Sunday, June 30, 2013

Day 6.171: Gate-gate

On the morning after the wedding I got up at 5.30am to fit in a 14 mile run before  the set-time breakfast at the lovely boutique hotel that was the venue for the wedding and our stay. 

Not knowing the area at all, I decided to run wherever looked good for 7 miles and then turn and retrace my steps. When I came to a cattle-grid across the road I didn't think much of it, but when a little later I came to a group of farm buildings and the end of the road I should probably have admitted defeat. Instead, I set off down a side lane signposted as a public footpath. 

After a short distance, I realised I was chasing a herd of cows down the narrow lane away from the farm. I slowed to a walk. Fortunately they suddenly turned into a field for no apparent reason. It turned out there was a tape across the lane ahead which may or may not have been an electric fence. I counted my blessings and ducked under it to continue down the lane - hopefully back to some regular roads. It wasn't to be. Instead, it became clear that the lane was really a cattle thoroughfare between fields which went no further than another field over. 

So I admitted my 7/7 run was not going to be that simple and turned around to head back. As I ducked under the electric tape again I saw this:

Again they turned to run away from me. This time I would be chasing them away from the field they probably wanted to be in and right into the farm. Suspecting this might displease the farmer, I decided to try to edge slowly past them. 

Happily my youth in rural England left me unafraid of even a large number of these large animals (although still a little scared of farmers apparently) and I managed to edge by as they filed past me. 

I decided to make my run a loop with a shorter out-and-back to adjust the total length which was better anyway and although gate-gate or cow-gate or whatever you'd like to call my dead-end run through a dairy farm slowed down the first half of my run, I managed to complete my 14 miles and do the second half at least at the pace I'd planned. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Day 6.170: Wedding!

My little big sister got married today! We have had a great time. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Day 6.169: Super fiendish

We had a very nice visit with some friends this afternoon - hopefully we'll see them again before we leave - but for today, apart from a lot of catching up, it was just like picking up where we left off for adults and kids alike - great!

During the day yesterday, both Exile #3 and Exile #4 managed to get themselves locked in the downstairs loo* here. They both managed to get out with a little coaching but it prompted my Dad to act on a long standing intention to replace the lock-and-key arrangement for a privacy lock that can be opened from the outside if necessary. This was not much of a concern for us now, since both the girls have mastered it now and, as we said at the time, E5N1 is unlikely to go to the trouble of locking it - we're lucky if he closes the door.

So after two trips to a local hardware store and a pile of tools and an hour or so of drilling, chiseling, measuring and shoving, we finally succeeded:

I'm not sure, in spite of the issues we had, that I'd call it fiendish, but my other achievement of the day was more than just fiendish:

It turned out to be quite a good antidote to the jet-lag slump!

*apologies to my US readers - I meant "half-bath" obviously ;)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Day 6.168: Zoning out

I managed to keep my training on-course by getting up for a run this morning - quite an achievement given the timezone change.

My run took me across fields and along a Roman road as well as, less comfortably, along some narrow country roads where the only way to get out of the way of any errant drivers would have been to dive (probably head-first) into the hedgerow. Fortunately, the reality was less eventful than that.

Later, we played various games inside and out and had a nice walk across the village - all the time fighting our bodies' rebellion against the clock.

It was worth it for moments like this:

and for some quality time with my parents.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Day 6.167: London - here we don't come (yet)!

We had some spectacular views of London as we flew in this afternoon:

However, unlike on our recent visits, Exile #2 and I don't have to start our trip to the UK with a day there to visit the US Embassy to renew our visas. We might make it there as a family for a sightseeing trip - but that can wait until we are a little more in the swing of things.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Day 6.166: Time to fly!

We have set off on our visit to the UK. Our flight is early tomorrow.

Just before we left I managed to get a few photos of a hummingbird at the feeder.

I never get tired of seeing them.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Day 6.165: One or two of this and that

Some more sightings from our trip to Five Rivers on Saturday:

A very bright red-winged blackbird, a green frog and a bullfrog (check out the waves he's making with his croak in the top-right!), two varieties of fish, two varieties of turtle, a dragonfly, some plants and a pair of young Exiles.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Day 6.164: Rivers lookup

During our visit to Five Rivers yesterday we took a group shot at our traditional location.  As far as I can see, it was the first time since last October.

It got me thinking about how many we had - and how far back they go.  It turns out they cover more than five years.  With apologies for the technical issues, here they are:

Keeping a blog like this has its cool moments!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day 6.163: A flicker and a splash

This is the flicker - Exile #2 spotted it in our yard this afternoon.

And then E5N1 and his friends made many a splash at a double birthday pool party in the late afternoon.

We also fitted in a trip to Five Rivers and a bit of packing.  All in all, not a bad day for the first Saturday of summer.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Day 6.162: Speeding?

Signs On Columns
Photo by Flickr user TimothyJ

The other morning I ran past one of these signs.  As I approached it, I was surprised to see it come on. "7" was what it was reporting...could it be actually measuring my running speed?

I sped up to test it...8, 9, 10...yes it really was! I had no idea I would cause such a big radar echo!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day 6.161: An odd symmetry

Hot on the heels of all the other excitements for her over the last week or so, Exile #3 turned 11 today.

We had present-opening before breakfast and after lunch two of her best friends came over for a few hours of...well, apart from the half hour when I took them out for ice-cream I don't really know what they got up to - maybe watching a movie, a craft activity, definitely lots of talking mostly hidden away in Exile #3's room!

And, just because I can, here - in no particular order - are birthdays zero through ten:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Day 6.160: Middle she comes!

Exile #2 went down to school to witness the fifth graders' send-off at the end of their last (half) day of elementary school.  Here is Exile #3 accepting applause and high-fives from the rest of the school.

After this, she had a victory lap of the parking-lot with several of her friends in a convertible Mini Cooper thanks to one of the other Moms.

It sounds and looks like a great send-off and I hear that many (kids and adults alike) had a tear or two in their eyes.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Day 6.159: Moving on up

Here's your soundtrack for today (or at least what's been in my head all evening):

This evening was Exile #3's "Moving Up Ceremony" - celebrating her fifth grade class as they finish their time at elementary school.

It was a fairly formal affair - we had speeches from the principal and the fifth grade teachers, diploma presentations, a song and a slideshow of photos from their up-to-five years at the school. Tomorrow is her last half-day there and she will be sad to leave this school behind - even though we're sure she's ready for the next challenge.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Day 6.158: Knocking off the rough edges

One of Exile #4's birthday presents was a rock tumbler - it smooths and polishes stones using sand and a tumbling action similar to the waves on a beach. It's been churning away in the garage for the last few days. It's only the first of three stages with increasingly fine-grained sand to get a shiny finish, but it's already produced this transformation:

The next steps will probably have to wait until after our up-coming trip.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Day 6.157: Hand-holding at Cohoes Falls

We missed the flow at its highest, but on Saturday morning, those of us who were not at Girl Scout camp went to see Cohoes Falls in the sunshine.

It was quite dramatic:

Quite a lot of people were there including a number of photographers - many with tripods out to see the falls at their best.  We took in all the views the "new" park affords:

I quite like that panorama (taken with my phone) despite its obvious technical flaws.  Talking of technical things, I did not have a lens or lens/filter combination to allow me to take a long exposure in the sunshine.  So, I figured maybe I could fake it with a multiple exposure.  Of course, since I did not have a tripod, any long exposures (faked or otherwise) are problematic, but using multiple shots I could at least align them after the event while superimposing.

The second shot above is the result - here's a comparison with one of the exposures as I took it.

It's gratifying that my guesswork paid off and I was able to get the effect I was looking for - for better or worse!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Day 6.156: A flying penguin!

With Exile #3 away camping with her Girl Scout troop and Exile #4 at a birthday party, E5N1, Exile #2 and I had a nice trip to the park where it turned out to be the perfect day to give flight to a flightless bird (in the form of a kite):


Friday, June 14, 2013

Day 6.155: The karate kid (and Mr Mymonki)

One of Exile #4's birthday presents was an introduction to karate. She's quite keen.

The hand-art is not karate war paint, but was left over from school field-day which happened earlier.

Paint on....wash off.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Day 6.154: Not so elementary

Exile #3's end-of-year festivities continued with a party at the Middle School for her and the rest of the fifth-grade from her elementary school.

I arrived to loud music, the playing of pool and table-tennis, evidence of food and soft-drink consumption. Where was my daughter? Dancing - as she had been all evening according to one of the chaperoning moms.

Apparently she had a blast and Cotton-Eyed Joe was her favourite. Most importantly, the evening was able to make the following transformation (from just as we were leaving to take her there to when she was waiting for me to take her home again):

Which is OK by me!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day 6.153: Late nights

Jet-lag is still taking its toll on me - especially in the late-afternoon and early evening. I am managing to rally myself to be awake then for two or three hours before bedtime, so hopefully things will sort themselves out soon.

Here are some of the last remaining pictures from my Korean trip - these are from a very unusual restaurant that we ended up at because we were still at work well after 9 pm and by then many restaurants were closed.

It was a pretty interesting place - decorated with old technology - including piles of VHS tapes and a TV on a wall mount which, despite it's shape bears the word "FLAT" on its front.

I wonder how many other quirky places we missed by not working late enough often enough!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Day 6.152: Being square

It's Exile #4's 9th birthday today. Happy Birthday to her!

Hard to believe she was only two years old when the Exile started.  Here are some previous birthday shots (except for her first and second birthdays for which I had to go close because it would appear that I took no photos on either of those days - she's such a middle child!)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Day 6.151: Cultural feedback

I took the time to visit school this morning to see Exile #4's class cultural fair. Each of them had researched a country, produced a travel brochure and then for today, brought in some related items including a food for everyone to try. They visited each other's tables, then hosted the rest of the third grade and the second grade classes in an hour of happy chaos.

Exile #4 chose to research England - and despite the strangeness of her researching her own place of birth as a foreign country (she wasn't the only one) - she did a really nice job.

She helped Exile #2 make some scones - and displayed them on a nice multi-tiered (cardboard) cake stand, brought in some British coins, a flag, book and postcards and for some of the time had a slightly jet-lagged Englishman sitting at the table - surely going above-and-beyond!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Day 6.150: A tale of two chickens

I had two evenings to myself in Korea - the night after I arrived and the Saturday night three nights later. I spent them both at the same place.

On the first evening it was all I could do to stay awake long enough to go out to dinner. I waited outside a "Chicken & Hof" place for them to open - hoping to replicate the experience of another night-out alone when I finally discovered where to find spicy fried chicken. I didn't quite get it right. Overcome with tiredness, I ordered the first thing on the menu - which turned out to be boneless chicken in a extremely spicy gochujang sauce. I enjoyed it - washed down with a couple of beers - but it wasn't exactly what I needed that first night.

On Saturday night, I returned to see if I could do better and I did!

Sweet spicy bone-in chicken with some fat noodle-like rice-cakes for good measure.  I tried to do it justice, but predictably it defeated me in the end.

Fortunately, I had a two-mile walk back to my hotel to get over the worst of my over-indulgence and to take in the views: