Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Freedom's Winter Break Vacation in England With Chloe

Have you ever had the chance to visit another country?  I was lucky enough to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to Newcastle, England with Chloe Maughan and her family over the Winter Break this year.  Chloe is in the 2nd grade here at Parsley and has a younger sister, Lydia (age 5) and a younger brother, Evan (age 3).  Chloe’s daddy grew up near Newcastle and his family still lives there, so we stayed at Chloe’s grandparent’s house during our visit. 
We spent seven hours on two different airplanes to get to England!  The plane rides were fun and we even got to watch a movie on the plane!  We visited lots of fun places while in England.  The one thing that really surprised me was how old everything was!!  We visited three REAL castles while we were there. 
One of the castles we visited, Bamburgh Castle, is almost 2000 years old!!  We spent almost an entire day exploring outside the castle grounds, climbing sand dunes, playing at a park next to the castle, and even found a secret staircase that Chloe’s daddy used to climb when he was a kid! 
Another castle we visited, Alnwick Castle, had an amazing tree house that was so big it even has a restaurant in it!  We had a lunch there, and had Christmas crackers, a tradition that the British take part in during their Christmas dinner.  The treehouse at Alnwick Castle had a really neat swing bridge that we got to walk across.  I heard Chloe, Lydia and Evan asking their daddy to make a swing bridge in their backyard when they got home!  We also learned that Alnwick Castle was in two of the Harry Potter movies (I’ve never seen them).  Can you believe a family still lives in this amazing castle?  It has been home to the Duke of Northumberland’s Family, the Percy’s, for 700 years! 
The last Castle we visited, Warkworth Castle, has been around since the 12th century!  The Percy family (who also lived in Alnwick Castle) also lived here beginning in the year 1332.  These two castles are less than 8 miles away from each other.  All three of these castles were within a 45 minute drive from Chloe’s grand-parents house! Pretty AMAZING!!
Newcastle is similar to Wilmington because it is located near a beach.  The body of water that Whitley Bay Beach is located on is called the North Sea.  It was VERY cold and windy but it was nice to take some walks here and play in the tidal pools. 
The temperature of the water never gets as warm as Wrightsville Beach’s.  When we were there, the water temperature was around 48 degrees!! Brrrrrr!!!  There were a few brave (or crazy) people kayaking and surfing the waves when we were there.  We even saw one man with just his swim trunks going for a swim… no thank you!! During the summer the water temperature reaches around 63 degrees which is still very cold compared to Wrightsville Beach.  Wrightsville’s water temperature peaks between 81 and 84 degrees. 
We visited a lighthouse near Whitley Bay called St. Mary’s Lighthouse.  The lighthouse is on a little island that we were able to walk to when it was low tide.  The walkway to the lighthouse is completely submerged at high tide so if you ever visit, be sure to pay attention to the tide charts! One new fact that we learned on our visit was that the tides are caused by the rotation of the moon around the earth.  Pretty cool!! 

In England, the day after Christmas is called Boxing Day.  I asked a lot of people why it’s called Boxing Day, but each person seemed to have a different answer!  Some believe that in olden days, the royalty gave their servants their Christmas gifts (in boxes) on Boxing Day.  The main things people like to do on Boxing Day are spend time with their family, eat more food, and watch ‘football’. 
In England ‘soccer’ is called ‘football’ and since ‘soccer’ has been around in England long before America, I think I’ll call it ‘football’.  Chloe’s daddy surprised the family with tickets to a real professional football game on Boxing Day!  We were able to watch Newcastle United play against Stoke City.  Newcastle United played very well and won the game 5-1!  It was very exciting!!!!

We had a wonderful trip to England over the Christmas Break.  Some of the similarities between England and America are that people speak English (but have a different accent), and they enjoy spending time with family around the holidays.  Some of the differences between England and America are that the English drive on the LEFT side of the road (the steering wheel is on the RIGHT side of the car), and that people walk a lot more to get places.  I found that it was a lot easier to get around on foot and with public transportation (we rode on the metro into the city one time) in England.  There are more sidewalks along the roads and even though many days were cold and rainy, people walked to the shops for their groceries and took their dogs out for walks in the wind and rain. 
Our trip back to America took a long time and was delayed even more because of snow at the Philadelphia airport which we went through.  It took us 28 hours to get back to Wilmington! But the long journey home was well worth it.  We all have memories to last a lifetime and I can’t wait to see where my next journey takes me!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Liberty's Winter Break with Zoe in Michigan

When my family and I went to Detroit, MI, we had a great time!

Liberty and I made a snow person in my Grandparent's front yard.

I couldn't believe it, but across the Detroit River is Canada!!!!! Did you know the first country south of Detroit is Canada?

Me, Liberty, my parents and my grandparents took a ride on the People Mover. Then, we got off at the wrong station and my mom and grandparents got lost and accidentally ended up in a casino!

We went to the downtown Detroit Farmer's Market and saw "Statues". I thought at first they were actual statues! (They were actually real people painted silver.)