July is almost at an end, which means our time in England is wrapping up also. Sadface. As usual, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of what my last month has looked like.
I had several long train rides this month, so I got a ton of reading done. I devoured GIllian Flynn’s Gone Girl, but also found it really unsettling. I doubt I’ll be rereading it. I also read La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith, Jesus Is Better Than You Imagined by Jonathan Merritt, A Farewell to Mars by Brian Zahnd, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (pretty sure I didn’t stop cringing for the entire first half of that book). The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett (which was great), and Someday Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham (which made for fun, light travel reading). It was also the month of YA reading. I read Cruel Beauty and Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge at the recommendation of Mary from Giving Up on Perfect, who always finds the best YA and fantasy novels. These are redone fairy tales, a genre of which I’m especially fond. I did get a bit distracted by the world-building at times, trying to piece it all together. As far as I can tell, it’s set in an alternate version of Great Britain, which became the last bastion of an even more Hellenized (and never Christianized) Roman Empire, although when settings, outfits, etc. are described it seems almost Victorian. At any rate, I could not put these down. I also read four more redone fairy tales by Jessica Day George, (Her Twelve Dancing Princesses series, plus Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, her retelling of a Nordic fairy tale with Cupid and Psyche overtones). Lisa Bergren’s post-apocalyptic fantasy YA novel Remnants: Seasons of Wonder, released at last this month. I didn’t find it as good as her trilogy of the Gifted (which I loved loved loved), but I still devoured it in an evening. Evan Angler’s Spark, however, was mostly disappointing. He’s been dragging the series on too long, and it’s getting increasingly bizarre. This book featured a sentient Internet that secretly controls the whole world and does God’s bidding, so…
I got into the FIFA World Cup in a pretty big way (used up my caring about sports quota for probably about 4 years). I was lucky enough to be in Germany for the quarterfinal game against France, and it was a fantastic experience. Here I am with my sisters after the game. Obviously, I was thrilled with the result of the tournament.
I also finished binge-watching Ugly Betty, which I did enjoy, even if it was completely over the top.
I’ve been loving this companion CD to Ragamuffin, the new movie about the life of Rich Mullins. Andy Gullahorn’s cover of Peace is probably my favourite track on the CD, but the only one that seems to be up on Youtube yet is Derek Webb’s cover of Creed.
I also got to listen to the Monster Ceilidh band perform at the Tramlines Music Festival in Sheffield, and they were absolutely delightful. I’m listening to their Mechanical Monster CD as I type this.
I didn’t get a chance to cook much this month (being back in my own kitchen in a few days’ time will be nice), but I did make this phenomenal lime yogurt cake with blackberry sauce for Aaron’s birthday. It’s simple, elegant, and delicious. What can I say, Deb from Smitten Kitchen always knocks it out of the park.
Aaron and I kicked off the month with a week in Germany, where we met up with my parents and siblings to visit my mom’s side of the family. We were even able to be there to celebrate my uncle’s 50th (last time we were all in Germany was for his wedding 12 years ago). It was so wonderful being able to spend time with everyone, especially my grandmother, who is in much better spirits than when I saw her in February at my grandfather’s funeral.
While we were in Germany, we also took the opportunity to see Munster (which has been on my bucket list for some time) and Cologne.
This is my uncle photobombing the Cologne cathedral, which may just be my favourite of all the lovely churches I’ve seen this summer.
Back in England, we went into Brighton for Aaron’s birthday, to watch a local performance of Into the Woods, which was great fun. We also visited the beautiful city of Bath, and got to hear evensong at Bath Abbey.
We also got to see some Downton Abbey costumes at the Bath Fashion Museum, and I may have gone a bit fangirly.
We hit up the town of Stratford-Upon-Avon, where we visited a bunch of Shakespeare family houses and went for a short cruise on the River Avon
This is the church where Shakespeare was baptized and buried, as seen from the water.
Finally, last weekend, we went into Yorkshire to visit a friend who lives in Sheffield. She showed us around many of the city’s lovely parks and we spent quite a lot of time at the folk venue of the Tramlines Music Festival, which was just lovely. The next day we all went up to York, which is just a gorgeous city and well worth a visit. You can even walk along the city walls. And of course you should visit York Minster, the city’s gorgeous cathedral.
We’ve loved getting to travel all over England (and I’m kind of starting to feel like a pro at navigating their rail system), but that’s drawing to a close. We’ve got this coming Saturday to tour London, and then we’ll be flying back to Ontario. I’m sorry to leave Great Britain, as I’ve loved my visit here, but I’m also looking forward to being home again, sleeping in my own bed and cooking in my own kitchen, not to mention being back in my own church (which has gained at least two new babies in the time we’ve been gone, I hear).
That’s about it for me for the month. Be sure to head over to Leigh’s blog to check out some of the other submissions.