We arrived back in Newcastle from our USA visit just in time for the fourth of July. Having missed the opportunity to celebrate at home, we threw an independence party on the roof of our British apartment building! Complete with burgers, hot dogs, watermelon, cookies, cole slaw, red solo cups, plenty of booze, and friends decked out in their best red, white and blue. Sergio the duck kindly served as an ice bucket, naturally.
This year's summer vacation was a visit back home to St. Louis for not only my brother's wedding, but also for my best friend's wedding the following weekend! On the journey over, we had also scheduled for a long layover in Cincinnati so that we could squeeze in some time to see Ron's Ohio family as well. After a quick catchup and some Skyline chili, we flew onward to St Louis, where our first chore was to get some Taco Bell. Ron also decided to re-take his driver's test, as his license had expired while we'd been away. Yes, he passed :)
That night was Matthew and Brittney's wedding rehearsal! My sister and I were both scripture readers for the ceremony, so after some practice and instruction, everyone headed off to the rehearsal dinner together. And before we knew it, the wedding day was upon us! It was so beautiful to be there, seeing Matthew beam with happiness on his big day.
Since this was also my first time being home for Father's Day in 2 years, we surprised dad with a breakfast in bed the next morning (complete with waffles and a blended piña colada). Ron and I also decided to eat our leftover wedding cake topper from last September, since we wouldn't be home again for the 1-year anniversary when we'd traditionally enjoy it. (I think mom ended up eating most of it anyway!) And finally, I was so thrilled to squeeze in a visit with my friend Gina and her beautiful new baby, CJ!
With wedding #1 in the books, we headed off to Columbia to visit with Ron's family for a few days! We spent a day golfing (correction: they golfed. I supervised over a bloody mary), laid by the pool, BBQ'd, had a lovely Pierce family photoshoot, and also went out for dinner together to celebrate Ron's sister's birthday.
Finally, it was time to head back to St. Louis and prepare for wedding #2! This time I was a bridesmaid, so I was on duty for all the pre-wedding festivities: a final bachelorette dinner, the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, wedding-morning prep, the ceremony, reception, and of course all of the group photos! It was an absolutely perfect and stunning day (despite a drizzly good-luck start!) and I was so so honored to be there beside my best friend on her big day. My heart was full!!
Ron's parents arrived in Newcastle exhausted but excited for this year's annual visit! We took it easy for the first few days, catching up and enjoying a few traditional pub meals in town. On Friday night, after Ron and I finished with work, we all caught a train up to the northernmost English town of Berwick upon Tweed, sitting on the coast just two miles from the Scottish border. We had passed through this charming town on the train many times on the way to Scotland before, and had always wanted to stop for a visit.
After touring around a bit (and accidentally getting too drunk with the locals on Friday night), we caught a bus from our Berwick hotel over to Holy Island in Lindisfarne, which is only accessible by road twice a day due to the changing tides. We arrived to Manor House Hotel, a little bed and breakfast with a beautiful view overlooking the island's 16th century castle, and promptly had to go over to take a tour!
That night, we had local island fare at the Ship Inn, in the center of the small island town. In the morning, we toured the medieval priory & monastery ruins, overlooking the famous St Cuthbert's Island.
Here was the moment when Teresa asked for American cheese with her full-English breakfast:
After the Holy Island visit, next up was the historic golf city of St. Andrews up in Scotland. Not only did we have the famous golf course to see, but also the local castle and priory ruins as well.
And nearing the end of our visit together, we couldn't let them get away without a waffle dinner at Kaspas... !
In the months following our wedding, I got started a very busy new job, and we also spent a lot of time researching and touring new flats. So, we didn't do any fun trips, thus the gap in these posts! BUT that was about to change... eventually we found a new flat that was cheaper than our current rent, which will ultimately give us a higher budget for more traveling! We got moved in the weekend before my birthday, just in time for the arrival of my mom and sister to come and celebrate! With the Jincks girls in tow, my birthday week was absolutely packed full of adventures!
They landed in Newcastle on my birthday, March 7th. I left straight from work to meet up with my friend Honor, who drove us both to the airport to pick them up. Next, we all headed to the new flat just quickly enough to drop off the bags and call a taxi. We were off to an exciting evening at Bongo's Bingo! Not only did we all have an absolute blast, but a birthday miracle occurred and I actually won a huge inflatable yellow duck named Sergio!
The next day, we did a bit of shopping and then met up with my friend Katy for a fancy afternoon tea at the Great British Cupcakery on the Quayside. We had the best seat in the house for some Instagram worthy selfies! And all the food was literally piled up in front of us... we all indulged so much we nearly needed to be rolled out the doors.
On Saturday morning, we were off to London. For the past several months, I'd been prepping for my stage debut in a comedy show called Mortified. This weekend, I would be walking out on stage to read humiliating entries from my middle-school diary. And it was a complete success - I walked off the stage absolutely buzzing to do it again! Not only was Ron, my mom and my sister all able to come support me, but also my friends Lauren and Jimmy.
The next morning, we met up again with Lauren and Jimmy for a fresh breakfast, before setting off to explore London on the bus tour. We stopped at Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, and also took the Thames River boat tour to the Tower of London. Fun fact, there have been 6 versions of the London Bridge, one of which currently sits in Arizona after being purchased and transported by a wealthy American (he'd mistaken the very simple London Bridge for the much more iconic and admired Tower Bridge).
After we got back to Newcastle, we were able to finally slow down a bit! Mom and Michelle were amazing with the new flat, helping us to unpack and organize it. We spent lots of time thrift shopping and sampling every coffee and cake in town! As with every other time, their visit was far too short and ended before I was ready! Until next time :)
Ron & Andee
Two Americans documenting our adventures abroad!
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