Saturday, January 25, 2020

London and Beyond

The new year had a special beginning this year as I had the opportunity to lead a sketching tour to England for ten days. People pooh-poohed London in January, but we can testify that it was warm (50-58 degrees F), absent of crowds, and even filled with plenty of blooming flowers!

The trip was a dream hatched with a friend of mine, and seen through two years of planning hurdles and preparations! Five amazing girls joined us and it was our privilege to share in their adventures. 

These roses shocked me into realizing that finding so many flowers in bloom in January in London was one of the two highlights of my trip. These humble blooms are worth the world more in winter than in summer when they are lost to the crowd of every other rose. Each day of our trip was like a treasure hunt, searching the parks, sidewalks, and hanging baskets of London for the priceless gift of flowers in winter.

I think observing my reaction to finding these flowers in London has confirmed in my mind that nature exploration, education, and art is at the core of who I am as a creative person and I must continue to explore how I can use my gifts to bless others in the future.

The trip was a lot of work, but watching it unfold was a bit like watching a piece of art be unveiled to the public and I loved seeing the girls enjoy every bit of what they experienced.

 The other highlight of the trip was sitting around the table with the two other adults and the five girls -- from breakfast, to devotions, to cafe lunches, to fancy afternoon teas, to home-cooked dinners -- relationships being forged around a table touch the deepest part of my heart. The china, the setting, the food, the tea, the atmosphere -- those are all just props for getting down to the real business of interacting with one another.

 I could hardly sit still at this tea -- my eyes darting everywhere, trying to memorize all the details, constantly grabbing my phone so I could take yet another photo and somehow grasp the emotion and camaraderie of the moment.

And the china! The navy blue with white floral pattern? Good thing the hotel didn't have a gift shop because I would have been seriously tempted to buy something.

We eventually had to say goodbye and prepare for re-entry into regular life back in Indiana. School is back in session, I'm back to work, suitcases are long unpacked (but the tea I brought home is still piled up), and plans for the coming year are starting to be made.

Next week I want to share some of my favorite books from 2019 and hopefully I'll find a few more posts to share more about our adventures in England!