Monday, April 28, 2008

Second Day, Second and Third Stops

We headed on to Avebury after lunch in Windsor. My husband's people love Avebury, much more than the arguably more famous and fantastic of the pre-Druid stone circles, Stonehenge. Numbers like 5000 BC tend to impress, and we all enjoyed this visit, my second. Twas muddy and off-and-on rainy, just the way England should be.

My children were immediately the humongous hills they could run and roll down. They didn't really get the fact that what they tromped about in might have been some major civilization's burial site or leadership gathering space...or maybe they did, but they really liked flailing about the expanse of land.

On to Stonehenge, which I was not prepared to love as I have cleaved to my husband and his likes and dislikes. BUT NO, I LOVED IT. IT WAS BIG, BEAUTIFUL, AND SUPER COOL!!! Some folks were doing seismological tests on the site. My dad, chatty as he is (much moreso with perfect strangers than his loved ones), found out all about these tests and then we were told about the first archealogical dig that would be taking place the very next week. That dig was the first in 50 years, and it proved very fruitful. (Be sure and listen to audio of Dr. Tim Darvill - what a great British character he seems to be!)

Stonehenge photo by my son.

The Volkswagen Sharan carried on to Salisbury to see the ginormous cathedral. Again, who knows how these people did it. Crazy. 1300 AD or something and the beautiful spires and ridiculously realistic carvings and feats of engineering boggle the mind. The cathedral was reverent and pastoral; the town was tiny and boring. We had a hard time finding somewhere to eat and were even turned away at one tasty-looking place due to the insanely late hour of 7 p.m.

But then we happened upon our happy little Gastro Bistro and it was cozy, warm, ancient, and tasty. Also - a seven-pound menu available til 7:30! Everyone had beers and soups and olives and burgers and were thus fortified for the heinous, rainy drive back to Central London whereupon we only got a little bit lost and had to hoof it back to the Tube station in the rain and HAD to stop so my dad could get Sprite for his imported Maker's Mark and almost had to pay the congestion charge.

That part, as you can tell, was not the best part of the marathon day...but we stayed happy and optimistic and even made a game of the late-night Tube ride with the children, amongst all the post-work revelers. We flopped into the flat, wet and weary, but with many tales to tell our sleepy aunt.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

There's a new R.E.M. video and it is a lovely thing. You can watch it on MySpace - I think you have to have an account to do it, but maybe not. Try.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The children have accused their daddy of not laughing much. He laughs at me a lot when they aren't around, of course, and he never, ever fails to laugh at things like this:

Behold, the hair helmet.

Check out my new iMeem song at the left.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Papal Post

After a rather funny and intense email exchange with some fellow school moms that ended up with Pope debate, I decided to ask a few of my friends what there thoughts were about the Papal visit.

Here's what they had to say:

"......the whole Pope thing is just so totally idol worship.....Aside from the fact of his wacky beliefs (and I am being kind here) what kind of world do we live in which there is the existence of a pope-mobile? I mean seriously, JK Rowling couldn't have written anything more strange and atrocious."

To which I responded:
" I'm actually a bit fascinated with the Pope, or at least with the attention given him. I strongly dislike his beliefs, but find it most interesting that he has at least acknowledged that a bunch of children were molested by their spiritual leaders. I can't think of anyone whom I would want to stand on line to view, and I just stood in line to see the Queen of England - but not on purpose. I don't know, maybe Bono?"

And then I heard back from another mom:

"You should read Angels and Demons - then you'll really be disgusted with Popes and junk. This Pope seems like a harmless baby doll to me. I would like to hear the discussion he had with George Bush. That had to be comical. I think I might stand in line to see the Dalai Lama. It would at least be a line of interesting people - maybe not as interesting as Bono."

and then:

"....don't you think the pope hat is just a LITTLE phallic? Love, Sinead O'Connor. Or, are you too young to get that reference. PROBABLY!"

(answer: I'm not! I was a bona fide Sineadaphile and thought the rip-up was interesting to say the least, and probably career-ending...which it sort of was)

More comments:

"I was shocked to see channel 14 news showing a continuous live feed of the Mass yesterday.
It was a flashback to the revivals of Billy Graham or Elmer Gantry."

"I give him props for meeting with sex abuse victims and talking about
peace at the UN. He seems to me like someone more comfortable as an
academic theologian type who sometimes says things in an overly abstract
or impolitic way that would fit better in a classroom or abbey than a
humongous religious rally.
Being a social liberal I of course disagree
with him about a bunch of stuff but that is neither here nor there in
the grand scheme of things. "

And you can read one friend's review of the NYC visit here.

More later - people seem very ready to chat about all this. Why is that? I know ABC thinks (via the close captioning I saw whilst at the gym) that people are searching for meaning in life and for hope in these dark times etc etc etc etc

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Well, damn, I can't get on to tell you about the rest of the day trip. Maybe this weekend.

("You" being my online diary. Not necessarily "you" the reader. Though I often think fondly of "you", reader!)

In the meantime, get a load out of this fantastic web site. I keep scrolling through looking for the kind of mom I want to be when I start emailing my children.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Second Day, First Stop

My husband loves to drive in foreign locales. He won't drive us to Georgia or the mountains or beach, and he rarely drives us around town, but put him a car with a left-side steering wheel and a country with roundabouts and he WILL rent a car.

So Wednesday found us behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Sharan. As usual with our European rentals, I wish I could get this car in the US. Maybe sometime soon... My parents were very game about this endeavor, and trusted my hubby implicitly. I'm a fairly good navigator in these situations and I also have a good, loud, "DEATH" that I call out if another car is near or husband makes a false move.

We headed up the M5 to Windsor - yay! My Diana-obsession, and moderate interest in the Royals in general, about to be appeased! But no, closed! But wait, state visit from Sarcozy - just step around there, please madam, and whoa - there is the Queen and Philip, she in a hat! My mother was BESIDE HERSELF. I was feeling fairly good about all of it, still bummed I couldn't get inside the castle, but excited we were having an unusual experience. I chose not to take pictures, but others did.

We stayed put in our excellent vantage point and good thing: the Irish Black horses with their festooned riders came by, with bands, and various other pomp, and soon enough carriages with Charles and Camilla (!), the Queen and President Sarcozy, Madame Bruni-Sarcozy (to my husband's delight. She waved at my daughter ((not my husband, though he will tell you otherwise)) as she had a French flag in her hands.) Carla's fashion was the buzz of London all the rest of the week. (Please do note the date of the previous link's article) She certainly did not disappoint in person, and frankly, neither did anyone else. They all looked totally glamourous and gorgeous.

We found a nice lunch place and exchanged stories. This, by the way, was the first meal wherein I realized I needed to eat like a bird to be able to afford what my children would order and eat. Walking 10 miles a day and eating light are great for me, but feeding them was expensive all the time.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Since it's Masters week, I've been ruminating on the list of what White People Like. (I like soooo many of those things. As you know, if you know me or read this). This being the Internet, there is now a compiled list of what a variety of other groups tend to like. Explore at your leisure.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

More R.E.M. - tis the season.

You must purchase the tiny white sponges of hope - even I, the Great Unclean, have found them miraculous. Why, just today I erased 7 years worth of crayon/hand prints/scuff marks off our hall walls and door frames, with just two of the soft bright marvels. (Available, I add at the risk of losing potential millions for endorsing this product, in a generic brand)

And finally, yesterday culminated in a visit to the urgent care. My wacko children had fashioned a gymnastics bar from an old baseball return net thingy. Their feats were astounding, but scary...we had warned them AGAIN and AGAIN that caution must be taken. I was not surprised when my daughter went down, and the bar went down on top of her. Everyone stayed calm, and everyone insisted on being together (which is kind of cute but troublesome too), and we took her in to rule out concussion and broken nose (still not 100% sure, but we hope to get a final reading of the x-rays today). She looks like someone took a bat to her forehead and nose bridge. I wrote a very informative note to the teacher hoping to head off calls from social services, and I've tried not to be a worrywart all day.

Not fun, but not as bad as it could have been.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Don't really know what this is all about, but I'm intrigued. Didn't you ever, just once, make a mix tape for a boy you kind of liked, though he wasn't your type, and knew even though he probably wouldn't like all the pop songs (albeit obscure ones) you put on there, since he was really more into My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth, that he might think you were kinda cool?

Monday, April 07, 2008

First Day

We had a rough flight with the headache of the decade and US AIrways' notoriously impudent service. Still, we arrived excited (or I was) and found my parents very easily, and after a few detours in London (just like last time) found my husband's aunt, our hostess. She was immediately warm and gracious and wonderful...and even though I was nervous about invading, it was so good to see her after so long (they've been there over 2 years) that I settled in immediately.

Flat 4 was a sight to behold - in a very posh neighborhood with all kinds of fine cars the likes of which have not even been seen stateside, apparently, but the apartment is just right and tidy and British. We were served scones, black currant jam, and clotted cream almost immediately. Thank goodness, cause then we walked, I don't know, 6 miles?

We put my parents and their aching feet on a tour bus and set off. My children were fairly whiny, jet-lagged, and not loving London yet. As you can tell from the picture: no smiles, and one child not even visible. I told them to suck it up and off we went: Buckingham Palace, Green Park, Hyde Park, Big Ben, Parliment, Westminster Abbey, Marble Arch, and I don't know what all else. The first visit to Trafalgar Square cheered the children immensely. Of course! All they want to do is climb and run, and here are the largest lion sculptures this side of Vegas, just for the climbing.

Back to the flat where the children passed out and we enjoyed chili and wine with our darling relatives and their funtastic London tales, plus big-time political talk (uncle is with a major news outlet) with a distinctly British perspective, then bed for good good sleep. Even though we each had a child in our twin bed. Don't worry, they calmed down eventually.

I don't know if I'll bore you further with these diary-type entries, but it helps me remember the nuances of the trip. I should also tell you that I love that Rick Steves, if only because he wrote something that better illustrates my travel philosophy, nay, my family philosophy, than almost anything yet. Well, that and he's on the board of NORML:

Of course, travel, like the world, is a series of hills and valleys. Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic.

Read the whole passage here.

Thursday, April 03, 2008