Thursday, June 30, 2011

Back at it

For fear of never getting back here, I thought I would start back with something small and go from there.

We had a great visit with Paul and Chris during their time here.  We did tons of stuff and saw a whole range of things around here with them.  We really appreciate their willingness to travel half way around the world to England.

Andrea is out of town and in addition to the time when we have visitors, it is difficult to blog when she is gone.  Thus, two weeks of scant entries.

The girls are having sports week at school where they do all sorts of activities outside.  They have been coming home dirty and tired which is good.

Today after school we went to the park to play tennis.  All of the courts were full so we played on the lawn bowling green.  It was super fun like our own little Wimbledon.  Speaking of Wimbledon, how can Murray win when the whole country doesn't think he can.  There is also a strange Tim Henman thing going on where there is almost this feeling like no one wants Murray to better than Henman.  Don't understand it.  Henman didn't win anything big.  Maybe he's a super nice guy or something.  Oh, that's right, he's English.

Woah - things are getting longer than I wanted.  Looking to relax with some yarn in a minute.


Friday, June 17, 2011

New School Kids, The Lord of Alderley and a visit

Met with Nicole Sauder and her friend Dave for lunch in Manchester.  Both are serious musicians, violin and piano respectively, and met traveling around in the world of music and musicians.  We had a nice chat about, well, all sorts of things.  It was great to see both of them again having met them for coffee in March in Manchester.  Fellow New School alum, Abigail Polin, is also in town and the two of them got together last night.  Abigail is here doing work with Andrea at the University and I imagine we (the girls and I) will see her several times before she heads back to Lancaster and NYU from there.

Alderley Edge has a farmers' market.  It's called a farmers' market, but is really a food court as there aren't any farmers there.  There is a fruit and vegetable distributor and a butcher, but no farmers.  Well, I suppose the honey person harvests her own stuff, but still...

Anyway, the Lord of Alderley has emerged on the scene recently and he is waving an 800 year old charter in everyone's faces and claiming it gives him the sole right to have a farmers' market in town.  We'll forget for the moment that the two butcher shops and two markets in the village have the same connection to local farms as the farmers' market does.

I did a bit of research on the Lord.  He doesn't appear on a (super official looking) website which catalogues peers (I think that's what you call lords and dukes and all those folks who sit in the House of Lords.  There is a Lord Stanley of Alderley and I am assuming that this man is different from the Lord of Alderley.  They have different given names and the Lord Stanley fellow does not list ostrich farmer or porn star on his resume - things that some sources on the internet claim are part of the Lord of Alderley's CV.  Anyway, the guy seems like a jerk and he is all frustrated that folks have been having a market without his permission for the past 13 years.  So engaged in the community he rules over that he has not noticed the market for 13 years.  Perhaps he was busy living life under his other persona, Lord Lust, as he was known as a presenter on an X rated TV channel.

Maybe the Yank in me thinks the whole royalty/lord thing is bull, but I do know that it gets my goat when some jerk thinks he is better than everyone else and wants to throw some stupid title around.  In this case, the title may well have been purchased off of the internet.

I currently have emails out to the peerage department at Debreet's - the peerage people, and a man named Richard, the Seventh Earl of Bradford - the fake title opponent, to see what they know about this Lord of Alderley.

Hopefully I'll play St. George to his dragon.

Finally, Andrea's Dad and Chris are arriving tomorrow.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gardening Club and a test

Today was the second of four meetings for the school gardening club.  Mrs. Thomas, the teacher in reception (preschool), is the leader of the group - one which started three months ago and has cycled through a new set of kids every four weeks.

It rained.  It really rained. 

While it was raining, they sought refuge inside, but when things calmed down, they were back outside pulling weeds.  They were mostly dry, but all the way dirty when I got there to pick them up.  Apparently it was a busy session of pulling weeds (apparently cilantro is a weed here), replanting marigolds and squash and digging wherever nothing was growing.  There was a lot of digging.

Calls last week to go buy gardening gloves were not heard today as both Rose and Xyla are actually quite fond of dirt between their fingers.



Hey, if you read this blog as an email, will you just send me an email saying that you do that.  Don't feel like you really have to write anything.  Just let me know this.  I have received a couple of emails over the past couple of months, but am curious as to the interest in this thing.  If you link from a Blogger account or your own website, no need to send anything as I can see your traffic as part of the stats that Blogger keeps track of.  Your time with this is appreciated.  I know at least that my mom is reading.  Cheers!

Monday, June 13, 2011

We have sun

After what seems like weeks of greyness, we have had three hours of sun.  Sure, we had a little bit of sun over the past couple of weeks, but it has been strange to live in a summer that feels much more like fall.  It doesn't really have an early spring feel as there is a complete lack of promise.  Reading Lojo and Ben's blog from Chile (see links below right) I learned that it is warmer there than it is here.  Umm.  It's winter there.  Indeed, it feels more like winter than the winter we spent in Sydney.  Sure, Sydney is at 30 degrees S while we are around 50 degrees N, but still...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It was the weekend

Did a clean, visited the store and then went to the train station in Wilmslow to pick up Andrea who was returning from DC after a few days of meetings.  This was her second trip back to the US since we arrived here.  She has one more in a month and will go to Boston to hang out with science folks and see her sister.

We hung out at home after she got here - the girls did projects in the back, Andrea caught up with some things and I did some cooking in preparation for a get-together with Ben and Julie in the evening.  Before they came over we met at Little Moreton Hall where we toured the grounds and visited a local weavers' group who was showing its wares.  They had some amazing things and had some wonderful displays about dying wool with natural materials.  The colors they achieved were not as bight and flashy as one normally sees in commercial wool, but they were beautiful in how delicate and soft the colors were.  Some of their items were for sale and it is a shame that I didn't need anything.  The things they had were first-class and being sold at charity shop prices.  For example.  There was a pair of fingerless gloves for sale that were knitted in a simple, but interesting pattern being sold for 8 pounds.  They had to have taken four hours at least to make.  Do the math.  Consider the fact that the wool was hand spun and hand dyed with natural materials (plants and things).  Amazing.  Writing about it makes me sad that I didn't buy them.  I did buy a lucet and a couple of other items.  A lucet is a tool that is used to braid cord.  We'll see if I can do anything interesting on it.

After seeing the textiles, we went for a walk to the canal which is about a mile from the house.  There had been a couple of sprinkles throughout the day, but we set out optimistic that things would work for us.  Umm....  When we got to the canal we were happy that there was a bridge that we could shelter under.  Problem was that the rain didn't look like it was going to let up and we were afraid that the National Trust parking lot where our cars were was going to close.  We were all quite happy waiting out the rain, but didn't like the prospect of having to walk home so we made a break for it.  We got super wet.  Back at the cars, some of us stripped of our wet clothes and made the drive home.

After going home briefly, Ben and Julie arrived for dinner.  It was sunny by this point and it was doubtful that it had ever rained in Alderley Edge.  Things were dry and by this time so were all of us.

Good time in the evening with Ben and Julie.  Twice for dinner with them in one week.  Excellent stuff


Sunday now and it is raining here and everywhere in Cheshire.  We went to the Science museum in Manchester and the highlight for me was riding the steam train and having the express to Edinburgh honk at us when we went by.  We blew our whistle at it.  It was a really cool moment.  I love those times when people give the thumbs up to something because they respect it or they appreciate it even if most of the world doesn't even know what it is or have any appreciation for it because it doesn't have anything to do with them.  I still smell like smoke of coal and that's okay by me.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dinner at Ben and Julie's

Each time Andrea goes out of town (she is currently in DC), Ben and Julie are thoughtful enough to have us over for dinner.  I like hanging out with them and the girls like hanging out over there as well.  They get a bit silly, but Ben and Julie seem to take it all in stride and are brilliant around Rose and Xyla.  One of the highlights last evening was a hide and seek game in the garden.  There weren't too many places to hide, but they loved being able to go in the way back and hide behind the potting shed and around the variety of items stored out of sight.  Dinner was excellent, conversation was excellent and it was an excellent respite for me from having to cook dinner.

Thank you!

Germany trip wrap up

Ok, let's finish this off.  

It's Sunday and time to make our way back to the ferry in Rotterdam.  Check out was at 10 and the ferry was at 7 pm so we had a little time to fill with a visit to somewhere in Germany, Belgium or the Netherlands.  We kicked around a few ideas before realizing that the Kroller-Muller Museum outside of Otterlo in the Netherlands was mostly on the way.  Bikes in the park, sculpture in the garden and works inside - perfect.  We had visited last summer, but this is the sort of place worth a second or, in Andrea and my case, a fifth visit.

One could guess that the second (and I am not really exaggerating) we crossed the border into the Netherlands that it would start raining.  Sprinkles at first, but before long it was pouring.  Part of the allure of Kroller-Muller is the free bikes one can ride around the national park, and the rain was putting a damper on the plan.  Usually one would ditch the car at the entrance to the park, but we carried on to the museum where we (and many other groups of people) ditched all hope of an outdoor picnic and ate in the car.  It was raining so hard that there were rivers in the parking lot and folks were abandoning bikes next to their cars (not putting them back in their proper places in the bike lot), getting in, and driving away.  

A break in the rain allowed us to get within 100 meters of the museum before it started to rain again.  Another break while we were inside allowed us a good amount of time to walk around the sculpture garden.  There were some old favorites and some new pieces on display as well.  It's just a wonderful place.

The break in the weather looked like it was going to hold so we went back to the bikes, picked some out and were off.  The girls loved the opportunity to ride on the paths and to race around.  Andrea and I did, too.

After the ride we looked inside the museum.  Of note was a ceiling commissioned for the Royal Hall of Belgium or whatever that was made from hundreds of thousands (millions?) of insect wing casings all in green and blue.   Crazy stuff.

With the bikes and the museum behind us, it was back on the road to the ferry.  The return trip by boat was pretty standard.  Some rocking.  Food from our plastic bag.  Lots of rice cakes and chick pea curry.

Back on the island, we dropped Andrea off in Leeds so she could take the train to London and catch a flight to DC where she was attending a funding meeting.  

Although there were some initial complaints about the next step in our day, we (I) decided to go for a walk at a National Trust site on our way home - Hardcastle Crags.  This was a really nice walk along a small stream with many places Rose and Xyla could cross the water on large stones placed for this purpose.  There was an old mill along the walk and we stopped here to explore.  The nearby town of Hebden Bridge was a good place for lunch and seemed to have an alt vibe to it.  

We arrived home in the early afternoon.  We all relaxed, had dinner and then went to bed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Saturday 6/4 Telescope!

We arranged a telescope visit in the afternoon and took the time in the morning to hit the Effel National Park.  We didn't have much information to go on other than the park's location, but we were able to find a nice walk along a creek and a good spot to have lunch.  Beautiful place.

In the afternoon, we jumped on a tour David, a British astronomer working in Bonn, was giving to his parents of the Effelsberg Telescope.  The telescope was commissioned in 1972 and since it was designed using computer modeling, a component missing from Jodrell Bank's design process, it is slick and less bulky than the latter.  It is located in a small bowl/valley and is surrounded by trees.  It's pretty cool.  David's Dad and I agreed, however, that Parks in Australia is tough to beat for coolness as you just don't run across too many telescopes that have kangaroos running all around it.

Since it was a few days ago, I don't even remember what we did in the evening.  Went to bed, I guess.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Friday 6/3 in Cologne

Designing dresses in the am.
I'm way behind and would like to hammer this out....

In the morning our plan was to go to the Botanical Garden, but due to near-mutinous conditions, I decided that we would stay closer to the apartment.  We did a bit of shopping in the morning and in addition to some food, we picked up new journals.  After dropping off the food, we went to a bit of forested green space near the institute to do projects.  I knitted and the girls designed wedding dresses in their journals.  Their designs follow a standard dress template, but with all sorts of variety in the embellishments and images on the dresses.  I'll see about getting some examples of these up on the blog at some point.
In front of the Cathedral.

Andrea came back from the institute at noon and we did the bus/train thing to Cologne.  Cologne is a completely different sort of place from Bonn.  There is tons of activity and it is good for just hanging out.  We started in front of the cathedral just watching people.  We then did a tour of the cathedral and it is massive.  Super huge.  The Three Wise Men have some bones enshrined here and in addition to all sorts of shiny things and stone statues and tombs there is a large carved crucifix with Jesus on it that dates from the 900's.  It is claimed to be the oldest carved crucifix in Europe.  It was sublime.  (Since the British use that word all of the time - usually when talking about some athlete - I thought I would try it out.)  A highlight of the cathedral is the Gerhard Richter window which was dedicated in 2007.  Image here.  

We took a break after the church and stopped for ice cream in its shadow.  The girls got some huge snowmen and Andrea got some ice cream in the form of spaghetti.  I got something to drink.

A museum was the next stop and we were treated to all sorts of cool pop-art stuff (Lichtenstein, Warhol, Johns and others who I can't remember) and other funky things including a wonderful Dali which was quite similar in emotion to the Christ painting we saw of his in Glasgow.  Ludwig Museum!

Train back.  It was only 20 minutes back, but we joined the party.Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Thursday 6/2 on the Rhine

Its Saturday now.  Thought I would take this opportunity to catch up on the entries.  I will go back to Thursday and move forward from there.

Thursday was a national holiday here, Ascension Day - the Day that Christ ascended to heaven.  Anyway, we decided to go up the Rhine for a boat trip.  We got to the train station at 8:45 after a bus ride and the Germans were already drinking beer. I'm not counting the usual group of beer drinkers who seem to always be in front of the station, but the other folks.  The folks with bikes going on cycling tours.  The retirees with their friends going places.  The other folks.  And that was just in the station.  When we got on the train the 50-something crowd was well into it.  The women seemed to have the bottles of wine and the guys were doing beer.  It was 9:00 by this time so, hey.

After a two-hour ride on the train we arrived in Bingen and sussed out the location of the boat dock.  Loaded up on the dock we leaned back and relaxed.  The Rhine valley from there to Lorentz is all vineyards, castles and small towns.  Pretty nice.  Oh, there are also a lot of freight trains and big barges, but commerce must go on despite the desires of the tourist.

Mid way on our route to Lorentz we stopped in St. Goar to check out a castle and walk around a bit.  Nice spot.  We also snacked on some really nice apple pizza thing.

From the boat dock in Lorentz we hopped on a bike taxi which took us the two kilometers to the station. Back in Bonn.  We stopped at a small Thai place on the way back.  It was hot in the place, but the food was good.  Back and bed.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thursday and Friday

Yesterday we took a boat trip on the Rhine.  Tried to get some photos up, but it didn't work for me.

Today we went to Cologne.  It was good.

Want to knit and sit on the porch.  I'm going to do that.

Updates at some point.