Brian's dad had some business here in London, so both Barbara and Steven made a trip out to visit. They were our first official visitors and we were so happy to see them! Barbara pulled some muscles in the back of her leg as they were leaving Dallas (such a bummer!!) and so she was in a wheelchair for part of the trip- we all felt so bad for her, but she was such a trooper to get out and do most of the sightseeing with us!
On Saturday, after Kate's very first English football game, we packed up and headed to Cambridge via train so we could explore the gorgeous city for a few hours. We had heard great things about this university and were really looking forward to it. However, the morning (at Kate's game) was pretty yucky out- drizzly and cold- so we weren't sure it would be worth it. But, the sun decided to come out after all and it ended up being such a beautiful day.
We started at King's College Chapel- which is simply stunning and basically serves as the symbol of the city of Cambridge. It began construction in 1446 and its vaulted fan ceiling (world's largest!) is unlike anything you've ever seen- so ornate. The massive stained glass windows flanking either side of the nave are incredible as well.
We walked around the perfect grounds- and by perfect I mean, the grass is splendidly cut and elevated above the stone paths, with not a single blade appearing out of place. Maybe its because you're absolutely not allowed to walk on it that it remains so impeccable. King's College buildings and the Chapel surround the courtyard, running almost all the way up to the River Cam.
There are 31 colleges at Cambridge so we set out to see as many as we could. We walked by Queen's, Trinity, St. John's and Magdalene as we made our way to the popular Castle Mound. This is a literal mound, built after the Norman conquest, that overlooks the entire city and once held a castle, whose stonework was recycled for building purposes in the surrounding colleges. The kids wanted to have a picnic up there and it would have been perfect, if mom and dad had planned ahead! :)
We wandered back to the River Cam, through the delightfully charming streets so we could go punting! (A punt is a flat-bottomed boat designed for use in small rivers and propelled by a long pole). So, the River Cam and punting are pretty much synonymous. Ergo, we obviously HAD to have a go and it was just as perfect as it appears in the pictures, mostly because we had a tour guide/admiral (his words, not mine) who made sure we went through facing the right way and not causing traffic jams. Word of advice- punting is not for the inexperienced... we saw someone fall in the cold river while captaining his punt as well as people desperately trying to steer while getting knocked on all sides by other boats. Very grateful for a guide, who not only made our trip smooth, but also told us about the amazing campuses we were passing by. Every part of the ride was picturesque.
We made our way back home to St. John's Wood late that night. The next day, we all were able to go to church together at our Hyde Park Chapel. Brian's Sundays have become very busy, so when we were all together that night, we packed up a picnic of fruit and bread and walked through Queen Mary's Gardens at Regent's Park and ate a delicious dinner on the Crofts' last night in London!