Sunday, May 31, 2009

Weekend Errands

We are having the most glorious weather. Here are some pics from the Saturday market and strawberry picking. As you can see, it’s a little early for the strawberries.

Happy Birthday Big Ben

The bell is actually what is nicknamed Big Ben (didn't know that). Here is a live webcam link if you want to see what 150 looks like.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Went Missing

Yes, I'm a nerd. To be more specific a word nerd. I listen to a podcast by someone called Grammar Girl and was catching up on some old episodes and thought Americans being annoyed by the phrase "went missing" was funny. I guess I have heard it so much I hadn't noticed it. You can read about it from this link.

I was in a meeting early this week where one of my co-workers, in one of those I'm joking but I'm not tones had to remind me and everyone in the room that Americans are loud. They then turned to me and said that if I wanted I could share a disparaging remark about the English. I didn't of course, but I could have mentioned that there are a bunch of people in the colonies being subjected to "went missing" and they're not gonna take it anymore.

St. Albans

This past Monday was Memorial Day in the U.S. and a Bank Holiday Monday. The weather was stunning and A was refusing to leave the house. I had been wanting to visit St. Albans which is just a short drive away and see the cathedral and Roman ruins. I had to bait her with shopping to get her interested. Because of the weather EVERYONE seemed to be out and parking spaces were sparse. In between a look through the shops we walked through the cathedral. We really had a nice day but what struck me is how different things are now that she is a teenager. We had these moments of conversation that were nothing but laughter and good times but then each of us would veer off into topics that took us to the brink of drama. For her it was me mentioning school and for me it was her thinking she’s going to go travel to America alone to visit her friends.

We will have to go back another day to see the Roman ruins. It was swimming with people and no parking anywhere. Even I wasn’t up for that. One of my work colleagues lives there and he said that basically all that is left of the Roman theatre there is one pillar but it is presented very well!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Hottest Day in the UK

Yesterday I was outside trying to clean up where the broken greenhouse that has recently been taken away was so we can do some gardening. I was shocked to be standing outside with the sun directly on me sweating in the UK! I read this morning that yesterday was the hottest day so far this year (70s).

More Practice Dishes


Sunday, May 24, 2009



The culinary school was sponsoring a food festival in Henley-On-Thames last weekend so we decided to go check it out. A tried to pull the “I’m not going” on us. I had to come back with the “hey this is my belated Mother’s Day". The weather was questionable, so as we walked in the rain from the car, which had to be parked quite a distance away, A walked in front of us and she looked like a full body snarl. She was sooo not enjoying it. The weather did turn around and we got to watch the taping of a cooking show we’ve watched on television and sample lots of tasty treats. Once A got some chocolate mousse and the sun was out, it was a whole new experience.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


A said it best when she said, “I can’t believe I sat through the whole thing”. As I drove A and her friends to school Friday morning her friends were talking about watching the Eurovision final on television Friday night. They had to explain to her what it was. They acknowledged its cheesiness but also couldn’t wait to watch it. I thought we needed to tune in to experience it at least once. Been there, done that. All I can say is wow. I’ve figured out that there are three elements that make up a winning performance:

1. Lots of color
2. Cheesy pop song
3. And more importantly…a fan for that windblown effect

Two countries did their best to try and stack the deck, Germany and the UK. The UK had their entry perform with Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber, hoping his pedigree would bolster their chances. But Germany went in another direction. They hired American burlesque star Dita Von Teese to strip down to a boustier during their performance. Who won in the end? Norway!

If you want to learn more about Eurovision and listen to some of the songs, go here. Just a warning, Azerbaijan’s song is an earworm of massive proportions.

Practice Dishes

H has been practicing for his final. This was delicious.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Random Pics - Barcelona

The Flamenco Show

The girls wanted to attend a Flamenco show. It was in a touristy part of town and the show was also as touristy as we expected it to be. It wasn’t a total loss though. The guitar was good and I took some interesting pics.

Monday - Visit to the Consulate

All four of us went to the Consulate, but in the end only one of us could go in with Meg, and we had to come back at a later time to pick up her temporary passport. Even though Meg was stressed that it put a damper on morning plans, we had a lovely coffee at a very local café. We weren't very successful with our plans since as we arrived at the Picasso Museum we saw the closed on Mondays sign. We did have a wonderful lunch at the port where I tried a noodle paella. It didn’t look so appetizing but it was very tasty. It was Meg’s favorite meal.

We hopped up on the bus to get back to our hotel after sightseeing and as we were trying to find a seat on the top of the bus, the bus driver started driving like a maniac. Meg said to me, "What's that movie with Keanu Reeves and the bus? Are we in it?" Everyone on the bus spoke different languages but we were all laughing at the bus driver.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Is There A Patron Saint of Cotton Candy?

Our next stop was interesting. I’m not quite sure how we decided to get off of the bus but I am glad we did. We were supposed to take a tram up but the tram was closed so we had to take a public bus up to a mountain top location that operated another tram that took you that much higher. What was up at the top besides some gorgeous views of the city… oddly enough it was a beautiful church and an amusement park.

The amusement park definitely seemed like a local attraction since we were the only ones speaking English. It had the universal carnival smell of popcorn and cotton candy mixed together, but it also had a full bar. The rides took advantage of being on a mountain top. A ride that doesn’t seem all that scary is a hell of a lot scarier when it looks like you’re going to fall off the side of a mountain! Genius! Meg, K , and I decided to ride the ferris wheel. No big deal, right? When we got on and it went up and stopped to let others on and we were at the highest point and our little car started to rock back and forth, I seriously thought I was going to die. I’m usually all in for that kind of stuff as long as I’m not being spun around like a top. I really should learn my lesson since my only near death experience was a German carnival ride years ago. I couldn’t take any pictures. I just looked down and prayed for this experience to be over. Well played amusement park designers, well played! It hadn’t even occurred to me to just look up at Jesus’ open loving arms…

Parc Güell

Our next stop was Parc Güell, another Gaudi masterpiece. The park was packed with locals and tourists. We listened to some musicians and had lunch outside at the top. The music wasn't so good but the musicians were very photogenic. Meg started talking to a table of three men next to us from the Brighton area who she had asked to take our picture. They were curious as to why she had picked Barcelona for a European destination. They were actually a party of four but one of their friends wasn’t interested in “cultural things” so they planned to meet him at the airport the next day when it was time to leave. I think we could have spent the entire day at the park. There was lots of good people watching, the sun was shining, and the outdoor café served sangria. What more did anyone need? But alas, we moved on.

Sagrada Familia

If you do any research about Barcelona, the name Antoni Gaudi comes up over and over again. He was a Catalan architect whose modernist buildings made a mark on Barcelona. Our first top was to see Sagrada Familia, his unfinished cathedral. My pictures are not so good, partly because it is still under construction so every angle has cranes, etc. in it. It is a sight to see for sure for its scale and its twist on a gothic cathedral so prevalent in Europe.