Gloucester Cathedral


Today we began our week holiday in Whiltshire!  On the way we stopped in Gloucester and despite the rain, quite heavy at times, we were awed by the Gloucester Cathedral’s beauty and its rich history!  Along the walk there, we saw a memorial to John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester who was martyered for his faith in 1555.   

Once inside Gloucester Cathedral we saw a statue of the oldest son of William the Conqueror.  King Edward II is buried here.  King Henry III was crowned in this Cathedral at the age of nine.  This is the first Cathedral we have visited where the cloister was complete with original stained glass!  In fact that could be why three of the Harry Potter movies were filmed here!  

This Cathedral dates back to Norman times.  The below photos is a depiction of Christ’s resurrection in stained glass…gorgeous!

Cora had her photo taken by one of her favourite artists on display.

Cloister where Here Pottery was filmed.

Across from our car park, were the ruins of the church built in 900 AD by the daughter of King Alfred the Great.  This may be of interest to you if you have watched the telly program The Last Kingdom.  I, for one, was awed to have seen this historic ruin in person!

After enjoying lovely Gloucester, we drove an hour and a half to our Air B&B in Whiltshire.  We are as enchanted by our Georgian cottage in person as we were when making our online reservation!  

Considering the beauty plus the owner’s lovely hospitality…we just may have to stay a bit longer.  😉

Whitby Lighthouse


Today I was privileged to fulfil a life long dream to go inside a lighthouse! We drove some of the students visiting us, from Houston, to Whitby. This is a favourite location for us to take tourists and even for our family to have a fun day out.  
After enjoying our Quayside take away fish and chips whilst sitting on the beach, we walked the pier towards the lighthouse. I did not think it was ever open for visitors, but today it was for £1.50 I paid to go in and Cora paid only £1! Two students dared to climb the 81 spiral steps to the top with Cora and I! Once at top we took a myriad of photos of the gorgeous views of Whitby Abbey and the seaside. It was a bit windy so we didn’t stay topside long, but it was pleasantly warm compared to sea level. One of the students and I were so chuffed to get to climb to the top of a lighthouse that we just had to get out her selfie stick and take some great photos!  

Once we descended the 81 stairs to the bottom, we walked the students to the whalebones for more great views. Then we parted ways so the students could continue to purchase souvenirs since Monday they return to the U.S. Cora, Titus, and I purchased some buckets and spades and walked to the beach. It was great to see their faces light up as they made sand castles and paddled in rock pools. Thankfully they already had their swimming costumes on and could quickly shed their top layer of clothes to run into the cold North Sea. Titus and Cora hardly noticed the cold as they splashed about. Friends met up with us at seaside and their boy touched the water for the first time! He cried because he thought it too cold! But that wasn’t a worry for long since the tide came in so quick we had to make a run for it!  

Therefore we thought it the perfect time to stop for ice cream! However, it started to chuck it down so we sheltered with many people under the gazebo. And the ice cream melted so fast that it was dripping down the kids’ chins!  

After the rain let up we popped in some shops and met up with Ryan and the students at the bridge so begin our journey home. It was definitely a mix of strange weather today which only enhanced our Whitby experience! 😉

Coffee Cupping


Ryan and I were privileged to take part in our first coffee cupping!  This has been a great desire of ours for many years! As part of the Meanwood Festival, a friend and owner of The Barn Coffee Shop held a “history of coffee” along with leading his first coffee cupping.  Learning the origins of coffee was fascinating and included a handy map so we could easily keep track of which coffee we were tasting.  

By now you are most likely wondering how a cupping is done.  Each coffee was brewed in individual cups for four minutes.  The grinds, which floated to the top, were then scooped off.  Each of us took a soup spoon and scooped up a spoonful of coffee which we slurped to taste.  Has Bean explains why slurping is important on their website: 

Bring the spoon up to your mouth, and “inhale” (well suck powerfully anyway!), drawing the coffee to the roof of the mouth to tickle the tongue and then fall into the back of the mouth. This creates a coffee “vapour” to stimulate that part of your sense of taste which is actually your sense of smell. Then roll the coffee around the mouth and begin to look for tastes that you can compare it to. 

My favourite countries were Yemen, Tanzania, and Peru.  Which are some of your favourite coffees?  

Egg competition 


It may seem a little late for Cora’s and Titus’s school to have an Easter egg decorating competition after Easter, but at least the kids had extra time over break to plan and decorate.  At school assembly yesterday, all the eggs were on display for parents to see and during assembly there was a presentation by a younger class on the meaning of the Easter egg.  Easter eggs have traditionally been associated with new life and also to represent, in Christianity, the empty tomb where Jesus was laid and three days later resurrected.  According to Wikipedia…

one ancient tradition was the staining of Easter eggs with the colour red “in memory of the blood of Christ, shed as at that time of his crucifixion.

These red eggs were often also decorated with a cross.  Also, the egg (boiled or not) can also illustrate (as best we can) the Christian trinity of Jesus (yolk), Holy Spirit (white), and God the Father (shell)…three in one!  What representations of eggs do you know?  Feel free to comment below.

As for the egg decorating competition, one winner per class was picked anonymously by the student council.  A large chocolate egg was given to each winner with a certificate.  All who participated were given a Cadbury cream egg.  Below are some photos of eggs from Cora’s and Titus’s classes…

One winner was Donald Trump!

Titus created Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Cora decorated her egg with a Spring Scene.

Neither won, but each enjoyed decorating their eggs uniquely! 

Old Mother Shipton’s Cave


The kids have been asking us for some years now to visit Old Mother Shipton’s Cave in Knaresborough and today we did just that!  

Cora and Titus had their faces painted like bunnies!

According to Wikipedia…

Mother Shipton’s Cave is at Knaresborough near to the River Nidd. Nearby is a petrifying well which is the oldest entrance charging tourist attraction in England, open since 1630. The water of the well is rich in sulfate and carbonate in which artifacts are “petrified” (encrusted) as a tourist attraction.

For this Easter holiday, Wizard of Oz was the theme (which was a bit ironic for this Kansas girl)…complete with actors portraying original characters.  We followed the yellow brick road on a surprisingly long walk to the cave.  At the top of the cave entrance were the emerald gates from the Wizard of Oz.  Then we walked down towards the dripping well to witness firsthand the petrifaction or items.  On average it takes three months to petrify an item such as a teddy bear or a hat.  Walking a little further we came to the surprisingly small cave where Mother Shipton was born and lived.  She was called a witch and almost burned at the stake but really she just had a humped back and foretold prophecies…many of which came true.  I say the cave was surprisingly small because it was…Ryan and I had pictured more of a winding labryinth of a cave.  Nonetheless, Titus and Cora loved it and were intrigued at seeing a petrified Blue Peter badge and learning Knaresborough was the birthplace of Guy Fawkes’ father.  

Today’s weather was a bit windy and brisk yet we enjoyed lunch outside at the delicious Riverside cafe in between spitting showers.  Then we walked up to Knaresborough Castle, enjoyed the castle garden, and popped in and out of shops and market stalls.  Thankfully we found some treasures before walking back towards the Mother Shipton adventure playground.  The sun finally came out in time for Ryan and I to sit in the sun and drink coffee whilst Cora and Titus played.  Finally, we treated them to ice cream as we headed home…and Titus lost his front tooth whilst eating it!  

Cora found a boat on the River Nidd with her name on it!  Maybe we will take it out on a warmer day!  

What is Passover?


Last night we had some friends from our weekly Kirkstall Fellowship and guests around to help us celebrate the Seder meal (Passover) which Jesus would have had the night He was betrayed to crucifixion. In keeping with the original tradition, we sat reclined at low tables (except for those with bad backs whom sat normal)…exactly how the Israelites and Jesus would have eaten!  

The Seder is a ritual performed by a community involving a retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. The Seder itself is based on the Biblical verse commanding Jews to retell the story of The Exodus from Egypt: “You shall tell your child on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’” (Exodus 13:8)

There are various versions of this retelling. [Therefore, if you would like to read the teaching which my husband led, please send me a message.] There were parts for mums to play, the lighting of the festival candle and the opening blessing of the evening. The dads washed the hands of those in their family in remembrance of what Jesus did for his disciples. Then the kids asked four questions of the Passover.  We broke the Matzah bread together and dipped it into horseradish and charoset when appropriate.  

After partaking in the first two cups (sanctification and judgement) we had a dinner with smoked leg of lamb, smoked chicken, smoked potatoes, smoked sweet potatoes, smoked aubergine plus lovely sides & puddings contributed by the other families. After dinner the kids found the afikomen (hidden Matzah bread) which Ryan had hid before dinner in our garden.  Cora found the afikomen this year and she was very chuffed!  We then finished the ceremony with the final two cups of redemption and praise. 

Though our friends are on various places on their spiritual journey everyone enjoyed this look at many of the elements and symbolism which this meal contains. We are very thankful for using this celebration to gather together and celebrate this time of year!

Compass Pointe


Ballet Performances are often challenging for everyone involved; nevertheless, Cora’s performances this weekend were extremely polished and professional…nothing like I have seen before!  Cora joined Armley Dance Studios this past year because of her interest but also to build her confidence since she can sometimes be a bit shy.  Unbeknownst to us, since these elaborate performances are only done every 12 years, this would be the year Cora would be on stage at Leeds City Centre Carriageworks Theatre!  

In January all parents were asked if interested to undergo interviews and licensing to be a chaparone for these performances (since a background check, which I have, was not enough).  I really thought and prayed about it, and my husband greatly encouraged me, but I decided that in an attempt to be less busy this year I would not chaparone.  Perhaps this difficult decision, which went against my usual purpose of joining in to get to know others, was for the best.  After all, by not being a chaparone I was not allowed backstage nor anywhere near the theatre except during the performance we attended and drop-off and pick-up times.  And as many of you know, I am with our children often on school outings, etc.  This dance studio does not have any of Cora’s school friends in attendance and thus has forced us both to make new friends which made trusting these chaparones even a little more challenging…yet I really do not want to be a helicopter parent.  😉

But perhaps by not being a chaparone, which is what God had in mind all along, I allowed us both to grow a little more.  I did not realise the impact of this decision until today when I saw Cora looking so grown up on stage!  I was bursting with pride and with tears after the difficulty of relinquishing my control to be by her side.  Yesterday she was rerhearsing and performing for an 11 hour day and today was an eight hour day!  After Ryan brought her home last night, she was in tears because of being so overtired.  However, many parents said the same of their children.

Cora was in two dances as an icicle ballerina (her costume even lit up)!  I snuck a few photos at the end, but no video was allowed nor flash photography.  (Hopefully there will be some professional photos coming soon and possibly video.)

After this two hour, ten minute performance which Ryan, Titus, and I enjoyed this afternoon…all dancers were asked to adorn black shirts and sit on the Leeds City Museum steps for a class photo.  Cora looked lovely still wearing her stage makeup and crown.  She has truly enjoyed feeling special and important dressing up and rehearsing for this big weekend!  And I do think she has gained a little more confidence!  

Union Cafe – enjoyed coffee & purchased furniture before the ballet

Titus is sitting in one of two chairs we purchased!