Other posts on this trip: Manchester and Blackburn, Derbyshire, Sheffield, The Bakewell Show.

We left Cora and Ian in Derbyshire on the evening of August 1st, a day before Ian’s birthday and after our afternoon at the Bakewell Show. Adam and I wanted to spend a day on our own, just the three of us, recharging a little and giving Hannah some quiet time in between lots of meet and greets with all the family. After this break we were headed to London for Morgan and Katie’s wedding, a family reunion, and a few days with Adam’s dad and stepmom. So it was a great break in the middle of a great trip.

We made our way from Derbyshire down to the west coast of England, near Wales, to stay for 2 nights in Bristol. We got there around midnight, after spending about an hour trying to figure out which road would actually let us get to the hotel (lots of one ways and detours in Bristol). So it didn’t leave us any time for exploring Bristol that night, but we were up bright and early the next day to head to nearby Bath.

I really wanted to go to Bath because the Jane Austen Centre is there.

I loved the period clothes on display.

Cards! I still have no idea what card games were actually played in Austen’s day, but no novel of hers is complete without cards in the parlor.

I think Ms. Austen is often dismissed for writing “marriage plots,” but she was pretty sassy and sharp about the society she lived in. I took a whole course on her books and their film adaptations in college, and that’s when I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice. I’d tried to read it once in high school but kind of dismissed it for the same reasons; old novels about finding husbands seemed really pointless to me. But then I saw Sense and Sensibility, fell in love, read that and Pride and Prejudice, then took this Jane Austen course and reread that and everything else. And really started to get the novels on a deeper level. Except Northanger Abbey, for some reason that is the one novel I have never managed to finish (I just nodded a lot when we reached that part of the course). Anyway, I love this story because this seems very Jane Austen.

And it had my new favorite gift shop.

I was in lit nerd heaven on this trip between Haddon Hall and Bath. Unfortunately everywhere in Bath was so narrow that Adam and Hannah spent a lot of time hanging out in pubs and on sidewalks while I ran around to things.¬†We couldn’t fit the Baby Bjorn into our luggage, and Hannah’s not wild about slings, so it was stroller or nothing. I don’t think Adam minded missing the Jane Austen Centre, and he did pick a great spot to pass an hour with the baby.

We walked over to The Circus, which was just up the road.

By now Hannah needed a little break from being pushed.

Then it was on to The Royal Crescent.

This spot above was where the tourists all got off to visit a little museum next door, but we walked all the way around the crescent and down the hill on the other side. There was a really gorgeous park at the bottom, so we sat and relaxed there for a little while.

I bought Hannah her first real Paddington Bear from House of Bears (I even bought a little teddy bear passport). And there was a great kitchen store called, appropriately, Kitchens. I actually legitimately needed new oven mitts, and I couldn’t just leave Union Jack cupcake papers there. Anyone who has ever read this blog should know I feel about all things cupcake.

I loved this day. We had dinner on the waterfront in Bristol, I didn’t take a single photo (it was glorious!), and the next morning we checked out and headed to Stonehenge. We were meeting our friends Paul, Kim, and their baby Abby. So first we met them for lunch here:

Then we made our way up the road to Stonehenge. It really is quite bizarre to drive up a road in the middle of England and just come across these big stones. I mean, there’s nothing else around them but fields.

It’s the definition of a tourist attraction, especially in the middle of the London Olympics, but it’s actually a really pleasant place to be. Beautiful grass to sit on, surprisingly quiet for all the people. I loved it, actually. Everyone tells me when they were kids there were no ropes keeping people from getting up close. I can’t help but wonder if someone thought Clark Griswold would give people ideas.

Hannah did wake up when we got to the other side of the henge, and I did post a family photo of us on Facebook with an awake baby. But somehow I love this photo even more. It reminds me of her earliest days when we got really excited for adventures that she just slept through.

Paul and Abby, very cute. I can’t believe I took so few photos of our good friends.

Kim and Paul, candid shot. Sorry, guys!

I bought a cheesy Stonehenge Christmas ball in the gift shop, which will obviously be getting some prime real estate on the tree this year. After this we headed back to London for the last few days of our trip. But this was such a nice interlude, winding us down from northern England and getting us ready for the weekend’s festivities. Stonehenge was on Friday the 3rd, we made it to London that night for the rehearsal dinner. We really did pack it in on this trip, no wonder we got home the next week and slept for days.