Tea and Scones in Hampstead Heath.

Listen up, anglophiles. I'm about to give it to you straight - all that we simultaneously hoped and feared is true.

Those British movies that depict picture-perfect English villages - complete with cobblestone streets leading to a floury bakery and also, there just happens to be a moor that overlooks the big city in the distance (where you can eat your breaded wonders and moon over life choices)? Yep, we thought those kinds of places couldn't possibly be real. Just Hollywood magic. Just the stuff we drooled over in Jane Austen movies. "Mister Darrrrrrrcy!!!!"

Nay, friends.

It's real.

It's all real.

I've seen it. Tasted it. Walked those clickity-clack cobblestones. Munched on the breaded goods. Gazed upon the heathered hillsides. I'm here to tell you that our Hollywood dream is nothing phony, feigned or produced.

The perfect English village exists, located on the northern rim of London. Its name is Hampstead Heath. And it is, indeed, as delightful as our imaginations could have ever summoned.

We took the bus & train ride up to Hampstead Heath because our amazing friends reside there these days. These are our buddies from our time living in Boston, when we all had the same schedule (and no kids!) and therefore could hang out all the time. We would walk to each others apartments in the snow and would bake and play board games. But Troy and Carrie have always been international travelers and dreamers at heart (we knew the States couldn't keep them for too long), and it was so lovely exploring this bit of north London that they now call home. I am so thrilled that they are exposing their children to such an extraordinary slice of life, a true English village experience.

I was slightly dazed by the whole village experience, and completely forgot to take pictures with our dear friends (please tell me I'm not the only one who does this - it's like you get into real conversation and the camera stays put away for hours). They showed us around the picturesque hilly hamlet, introduced us to their favorite bakery and of course, we all picnic-ed out on the heath. A real heath, overlooking downtown London in the distance.

You could call it perfect, but I wish there was an even better word.

Stevie and I stole an hour away to have tea and scones on the terrace at The Burgh House. It was perhaps my favorite date of the whole trip, so relaxed, enjoying buttery sweets in what was the most wonderfully overgrown English garden. Truth be told, Stevie and I disagree so often, it would probably scare some of you who are even-tempered souls. We are both opinionated and often too strong-willed, so our day-to-day is often wrought with differences of opinion and trying to prove to the other that we are right. It's not the most shining quality of our marriage. So when we can actually connect and put our differences away and relax with each other, it is the most nutritious and uplifting thing.

This was one of those days, one that I will remember for a long time. We just laughed. We ordered seconds. We dreamed of what it would be like to live in a village like this - "how could we get our families to move with us?" - and It was everything I could have wanted. Just laughing with my beloved in the sunshine, sipping on some English Breakfast tea and wondering what this next child of ours is going to be like. Seriously, what is he going to look like?!

That village grabbed a hold of my heart and kept some of it, tucked into the wilderness of the mossy heath. One day I'll bring all my boys back, show them the tree their daddy climbed and force feed them berry scones (though they will probably ask for eggs, because "its manlier"), and keep building upon these sweetened memories in the charming Hampstead Heath. It was the most picturesque English village, and the quaintest of days.

The best part is that it was all so real.

Roaming in Rome. Part 3.

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Roaming in Rome. Part 3.
There are so many things we did, saw and ate in Rome that don't fit into any kind of category. I shared about how marvelous it was to bring my 10-month-old son to this eternal cityhow fascinating everything truly was, especially the second time around, and how ancient this place felt. However, to leave the narrative of this trip at that would be irresponsible of me, because there were so many moments I experienced between my eye and the camera lens that were striking, enriching, elaborate and exceedingly funny. These moments were like the delicious ingredients that so sweetly flavored the whole trip for me. The outlier experiences. Things like, watching my husband dance unabashedly with my son while we waited for our pizza to arrive at the table. Like watching the pigeons primp their filthy feathers atop the statues' heads in the Piazza Navona. The curious water fountains you can drink from throughout the city and the trying on of leather goods and the munching on bruchetta while wandering through the flower district. Watching horse races in the Borghese Park and the fiats line up in a rainbow of cute and the windows open up midday. All of these charming moments were treasures, painting the trip in a truly rosy shade of optimism for me. This is the stuff of life. The little moments that make the big impact. Delicious. Precious. Unsung heroes of traveling tales.

St. Peter's Basilica, in all it's pomp and glory.

St. Peter's Basilica, in all it's pomp and glory.

My Ergo men. Everett still in his pjs, because, well... he was on vacation too.

My Ergo men. Everett still in his pjs, because, well... he was on vacation too.

Have you ever seen a car evoke such fun?

Have you ever seen a car evoke such fun?

I love Italians.

I love Italians.

I think this horse show was a rather big deal. Too bad I didn't understand any of the commentary.

I think this horse show was a rather big deal. Too bad I didn't understand any of the commentary.

You can find these water fountains all over the city. People drink straight from them or fill up their water bottles. Even though Rick Steves said the water was okay to drink, I wasn't brave enough.

You can find these water fountains all over the city. People drink straight from them or fill up their water bottles. Even though Rick Steves said the water was okay to drink, I wasn't brave enough.

For this? I was brave enough.

For this? I was brave enough.

He's delicious.

He's delicious.

Rome is ubiquitous with churches like this. They are on every corner of every street, no exaggeration. And when you peek inside, each and every one of them are breathtaking.

Rome is ubiquitous with churches like this. They are on every corner of every street, no exaggeration. And when you peek inside, each and every one of them are breathtaking.

If you follow us on instagram, you might remember when  I posted about Everett finding his (loud!) voice  in this silent church. Oops.

If you follow us on instagram, you might remember when I posted about Everett finding his (loud!) voice in this silent church. Oops.

He's made everything about my life better. Except for the ever-present eye circles. But I'll take em.

He's made everything about my life better. Except for the ever-present eye circles. But I'll take em.

Flowers wrapped in paper, tied up with strings. Isn't that from the "Favorite Things" song?

Flowers wrapped in paper, tied up with strings. Isn't that from the "Favorite Things" song?

Some kind of decadent, lemony-orange-hybrid.

Some kind of decadent, lemony-orange-hybrid.

The view the Pope wakes up to. PERSPECTIVE.

The view the Pope wakes up to. PERSPECTIVE.

Stevie pointed out that all the statues showcase old guys as ripped. Then he paused for a moment, then said, "If I could make a statue of myself, I would want it to look ripped, too."

Stevie pointed out that all the statues showcase old guys as ripped. Then he paused for a moment, then said, "If I could make a statue of myself, I would want it to look ripped, too."

That's a wrap!

That's a wrap!

Thanks for letting me share. And thanks for following along on our first international family trip; it was certainly a special one! I hope there will be many many more to come.

But you know what? I learned on this trip that adventure doesn't have to be a plane flight away. Niether does inspiration or creativity. Yes, spending time with my family in Rome certainly made me feel adventurous and inspired, and I have come back to the States full of all kinds of ideas and plans(with little time to implement everything in my heart). But! Some of the most adventurous parts about this trip were experiencing the everyday moments as a new mom, experiencing all these new things through the eyes of my darling son. It doesn't take seeing the Vatican or drinking the foreign wine to feel extra special or adventurous. But watching Everett discover pizza? Taste gelato? And laugh at the birds preening themselves in the fountains? Well gosh. My heart just comes undone. These things were truly thrilling. Yes, the wine was good, don't get me wrong. IT WAS VERY GOOD. But nothing came close to how much fun it was to push Everett on the park swing, watch him sway to the dinnertime accordion music, and marvel at discovering his voice can echo in a cathedral. 

There are adventures around every corner. Even at home. Even where everything is "regular". We just have to shift our focus to look for those moments, pause and revel in them a bit, and celebrate! I'm learning how to do this. I'm not great at it. But being a parent makes you sloooow down, so these moments are a bit easier for me to grasp these days.

You don't have to travel to Rome to pause for a moment. You don't have to travel to Rome for adventure. All it takes is a bit of patience, stepping outside the normal routines of the day, and giving yourself the moment to drink in the deliciousness of life. May there be a bit of dolce vita for us all!

P.S. - See Roaming in Rome, Part 1 & Part 2.