Other posts on this trip: Manchester and Blackburn, Derbyshire.

While we were staying with Cora and Ian we took a day on our own to head into Sheffield. It was a pretty late day, this family doesn’t get rolling until well after lunch. But we were meeting Adam’s friends Conrad, Richard, and Amanda for dinner. Cora had a (poetry I think?) class that night, so the three of us struck out on our own for the day and went in to meander around a little.

It was a short meander because I quickly became obsessed with John Lewis, and we didn’t realize everything would close at 5:30. But how could I be dragged away when there was this? Or this, something I’ve always fantasized about having after growing up with my mom’s dark stained version on a stand? Or these things here?:

I mean, did you know that they just have Orla Kiely pens and goodies in England? Lying around, not part of a special edition at Target or pilgrimage to the NYC store? Okay, that notebook was some other brand, but I was going with an obvious theme there. AND I had to get those Liberty of London-inspired Keds, even though I did discover after purchasing that they make the same print here at home. But that print only makes sense when you’ve bought it in the UK, I’ve told myself. In John Lewis, 5 minutes before closing. Yes, that’s right.

What about the Olympic stuff? That’s what led me to this store in the first place. I’d wanted to bring back goodies from the London 2012 games for my niece and nephews, and when I researched I found that this chain was carrying a huge selection of the merchandise. I did buy the kids some souvenirs, but I couldn’t resist some stuff for us, too. I don’t know when or how I will be knitting miniature gymnasts and shot putters, but I could not in good conscience leave the store without that book.

We stopped for tea and cake at this cafe Adam’s parents recommended. It was next to John Lewis.

This was the first time I realized how family friendly everyone is despite the accessibility issues of having a family. We’d changed H in John Lewis, which had an entire suite complete with a breastfeeding area for moms. I went in to change the baby at this cafe and was immediately, kindly, directed to their “baby change”, a room separate from the bathroom in most places. Here at home people are friendly, but no one really sees you with a baby and thinks to direct you to the right stall or room or spot without you asking first. So you do spend a minute getting your bearings, and I realized it’s a simple and much appreciated gesture when someone sees you holding an infant with a diaper bag strapped across your chest and saves you the extra steps it takes to figure out where you’re going. I love that, and it goes a long way towards the fact that strollers can be tough a lot of the time. Everyone uses them, obviously, but the accessibility requirements here in the States that also benefit young parents don’t exist in England (lots of old buildings with too much history for elevators). But we managed just fine, and so did H.

I do really like this city. I like walking around it in drizzly weather. And it was very cool rooting for Jessica Ennis during the Olympics, she’s amazing.

And obviously I failed to take one single photo of our dinner with friends. Or remember the name of the restaurant. But we were having too good a time for that nonsense, so I’m just going with it. More on the trip tomorrow!