Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 4.233: Three plus five

We had a lovely day today with some of our oldest friends. It was also a chance to get to know their little boy who was a tiny baby last time we saw him.

We had two separate park outings, an excellent picnic for humans and waterfowl, a good amount of hanging-out time, a couple of DVD movies (the kids) and a very civilised dinner (the adults).

E5N1 was, once again rather taken with the sprinklers in the park.

We left as three very tired but happy kids and two very full but happy parents!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 4.232: The Exiles and other animals...

We had a very nice trip out to the Cotswold Wildlife Park today.  We have visited several times before (when we lived rather nearer) but it was a while since we'd been there and it seemed rather excellent.

There were animals of course:

Also (less obviously) plants:

Of course some animals were especially appreciated...meerkats (including babies):

Lemurs - in the walkthrough ("Madagascar") exhibit - this one is a sifaka (as Exile #3 let us know on the drive back)


And these mammals - also having a good time!

The photos are all here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Day 4.231: Breakfast and Dinner

We left my family soon after breakfast this morning - just time for a group photo before we left.

Our destination was Exile #2's parents' house where we also met Exile #3's godmother for a very nice (if brief) visit. We ended the day with dinner which featured several British classics - including fish and chips, pie and chips, lamb, aubergine, the carvery and sticky toffee pudding.

We managed to get our friend safely off to the train station afterwards and when we got back the kids were in bed and asleep (or at least quiet). So the transition has got off to a good start...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day 4.230: Family croquet

Today was the second of two days to spend with my sister and family. Croquet featured strongly. I think everyone played at some point. There were some less-traditional activities as well, such as hurdle the post and some head-stands. I've really no idea why!



We hear things have been dramatic for some at home.  I hope all are OK.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 4.229: Fete's arrow

My sister and family arrived today and we had a very nice time. This afternoon we set off for the vicarage for the village fete.

The sky was looking a little threatening:

The kids led the way - playing a lot of games at 20p each. E5N1 was particularly keen (and successful).  Some of the adults also had a go. Astonishingly the weather stayed dry and we even saw some sun. The rain started within minutes of the end of the event.

Later we had games in the garden too. The archery set was a big hit - well, when I say 'hit', the target was a little elusive for me.

All very satisfactory.

Our thoughts are with all our friends in various places in the path of Hurricane Irene.  Stay safe everyone.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Day 4.228: Lunch (bussed)

We were shocked earlier in the week to discover that our kids did not even know what a double-decker bus was. None of them remembered having been on one. It's possible that at least one of them never had.

Lunch was great. A chance to catch up with friends in a vegetarian cafe with a large vegan (i.e. dairy-free) and gluten-free menu.  It could have been made for us (give or take some meat).

And then it was back on the bus.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 4.227: Digital ghosts

We had an outing this afternoon.  It's pretty much the same as our outings in upstate NY.

First you park the car in the parking lot:

near some buildings

Then try to blend in with the locals (including the ghosts):

and maybe take time to check out the local groceries:

This was Audley End.  We had a very nice time and, yes, I'm singing Tori Amos now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 4.226: Friends and sparring partners

We spent the afternoon and evening with friends.  The seven kids (from three families) and seven adults (from five families) enjoyed a fairly idyllic afternoon - the kids playing nicely and leaving the adults to have a rather civilised conversation on the deck.

It was much later before I realised that I hadn't taken a single picture (a serious breach of my blogger's code).  By then we were the only visitors left at the house of our hosts and Exile #4 and E5N1 were dressed to kill (well, to hit anyway).

There was no fighting.  We had a lovely time.  I'll try to do better.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 4.225: New and old in Cambridge

We had a crazy rush around London in the rush hour this morning to get to the US embassy to get our visas renewed. This evening I am in Cambridge to meet up with some old colleagues for beer and curry (by which I mean Indian food in American English). First I had a wander around the city centre looking for an ATM that would accept my strange foreign card and stumbled upon the new Grand Arcade. I remember when this was all grim buildings!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 4.224: Sci-Fi, flux and dolmades

Exile #2 and I are in London. We had a few hours to ourselves this afternoon and started out at the British Library for a free exhibition about science fiction. It contained everything from Thomas More's Utopia (1516) to Doctor Who and beyond. One of its themes was sci-fi by non sci-fi authors: P.D. James, Doris Lessing, Voltaire, C.S. Lewis and even Homer featuring.

After that we took the tube to Bank, walked past the Monument (where else in the world would have the audacity to call something "The Monument"?) and over London Bridge to find our way to Tate Modern. We didn't have too long so we walked around the Flux exhibit which saw everything from Cubism to Lichtenstein via Bridget Riley. Very cool.

We ended the day with dinner at a Greek restaurant on the south bank, a walk over the 'wobbly' Millennium Bridge and across London in the failing light.

More photos when I have a proper computer, for now this will have to do.  Updated with a slightly better version of the photo!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day 4.223: Calvinism

By the end of today we should be safely at our first destination in the UK, but I wasn't sure I would have the presence of mind to write a blog post, so this is pre-recorded.

Exile #2 took this picture of E5N1 when she spotted a certain resemblance.

I always had a soft spot for the strips where Hobbes (the tiger) disguised himself as an inanimate stuffed toy when there were adults around. The rest of the time he was a large, talking, excitable and pounce-y full-grown tiger as you already know - and if you don't - go and find some to read forthwith!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 4.222: Self, awayness

Yesterday, I got home from work to find these self-portraits by Exile #3.  It turned out that it had been the 'afternoon challenge' and since I was home in good time, I thought I had better challenge myself.

The kids and Exile #2 were all kind enough to say that I didn't look too much like the "old guy" that I had drawn.

Today we are on the road - making a small start on our UK-wards journey.  Actually we're probably slightly further away from our destination as the jet flies - but closer to where it actually flies from.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 4.221: Such a little thing...

I've written about Spill'n The Beans before.  I've been back a few times in the last year with my colleagues and have never been disappointed.  We're more likely to go when our Friday lunch numbers are small and it so happens that that has been the case for the last two Fridays in a row.

So it was that I found myself there today waiting for a coffee after ordering my sandwich (a MMMB with goat cheese of course - great as ever).  Incidentally, my colleagues ordered a quiche and a camembert sandwich and both were extremely happy with them.

"You can sit down if you like, I'll bring your coffee over when it's ready." said the girl barely visible behind the espresso machine.  Except she didn't - she also called me by name.  I hadn't used my name today - but she'd remembered from last week when I had been first from our group in line with my order.  I find it hard to get my children's names right so it is beyond me how anyone can have that kind of memory for names and faces - but when it comes to customer service - especially in this kind of place - that's the sort of thing that turns a customer into a regular.  As Morrissey once sang, "Such a little thing...but the difference it made was great."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 4.220: Terse 4 Packing

The Burger King in Menands has had a sign outside it for some time which reads:


Really?  You didn't think it was worthwhile using an extra two characters on that otherwise empty middle line to write "FOR"? 

Anyway, apart from the grammar I have some sympathy.  There have been a few slow-news-day posts here recently - partly due to our imminent departure for the UK.

Tonight we've been checking our preparations: clothes, wedding clothes, passports, visa interview documents, airline tickets, hotel reservation,...

Maybe I should have shut up shop for a few days, but it has been more than 1660 days since I last missed a post (delays caused by technical problems excluded) and I am not about to admit defeat over a little thing like taking the family of five a quarter of the way around the world and back.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 4.219: Wordless Wednesday #1


*this caption intentionally left blank (feel free to donate one of yours!)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day 4.218: Sparkle Fun

I've blogged about toothpaste before, but this is not a toothpaste post.

The kids quite regularly present me with some craft project when I get home from work.  These are often impressive and sometimes I share them with you on a slow news day.

This is something else though.  Exile #2 remarked that Exile #4 had covered the whole house in glitter to make it happen, but I think we're all agreed that it was worth it - even if we have no idea what it is she created.

There's a good chance that she would call it "Untitled" if I asked her - just to annoy me since my dislike of abstract art without titles is well known around here - so I will refrain from asking and present it to you with my rather utilitarian choice of title: Tape and Glitter on Paper by Exile #4 or, if you like, Sparkle Fun.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 4.217: Dead cicadas in love

The kids found another dead cicada - as Exile #2 pointed out, at this time of year they're dropping like flies.  E5N1 was the one who was willing to pick it up and put it with the other one on the deck-shelf.

Later he arranged them as you see here.

"They are in love!" he declared

Dead cicadas in love.

Life is quite strange in our house sometimes.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 4.216: Swift visit

We're rather busy with our preparations for our trip - especially because as soon as we get back we need to be ready for getting back to school. We expected rain today, but it took its time arriving and took even longer to get going with any conviction, so we managed to fit in a quick visit to another Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy site. The rather surprising Swift Wetland. It's surprising because from the outside, it looks like it occupies about two vacant house-plots opposite the Bethlehem Central High School in Delmar. In fact it is a little larger than that. Here is my attempt to superimpose the trail map on Google Earth's view of the area:

Inside the intricate loops of trails there were plenty of surprises too - boardwalks and ponds, vultures and squirrels, dragonflies and oak apples, open spaces and fallen trees. We had a rather wonderful little walk there.

Photos on Flickr

Apparently it was created to preserve a wetland habitat that was largely lost when the homes were built in this area and it is used by the High School as an outdoor classroom. Of course, like its sister Phillipinkill Preserve, it is rather overshadowed by Five Rivers just up the road, but this is a lovely little surprise nestled in the edge of suburbia.


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