My sister Valerie is here for a visit! Hooray!
I know that I’d talked about her and I taking a trip to Paris but, as it turns out, there’s plenty to see and do right here in England. The only time that would have worked for her and I to go was also basically immediately after she arrived, and it would have been incredibly rushed. So, we have been making the most of all of our extra time here, starting with a day trip from Oxford to Bournemouth.
We got there on Sunday morning, making pretty good time and saying a prayer of thanks for good weather. Actually, gorgeous weather!
Sunny, warm (for November) and almost no wind. Beautiful.
Bournemouth was a great surprise. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was thrilled with just about everything that we saw. How can you beat a view like this?
Idyllic. Like something out of a movie.
We walked all along the pier, taking in views like the one above and gazing out across the English Channel.
Traveling with a child certainly has changed things. Nowadays, it seems like meal times and food set the schedule. Right off the bat, we looked for a restaurant and decided on the Key West Restaurant right on the pier. The food was good, but the “entertainment” was better 🙂
Chris and Joe “wrestling”
We headed down to the Lower Gardens after lunch where the balloon rides were taking place.
Now, for those of you who don’t know, I am very afraid of heights. I’m actually getting goose bumps and clammy palms just thinking about that balloon ride while typing this. I don’t like being in high places, but as soon as I saw that balloon from the beach (and heard that it was tethered by a giant cable), then I knew that I had to give it a go.
On its way back down… trust me, it goes higher than this!
Unfortunately, no one else wanted to go. Boo! But I went ahead and said that I would go all by myself. That’s right, no one to hold my hand if I got scared at the top. Just me, but it was so unlike something that I would normally do that I decided to just go ahead and do it.
Then, at the last minute, who should appear in the line beside me but Valerie! It’s great to have a sister along 🙂
We got on the balloon and started to listen to a very monotone, very low-key sounding recorded tour guide. I told Valerie that he must have been picked for his soothing voice to calm people like me!
Side note: just ahead of us in line was a grandmother and grandson. The grandson was practically buzzing with excitement and his grandmother was obviously taking him on a “day out”. She asked him a few times, “Now, you’re sure that you want to do this, right? You won’t back out, will you?” He kept saying that he really wanted to go but, the moment that we were given the OK to board, he blanched and became rooted to the spot. His grandmother said, “Now, you just said that you wanted to ride this!” They ended up missing the ride and I could tell that grandma wasn’t pleased!
Looking down… waaaaaaay down!
I’m glad that I rode the ride, even if I did stay in the same spot the entire time. The views were beautiful and no one died. I’d call that a success!
After the ride, we headed toward the Victorian-era carousel. The area surrounding it was quite crowded and I wondered what it must feel like at the height of summer. I’m sure that the crowds are pretty crushing at that time of year.
We walked a bit further toward St. Peter’s Church. St. Peter’s has the tallest church spire in all of Bournemouth, standing at 200 feet. I know this because I was probably one of the only people who was listening to the tour guide while on the balloon (I needed something to distract me from the height!).
Why St. Peter’s church? Aside from the fact that it’s a beautiful building, there was a particular gravestone that I wanted to see in the churchyard…
The grave of Mary Wolstonecraft Shelley, known to most people as the author of “Frankenstein”. Her remains lie here along with those of her son and daughter-in-law and “what remains” of her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s, heart (another tidbit that I picked up from the tour guide).
Valerie decided to be ridiculous and lie next to the grave.
I won’t tell you why she was laughing, because it’s one of those things that’s so ridiculous that it wouldn’t make sense to anyone else. You had to be there 🙂
So, Bournemouth was beautiful and I’m glad that we went. I’m even more glad about the fact that Valerie could be there with us. We’re having a great time with her here!