Wednesday, August 10, 2011

24 Hours

The taxi comes tomorrow in 24 hours and we are nearly done with our preparations.  The infamous "Black Bag" looks like it is too heavy so something will need to come out, but with the scale at the ready, we should be able to deal with this.

Clothes are picked out, other things are in bags and the trash is out.  Let's go!

As we leave I am extremely saddened by the state of affairs in Manchester and in other parts of the country.  It is sickening to see the images on TV and to read about the continuing unrest.  We only hope that things turn around soon and that folks in areas affected by the goings-on will feel some sense of security soon.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dinard, Brittany

It's rainy here in Dinard - a spiffy little coastal town with a beach right downtown.  Unfortunately, the sun from yesterday is nowhere to be seen.  We've celebrated (?) this fact with a sleep-in, Swedish pancakes, Husker Du (sorry, no umlauts) and (for Andrea) two trips to the open-air market.  She picked up an industrial-strength coffee for me so I'm happy.

Last night was our first one spent inside in over a week as we are just off of our bike tour of the central-north section of Brittany.  It was an awesome trip!  We rode 20-40 km days, with one day off of the bike walking around the Isle de Brehat.  Rose and Xyla took very well to the bikes and the camping.  We cooked all of our meals from our vast store of grains we took along and veggis that we picked up along the way.  All of our gear was provided by an English couple who run a company, Breton Bikes, that supports trips like ours.  We had two adult/child tandems and all of the camping stuff we needed.  I pulled a BOB/action packer trailer.  It was a load, but doable.  I will put photos up once we get a replacement battery for our camera, something that disappeared in transit from the charge-up spot to our campground.  Mysterious.  We looked and looked, but to no avail.

Brittany is beautiful and it was sort of a bummer to finish the ride.  We could have gone longer.  

Our apartment for the weekend was located through Air B&B.  It is a third-floor walk-up with everything we need.  The owners are off sailing and we are paying them for the opportunity to stay here.  Way better than a hotel room and at the same cost.  Sweet deal.

One more night here then we head toward Calais where we Chunnel it back to England on Monday.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Week

Xyla as seaweed.
This was our final full week of school as next Wednesday is the last day for Rose and Xyla.  We will have two days in Cheshire after that before driving down to London where we will stay with my friend from high school, Cam Smith.  He and I have traded visits a couple of months ago and it will good to see him.  Disappointed that his wife, Shannon, will not be there - It would be nice to see her, too.

Our first order of Business in London on Saturday will be to visit my Grandmother's friends Gill and Jim Joy who live south of London.  They were close with Vera when she lived in Croyden some 25 years ago or something.  Andrea and I have stayed with them once, but that was before R and X.

In addition to doing the usual in London, we will see the Wizard of OZ and Andrea will give a talk at Imperial University.  Good stuff.


Xyla talking about process.  (Really.)
Tuesday was sports day at the school.  The kids started with a sport carousel.  Picture a huge field with 16 different activities.  There was an army crawls, a hockey obstacle course, tossing games, etc.  The kids were all in multi-aged teams and each of these was divided into four.  Each small group spent some time at a station, collected as many points as possible within an arbitrary amount of time and then moved on.  The whole thing finished with a set of races (in like-aged groups).  It was pretty impressive how well the whole thing was organized and the kids had a great time.  There was also a Dads' race.  I did this but got dusted (we all did) by some guy who had the body of a 100 meter sprint champion.  I caught him later looking at the footage that his wife shot with her phone.  He had a huge grin on his face.

About to play air guitar.
Wednesday was the class show.  They did Sally the Starfish.  Rose was a narrator. (This word is not pronounced anything like it is in American.  Even without the accent it is unintelligible. Oh, and I know that American is technically not a distinct language, but if anyone tells you that the language over here is the same as the language over there - they didn't spend any time away from their tour group.)  Rose did wonderfully with her lines.  Xyla was a seaweed.  She designed and executed her own costume.  I was the producer and although I had some very solid design tips, she brushed me aside and did her own thing.  The resulting costume was excellent, as was her dancing and singing.

Nothing else major happened.  We played a lot of Too Many Monkeys at the Stag's Inn, went to the library, went to the park - stuff like that.

Andrea arrived yesterday and it is certainly nice to have her back.

She met us at the park where we were helping celebrate Allegra's birthday.  Nice party.  Parks always make sense to me for birthdays.  Good one.

Today we went to Tate Liverpool to check out the Rene Magritte exhibit.  Awesome stuff.  This is not a pipe was in full effect.  Xyla was laughing her tail off at this and the This is a piece of cheese piece.  I got some mileage out of that one during the rest of the day.

Too Many Monkeys at the coffee shop at half time.

Back to the museum afterwards where Rose played air guitar on Carl Andre's 144 Magnesium Square.  Funny how people don't want to step on that thing.  They walk right around.  When I was walking on it one of the tiles squeaked and I thought, "Oh, no! I just broke it."  Silly.

Tons of rain today, more probably tomorrow.  Hope not.  It would be nice to go to the peaks and mess around.

Issues with

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cardiff and Home Again

Hanging in the park.
All photos taken by Xyla or Rose.

We had a great weekend in Cardiff - Andrea's still there, but it's back to normal for the rest of us.

Xyla wanted this upside-down and with the strap in the way.
Our original plan was to drive out there on Friday, but we have been liking our train journeys so decided to go that way.  Rush hour from Wilmslow was not the time to go.  The thing was packed and what we thought would be a leisurely trip with the four of us around a table turned into us going through three different seating configurations.  We made it there, though, and found our apartment after a 10 minute walk from the station. 

The place we stayed was perfectly situated - close to the Cardiff Market, close to the park and castle and super close to Millennium Stadium.  Too bad there wasn't a sporting event we could have gone to. 
On Saturday we walked through the park, past the castle and then on to the National Museum.  It's amazing how places like Glasgow and Cardiff have absolutely wonderful museums.  The collection in Cardiff has all of the heavies, and the space is beautiful.  It is also the first time where I have experienced the two-in-one fine art/natural history combo. Nice.

From the museum be walked a bit in town, collected things for a picnic and had lunch in a small park with the pigeons and other folks doing the same thing.

There was a huge festival at the Bay and we took a bus down there to see the water, eat ice cream and go down a lighthouse-shaped slide.  

Dinner at a funky vegetarian place in the evening.

On Sunday I bought a copy of the last issue of the News of the World.  It certainly didn't live up to the hype.  Felt ok knowing none of the money I spent on the thing was going to Murdoch.  

Andrea was off to her conference and the girls and I spent the rest of the day in the park and at the Castle.  Before agreeing to charge me the child rate for Rose and Xyla, the ticket guy was going to take 29 pounds for us to go to the castle.  It's good, but not 45 dollars worth good.
Found a game store on the way back to the apartment before our final departure and bought a new game for us - Too Many Monkeys.  We played it all the way back to Wilmslow - a trip we took with the three of us around a table.  


I am probably going to make the entries even more infrequent.  The end of our time is near and I need to start getting ready for classes. Solid, well thought out entries just are not going to work.  I need the time to write and plan about the origin of life, agriculture and the beginnings of modern societies.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

House and Cardiff

We leave for a couple of days in Cardiff tomorrow.  Andrea has a conference and R, X and I will go out with her by train and return Sunday.  Always love a Wales trip!

Our house was recently put on the market by our landlord and I spent a good portion of the day getting it ready for a viewing.  The guy backed out, but I took the opportunity to do a good clean out of some of the things we have accumulated.  We leave in a month and I am getting ready.

Not sure how the closing of the News of the World will affect the houseowner's job - he is the chief football correspondent.  Maybe he'll take it off the market and move back.  Crazy stuff. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Photos of the Lovell Telescope

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The Lovell Telescope

Here are some photos of the telescope(s) at Jodrell Bank. We have gone out there most Tuesdays to pick up Andrea from work. It's cool.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hangin' at the Stag's Head

Happy 4th from the Stag's Head!

Warm weather.  Rose and Xyla decided they wanted to go to the Stag's Head for dinner as they could have the run of the grounds in the back. The place has a patio with proper tables and chairs and also a back bit which is a bunch of picnic tables on grass.  While there, they climbed trees, ran around, kicked a soccer ball (for 3 minutes) and we all played Peanut Butter and Jam.  Good fun.  Sort of wondering where the places like it are back in PA.  Don't exist, I don't think.

A graphic depiction of something you shouldn't do.
Don't step in front of an ambulance when a car is
about to run over your feet.

The graphic description and a couple of paintings from Rose.

Rose and Xyla both did art projects when we got home from school.  Photos of the products.

House news...

Our landlord has decided to sell the house.  Someone is coming by tomorrow to take photos.  Time to pack it up.  Thirty-eight days left or something like that.