Well, folks, this is the last of my favourite photographs that I took last week in Bath. And happily, these represent some of my favourite moments that happened while we were there. They are, in no particular order:
Photographing awesome faces. The photograph above is of my father-in-law Bob, his wife, Anne, and their son (and Marcus' baby brother), Will. Anne specifically asked me to take a few photographs of them, because they hadn't had any done since we were with them three years ago. So just before I packed away my camera the night we left, I asked them to join me outside and let me take a few quick shots. They obliged, without even stopping to put on coats.
I love this shot. Anne is one of the sweetest women I've ever met. In addition, I have a real soft spot for my father-in-law: he's got a great sense of humour, and is constantly teasing someone in the house. Visiting him is always great fun.
And as for Will: while we were there, Will turned 21 (and apparently drank his brothers under the table when they all took him out last Friday). (Marcus would like me to point out that he is twice Will's age, so he should be forgiven for not being able to keep up.) (I would like to point out that being twice -- twice! -- Will's age shouldn't really make him feel any more comfortable about the situation.) It's sort of shocking the difference between the 18-year-old boy we left in England 3 years ago, and the man who greeted us on this trip (and spent a majority of the week with us). I really enjoyed spending time with him.
Watching Alex bond with her paternal family. My mom and dad split their time between Trinidad and the United States, and travel a lot; however, their main home is here in Houston. This means that Alex is incredibly close to my parents; however, distance makes it difficult for her to bond as closely with her paternal grandparents. So while it was great to watch her spend time with all of her cousins, it was really lovely how she grew especially fond of Marcus' mom, Diana. (Of course, inviting Alex to snuggle with her in bed the first morning she stayed with us was a surefire in: there is very little Alex likes more than a morning cuddle.) On several times since our return, after mourning how far away her cousins live, Alex has remarked to me how much she misses her grandmother. And since part of the purpose of this trip was for Alex to feel more connected to her English family, this is exceptionally gratifying.
Spending time with Mark and Morgan. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that Mark is one of my very best friends. Last year, Marcus, Alex and I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico to witness his marriage to the incredibly beautiful Morgan, before they returned to London, where they currently live. He and Morgan kindly drove into Bath for a few days (and had Thanksgiving dinner with us all!), just so we could visit -- and I was able to steal away a few times to spend some good quality moments with them.
I can't describe how heartening it was to see how well they've settled into married life, and witness how clearly they adore each other. Mark and Marcus have become good friends as well, and it just thrills me to no end to watch their relationship develop. Also, Morgan is just so great, and she and Mark so well suited for each other, it was all I could to keep myself from clapping like a goon as I watched them together. It's really wonderful to see my friend Mark so happy.
I can't help thinking that everything could've all gone pear-shaped: Mark could've married someone I didn't like, or I could've married someone Mark couldn't stand, and our friendship could've therefore taken a serious hit. But instead, as we all said goodbye, we started plotting when we could all get together again soon, just the four of us. And that's an incredibly awesome feeling.
Witnessing my English family interact with each other. As much fun as it is connecting with Marcus' family, it's equally awesome to watch how they connect with each other. It's so great watching the easy way they interact, how they cook together and laugh together and make and drink tea together (and heavens, there was a lot of tea). On the afternoon above, we were taking a walk along the river, and suddenly and unexpectedly came upon this labyrinth; without saying a word, everyone just spontaneously began to walk it, even as conversations continued. It was so fun to stand back and watch their relationships, and imagine how it continues to be this way even as we're thousands of miles away.
Learning about family members' hidden talents. My sister-in-law's husband, Nigel (which makes him my brother-in-law, yes? Or is he just Marcus' brother-in-law? Making him my brother-in-law...in-law? I'm so confused), is so awesome. He and I have settled into this relationship where we constantly (and good-naturedly) give each other a hard time. So don't tell him I told you this, but I admire the hell out of him: he's a fantastic husband and equally great father, and is possibly one of the most joy-full people I have ever met. I adore being in his presence.
Also? He has a talent for capturing vermin with wings.
I do not know how he does this, but almost on command, the man can reach down and capture a pigeon. While this completely grosses me out (seriously, RATS ... WITH ... WINGS), it positively delights the children. Here, he was letting his son Sam gently pet one of his captured birds, before letting it fly free. It was an admittedly sweet (though highly disgusting) moment, and one I was thrilled to photograph.
Watching the Film Master work. My friend Susannah is a true artist with film, and what she does with a Polaroid camera is just pure magic. She took several photos while we had lunch, and every time the image would slowly appear on the photo paper, it took my breath away. I left wanting to seriously try my hand at film photography (and even came thisclose to buying a vintage Mamiya medium-format film camera that I really can't afford while I was there), but I don't know if I have the patience for it.
So amazing to watch her work, though.
Cold, dark, rainy English nights. Call me crazy, but I love when I'm in England and it's cold and rainy. It's not that I enjoy the cold -- because oh, how I don't -- but just like I would expect the Caribbean to be sunny and warm, I expect England to be cold and rainy, and am rather quite disappointed when I'm there and it isn't. It's such quintessentially English weather, and there's something just so British about being out in the damp, muttering under your breath about how uncomfortable it is, before walking into a warm house, and having a cup of hot, sweet, milky tea. And happily I got to do that several nights while we were there last week. It was perfect.
So yes: our holiday in Bath was just magnificent. Thanks to everyone in England who helped make it so: we miss you already. Let's not let 3 years pass before we do it again, yes?
Also? I'm so happy to be back home. Over on Babble, I'm talking about everything I'm happy to see again, and about getting into the Christmas spirit (including taking your own family-self-portraits). I'd love if you'd go take a look.
But for now, since I've been blogging for 32 days straight, I'm going to take the weekend off.
Have an amazing weekend, everyone, and I'll see you back here on Monday.