The Trip That Broke Hearts and The Bank

The Trip That Broke Hearts and The Bank

We went on holiday.  We NEVER go on holiday.  Seriously, NEVER.

UK case

Even before we married, we’ve always shared the outlook that we should only do things if we have the means to pay for them.  If you can’t afford it, you can’t buy it.  That’s the Grover mantra.  It’s a great way to live life.

{OK, it’s a little hard sometimes}.

I can not lie.  I like new things.  I like sun and sand, and cocktails.  But – like everyone else I have stress in my life.  And I don’t need to invite more stress into it.   stress freeIt’s crazy to start fooling myself that I can have everything that I want, because I can’t – and my husband tells me that often.   This year was a little different though: I turned 50, we were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary, our son turned 18 and one daughter would be 16.  So this vacation was THE vacation.  The kids were old enough to appreciate it and, more importantly, to remember it.  You always need your kids to remember the ‘good times’ in their childhood because one day you will ask them to help you out in your retirement.  Two way street, baby.

So we were going GOSH DARN IT!!

We both grew up in England.  Don grew up in Suffolk, in a mansion big house complete with it’s own moat.  I.Kid.You.Not.  I grew up in Yorkshire.  I wish we’d had our own moat. Sometimes, in the morning, we’d discover that some delinquent  had swiped our milk  from the doorstep (flashback of having dry cornflakes for breakfast).  Or a pair of jeans from our washing line.  So yes, in my neck of the woods, a moat would have come in very useful.

Trip: We had a plan of attack.

A few days in London, a few days in Suffolk and the rest of the time with my family in Yorkshire.  Now, the trick was to do this as economically as possible.  This responsibility was lovingly bestowed on me.

Travel to England cheaply? Yea, right. Firstly – we are a family of five.  If we had any intention of physically surviving the holiday, we needed two hotel rooms.  Ker-ching. Personally, I’d have our kids sleeping standing up, or in the bath tub.  It would build character.  My husband disagrees.  Big softy.

England 2014 017
Night time on Canary Wharf

The greatest find for this vacation was this.  My friend in London had suggested it to me.  Basically, you rent someone’s home, or a room – or in our case a houseboat on the River Thames.  We were there for four nights.  It was WONDERFUL.  Not only did we have three bedrooms, and two bathrooms, we had outdoor space.  We could sit on the deck and check out the fab London night skyline. The best part of it was that it actually worked out cheaper than a London hotel.

While it is uber relaxing to be on holiday with older kids, it is nauseatingly horrible to pay for a holiday with older kids – who eat, and eat, and eat some more. Thankfully, I resorted to my favorite English libation. It makes things somewhat easier.  If you learn nothing more from this blog, you should try Pimm’s.  Just because.   Did you know that they sell Pimm’s in a can in England? I mean – genius, right?

Heaven in a glass.
Heaven in a glass.

But this is a Pimm’s No.1 in a pub near Westminster Abbey, called The Sanctuary, which seems fitting because Pimm’s can be a sanctuary – of sorts.

This is our family.  It’s hard to describe your family to someone.  We’re not perfect, we’re sometimes a little odd. But we’re in this ship together.  Against any storm.  Tower of London

The Grovers saw practically everything. My husband said we had walked 153 miles while in London. He’s a bit nerdy that way.  And, contrary to popular belief, the streets in London are not paved in gold. Major bummer.  So we grabbed a train and headed to beautiful Suffolk.

The Grover Girls
The Grover Girls minus one
Rhys and B
Seriously, stop photo bombing.
Tower of London

We had contacted the new owners of the home where Don grew up, and asked if we could swing by and gawp at it. Surprisingly, they said Yes. Who invites would-be stalkers to their house??  Fortunately they did.   This is the 12th Century moat.

As we say in Yorkshire, ‘It wa alraight’.

Yes, I'm not kidding.  This is the moat with it's bridge.
Yes, I’m not kidding. This is the moat with it’s bridge.

While the homeowner was very gracious in allowing this Yankee family to snap away a thousand photographs of her home, we thought that unloading our suitcases would be ….what’s the word…presumptuous.   So we rented another house.  A country cottage in the middle of fields, with chickens and fields and some more fields.

Home in Shotley.
Home in Shotley.
Just the standard walking trail in Suffolk.
Just your standard walking trail in Suffolk.
View from bedroom
View from bedroom

Three days spent in Suffolk, and then another train ‘t’up North‘ to Bradford, Yorkshire.  The countryside in Yorkshire is quite quite beautiful.  I think over the years I had forgotten how beautiful it was.  It’s also funny how you can leave a place and decades later return, and it seems as though you never left.  It was odd, but odd in a good way.  I met my best friend for lunch here.  Incredibly overpriced, with an Italian waiter (or so he said) who had lived in Yorkshire for 17 years.  His accent was a wonder to behold.  But not in a good way. I think Jamie Oliver probably told him to fake the Italian accent because it was Pukka, and the middle-age crowd likes it.  I can not argue.

And the best part of the vacation was family time.  Just fun.  I hadn’t realized that my two sisters needed me there, sometimes.  How else could they carry my father around?  Dad and Daughters 2Three is always better than two.

But that man seriously needs to learn to walk.

Saying Goodbye is always the hardest part. Lots (and lots) of tears.  Lots of laughter. Lots of memories.

For me, the best part of the holiday was knowing that my children had made their own memories of my family and the country where their parents spent their childhood; opposed to having to rely on our recollection of what it’s like to live in England.

In regards to finances, it’s doubtful that we’ll get a Christmas card from our bank manager.  We may indeed get a Christmas card/gift from the credit card company.

Sometimes you just have to do that crazy ‘once in a lifetime’ trip.

Because sometimes

you just can’t afford not to.


(Insert catchy ending phrase here)

Diane aka The Paint Factory

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