Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Beach and Liverpool

We drove to the beach just north of Liverpool and had a good time next to the water. Rose and Xyla ran around a bit and did some wading. It was a bit chilly despite the sun and really windy. We experienced the shin sandblast and it almost felt like we were on the Oregon coast. No big rocks here, though, or big waves as this was the Irish Sea and pretty shallow as the serf approached the shore. No huge wind turbines in Oregon, either, I guess.

After a hike near the water and a bit of time on the sand, we drove to Liverpool and did some walking in the center of town. There were thousands of people on the shopping streets and along the water. We visited Tate Liverpool and it was wonderful. Rose and Xyla sketched some of the pieces they saw and the collection is wonderful. Saw some Max Ernst pieces that I really liked. I also walked on a tall ship there and it reminded me of my James Craig days in Sydney.

Great day. I'll put some photos up later.  

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Wedding

Wedding stuff:

10:56 We have been watching for an hour or so. Had breakfast of pancakes in front of the TV. I listened to the radio as I was cooking. The girls watched Charlie and Lola on CBBC - the kids' channel.

A lot of the commentary was quite ridiclus. Too much talk of who made what clothes. Weird comments from American astronauts.

10:59 "She is wearing her hair half up/half down. It is gathered up at the front. All of the length is in the back. That lace can't take too much competition."

Talking of Kate's father and his accomplishment and pride at his daughter joining the royal family.

11:05 BBC going crazy over the dress. She does look good, but she always looks good.

11:07 Rose and Xyla are both doing some type of chant, dance thing.

Harry cracking jokes. Will looking straight ahead.

11:09 Chatting with Bryan Gaensler in Sydney on Facebook.

There's that swimmer guy in the crowd. Thorpe, I think.

11:32 Where are the women? Oh, another man is going to speak.

11:44 Choir again. Looks like the wedding party is losing interest.
People walking by the house - don't they know the wedding is happening.

11:47 Love that they had two sets of prayer chairs. What planning. They didn't want to use the chairs for two different purposes. That, or they are trying to maximize the take they will realize on ebay once this is all over.

12:02 Man just picked his nose in front of 2 billion people. That's got to be a world record.

12:11 They're off. Xyla want's to see the people in the other carriage. They are talking a lot during all of this.

12:33 We're done and off for the day.

We'll that's it. Everyone seems to think it is all about the royals and Will and Kate. It isn't. It is about spectacle. History? People wanted to be part of something big, and they made it big. It was an event because of the people, not the event itself. Folks just wanted to be where the other folks were. It didn't really matter that there were other people driving around in fancy cars, in overpriced dresses or on horses. They just wanted something to do.

For the rest of our day we took the bus to Wilmslow, walked along the river and hung out at a pub in Stayl until Andrea got home from the airport. She picked us up and then we went out to dinner.

That's it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hadrian's Wall 4/27

Andrea left in the morning for Amsterdam so while we were on the road today, she was riding a bike along the canals. Not really - suppose she was at the institute doing science or something.

After getting everything organized in the apartment, we hit the road. It was a good day for driving and I did a little research to figure out a good spot to stop and see something along the way and decided to drop by Hadrian's wall at Birdoswald Fort. Hadrian's wall was built in 70 AD or so and stretched across the country in order to help keep the northern heathens out of the Empire. It was a spot that Andrea and I had walked by 9 years ago and we could see the farmhouse across the valley that we stayed in during our trip. The girls had fun walking among the stones and walls and sheep.

We also stopped by a church in Launceton - no real town there, just a church and some farmhouses. The church, built originally in 1160 was once the hang out of King Henry I and later torn up by Henry VIII when he was all about stealing things from the Catholics. There was a very nice docent there and we had a good chat with her.

We got back home around 5:30, ordered some Chinese food and went to bed.

Tomorrow, who knows?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Today... the horse stable.

We hopped on a bus (90p) and landed in the center of the city. From there we walked to Glasgow Green, a huge park near downtown that folks around here have used for hundreds of years to do their laundry, slaughter animals, hang people, grow plants, play football and take naps. While some of the before mentioned activities no longer take place on the Green, we did see a few people taking naps on the grass today.

The weather was beautiful and for us, this is what Scotland is - a land of beautiful weather. While we have been here, the only day it rained was the day we visited Edinburgh. I mentioned this today to the fishmonger and she said, "Oh, that's too bad. I like Edinburgh." This spoken after she sold me a crab, a handful of shrimp, a smoked cod, and two North Sea cod fillets. All were wonderful and cheap.

Back to the park. We landed at the stable to watch the ferriers change the shoes of the clydesdales they board there. It was pretty interesting to see the process but also unnerving. It's tough watching someone rip the hell out of an animal's foot and think that the animal isn't feeling any pain. Neither of the guys doing the work got kicked in the head, so I guess it didn't hurt that bad. I swear, however, that I have an itch in the back of my throat from the smoke produced from the burning hoof material that flamed up when the guy put a red-hot (well not red, but hot) shoe against the horse's hoof. The smell was rank. I could feel the scratchiness or crappiness in my throat the whole of the rest of the day.

From the stables we hit the adventure playground and the large greenhouse on the grounds. Great park.

On the walk back to the center of town we stopped by the aforementioned fishmonger and had a late lunch at a sandwich shop. The girls shared a BLT and I had a salami toasti. The fare was wonderful and we left having only to pay 5 pounds. Amazing.

We were worn out by this time, but managed to squeeze a visit to a charity shop (I bought a tween jacket) and the Modern Art museum. They had a couple of Grayson Perry pots on hand and all sorts of crazy things. One of these was a short film about a boy who wants to know where he came from. His dad's answer: a door in his mother's belly. He wants to go back. Rose and Xyla liked that one.

Back at the apartment, we hydrated and went to the park to hang out.

Later, we cooked, the girls went to bed and I watched the Man U / Schaelke football match.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Painting in the Park

We were originally going to go to the Glasgow Green and see the horses get their shoes changed, but since this doesn't happen until tomorrow we had to change plan.

On the bus and off to the botanical Garden -

We had a great walk around the grounds (see the photo taken by Rose of this) and fun looking through the greenhouses. These were not too large, but there were tons of funky plants to look at. Of special note were the orchids. I don't know my orchids, but these were so perfect, they looked fake.

We had a lunch of hot dogs on the grounds and headed out for a walk along the stream that goes through town. They have a wonderful path along the stream - bikers, runners and walkers abound and we took this for some time. We came up from the valley to use a toilet in a cafe and found ourselves up in the hip part of town. We played around for a bit in a vintage clothing shop, bought some vegetables and then continued our walk. It was a couple of miles from the botanical garden to our place. Some complaining, but a good time overall. Fun outing.

Our trip back took us past the art store near the art school and we picked up a couple of notebooks, two brushes (we had watercolors, but no brushes) and some paint pots for use once we got back to Cheshire. After a bit of rest and refueling in the apartment, we walked to the park nearby and painted (I knitted). Rose and Xyla produced some wonderful pieces and really enjoyed the experience. They also enjoyed messing around a bit in the park.

I had originally thought that our part of town was primarily occupied by the downtown sort, but there is a nice little neighborhood not too far away. There was a good amount of kids in the park and many art students hanging out and on each other.

Beautiful weather - great day.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter from Glasgow

Out of the apartment and off to Pollock County Park and Pollock House where there is a host of Easter activities on offer.

Pollock house is a large manor house just south of town. When the house was passed to the National Trust, the city got the estate's land and it is a huge chunk. Think of Lancaster County Park or Forest Park in PDX even. We just missed a free-for-all looking egg hunt at the house, but we walked into the house to enjoy an "egg trail" that had been set up. You looked for clues in the rooms and put the clues together to answer a question. If you answered it, you got a big Cadberry egg. After that we had lunch and went for a walk.

While on the walk we saw shaggy highland cattle, wonderful wildflowers, a cricket game and the Burrell Collection. This collection housed in a fairly large museum was a bit like the Kroeller-Mueller Collection in Otterlo in the Netherlands in that it was all collected by one person, but it is not as powerful. While Mrs. Kroeller Mueller was busy collecting Van Goghs, Mondrians, Gauguins and the like, Burrell was sucking up tapestries, furniture and swords. He also got some really nice paintings (Italians and Degas and some Scottish stuff), but if you have ever been to the K-M, it is tough for anyone to beat that place. Plus, there weren't any sculptures. It was a great museum nonetheless.

It is located near a huge playground and the girls liked that.

After the park we traveled to the hip part of town close to the university and the type of person around in that area is totally different from the folks downtown where we are. We have the downtown folks, that place has the young hipsters, students and yuppies. Tons of stylish bags (even if falling apart), flash haircuts and strollers. Good coffee, too. Downtown, we have the betting parlors, Tesco Expresses (intact, not the Bristol variety) and folks who go down the street yelling at the invisible man.

Having said all of that, I think the part of town we are has worked out well. We have a great view, shops are close and we are not too far from the center and the bus lines that travel through it. Good spot.

Another sunny day here although the clouds seem to be rolling in.

Photos of the house, Rose pretending to be in pain after catching her hair in a rose, flowers.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


We took the train to Edinburgh in the morning. Forty minute ride and an easy walk to the station, so getting there was no big deal. When we arrived, it was raining. Not a driving rain, but raining nonetheless. We didn't really have a plan for the day. We knew that the castle was an option so we started out in that direction. Because of the rain, we hit the National Museum of Scotland which is on the way to the castle. Their collection is wonderful and it was interesting to see a Vermeer there in a style that is really different from what one thinks a Vermeer is. Other stuff was cool also and the girls enjoyed drawing pictures as part of the activities offered for kids. Great museum.

We continued on our way to the castle in the rain and waited for 20 minutes or so in line until we reached the spot that listed the prices - 14 pounds for adults, 8.5 for kids. Crazy. The castle and the Stone of Destiny may be cool but 50 bucks cool, maybe / maybe not. We bolted.

We spent the rest of our time in E. at a coffee shop and a really cool church. We also walked the Royal Mile which is where all the tourists are. Well, the tourists are other places too, but they are really on the Royal Mile. Along this route you could buy kilts, whiskey, tartan and tweed from any number of shops. It was super crowed and this was a rainy day. Can't even imagine what it is like in the summer or during Fringe. We hit the train around 3 - cutting our trip short as the rain was putting a damper on things.

Edingurgh is nice. Old and nice and it has a charm to it, but in the rain and with the tons of tourists running around it was nice to be back in Glasgow. Touristed, but in a chill way and open in feel in a way that E. is not. Plus, it is sunny here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

G. Science Centre

Good day of it here. Bus ride to the Glasgow Science Centre and a full day there. The place was clearly built and furnished before the downturn in the economy - it is awesome. Tons! Tons of stuff for kids to touch, manipulate and experience. They even have some danger things available for folks to try out.

Took the train home afterwards.

Dinner of mussels and salmon.

Wanting to do something other than write.

Edinburgh tomorrow.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Glasgow Museum

Our apartment here is on the 6th floor of a newer building. It's nice and has that Ikea feel to it. The doorman is already after me and he gives me a hard time about anything he can every time he sees me. I've been reading in the literature, that Glaswegians (or something like that) are a happy sort and they are friendly and he is both of these things. Now, if I could just understand every third word he says it would be good. It's hard to follow what people are saying around here. They talk fast, there are no vowel sounds and the Adam's apples are in full effect. When we got back to the place this afternoon he gave Rose and Xyla candy which was cool.

We made a long walk from our place to Kelvingrove Park where the girls enjoyed checking out two playgrounds there. Kelvingrove Park is also home to the Kelvingrove Art Museum and the collection there is a mix of just about everything. There is a Spitfire, an elephant, Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross, and a ton of other stuff. It is a good spot although they could do more with their interactive displays. There was a good video story that told of a painter and his process, but other than that it was the flip-the-plastic-sheet-and-see-the-answer-type-of-thing.

We took the bus from there downtown and dropped by the tourist information office to collect some maps and whatever pamphlets we felt we needed. Our main purpose in riding the bus past our apartment and taking it further in, however, was to check out the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre. This is a collection of kinetic sculptures/machines that a Russian who came of age in the Soviet Union has created over time - mostly since his arrival in Scotland in the early '90's. These things are amazing and the girls loved them. It is hard to describe what they do, but you can find some videos of things on their website. Amazing stuff.

After our miles of walking we arrived back at the spot and relaxed. The girls watched Peppa Pig and I wrote some stuff here.

Tomorrow the plan is to go to the science museum and the library.

I'll put photos up here tomorrow.


Kilmartin 4/20

With a full Scottish breakfast (bacon, sausage, tomato, egg, oatmeal bread thing) taken care of we walked up the hill in Oban to check out McCair's Tower, a folly a banker made as a monument to himself. It looks like the Colosseum, but smaller.

We resupplied in Oban (lunch stuff, snacks) and drove to Kilmartin where there is a whole host of ancient and not-so-ancient relics. They have a midieval church and churchyard with grave slabs and carvings and within a 2k walk there are burial cairns, stone circles and standing stones.

We have been lucking out with the lunch spots and today was no exception.

The weather was beautiful again today and we did a lot of walking.

We arrived in Glasgow in the early evening, dropped our bags off at the apartment and hit dinner.

A museum tomorrow.

Oban - Kerra Island 4/19

Got organized and left the hostel… twice. Our first attempt at departure didn’t stick as we forgot a couple of items in the laundry room. We still got off in okay time and headed for our destination, Oban – a small town on the western coast.

The road was scenic, but very windy and Xyla was sick for a good portion of it. Once in Oban, our plan was to hit a ferry and go to Kerra, a small island close by. We followed the signs to Kerra, but there are a couple of wys to the ferry terminal (no terminal there, really) and we drove a super windy and narrow road to a dead end. The road continued, but the coded gate relayed a pretty strong message. We headed for Oban along the water (the other route was up in the hills) and we happened across the ferry stop. It took us a couple of minutes to realize that we didn’t have any money. The ferry was scheduled to do its thing in 15 minutes. I got in the car, buzzed back into town, collected some money and made it back to the ferry. Andrea had bought me some time with the ferryman and I ran onto the thing and it was off. I secretly wished he would have pulled away as I approached so I could jump over some water, but oh well.

Kerra is around 9 miles around and we were under the impression that the track was around 6 miles. It would be a healthy walk, but we thought we could do it. It was an absolutely beautiful day for a walk – water, hills, sheep and wildflowers. We took our time and after a couple of climbs and descents, we made it to a map that was posted on the wall of a guesthouse. We had a lot to do yet and if we tried to go all away around the island, there was a 100 percent chance of us missing the ferry back. A side trail led to a castle and this seemed a good point to head for before going back the way we came.

The castle was perfect. Right on the rocky coast, set on a cliff, it wasn’t very large, but it was one of those tall tower things that the Scots are famous for. For some reason I didn't take a photo from the best vantage points, but what is pictured below is what I have. We explored a bit, Xyla got a scrape, and then we headed straight over a hill in the direction of what we thought was the trail. Our shortcut paid off and while I am not going to say that we made it back to the ferry in record time, we made it back with only minimal complaining and a couple of sore feet between the lot of us.

From the ferry it was a short ride into Oban and our guesthouse, a former vicary. It had a large garden and a wonderful view of the bay (see below). The folks who run it are brilliant and the place just felt good. Dinner of mussels and beer down by the water.

While our guesthouse was very nice, it was much different than the hostel. There wasn’t a lounge to hang out in, we missed the kitchen and if you consider the fact that you are abliged to eat out it is way more expensive to stay at the guesthouse despite the base costs being somewhat similar. View from the garden at right.

Tomorrow Glasgow.

Loch Lomond Bikes - 4/18

Xyla and I were sleepy-eyed this morning. She woke up during the night – hot/cold/hot/dark, all sorts of things were going on. I arrived at the room at one point only to hear the child next door making tons of noise. Decided that I would rather knit than sit in bed and hope for quiet. At some point during the night the guy next door was probably having a similar experience. After some knitting, I successfully fell asleep, but woke a couple of times during the night. One of these was courtesy of the hall light which might as well be in our bedroom as it shines right in the window above our door.

After breakfast the girls did a couple of walks down to the lake after breakfast and I got things ready for our lunch. We didn’t have a plan solidified, but knew we were going to see about renting some bicycles and going for a ride. We went into town and after no small amount of searching found the rental trailer. A few months in the UK have taught us that they are none too keen on signage or making things easy to find. Maps never (well, seldom) have a You are here arrow and though we really wanted to find the bike place there were no signs pointing the way, this despite that fact that the rental place was in a major tourist area.

Anyway, we had a nice ride around a county park next to Loch Lomond and the girls enjoyed switching between a solo bike and a clip-on tandem for kids. We went all over the park and there were only a couple of accidents. These were not moving crashes, but rather of the plop over variety.

After the ride we drove to Helensburgh and sat by the bay there.

Nice day. Cooked pizza in the evening. It was slow going as I had to cook on a Holly Hobby oven, but it worked out in the end. Here is a photo of us at dinner.

I am sitting at the moment in the dining room of the hostel. There is a lot of activity, some kids, some couples and the variety of folks one would expect at a hostel. There is also a guy outside completely detailing his BMW X3. He’s spraying stuff all over the leather, he has the brush out and all of the doors open. He took out the carpets and is really going for it. Don’t know why I’m mentioning it. Wait! He just busted out the vacuum cleaner – it plugs into the lightler spot. Is he on vacation? Strange.

Loch Lomond 4/17

The night was uneventful. Cold, but we were able to sleep in the same room without much trouble. It was pretty much lights out, however, after it got dark since girl number two was not yet asleep and steps needed to be taken in order to facilitate her sleepiness.

In the morning Xyla slept in and I made a fire. While I waited for her to wake up, Andrea and Rose went for a walk. When they returned, Rose, Xyla and I went on nearly the same walk – up to the top of the hill where the Iron Age fort was located. The property around the farmhouse is absolutely beautiful – may have mentioned that last night, and the drive to our destination today pretty much confirmed that Scotland is pretty nice.

Along the way we stopped for coffee and milks in a small village at a coffee shop which is a converted smithy. It is right along a small stream and was one of those places that surely comes with its own challenges, but for the outsider looks absolutely ideal.

Our second stop was in a small town for lunch items and this spot provided us with a view of “down to earth” Scotland. By that I mean that the town was run-down and the central square had a lot of folks just hanging around on benches. It is my contention that they were all waiting for the bar to open. Not sure, but by the looks of the folks and the town, it could be the case. While we were walking around trying to find a store, I had visions of some crazy dawn-of-the-dead type thing happening. I’m positive that we got out of town just as the place started to get lively with zombies. Nothing in the news, but you never know.

We drove by a ton of small lakes and open spaces along the way and it was clear that there is a right-to-roam/right-to-fish/right-to-camp thing in Scotland. There were many cars parked along the road and each was paired with a fisherman, a gaggle of tents or a missing person. For lunch, we decided to be part of the group and drove across a field to a small stream. To be fair there was a small parking area near the road and a council-supported rubbish bin so we figured that the spot was in play. The tire tracks on the grass also helped identify the space as public – or the spot where all the kids go to party. Anyway, we had a wonderful lunch along a small stream and before long we were joined by a golfer. I mentioned something about this yesterday, but the whole country looks like a golf course. They even mow it to keep the grass in check lest someone need to take a few strokes.

We are now at the youth hostel at Lake Lomond – a building that is an old manor house (pictured below). It’s huge, has some of its original features, but for the most part has been converted to serve as a, well… youth hostel. I had fun cooking in the kitchen this evening and will again tomorrow. I am aching to find some good seafood around here and maybe our full day in the area will help me figure out where that can be had. We ate early and while I was doing the dishes a whole host of folks came in to cook. It was a madhouse.

Like last night, we will all be staying in the same room, but for a twist on the theme, we have been provided with bunk beds. Rose has the top bunk on the girls’ side of the room and the adult bunk bed has a double bottom and a single top. We are here for two nights so I hope it works out.

Tomorrow: bike rental and a ride around the lake.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In Glasgow


We made it to Glasgow and have a connection in our apartment.

I've posted one entry and will get the others up tomorrow, I hope. I've written them, just haven't posted them.

Some guy is playing a Jimi Hendrix cover outside - want to go to bed now.


Lancaster and beyond 4/16

After getting most everything ready to go last night, it was a leisurely morning of making pancakes, loading the car and taking care of things around the house before our departure. We got out of town around 10 – nearly an hour and a half later than what we were aiming for, but since we didn’t have a plan for the day, it didn’t matter much.

Going was pretty smooth although there was a healthy jam due to an overturned caravan. We saw another flipped car on the other side of the expressway - pretty horrifying stuff, but it didn't look like anyone was injured in either case as there the only emergency personnel on site were clean up crews and police, no ambulances.

The city of Lancaster was on our way and Andrea was really keen to stop there to see what was going on. The approach to Lancaster is very rural and the city quite charming. The older buildings look to be in good shape and the newer additions tastefully blend with the historic bits. We walked around the old castle (part of it is a jail) and visited the church. The church is beautiful, a really special place. The photo above is of them hanging out there. From there we walked along the pedestrian streets and checked out the open-air market. It was happening. There was tons of activity and a wide variety of things on offer. Overall we were really impressed with the town - wonderful spot.

We continued into Scotland and eventually landed at our final destination, Kirkcudbright. It is an old port town with tons of really crazily painted old stone buildings. They use a lot of pastel around here and aren't afraid to clash with the neighbors.

The place where we are staying is a sheep farm four miles outside of town and our room is called The Barn. If you don't count the separate kitchen and bathroom off of this, the living/dining/sleeping areas are all one room. At this very moment, an hour and a half after they went to bed, Xyla is making some type of strange noise. Actually, it is the same noise that Jimmy John Hisatomi was made to perform for 5 minutes in Mrs. Minich's third grade class after he was discovered making it during a spelling test. Anyway, let's just say that it is not an ideal situation. We will all sleep eventually, I'm sure.

The grounds here are beautiful and we walked them this afternoon after our arrival. There are iron age sites dotted around it, or so they say as you cant really tell there is anything there other than some hills and humps which could just as well be incidental. Standing on the high points, you have views of the water - the Isle of Man is in the distance and Cumbria to the south. The whole place is super green and the landscape reminds me of the biggest golf course you can imagine. I guess that sort of makes sense, doesn't it.

Full moon this evening, and it looks really good over the hills.

More tomorrow if we can find a connection. Cheers!

Damn! The connection timed out before I could post this. We’ll put it up tomorrow. (Actually posted some days later.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Week of Events - Scotland Tomorrow

It was a big week of events at the school - this, the last week before Easter Holiday. Things started off with the South American Showcase on Wednesday. For the past two months, the school has been studying SA and each of the classes presented their findings. There was dancing, singing, presenting of reports and viewing of artistic endeavors. Rose and Xyla's class presented some South American pots they drew. Mostly they studied South America through a Paddington Bear lens and while I know they learned a lot about making "Please look after this..." signs and marmalade, I'm not sure how much they learned about Darkest Peru.

The following day was the Easter service. As mentioned in the iWeb weeks, St. Anne's Fulshaw is a Church of England school, despite it being public. Anyway, the whole of the Easter story was presented and the highlight was a young girl who enthusiastically yelled "Crucify Him!" She was to do this in concert with her classmates, but so exciting was the prospect of calling for someone's crucifixion she just couldn't contain herself. Rose was a disciple on the day and did a lot of walking up and down the isle as Jesus was drug from one end of the church to the other. Xyla was an angel and she also did a lot of walking and spreading smiles about the place. Xyla is in the photo at right, but since it wasn't really a photo-friendly environment, this is all I could get.

Last night was the music concert. All of the students who are involved in music in the school (a pay as you go type thing) played something. There was singing, violining, brass banding, guitaring, fluting and pianoing. Xyla was involved in the pianoing and provided the oom-pa part of a duet with the music teacher. She enjoyed herself and didn't even need to think twice when asked if she wanted to be involved in the evening. I shot a small movie. I'll try to figure out how to post it.

Finally - the wedding party. This was today and while I didn't attend as I did in the case of the other three events, Rose and Xyla were happy to fill me in when they got home. One game they played involved piggy-back riding. A younger student got on the back of an older student. Only one injury was reported. There was not a mock wedding ceremony and I'm thankful for that.

We leave for Scotland tomorrow and will spend the first evening in Kirkcudbright, a small ancient town in SW Scotland. From there we spend two nights at Loch Lomond, a night in Oban and then a week in Glasgow where Andrea will be meeting with some folks and giving a talk or two.

Reports when we can.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's Wedding Time

While there seems to be the usual amount of tabloid voyeurism (See the guest list in today's issue!) and commercial opportunism (cookies, plates, flags, cups, etc.) the country seems to be approaching the upcoming wedding with a bit of restraint and ho-humness. Of course, the nation will be out on the day having street parties and watching the event on TV, but the build-up has been very reasonable. The street parties have been suggested by the media or other powers that be. The one anti-wedding street party has been denied a permit - wouldn't want anyone to squelch such a pure expression of love, would we?

As we approach the Easter Holiday which starts after this upcoming Friday, many primary/elementary schools around have looked to the wedding to give them a break from the buzz that can often accompany the days before a break. Buying into the whole wedding thing and sponsoring events at schools may add to the overall chaos, but if it lets you end the week early, why not?

In the case of Rose and Xyla's school, they will stage a party at the end of the day Friday and you can see the invitation above. Kids are to bring a change of clothes and the hope is that they will be wearing their red, white and blue. Rose is to provide a plate of cocktail sausages - Xyla, cakes. I bought some blue cupcake wrappers/papers with little Union Jacks on them for our contribution and the girls almost convinced me to buy small similarly themed plates on which to serve them. No go.

As far as I can tell their school is not going to stage a mock wedding as many schools are. There was a photo in the local paper of such a ceremony and it was a bit much.

No matter your view of the Royals and the wedding in general, there seems to be one point that everyone around here can agree on - the middle-aged looking balding man has done well for himself.