It really is time to pull myself together you know. I've been back for three days and I've been moping around the whole time. I'm finding it really hard to settle back into a routine and who wouldn't if they'd had the holiday that we had. Eighteen days of sun, fun, no cooking, great company and lots of cheap shopping. So sit back with me whilst it pours with rain outside and see what we did and where.
I think it was Georgia's husband that called our trip 'The Blog Tour' so here's part one:
We spent the first four days in Pennsylvania with Jodi and her family. From the moment we met at Trenton Station in New Jersey to take the long drive to their house we all hit it off so well. It put my niggly feelings of 'what if they don't like us' firmly away as we wittered away for nearly two hours. Jodi and Mike knew exactly what everyone wanted to do and see and had planned everything beautifully. On the first morning the children played badminton and paddled in the pool with Bron who is eleven and was very happy to share her playthings with the children:
Then we went off for a spot of local shopping. Clothes at American Eagle for Tom and Amber, baseball hats and Converses for the boys and craft shopping for me at AC Moore's and Jo-Ann's. I couldn't resist getting scrapbooking stuff for the children and card making making things for myself:
I must say we all went a bit crazy seeing the prices as everything was so cheap for us and that theme continued the whole way around New England too. That night Jodi and Mike took us to a Diner as we really wanted to see what one was like. Well, they picked a great one called Ruby's which was so retro inside. That was our first introduction to American portions and I have to say that we were fit to burst afterwards:
We had a great waitress with a really loud voice and strong accent. We loved her voice so much that we recorded it for posterity on my camera - she must have thought we were crazy.
The next day we went to a baseball game to see the Wilmington Blue Rocks and the boys, thanks to Jodi, got invited on to the pitch to take part in a big shoe race:
They were so thrilled especially when the customer services chap gave them signed baseballs and other goodies when he realised we were from England. Before the game we had a 'tailgate picnic' and ate Philadelphia Cheese Steaks and Hoogies (sp?). Jodi told Raj not to eat the cheese steaks outside of Philadelphia as they wouldn't be as good and that he should laugh at them if he saw them on a menu elsewhere. Well, Jodi I'm pleased to tell you that Raj saw some on a menu on a street stall in NYC and he went up to the picture and said 'look it's a Philly Cheese Steak' and he proceeded to hold his stomach and laugh! That boy.
On Sunday we went into Philadelphia briefly to visit Reading Terminal which makes our Covent Garden look boring and commercial I can tell you. What a wonderful place with such lovely stalls - my fave one has to be this one:
where they sold the most delicious looking cakes and biscuits:
That night Jodi and Mike had a barbecue in their garden for us where we ate the best corn and shrimps and lamb cooked by their son Alex. Jodi had made some delicious Gazpacho with tomatoes from her garden too. They had also invited my friend Sue and her family who happened to live about twenty minutes away. We had a great evening all of us chatting and drinking Pimms that we had taken over for a present. We also got to try S'mors which I have never had before and although they are a tad sweet we loved them. No wonder I've put on about half a stone! However, I did have to bring back the ingredients so that we could initiate our friends and family this summer:
By now it was Sunday night and I was very conscious that our time together was coming to an end. My three were so happy the whole time playing with Bron, Joy and Alex and it's a testament to how lovely Jodi's children are that the older two who are in their early twenties played and chatted and laughed with them all day long for four days. The adults sat up far too late in the evenings chatting and I had to drag myself to bed most nights.
Monday was our last day and Mike had hired a bigger car to take us all to Lancaster County and what an interesting place that was. On the way we stopped off at this amazing place chock full of antiques and old things at very reasonable prizes:
We looked around the Amish Village, visited the lovely Country Store and a couple of other places and most of all saw some of the Amish people themselves. It was a very intriguing place:
I couldn't resist these for presents for the folks back home:
On the way home we stopped at a shop called Weavers where I couldn't reisist a few bundles of fabric at 79 cents each:
All too soon it was Tuesday morning and the children were begging to stay an extra day. Jodi and Mike, made us feel so welcome and it was really hard to leave them I can tell you.
I can't finish their story without telling you about one of the kindest deeds that I know of. On Friday Amber purchased some clothes from American Eagle and we spent about $80. Somehow the bag got left somewhere in some shop by one of us and when we got back to Jodi's it was missing. Alex, her son spent a long time on the phone calling around shops we had visited to see if they had it but it was nowhere. Tom and I decided that we wouldn't let it ruin our holiday and that it could have and would have happened in England too.
Well, listen to this. When we came back from the baseball on Saturday Alex handed Amber a bag with all the clothes in that she'd bought. He had gone shopping with his girlfriend and REPLACED everything. He didn't want her to have a bad experience in his country. Boy was I on the verge of tears when he handed her the bag and I'm even tearful now. This is a young man that is working his way through College and can't have pots of money. Thank you so much Alex - at the risk of embarrassing you I have to say you are a great guy.
See what I mean when I say that I have learned so much about human kindness and generosity. The whole family were such an example to us all. It's funny isn't it that five months ago we didn't even know each other.
Well, sad as it was leaving Pennsylvania we got into our hired Dodge Charger and took to the road to drive to Connecticut to Georgia's which was our next stop. This is the house that they rent and boy have I coveted it since I first saw it on her blog:
I was so excited about meeting Georgia as we had written to each other a lot and seemed to be on the same wave length. The boys too were keen to meet her boys and play a spot of cricket:
Well, they played more than cricket that day. There was kayaking, talking about bird-watching which Remi and Rohan realised they had in common and a fantastic Aussie barbecue too thanks to Matt, Georgia's other half. After we'd got the children off to bed the chaps drank beer and watched baseball on THE biggest telly I've ever seen whilst Georgia and I sat and chatted and she slowly revealed all the things she makes. My goodness that woman is a dark horse - she makes the most beautiful cards which I just had to buy, handmade paper, lovely pottery and she paints too. Oh and I forgot to mention the wool that she spins so well on her drop spindle. Now she's gotten into dyeing too. I really need to go back into her archives to see what else I've missed. Here's a pic of some of the cards I bought:
and here is a link to her granny square blanket (which I forgot to take a pic off). I have to say it would get my vote for the best blanket - the colours are great and I love the way she's done some big squares and some smaller ones - it felt gorgeously soft too as she'd used a blend of merino and alpaca. I tried not to feel too inadequate as we left that morning!
Well, after a delicious breakfast of pancakes it really was time to leave although it took us all of two hours to actually say goodbye. Oscar and Amber, both thirteen decided that was the time to hassle their Mums about having mobile phones but Georgia and I stuck firmly with the age fourteen deadline. Then it was back in the car to drive up to western Massachusetts where I was meeting Lee very briefly in Northampton (that was after we'd stopped at Target at Holyoak Mall as I just had to see what this place that everyone mentions was).
Massachusetts and Vermont coming up next time (after I've recovered from doing this post which seems to have taken ALL morning).
PS Just a couple of pictures of the faerie house that Jodi made for her children. I just had to show you all as it's so enchanting - please click on each pic to view the bigger one: