Obviously, with a two year old, a twenty week old and an impending house purchase that will leave us rather cash poor for some time, Chicago wasn't even a distant dream this year. So I was delighted when a mini-blogher of sorts came to Cambridge instead this month!
That's right, I had blog-her visitors right here in Cambridge. Last weekend one of my favorite friends -- Chennette -- came to visit me all the way from Trinidad ... or, errr, technically ... Guyana, her current tropical abode, by way of Barbados. And yesterday I was privileged to make the acquaintance of the lovely Painted Maypole when she made a detour through Cambridge on her way to her family reunion in Sherwood Forest.
I hadn't seen Chennette since last spring when she showed up just in time for MF's first birthday party back in Edinburgh. So I was thrilled when she took the train up from London last Sunday for a visit.
After G and MF picked her up from the train station while I waited at home with a snoozing Baby Boo--MF loves the train station-- she and I abandoned G and the wee ones and took off for a few hours to do touristy things and catch up on each others' lives.
After exploring the city centre's outdoor market for snacks, we decided to take a tour of King's College. I was particularly taken with the absolutely stunning pipe organ housed in the College's Chapel. (Pipe organs are an admitted weakness of mine -- I just love the way they look and sound.)
After we had our fill of looking around the College, we took a nice walk along the backs of the colleges along the Cam River. The Cam was chock full of punts, probably on account of the lovely summer weather that had finally been bestowed upon us. (As you may have heard, it's been a rather damp and humid summer thus far in the UK, a summer that has included quite a bit of flooding in parts of the country.) University students were out in force looking for tourists who wanted to go punting, hoping to make up for the slow summer to date no doubt. Chennette and I passed on the punting, though, preferring to walk and talk and take lots of pictures, and, after we'd had our fill of walking, settled down and had some tea.
Eventually, we decided to take pity on G and returned home with salad-y things in tow to go with the lasagna we would be having for dinner. Before we ate, MF was thrilled to have someone new --Aunti 'nette-- to show off his scooter-riding skills to, and zipped off down the street in front of us as fast as he could. G and I made sure she had plenty of time to be suitably impressed with his scootering zest, as we all trailed after him for half an hour or so . ;-)
We also made sure she had plenty of time to make the acquaintance of the now wide awake Baby Boo, aka around here as The Happiest D*mn Baby In The Whole Wide World.
Seriously. He's almost always happy.
Anyway, I'm happy to report that Chennette was an instant hit with Baby Boo:
Delivering Chennette back to the train station was the only sad part of our day. But even that was made fun as G, MF, Baby Boo and I all accompanied Chennette back to the train station and waited with her. MF waved Bye Bye to every train that pulled out while we waited, finally waving furiously as Chennette's train pulled out, headed back to London.
MF has continued to say Bye Bye Train, Bye Bye 'nette all this week at random times.
Painted Maypole's Visit
When I discovered that Painted Maypole was headed for London, I told her that she should let me know if she was coming through Cambridge. We are, after all, only an hour or so above London. And guess what: she did!
After trying to figure out the logistical difficulties on the phone early Sunday morning --they were driving up from London and didn't have a cell phone that would work over here (sadly, the UK cell phone system is not compatible with most US style cell phones)-- we decided that she could call me once they had safely landed in Cambridge and we could arrange to meet. And again, she did!
So, I headed off to the city centre on foot, with a slightly snoozy, schnuffling Baby Boo in tow to meet her in front of King's College. (G had taken MF grocery shopping, in our weekly divvying up of the wee ones for the grocery shopping run.) I promised to wear my flowery red sun hat so as to be identifiable.
Well, all I can say is I'm really glad I wore the hat because the streets were packed with people and tour groups. It's high tourist season here, and we have large herds of foreign language students studying here for the summer as well, so it can get quite crowded in the touristy areas. After initially heading to the admissions entrance to the College and waiting for about ten unsuccessful minutes, I backtracked to the front of the College -- just in case-- and hoped I hadn't missed her. Apparently, great minds think alike: Painted Maypole had been waiting at the back entrance to the College for a bit, then decided to walk around to the front of the College -- just in case-- to see if I was there.
Painted Maypole saw me standing in front of the College in my silly red sun hat with Baby Boo and knew she'd found me. We both expressed delight to have found each other in the ridiculous crowds, and then there was the expected teensy bit of initial awkwardness as we started to chat. I mean, after all, what do you say to someone you've 'met' on the internet when you meet live and in person for the very first time?
I still don't know the answer to that question --I probably just babbled something incredibly silly!-- but we were soon chatting away in spite of anything stupid that came out of my mouth. And I have to say, Painted Maypole is even nicer and friendlier than she seems on her blog, and that's saying something!
Anyway, we ended up taking a walk around the backs of the colleges for about an hour, and looked for her brother and his wife periodically from the bridges. Yes, they'd taken off to go punting on the river while she met up with me. And, yes, I felt a tad guilty when I realized that she had given up her chance to go punting, too, so she could meet and hang out with not-very-exciting me and Baby Boo for a couple of hours. But she was super nice about it, and I hope I didn't disappoint her too much on our walk and our diet coke break.
Yes, Painted Maypole is a fellow diet coke addict of sorts. How could I not like her? ;-)
Oh, and we also quickly established that both of our husbands were laughing at us a bit about our meeting up. You mean you're going off to meet up with a perfect stranger? Someone you met over the internet? What if she's nuts?
Finally, the obligatory picture. (Of course we took pictures! We're Bloggers!) Yes, before Painted Maypole and her family headed off to continue their trek north to their family reunion, we had our picture taken together in front of King's College:
We could be sisters, right? Well, except for the fact that she has much nicer hair. And skin. And was wearing a really cool Old Globe Theatre t-shirt that I now crave. And did I mention that she's really easygoing and incredibly friendly....?
Really. Who needs Chicago?!