We’re back from our trip to the UK and as with any extended vacation, you always seem to need a vacation after the vacation. It’s certainly true for me. I haven’t been able to pull myself together enough to get back into the swing of writing, which is unfortunate because I have a lot of great things I want to share. We were in the UK for a month, traveled 2000 miles in the car, and walked on seashore on all sides of the country, and visited Scotland, England, and Wales. We packed a lot of things into that time so it’s really not surprising that we came home rather blank-faced and exhausted. I’ll give a quick summary and I do hope you’ll find bits of it interesting. Okay, on with the story.
My wonderful husband of five years, Gary, moved to the US from the UK when he married me, so we have a lot of friends and family all over the UK. It’s always wonderful seeing them of course, but the big reason for this trip was to meet the newest member of the family, our grandson Felix. Babies are always wonderful, but how could you not love one as cuddly and adorable as this?
We spent quite a lot of time with friends and family, so I won’t bore you with stories of silly relatives and family meals and long, wonderful conversations. It was very good to catch up with everyone, though. It’s hard living apart from those you care so much about. But because we traveled with our 15-year-old daughter, Lanie, we tried very hard to both keep her amused and also teach and show her all that one must teach children when they visit the UK. So we visited the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth and toured Southsea Castle, the HMS Warrior, the HMS Victory, and the Mary Rose. We visited London and toured the Tower of London, visited the National Gallery and the Tate Modern museums, and were thrilled to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral. Did you know that you can climb the stairs (hundreds of them) to the level above the dome? Not only does it give you a great workout, you get a 360° birds-eye view of the city of London. We walked the streets of Cambridge. We sailed an old wooden boat on the Norfolk Broads. We sat on the beach of the North Sea and watched seals. We walked along the cliffs along the Irish Sea in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland and saw a porpoise (and an adder)! We drove through the Lake District in England and Snowdonia in Wales. And Lanie got to go bodyboarding in the ocean in Cornwall. We even toured the Roman Palace at Fishbourne.
But I think the highlight for Lanie was crabbing. Yes, the little American girl in her thought it would be fun to try this favored activity of English preschool children. Imagine how much we laughed when she actually caught a crab and found out how fiesty they can be!
A major highlight of our trip, at least from MY perspective, was that I got to spend some time with polymer clay friends. Penny Vingoe, the owner of Clayaround, invited me to visit her in Wales and join with her “girls” for a special Clay Day. I wrote about it in a separate post because there is so much to share about that. The next week we made it down to Bristol to spend some time with Cara Jane Hayman. I enjoyed time in her studio, sharing ideas, stories, and exploring her artwork. I’m not sure why it is, but so many of us in polymer clay seem to be long-lost sisters. Cara Jane and I were quite surprised to find that we have a lot in common, both in our life path (we’re both former scientists) and in our feelings about our art. And, as was pointed out on my Facebook page, Cara and I even look a bit like sisters in this picture!
As I’m fascinated with all the materials and supplies that we use in the art of polymer clay, I was eager to find a craft store to visit. I wanted to compare what’s available in the UK to what we have in the US. But that would have to wait until later in the visit. Or so I thought. Imagine my surprise when we went to visit our beloved friends Richard and Alma and found that they lived right next to a Hobbycraft store! I couldn’t help myself. I dragged the whole group into the store and showed them the polymer clay section! It was quite helpful, actually, to see what Hobbycraft has to offer as compared to the US. And although people complain about Hobbycraft being expensive and having poor offerings (we say the same about Michaels, you know), I did find that the offerings were surprisingly good. In many ways I like it better than Michaels. I was able to find everything that I would need to create a polymer clay studio. They even have their own brand of polymer clay (it was in the kids’ section) and I’ve brought some home and will give it a bit of a test later.
When lounging around at my brother-in-law’s house watching TV, I noticed a plaque that shows my niece Ashlyn and her pony Dandy. Was this a “polymer clay moment”? Was it made of clay? Ah, yes it was! My sister-in-law said that it was made by a company called Echo Crafts and she was even looking at getting a family tree picture made from all the family’s photographs and personal stories. What a great idea, eh? See…polymer clay is everywhere!
And just to show you how accurate the clay portrait is, here’s a picture from our visit three years ago. Here I am, with Ashlyn, kissing Dandy. Is that cute or what?
Thank you for indulging me in a bit of a travelogue. I know that other people’s vacation pictures can be dull, but I thought that my fellow Americans would be interested in seeing how things are in the UK. I’m not sure when we’ll be able to get back for another visit. But next time I will make a point of seeing more polymer clay people. That was really fun!
Stick around. I have another post planned within the week, and it will be all about polymer clay. See you back here soon!