This past weekend I had a lovely weekend away with my friend Helen and her family, and it was exactly what I needed. Helen and I have been friends since late 2007, we think--we met online and started writing letters quite soon after becoming friends, and though we met online, handwritten letters have been our main form of communication throughout our friendship. I actually knew her even before I knew Josh, and she commented this past weekend that she has had at least 4 different addresses for me in the time we've been writing, and I've had about the same for her. I think it's pretty fantastic that we've stayed in touch all this time; we've witnessed (from afar) many important events in one another's lives. She lives in Cardiff, which is the capital city of Wales and about a two-hour train ride away. As soon as I'd made my plans to visit Josh for the first time I wrote to her to tell her we'd be in Wales, and Josh and I took a day trip to Cardiff to meet her, her partner John, and her son Dylan, who was only four months old at the time. Since I've been here, we got together twice in the fall, but things have been quite busy, so this weekend was the first time we'd seen each other since about November. I took the train to Cardiff on Friday night, and on Saturday her mother drove us to their house in England, and we spent Saturday and Sunday there. We had absolutely glorious weather and her parents have a lovely garden, they fed us lots of fresh, good food and we played in the garden with Dylan enjoying the lack of rain. I want to gush a bit about how absolutely brilliant Dylan is--he's 2 and a half years old and loves numbers; he can already count to 100! He actually memorized the password to unlock my phone after I told it to him a few times and unlocked it himself after that to play with it. And he loves ice cream!
On Saturday afternoon we went to Lacock, which is a small village near where Helen's parents live. The entire village is protected by the National Trust for its historic value, because it has all sorts of well-preserved buildings from various time periods. As Helen's mother put it, "it's what everyone thinks England is like". We had fun wandering around and I bought plenty of postcards to replenish my supply! Overall the weekend was wonderful. I loved seeing Helen and catching up with her, as we have so much in common and don't see each other nearly enough due to us both having busy lives. It was also really good to have a change of scenery and it definitely helped re-energize me. I'm halfway through the week and have been quite productive on the dissertation front, which has me feeling good because this time next week I'll be lying on the beach in Spain and I don't want to spend my holiday feeling guilty about the work I'm not doing!
I'm not actually sure if I've mentioned my trip to Spain on here, but I'm going to Alicante with my friend Kate from university, and she has a friend there who is going to be our host and tour guide! I am SO EXCITED!! My next post will most likely be when I return. Adios!