Day 328 - A Guildford sandwich

We're back in Guildford staying with my parents for 5 days - having left here about 3 weeks ago. One of the definite bonuses of this year's trip has been the opportunity to spend more regular time with family, just doing normal things (and the odd day trip out of course!) We have been able to pick up cousins from school, hang out in the library with Grandma, watch TV with Gramps, do puzzles with Grandad Ian, and play cricket with Uncle Ed..  But as most of you are not family, you probably don't want the details on how many overs the boys beat Uncle Ed by..

So in between these trips (which just about coincided with my mum's birthday and then Father's day) we've been off round the East and South East of England - in Essex and then Brighton.
Can you spot Lucia?

Our trip to Essex was to cover a gap in our UK map! and to catch up with Andy and Alison Griffiths, who lived in Paris many years ago. Andy was a curate at St Michaels, and is now involved in training curates himself! Andy found us a church car park to squat (thanks Stephanie) and we had a great time exploring.. (here is Hylands Park, with a fabulous, inclusive play area)
We thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing with Andy, thinking through churches in general (Andy is one for encouraging the whole church to get involved in church life - he's even written a book about it! So it's helped us think about how to get back involved in St Michaels when we get back home.
We visited London and Stratford (more about that elsewhere) and then had an explore of a local wildlife park with Andy on Saturday (this mostly involved hanging out in the café as our kids were pretty exhausted).  On Sunday, the kids got a front row view at church, as Andy invited them to learn more about communion from up at the altar.

After we left Andy, we headed to Kent, and to Hop Farm, as a stopover on our way to Brighton. We were lucky to have 500 acres practically to ourselves for the night, which led to an impromptu campfire, some fantastic games of hide/seek and adults attacking the kids' 'den.'

Our next stop was Lancing, just outside Brighton. We were here for a bit of seaside, and more friends - for both James and I, friends from University. James' friend Elfie volunteers for a local wildlife trust (are you getting the theme here, we like nature!) so we had an incredible day pond dipping with her - discovering some amazing creatures - especially the cockroach-like water beetle larvae! Elfie's 4 year old, Charlie, was our expert, introducing us to bloodworms, shrimps, and water spiders.

The best bit of the day was hiding from the adults in the long grass, pretending to be dinosaurs!!

We enjoyed a day exploring Brighton - and loved the pier and the library..

Then the adults got to choose a day out, so we went to the Bluebell Railway and enjoyed a wonderful walk, putting some of our new found nature knowledge to good use looking for wasps on oak trees. 

We enjoyed catching up with my friends Zoë and Simon and their children. Our kids spent the afternoon playing in their motorhome!! (yes, there was both a house and garden option) And yes, we went to the beach!!


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