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.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Saturday and Sunday

Pinted nails at the school barbeque.
Andrea got back yesterday from a week in Boston where she hung out with her sister and her family and attended meetings at MIT.  Perhaps the most useful information to come out of the meeting had to do with the electron scattering screening machines at the airport (or whatever they are).  Consensus among the physicists was NOT to go in the machines.  I can't remember the reason, but I remember bottom line.  Sure, you have to go through the pat-down, but... 

On the way home from the airport we got a call from the real estate agent - showing at 11:30.  Nice.  That meant that we had to go home and give the place a clean.  Well, we didn't have to clean it, but it would be nice if the place rented sooner as opposed to later.  The cleaning bit is a bear.  We got it pretty clean in a short amount of time.  They haven't shown the house for a while and with 40 days to go, I suppose they figured it was about time to start it up again.  I was stashing a milk bottle in the cabinet where the water heater is located and noticed a pool of water in there.  Yikes!  Leak in the heating system.
Photo from last week of us picking blueberries.

In the afternoon we spent a glorious time up at the Cloud hiking and picking blueberries.  We went up there last weekend with Paul and figured we would do it again and get the mother lode.  We rounded up a bunch of containers, fashioned picking buckets out of large yogurt containers (string attached so they could hang from one's neck) and hit the road.  The weather was beautiful and while we didn't get as many berries as we had originally thought we did collect enough to have oatmeal blueberry pancakes this morning.

In the evening we went over to Ben and Julie's house for a barbeque.  They also had their neighbors over and it was a wonderful time.  There was tons of food and the culinary highlight was the 5 or 6 desserts that came out: pavlova, lemon custard, chocolate meringue and others.  Wonderful.

Fancy dress at Chatsworth Hall.
This morning, after eating the above-mentioned pancakes we headed off to Chatsworth Hall in Derbyshire.  The current residence of the Duke and Duchess of Derbyshire, the place is Lyme Park on Steroids.  The house, built in the 1600's is massive and is choc full of crazy sculpture, paintings and furnishings.  Most of the art pieces are old while some have been collected by the current Duke, number 12.  Bet he was at the wedding.  Among the collection are Caravaggios, a Rembrandt, Hals and strange (some nice some not nice) contemporary stuff.
The fountain.  Way back there is a pool and house.

Sculpture hall at Chatsworth.
Our time there started with a picnic along the river with a bunch of other folks and then we toured the house, walked in the massive stair-like fountain (best of show!), took in the maze (bailed on that after a few tries), got ice cream and then spent time at the adventure playground.   The place is really popular, something I didn't understand until our time there was over.  Seemed like most people on the grounds just paid their pounds to park and then they did what they wanted - barbeques, walks, games, letting your dog chase sheep.  Actually, the latter activity drew groans and nasty comments from the peanut gallery. 

Great day over in Derbyshire - back home, dinner, blog, bed.

Friday, July 1, 2011

July Day

Busy day of sports at school, yoga at home and a BBQ in the evening. 

We just got home from an event at the school and I must start getting ready for bed having just put the girls to sleep.

Andrea arrives tomorrow from Boston and we will pick her up at the airport.

All a bit choppy.

Back at it, but it ain't pretty.