Avebury Manor

After we finished the canal boat adventure we met up with some family friends and got to spend a couple of days hanging out. We essentially crashed a birthday event – which included a trip to Avebury Manor.

From (the endlessly reliable) Wikapedia: “Avebury Manor & Garden is a National Trust property consisting of an early 16th-century manor house and its surrounding garden. Avebury Manor & Garden is located in Avebury, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, England.”

The Manor home is amazing. The gardens are amazing. The henge surrounding it all is amazing.

How could you not take 100 pictures of this home?

The kids loved the giant checkers…

One thing we all LOVED was that the interior was filled with reproduction pieces of furniture and props. Each room represented a different time period, and you could touch and sit and try on almost everything. It was such a neat hands on place!!

One aspect of the tour that was interesting, and a little creepy, was the henge. Again, to quote Wikapedia, “Avebury (/ˈeɪvbri/) is a Neolithic henge monument containing three stone circles, around the village of Avebury in Wiltshire, in southwest England. One of the best known prehistoric sites in Britain, it contains the largest stone circle in Europe. It is both a tourist attraction and a place of religious importance to contemporary Pagans.”


It was very interesting – and HUGE. I was so saddened by the pagans in their pagan garb heading out to find energy or peace or whatever.

I’m quoting the Lutheran Hymnal here, but this is what I think of when I think of ROCK and RELIGION:

“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”
by Edward Mote, 1797-1874
1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Hymn #370
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: 1 Timothy 1:1
Author: Edward Mote, c. 1834, cento
Composer: John Stainer, 1873, arr.
Tune: “Magdalen”

[After we finished up at Avebury we drove to Stonehenge since it was so close. We were all pretty pagan-ed out by then so we just drove by. I asked the kids if they wanted to go to the henge and look, and they weren’t impressed. It was interesting that such a historic site was so dull and sad for all of us.]

I am hoping that the people who once lived in the manor and worshipped at this beautiful chapel felt the same way!!


Port Call: Nantwich

One of the cities we made a “port call” in on the canal adventure was Nantwich. It is a BEAUTIFUL city and like everywhere we went in England, easily walkable. (I will say, the one exception to that is getting the whole “look right” thing down… I was almost flattened a couple of times…)

We pulled into Nantwhich and decided to hop off and walk around the town. Our guide book mentioned a “book store”, so the kids were ALL IN. From our mooring spot the historical part of the city was about a 20-30 minute walk.

The old city was beautiful!! Cobblestones. Cute stores. Wonderful flowers everywhere.


This was one of the old churches in the town center. I was working the ‘panoramic’ mode on the cell phone. LOL!


We took the recommendation of the canal travel guide and stopped for lunch at a local butch shop that sold meat pies. We were trying to eat local things and try new stuff, so we each picked a different pie…


I would say that was a successful lunch!! The aftermath wasn’t too pretty!


Toward the end of our walk we decided to stop for tea. We found a “Cafe Nero” which is a chain in England. I guess that could violate the “no chains while traveling rule”, but it seemed like they would have iced coffeee. I was hopeful…

The did not disappoint. The staff was great. It was so fun throughout the trip to talk to all the locals about their travels – wow we Americans are NOT well traveled as a culture!

Big ordered tea. She acclimated quickly to the English ways!

Little went with hot chocolate. Good call. Real whipped cream here.

I saw on their board that the scone included “clotted cream” so we had to give it a try. Thank goodness it’s not available widely in the US… or… we’d all be more widely. Seriously. Like butter….but smoother…fattier…

And – iced coffee for me. I was not disappointed. It was like nine shots of espresso on ice. With a little cream. But it worked. And I was VERY happy.

When we walked back to the boat I was able to get a good photo of the aquaduct. These totally fascinated me. They’re basically water bridges – with canals on the top instead of roads. They’re too cool.

We give Nantwich high marks. It was beautiful, walkable, neat stores to shop and browse in, and some yummy food. It was a great port call!

England by Canal… Next Installment

I just have to share a few more pictures of our latest family adventure.

I wrote about the trip HERE and shared about the boat company we used.

For the week we were on the boat we could not have had better weather. It was amazing. In the Deep South our season of “sweatshirt weather” where we can wear shorts and a sweatshirt is about an hour. We had that for a WEEK in Englang. OK, one or two days it was jacket weather – but no rain, no misery. It was great.

One of my favorite things to do while we were underway was to chill and take pictures. I loved the bridges…

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…and the boats moored along the canal banks. They were each so unique and colorful.
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Each bridge is labeled with a number, so you can tell where you are along the canal. They’re so cool! The numbers are fun, and then each bridge is unique. They’re a blast to photograph.
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On about the third day on our journey I found my first milage sign. LOVE!! It’s like a canal Narnia marker!
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Seriously. Calm, reflective water. Beautiful scenery. Great shapes. LOVE!
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How can you go wrong with sipping tea, watching the scenery, spending time with family, and photographing the passing castles?
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Another cool Narnia milage sign…
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And, probably one of my final photos. This was taken on our final night as we exited the lock and got ready to pull unto Andersen Boats on the left. A perfect conclusion.
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Spring in the South

Since I don’t have sweet smelling babies anymore, THIS had to be one if my favorite smells…



Absolutely intoxicating.

I love it.

At our last home we had an enormous gardenia bush. Huge. We used to prune it to nothing, and then, with no work, it grew like crazy… and bloomed…huge.

This gardenia is pretty much the same…


I used to have a great gardenia perfume from Target, but they don’t make it anymore. It’s a shame because gardens is one of the greatest scents. Ever.

Sometimes living in the South rocks.

Review: FishFlix.com – Exploring Ephesus

As a Christian homeschooling mom, I am always on the lookout for enriching media to round out our studies. We often use mainstream sources, but it can get tedious previewing everything and having to be ultra-vigilent about our kid’s worldview as we watch.  If you face those same challenges, I think you’ll love the media choices available at FishFlix.com. As a part of my review in my role as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew I received a physical dvd –  Exploring Ephesus. If you click on the banner below you can check out the reviews of other crew members, and learn about the variety of movies FishFlix.com asked us to review (there’s a wide variety of media we reviewed!).


FishFlix.com Review

How does it work?

FishFlix.com Review

 FishFlix.com is an online store that sells Christian movies. They carry everything from fun kids and family movies to apologetic and bible teaching for adults. If you’re looking for some great entertainment or teaching with God-honoring messages, FishFlix.com is definitely worth a look. And if you’re a “frugal mom” (read: cheap) like me, rest assured, the prices at FishFlix.com compare well with some of the monster online retailers.



FishFlix.com Review

As a part of the review, FishFlix.com sent me a dvd copy of the movie Exploring Ephesus. The movie is a one hour documentary which is basically a guided tour of the history, topography, and apostles of Ephesus hosted by two biblical scholars. The movie was recommended for middle school aged kids and up.

The first time we sat down to watch the movie we were all tired and a little distracted. I mistakenly thought this was a light, easy show and we’d all just chill and absorb the material – but we all failed. About half way through we all looked at each other a little lost. I decided we’d have to wait and re-watch the movie. I was delighted and pleasantly surprised at the depth of the teaching and history involved! I love that the movie was beyond “absorbing” and we’d actually have to pay attention! A couple of days later, we started the movie over, and with pause button ready and lunch on a tray to keep us sated, we watched it again. What a difference. We watched, paused, discussed, and watched some more. It was a super interesting tour and one we all wish we could have gone on in person.

Any bad parts?

Like I said, this is a little bit of a thinking movie. I don’t mean straining, but definitely a more meaty documentary that requires you pay attention. I think those are GOOD parts though – but your kids may need to be prepared to “pay attention”. The film does have a little indie quality to it, and isn’t as slick with the audio balance (music v. sound volumes) as more mainstream productions. None of that distracted from the film in any significant way.


I really enjoyed the movie, as did my kids. We all got a lot out of SEEING Ephesus and the island of Patmos. Aside from wanting to go spend a week there, we all felt like we had a better perspective on the life and times of the apostles, and the geography and topography of Turkey. I think that’s really the mission of FishFlix.com – to help people grow in their biblical understanding. This movie definitely did that for our family – and I am thrilled to look further into the FishFlix.com offerings to find more great movies for our family.


Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fishflix
Twitter: https://twitter.com/christiandvd
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/fishflix/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Fishflix/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/familychristianmovie
FishFlix.com Review

Crew Disclaimer

England Adventures – Andersen Boats

The main part of our England adventure involved renting a canal boat and spending a week cruising around the canals of England. If you haven’t heard of this – it’s amazing. There is a HUGE canal system throughout England and a large industry of canal boat rentals. The best way we can describe it is like driving an RV through a huge national park where you can stop and spend the night pretty much anywhere you want. It’s incredible. For a relaxing family vacation where you get to see the “real” England and meet really interesting people – it cannot be beat!


With family friends in England we asked them for advice and recommendations for a rental company (there are a ton!). They highly recommended Andersen Boats out of Middlewich, England. They were 100% right!! Andersen Boats is an amazing company and we’re so glad we used them! {And no, this isn’t a sponsored post… though I wish it were!! It’s just my opinion! But hey – Andersen – send me an email… LOL!!}




Why did we love Andersen?

* The people we worked with were AMAZINGLY nice. Everyone was awesome. Really fabulous.

* The boat was BEAUTIFUL and SPOTLESS.

* The boat was perfectly appointed. Linens, towels, tp, soap… There was also a tv, stove, oven, and fridge. We brought sleeping bags and towels on the recommendation of our friends – and we didn’t need them. The boat had everything.

* Their advice on routes and places to stop – SPOT ON. Each place we ate or visited was just perfect.

* The training was great. We felt 100% ready to take on the trip after our training session. We left stress free and ready to take on the canals.

* AFFORDABILITY. The boat was totally reasonably priced, and the cost included all fuel.


Here’s “our” boat in Middlewich:


The first night we were “knackered”, so we just grocery shopped, ate some dinner, and crashed out on the boat. Here’s where one kid slept… (there was another bunk similar to this, plus 2 double bunks, and the ability to fold out couches in the galley!)



The second morning we did our training (how to drive, how to operate locks, boat maintenance, etc.) and then we were off. [I know I already said it, but the training guys were great. They were super nice to the kids and totally got them up to speed to manage the locks solo. They were great!] Here are a few teaser shots of our next week…


Beautiful bridges…


…one of my favorite shots from the week…


…and seriously beautiful England….


Stay tuned!!