Friday, April 30, 2010

Fetch


Since Dudley dog was stranded at the kennel while we were stranded in Spain, we've been feeling guilty. Trying to offer him extra attention, I took him into the yard yesterday and tried to play fetch. That would have been a lot of fun for Dudley,
except someone else kept fetching the stick....
There's no love loss over it. They are still pals. Dudley Dog, what a great sport. You're the best.
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For the Birds

Not sure why, but we've been attracting birds around here.
A few days ago, these ducks flew into the yard and camped out for a few hours.
They were quite content and it was rather fun watching them waddle amongst the kids toys.



Then, simply because it was a beautiful day, I opened some windows for fresh air.
Unintentionally, I welcomed in a little bird who decided to check out the house.



The poor thing seemed scared and continued to fly into our windows.
I opened more windows. Eventually he found his way to the laundry room,
where I trapped him and opened a door for his escape.
It was quite a day long adventure for both of us.
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London Day 4; Museums

London Day 4
We decided to check out various museums around the city on this day. They were all expansive, easy to reach, and best of all, free! We visited everything from the Lindow Man (preserved in a bog for hundreds of years) to scenes of London's history and stories of the Great Fire.
The museums are a treasure on their own and Londoner's should be so proud to host such a fabulous collection of history, all free for the public to visit.

In the photo below, the kids are looking at an old clock...
In the photo below, a museum employee was allowing the kids to handle coins, tools, and knives which were used over 2000 years ago.


Before we knew it, the time had come to pack up and head for the wedding in Spain.
It seems noteworthy at this point to mention that I was amused by the exit signs. They are not marked "EXIT" as we're accustomed to, but instead "WAY OUT". After 4 busy days in the city of London, it was time for us to find our 'way out'. We hope to go back.

In the meantime, on to Spain,..where we had no idea what was in store for us!

London Day 3; Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace, Royal Mews, Westminster Abbey

Day 3~ We hit the streets running,...again.

Our primary goal was to make sure we got to see the royal ceremony for the changing of the guard outside of Buckingham Palace. For a full excerpt on this tradition, you can check out http://www.royal.gov.uk/  (click on royal events and ceremonies for a detailed video)

The crowds were deep and wide, but we managed to get just a glimpse.
They looked sharp, but I'm biased. I've been known to fall for a guy in uniform.
Here's the circus, just outside the gates of Buckingham Palace....

After the Changing of the Guard, we wandered down to the Royal Mews where some of the royal horses, carriages, and cars are kept.



Then stopped in at Westminster Abbey where thousands of people are buried, where British pageantry has made its significant mark, and where anyone could spend hours taking in detail.
 
Matt had hoped to visit inside Parliament, the heart of government, but it happened to be closed due to an election. Sounds like a good excuse to go back  to London eh?

London Day 2; Tower of London, River Thames, London Bridge, Crown Jewels,Parliment and Big Ben

"Look Kids! Big Ben!"

We purchased hop on hop off bus tickets for 2 days of touring around London. On the first day, we hit the London Bridge, passed by Parliament and Big Ben the clock tower countless times. We visited the National Portrait Gallery, where we could have spent another day or two simply wandering the halls. Afterwards, had a picnic lunch in Trafalgar square. We toured the Tower of London where we viewed the Crown Jewels. Crossed the Thames via a boat ride, crossed the London Bridge via the bus, and by the end of the day, felt like we were crossing our eyes from all the sightseeing! Here’s a snippet, of all that we passed by.

"hey! there's Big Ben again!"

This Beefeater was incredibly kind, with a beaming smile. She'd just taken at least 50 some photographs with a large crowd of Italian seniors, and took a moment for those of us who were in the back of the crowd. A little research after we got home led us to realize that she is the first female Beefeater. I wish we had known when we were standing there. We would have congratulated her at least.

....In case you're wondering, a beefeater is a member of the Yeoman Warders, a ceremonial guard which oversees the Tower of London in England. Technically, the polite term is “Yeoman Warder,” although most people know the members of the iconic guard by their nickname. In order to serve as a Yeoman Warder, an applicant must have 22 years of service in the British armed forces, along with awards for distinction and good conduct. The beefeaters were founded in 1485 under the reign of Henry VII. They are charged with the duty of guarding prisoners in the Tower of London, along with supervising the safety of the Crown Jewels. The modern Yeoman Warders also offer information and tours to visitors, and they care for the ravens which are housed at the Tower of London. Tourists readily identify the beefeaters by their distinctive uniforms, which are modeled on those used by the Yeoman Warders in the Tudor era.



Day 1 London; The London Eye

We arrived via train into London from Brussels. Caught a taxi to our hotel, near the corner of Hyde Park.

Firstly, I must say, the London taxi is very classy looking, roomy (we all fit into one cab) and rather fun. Pricey, yes, but if you ever have a chance, go for a ride. You’ll be glad you did.

Once settled, we set to the streets to figure out the Tube/underground transport. Eevntually, we found ourselves at the London Eye, an attraction the kids were advised by friends at school not to miss.
The London Eye is a huge Ferris wheel offering views over London for miles. It’s not your ordinary Ferris wheel either, as there are capsules on the outside of the wheel which you ride inside. Each capsule can fit a fairly large group, (say 15 -20 people comfortably).
The construction guarantees that your view is never obstructed by the wheel. Though we were still trying to get our bearings, it was a great way to settle into the city.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Wedding

Really lovely. Lots of great photos to share with the newlyweds. Here are a few...




There was no lack of doting over the bride by her nieces and nephews...

We're so glad we could be there. Thanks for having us be a part of your special day Pete and Julie.
Congratulations and Best Wishes!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Top Ten Things To Do While Waiting For A Plane Outta Spain

NUMBER ONE- There are the obvious options- like taking the kids swimming at the hotel pool.

(What's not so obvious is how to avoid second takes at the topless eighty something sunbathers on the pool deck).

NUMBER TWO- There are the resourceful options which the kids come up with- like presenting a light show from the stage of a hotel bed, using light wands given to them by the ladies at the Chinese restaurant after dinner.





































NUMBER THREE- Always a nice option. Photograph the grandparents teaching your children how to pose in a photograph.
NUMERO FOUR -Visit the Mediterranean Sea



FIVE -Play beauty shop with grandma until her eyes cross


NUMBER SIX
 Eat.

This chocolate came in handy when we were told there were no buses available for 2 weeks and no trains to Paris for almost 3 weeks.

NUMBER SEVEN
 Make a fort (again- kid's choice here)




NUMBER EIGHT
 Take a trip to the local Wild Western/Spaghetti Film location
If you haven't seen the pictures on that one, go one post back.

NINE
 Go shopping. Let me tell ya, the meat is readily available most everywhere.


NUMBER 10
 Last but not least, watch another round of BBC World news for info on where you might find a way home again. (Thank goodness one of the 5 channels in our hotel room was in English, and thank goodness  BBC covered the volcanic issue so often. We wouldn't have had a clue about what was going on otherwise. It is also because of those BBC broadcasts, that we knew others were worse off, sleeping in airports etc. and realized that our own situation could have been much poorer).