Money is a little tight at the moment but a change of scenery was immensely needed. I was very grateful a month ago when my friend suggested a house swap.
L & S are based in Nottingham and we live in Chester. We lived for seven years in Nottingham and are blessed to have a great deal of people to come and visit every time we swing by. L & S have a lovely two-year-old daughter, a cocker spaniel, a very small bunny and a fish. They are arty, musical and like good food. You can see why we’re friends, right?
On a good run it can take two hours from Chester to Nottingham. We arrived late Friday night to miss the bank holiday traffic. Our first trip was to Stonebridge City Farm. The farm is largely run by volunteers and receives funding through sponsorship and local grants. They offer support to volunteers with disabilities and are open every day of the year. They run horticultural courses, fun days, Easter egg hunts and have a great selection of animals. There is always lots of fruit and veg growing which you can buy. And there is Stonebridge honey now too. We went early morning and finished with bacon butties in their cafe. The farm is free, with a donation suggested. It’s walking distance from the city centre and is on main bus routes. For more information check out their site.
We spent the afternoon with our lovely friends at a soft play that is based in an old church building. In fact it is the church building we were married in. It’s called Eden Softplay and it’s based in the heart of the Meadows in Nottingham. The church applied for the grant to make this space realising it was a great way to serve the community. I love that Nottingham has an innovative and forward-thinking approach to so many inner-city challenges.
Adam and I totally vegged out in the evening. We made the mistake of starting the second series of Homeland on Netflix. We watched three episodes back to back. Bad times.
We were really looking forward to Sunday morning as it meant going back to the church I went to as a student and where Adam started engaging with Jesus. The church (Trent Vineyard) is a big part of our family story and in some ways feels like coming home. It was great just to rock up, sign our children into the kids’ church and attend the service together. Trent Vineyard is a large church with over 1,500 members. They do two services each Sunday, one at 10.30am (with a kids’ church) and 7.30pm service without.
We so enjoyed the sound and skills of the worship band. The speaker today was Debby Wright. John and Debby Wright are the senior pastors of the church which has been going for 17 years. Debby spoke today on the topic of hope and based the talk around the story of Naomi in the Old Testament. Debby is a wonderfully engaging speaker. She is confident, funny, expressive and is an awesome story teller. I really related to the talk today. Life has been busy and occasionally tough over the last months. So having a fresh sense of hope of this season and being reminded to trust in God even when times are difficult was spot on.
We then caught up with friends who we have known for many years, in Cafe Trent (this is the super swish cafe attached to the church). Even though we moved 17 months ago, every now and then it feels still very new. Our home is definitely in Chester but I do dearly miss people and places in Nottingham. Maybe I always will.
On the Monday morning we ended up at a great park on Victoria Embankment, right next to the river Trent. I have many, many memories of taking Bookworm there. Our old house is just up the road. The Chap had gone a few times but just as a tiny baby. It was lovely to hear Bookworm recall her memories too.
Now we are safe at home and even manged a spot of gardening. A typical activity for most Brits on a bank holiday it would seem. We bought Bookworm her own redcurrant bush. I have not known anyone to enjoy redcurrants as much as she does. When living in Nottingham we were part of a fantastic community garden project. When she was around 18 months old, I got chatting to the plot holder next to me and didn’t realise she had gone out of sight. Praise the lord that it’s a fairly secure site but still I went into panic mode.
Had she climbed in the communal compost toilet? Tried to squeeze her way into the chicken coop? Picked the padlock and dived into the pond? Hoisted herself up and into the tandoori oven? No, none of these. What she had done was to situate herself so far in the masses of redcurrant bushes that I couldn’t see her . Nor did I have any concept of how many redcurrants she had consumed by this point. Anyway, she loves redcurrants and now has a bush of her own. I made a short film on Instagram of our planting efforts.
What did you all get up to on Bank Holiday weekend? Anyone got experience of house-swaps? Let us know in the comments.