25 May 2010

The First Edition

I suppose I should be grateful that we have a dryer at all -  a lot of people here don't.  I have seen a lot of outdoor clothes drying contraptions: airers, lines, hexagonal things, things that retract, on and on.  Actually, I find the whole thing a bit amusing since the sun never seems to shine here, but I guess that is a whole different complaint. 

I would like to say we dry our clothes like this because we are being environmentally responsible and, yes, that is part of it, but really the dryer that came with the house is horrible.  It smells.  As the heat intensifies, so does the smell of dirty socks.  The other problem is the door - when you open it, the little port hole it dips down so that when you go to close it again you have to wrench it up to get it to latch.  Next downside, it holds 2 towels.  It has two settings:  hot and no heat.  The best part, when it is on, you can open it and it still runs and the clothes self eject.  It is a First Edition, do you think that might have something to do with it?  Perhaps they got all of the kinks out with the Second Edition?  I sure hope so. 

I think AJ has found the best use for this First Edition:


09 May 2010

Mother's Day

Laney Mothering Day

You may be surprised to learn that Mother's Day has come and gone here in England.  When the notice came home for the Mother's Day reception in March, I thought I was really loosing it.  Here "Mothering Day" falls on the 4th Sunday of Lent and was historically a day that people visited their "Mother churches" and a date that servants were given off to return to their families and attend church.

King's College Chapel

To commemorate the day, we decided to see something new and headed off to Cambridge.  It was fantastic!  Actually, it is a lucky thing that my first visit came after the move or Sam would have a bigger commute. 

Cambridge 2
Great St. Mary's Church

There was a market in the center of the city, and we found a stall that sold baguettes.  While I was buying the baguette Sam headed to the pasty shop to get us a snack.  When I returned the pasty was gone so I headed back for more.  I returned again with piping hot pasties only to find the children feeding the "better than what we have been getting in Essex" baguette to the pigeons.  Before we knew it people were watching and in the blink of an eye, a tourist gabbed the boys (see arrow), threw her arms around them and documented the "British boys" feeding the pigeons. 


A bit stunned, we decided to move along and see some of the sights.  That was when tragedy struck Laney's face.  Actually, it was a cobblestone that stuck her face.  It was cold and she decided to put her hands in her pockets.  Worried that she was going to miss out on a bite of this piping hot pastry filed with cheesy vegetable goodness, she lunged and tripped over my foot.  I'm sure you can fill in the blanks on this one. 

Laney Black Eye

Yet again, we were attracting attention to ourselves so it was time to move along.


We strolled the streets for a while, looking into courtyards as we passed.  We went in the first that welcomed visitors and stumbled upon a chapel with a "princess" (in Laney's eyes) practicing a classical piece on the grand piano.  As if the little church was not amazing enough with its stained glass windows, the sound that came through the piano and filled the church was truly amazing.

Cambridge courtyard

We had a nice meal at a pub and I was treated to a beautiful view of the river and boats.

Pub View

Of course no trip to Cambridge would be complete without a trip punting down the River Cam.  Okay, so my trip could have been complete, but the boys were dying to go on a boat.  So we struck a deal and agreed on the one way trip which proved to be perfect for AJ. 
Punting in Cambridge

Mathmatical Bridge Cambridge
Owen, Laney and Spencer in front of the Mathematical Bridge

Sam & AJ Cambridge

I must say it was beautiful with the bridges and seeing all of those beautiful buildings from that perspective. The added bonus was watching the other tourists try to punt themselves back up the river on the blustery day, now that really worth the ticket.

Cambridge bridges

Cambridge bridge

And to finish off the day - a silver man.  Yeah, not so sure about this one either. 
Silver Man

I had a wonderful Mothering Day. I hope you do too. 

06 May 2010

Nothing Like The Last Minute

Oma and kids 2010

It had been a while since I had been to the Netherlands to see my grandmother and I had a yearning for some Mergpijpjes (kind of like a petit four only with marzipan rather than fondant) and with a bank holiday on Monday, we decided to make use of the time.  Okay, truth be told this was an 11th hour trip.  Really we woke up Saturday morning, had a cup of coffee, got to talking and by noon we were packed, had a hotel and train reservation and were on the road.  7 hours later we were there.  We traveled one hour by car to Dover and drove our car onto the train that took us through the Channel Tunnel and 35 minutes later we were in France.  We then traveled though France to Belgium and from Belgium to the Netherlands.  Although the weather was beyond lousy, we enjoyed our time with Oma and seeing a few sights in The Hague. 

For anyone interested, we stayed at the Novotel in the center of  The Hague and it was really nice.  It is right across from the Binnenhof (the location of Dutch parliament) and attached to the Passage (a shopping arcade built in 1885).  The hotel was clean and served a very complete breakfast buffet.

Sunday we bought our Strippenkarts (long tickets used for public transportation) and rode the tram from the city center to my grandmother's flat by the dunes of the North Sea.  The kids loved the tram ride, watching the giant waves and eating lots of Stroopwafles (a cookie that is two thin waffles with a caramel like syrup in the middle) with Oma. 

We had a bit of time to show the children a few things in the city and Laney was, of course, particularly enthralled with Princess Maxima and Queen Beatrix.  Having just celebrated Queen's Day on Friday there was plenty to see.  We walked over to the Noordeinde Palace, but Laney was disappointed when I told her we could not go in and say good afternoon, or even "goedemiddag" (she was working on her Dutch). 
Hague palace 2010
Although there was no tea at the palace, Laney did get the royal treatment from her brothers which more than made up for the lack of hospitality from the Dutch royalty. 

Hague 2010

We had a nice log weekend and the kids are already planning a return visit, which is probably for the best because if left to me who knows what will happen.