Sunday, 21 December 2008

One more thing

We recently received a package from Elaine's parents... which was of sufficient size that they could easily have just shipped themselves here for the holidays.

What's this?! A New Post?!

A couple quick thoughts on Christmas:

1) I would like, some day, to be the kind of guy who has a pear or some celery for a snack when I settle in for some late-night post-kids-in-bed interwebbing.

Tonight, for example, I sat down with a glass of water and a "perfectly ripe" (thanks M&S) Conference Pear*. Yet somehow not 12 seconds later I find that I have stuffed an entire mince pie into my mouth.

2) I am singularly atrocious at wrapping gifts. Not the "ha ha, he means well" atrocious where everyone shares a chuckle and a wry smile. More like the "kids won't open the gifts because the only thing you'd wrap like that is a spider's nest" kind of atrocious.

* I assume these pears were specially bred for large industry gatherings and trade shows. Who knew?

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

We're still here!

Sorry we've been out of touch for awhile! Emil's been really busy with work, and I've been busy with... well, with lots of things...

Anyway, we're doing well. Emil's dad has recovered from a serious cardiac event and is moving to Florida for awhile. It was quite traumatic. Emil made an emergency visit to Virginia to see to things. It's an absolute miracle, but Buddy is OK (after nearly dying and becoming comatosed for awhile). We feel so lucky!

We'll be travelling back to the states for a few weeks in late July. Hope to see all our loved ones then! After that, we'll be returning to England for a second year here. And that's it! We are definitely moving back to Richmond in the summer of 09. We're happy to be here for another year- Quentin and Mallory are really settled in their schools and I'm enjoying myself. Emil has a great work opportunity, so it all makes sense!

Check out our latest pictures of the Peak District. It looks a little like Campbell County (where I grew up), but again nothing is marked so we were uncertain where we were throughout our hikes. We actually managed to do a 6 mile hike! Mallory was cozy and dry in her stroller with rain cover while the rest of us dredged through wind and rain during the return part of the hike. There is no such thing as bad weather here, only unprepared people. You'd think we would have learned this by now!

Love to all!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Trip to Wales

We just spent four days on the Pembroke Coastline in Wales, near the city of Cardigan. It was so beautiful- but cold, windy, and rainy for most of the trip. We wouldn't have expected anything else! We saw lots of early Christian monuments (crosses, stone carvings), and old churches. This part of Wales is really known for its concentration in early Christian historic sites (5th century +). We also visited the beach to explore some rocky caves- Quentin and Emil even did some impromptu rock climbing. Wales is full of prehistoric sites, too. We went to an old burial tomb that was erected around 3500 BC. All that remains is the entryway which is constructed of three gigantic monoliths, the same bluestone used in Stonehenge (over 200 miles away). The pictures of this site do not demonstrate to any degree how windy it was that day!

We stayed on a farm with six cottages, an indoor pool, farm animals, and a playground. We were really close to all the sites, too, but still felt like we were in a remote location. I would love to return to this exact spot, but there's so much to see in Europe before we move back to Richmond next summer.

The pictures of Wales are available, including several short movies at the end of the picture file. Enjoy!

By the way, it's snowing here in Nottingham as I write this post!

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Remember, remember, the fifth of November

Sound familiar? I've heard that phrase before, but never knew what it was about. It's from a poem, or nursery rhyme (?), about Guy Fawkes Day, otherwise known as Bonfire Night. I had been forewarned by another American that this is a crazy holiday in England. She was right. Starting around November 1st or 2nd, the English begin celebrating the foiled plot to blow up Parliament in 1605, and continue celebrating for almost a week.

Guy Fawkes and a few other conspirators had intended on blowing up the Parliament building while King James I and his family were inside. At this time in England, anti-Catholic sanctions were restricting jobs, freedom of worship, representation, etc., and Fawkes thought if he killed the King, a new monarchy might be more sympathetic to his religious background. So the plotters accumulated a massive amount of gunpowder over several months and stowed it in some rented cellars under Parliament. (I actually read they had planned to dig a tunnel under Parliament, but decided to rent the available cellars when they couldn't figure out what to do with all the dirt...) An anonymous letter warned the King at the last minute and Guy Fawkes was arrested in the cellar with match in hand. Needless to say, he and the other plotters were dragged through the streets of London to where they were hung, drawn, and quartered as examples for their treasonous plot.

The English love this night, and it has thankfully evolved from the original anti-Catholic bonfire celebrations in Victorian Times to a community get-together. (I actually feel kind of weird about the whole thing in general). Apparently some bonfires in Victorian times featured the Pope on a Catherine Wheel, or other anti-Catholic demonstrations. That's all blown over, of course, and now you just have lots of random bonfires and fireworks. And usually some bloke running across the kindling dressed as Guy Fawkes before the lighting of the fire.

We went to a community bonfire that also featured kiddie rides and a half hour firework show. I was not prepared for the size of the bonfire- we're talking absolutely huge! It seemed really unnatural to be close to so much fire. And the fireworks display was a little crazy, too. I can't say I've ever seen a 4th of July show go on as long as this one did. We were so close to the staging area, too, that debris rained on us the entire time. Quentin and Mallory loved it.

The fireworks have been everywhere almost every night since. Tonight, November 10th, is the second night of Divali, the Hindu celebration of lights, so more fireworks are popping in the distance. My kids have gotten accustomed to sleeping through them, so it's not a big deal. I just feel like I'm in a warzone.