During our 2-week stay in Europe, we visited the medieval city of Oxford, coined the “City of Dreaming Spires” by poet Matthew Arnold.
Our 11-year-old daughter & I just finished the 7 books by C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, & the epic trilogy, His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman, both alumni of Oxford University, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, established 1096.
What was completely remarkable was that there was only 1 parking spot available in this bustling college town when we arrived and it just so happened to be in front of the Eagle & Child pub – we were hungry, but we didn’t know how significant the place was until we walked in!!
Built in 1650, this favorite watering hole was frequented by Lewis, Pullman, J.R.R. Tolkien and other members of “The Inklings,” the famous literary group!
So, of course, that’s where we had lunch!
Seriously, out of the whole city, what’s the chance of finding that one parking spot!
Our daughter, a published author & speaker by age 8 and now a prolific writer working on her 1st novel, felt the wall behind where we sat and breathed, “I’m touching history.”
Couldn’t be more perfect!
She ogled the Harry Potter Golden Egg in one of the store windows but opted for the snitch.
Before leaving historic Oxford, we stopped for tea & scones and some lovely smoked salmon.
The Bright Spot – Being surrounded by spirituality, architectural magnificence & educational brilliance, it was nourishing for our well-being at this most challenging time: Kicking Cancer
On our anniversary we renewed our vows at the 14th century castle where we wed years ago (below). The weather was glorious, the English gardens in full bloom, our hearts were full.
This summer, we enjoyed more than 1,300 miles of pristine landscape in the United Kingdom from Edinburgh, Scotland to Lancashire, North Yorkshire, The Penines, Northumberland, and Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, England.
It brought back wonderful memories from years ago…
We were so pleased to celebrate our union with our family and friends
We married in the United Kingdom and again a month later in the United States. Our maid of honor, best man & bridesmaids flew back and forth for the weddings, both of which took place near sunset on the eves of full moons – that was just a pretty bonus from the Heavens!
I am also very grateful to my wonderful seamstress – who made sure every gown, dress, suit/outfit I wore at the Miss America years earlier was fitted to perfection. In England, she made sure the bustle was perfect! After all, she created it. And she made my gown glisten in candlelight and against the setting sun.
On our anniversary this trip back, we really enjoyed seeing our daughter & Goddaughter running playfully along the centuries-old wall we walked up together as newlyweds.
And although we enjoyed journeying throughout the Kingdom… (2000 years! Read the sign below:)
…taking carriage rides & visiting local farms where our kids could grind wheat & hand-feed horses and little lambs…
…and enjoying quaint pubs, 500-year-old canons, Scottish castle ruins,
family, friends & a romantic summer to remember…
…I must say my favorite part of this year’s anniversary was not the trip to Europe, but rather what we did on the “next wedding anniversary” a month later when we returned (yes, we celebrate both).
We took our little one and her friend to see the Winnie-the-Pooh animated classic in the movie theater. As we sat with the girls between us, Phillip reached over their seats to touch my arm. I smiled at him in the dark and whispered, “There’s no where else I’d rather be than celebrating today with our family and Winnie-the-Pooh.”
Later that evening, my mother watched Little Petal as we went out to dinner.
(These are photos by day/sunset are so you can see the roadway. It was pitch black when we were there. I’m sure we would have given our teen an earfull if he did this…)
On the ride home, Phillip turned onto a long single-lane road over a large lake. He turned off the engine and jumped out of the car, motioning me to follow him.
He put his arms around me and looked up, pulling me close. Stars pierced the pitch black sky; the only sound ~ the chirping of the summer crickets. The water was still, the air was warm. He kissed me and took my breath away. I felt like a teenager, blithe and carefree. With every beat of my heart, he kissed me more passionately.
Suddenly, car lights in the distance were heading our way. Our car blocked the entire single lane, and the oncoming driver would never suspect someone stopped on this quiet, dark roadway.
We scrambled as fast as we could to get into the car as the lights drew closer and closer. I grabbed my skirt around me and ran as quickly as I could to the passenger side of the car, heart pounding with excitement, fear, naughtiness.
We took off just in time and laughed giddily – I think from the nerves and the rush.
The Bright SpotTM – my husband, the love of my life! Go grab your Honey and smooch him/her! Take out some time and write down your special thoughts about why you love your wonderful someone. Renew your vows and commitment to one another. Castles and moats are great backdrops, but it’s the authenticity in your words and heart that make your relationship deep. Enjoy the little things like an afternoon movie with your kids or a romantic kiss by the lake. If you are single with kids, tell your kids how special they are to you and celebrate your commitment to each other. If you are an adult, tell your parents or grandparents how much they mean to you. A vow is a pledge or promise to the one(s) you love. Life’s so short, do it today.
And a double Bright SpotTM just for YOU!! Thank you to all of you who read this site. 2 million page views & counting in one year because of your support & interest in these stories, our albums, links, and the weekly interviews from our Live, call-in radio show “Let’s Talk!” archived on this site for your convenience. And thank you to everyone who commented/sent e-mails on the story that follows – about how the tragedy of 9-11 affected our family and how our young son unknowingly inspired many in this nation and abroad. Thank you all!!