I mentioned the other day that we all just got back last week from a 2 week trip around England. We covered 900 miles taking H to visit grandparents, meet cousins and aunts and uncles for the first time, and just start showing her around her other native land. It’s really important to Adam and me that H grow up knowing both the US and the UK, and this was the first of many trips overseas for her. It was kind of awesome seeing her first passport, with her little baby picture, get stamped for the first time. It made me feel so content, knowing all the amazing things this little girl will grow up seeing and doing.

And the best part was we survived air travel with her! We had some rough patches; leaving Newark we sat on the tarmac for 2 hours because of weather, and leaving London we sat for 1 hour because of traffic. H did NOT enjoy waiting on the plane, and I don’t blame her. None of us did. The seat belt sign was on the whole time because we’d left the gate, which meant she was strapped to me the whole time we waited. No diaper changes, no grabbing her bottle if she got hungry, and no putting her down anywhere. So, yeah, she cried and fussed. Coming home she actually howled (we were all pretty exhausted from travel by then). We flew British Airways and had a great flight attendant coming home who COULD move around the cabin, so she held H and rocked her, showed her all the people on the plane, and tried to help us keep her happy. She even held H at the end of the flight so we could get all our carry-on gear organized. Allie was great.

And once the plane was moving, H could not have been a better flier. She slept in her bassinet the whole time, flirted with all the other passengers, and was just an amazing little trooper.

We landed in London the morning of Friday, July 27th–the day of the Olympics Opening Ceremony. It was such a great atmosphere. Greeters and volunteers everywhere in the airport, and just everything feeling really excited and charged. We stopped at my father-in-law’s for lunch and then spent the rest of the day making our way in traffic from London to Manchester, the first official stop on our whirlwind tour. We got into our apartment 10 minutes into the ceremony, so we watched most of it while we got H and ourselves settled.

Morgan’s bachelor party was in Manchester, so while Adam went out with the brothers on Saturday H and I explored central Manchester and the Northern Quarter.

I’d done my nerdiest research and made a list of things I wanted to do, and we made it to most of them. It was pretty darn cold in northern England, so H got a lot of use out of her new apple hat from The Gap.

We went to the Real Food Market in Piccadilly Gardens first, I’d read it would be happening that Saturday.

I knew I’d be on my own for dinner, so I’d hoped to get something to cook. But it was mostly every kind of sausage you could possibly imagine. And bacon. I’m not complaining, this bacon bun from Bowland Outdoor Reared Pork with grilled onions was pretty outstanding.

They were grilling it right there, I’m still having daydreams about this sandwich. So simple, and so perfect on a cold afternoon. I sat and ate it in the square.

Also, there were these amazing baked goods from Robinsons. They’ve been family-run since 1864, which is the kind of perfectly English thing that can’t get enough of…especially in northern England (still my favorite!). I got a ginger apple crumble and a sticky toffee pudding bar (my new obsession) to fortify me for a day of adventuring with The Sprout.

So next we ventured into the Northern Quarter and some of the artier stores. I pushed H around Abakhan Fabrics and got a fun alphabet print We went to Junk Shop, a very funky store I’d read about that sells these. That’s what I was on the hunt for, but they’d actually been sent back to the maker because there was a flaw in the design. I’m on the contact list, I’ll have to figure out how to get this when it comes in. Did you know that Manchester is the textile capital of the UK? Neither did I before this trip.

We also headed to the Manchester Craft and Design Centre.

It’s a gorgeous space, but like a lot of things in the UK there are no elevators. Everyone is amazingly helpful and accommodating with babies, but you do end up parking the stroller a lot. Here it was in a stairwell so I could head upstairs to & Made, a delightful little shop with the cutest cupcake pincushions. I read later that the owner, Andrea, used to be a costume maker on a few British children’s shows? Very cool.

The only thing we didn’t do was visit Hey Little Cupcake!, a shop in Morgan’s family. I didn’t look up the address before we struck out, and then we ran out of time. It happens when jet lag means you’re leaving the hotel at 2pm to start the day.

These were my goodies from our day out: a pincushion and button keychain from & Made, the alphabet fabric from Abakhan, and this very cool necklace that screams Children’s Librarian from Junk Shop.

On Sunday we met Cora and Ian at the Manchester Gallery of Costume, a very cool little place that I failed to take any pictures of at all. Except for this shot of the beautiful park and church behind it.

From there we headed to nearby Blackburn, where Ian’s mom Freda lives. I’d never met Freda before, but I can say now that she is one of my absolute favorite people. She is sharp as a tack, and happy to tease Ian when he starts with her. I love her. And I love this photo Adam took at her house.

I also love her street, with the most perfect little English yards (sorry, gardens) I’ve ever seen. It’s like Number Four Privet Drive!

We went to Millstone at Mellor for my first ever proper Sunday roast.

I thought that Yorkshire Pudding was a giant onion ring. I still have much to learn.

Sticky. Toffee. Pudding.

Cora and H bonding over lunch.

A really nice start to the next leg of our trip, Derbyshire with Cora and Ian. That’s for the next post.