, etc. before deciding. It was a pain. Superhosts only going forward!

      The woman I spoke with said the Dexter books will give us a better insight into the current Morse series, Endeavour. But I want to read the books anyway as Morse is my all-time favorite detective – so cerebral and idiosyncratic. I’ve watched the entire Morse series three times – just watched an episode last night and could recognize a few places that we visited in Oxford!


      1. I love the Morse series but I never remember the ending. Think it’s because I always fall asleep. Long show. Soft voices. Friday nights. Will watch them as a miniseries when we get home. Love Endeavour too.


      2. What I remember are big shoulder pads and big phones – it was the 80s! But you’re right, the voices were soft. I’m looking forward to watching the series again too, but first, the books.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations to Meiling. I’m glad YaYu had a good time. Love the rabbit pillow.
    Now that you have been in England a while, do you ever see yourselves returning for a second extended visit? I’ve been watching a series called Escape to the Country which follows home buyers trying to find homes. The most interesting parts are the little side trips to pottery makers, beer makers, blacksmith’s etc. but it’s interesting to see different parts of the United Kingdom. I would love to visit again.


    1. We’re so happy for Meiling – she is very talented and a hard worker, so making it through the interview process and getting this position is a real milestone. She and her boyfriend were considering leaving NYC if she hadn’t gotten hired. They now plan to stay at least another two years and then see what happens after that.

      We loved “Escape to the Country” – it and another show about walks in England are what inspired us to stay in the Cotswolds versus London or another city. We hope to get back in the future and visit another area of the country, maybe further up north.


  9. “NEVER, EVER book an Airbnb rental with anyone other than a Superhost!”

    I will heed this advice if I ever book with this company! Sorry that you had to experience the cancellation though — whew!


    1. As I’ve said, I picked this other place because of the price, but in retrospect maybe it was too good to be true – the owner could get a LOT more for it (and maybe that’s what she’s going to do). Superhosts will lose their status if they cancel a guest, but I’ve been impressed with the service we’ve received from Superhosts as well – it’s been wonderful.


Comments are closed.