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11 posts from June 2009

June 30, 2009

Goodbye London...

We left London three days ago.  Michael flew back to New York to spend the rest of his summer break with his girlfriend and we rented a car and headed north to visit relatives.  I'll post later about the experience of driving on the left side of the road!

Our first stop was Calcot Manor, a charming little cottage just outside of Tetbury in the Cotswolds.  We spent two days here. Calcot Manor - Tetbury England 021

We stayed in the Malmesbury Suite.   The master suite was downstairs and the kids' room was upstairs.  We had our own little enclosed/fenced garden.  This really was the most quaint place I've even been.  From the mossy roof shingles to the sweet little chirps of the baby birds calling to their mothers.    I could live here forever, I think!

While we were here, we visited Andrew's Aunt, Uncle and Cousin in Chipping Norton.  We had a nice visit while the girls played in the garden - watering the many beautiful flowers.  Later, they found an assortment of old toys that their Daddy also played with as a child.  It was fun to imagine all the little hands that have held these over the years.

Chipping Norton

Chipping Norton Chipping Norton More photos on flickr in our Calcot Manor and Chipping Norton sets

Yesterday, we headed to Yorkshire to visit more family.  I'll post more on flickr and here about that later.  Today, we're visiting the old family farm and I hope to also catch a glimpse of James Herriot's veternary practice.  

June 27, 2009

Windsor, Stonehenge & Bath

Winsor Castle 
Daddy, Maddy and Gwen at Windsor Castle. Stonehenge Gwen and Maddy at Stonehenge.

 Roman Baths   Roman Baths

Gwen, Maddy and Michael at the Roman Baths in Bath, England.

More photos in our Flickr 2009 Vacation Collection <here>

June 25, 2009

Paris, Baby!

Today was Gwen's 5th birthday and we spent the entire day in Paris, France! You might think this would impress her but I think she would have been just as happy with an empty box with a big bow! Ah, to be 5!

Weather.com promised us that we'd have a 100% chance of rain in Paris for most of today but it didn't rain at all.  Not even a drop!  Can can they be THAT wrong?  Oh well, no complaints from us about the absolutely beautiful day we got instead!

Gwen strikes a pose at the Notre Dame Cathedral

Gwen strikes a pose at the Notre Dame Cathedral

Maddy and Gwen at the Louvre - Paris
Maddy and Gwen just outside the Louvre, in Paris.

Gate in front of the Louvre - Paris 
Maddy at the Gate near the Louvre (anyone know the name of this gate?)

Life imitates art - Paris, France 
Life imitates art.

No birthday cake for our girl but she did enjoy her first real FRENCH french fry!

Eiffel Tower - Paris
 Michael and his sisters at the Eiffel Tower.

More photos in our Flickr Travel Collection <here>

June 24, 2009

More London Pics (Paris tomorrow!)

Day four collage resized  Yesterday, we went to Portobello Market in Notting Hill (yes, where the movie was filmed).  Then we took the girls back to Princess Diana's Children's Playground at Hyde Park and they played for several hours before we hopped on the tube to Kew Gardens where we met up with Andrew's cousin, Catherine, and her daughter (Grace).  While the grownups chatted, the three girls had so much fun together!  We went to their house and the kids played dress up and loved posing for photos.   Be sure to click that large collage above to get a bigger view.

Maddy at Covent Garden Market.jpgToday, we went to Covent Garden Market and Soho then Saint Paul's Cathedral and millennium bridge. Then back to the apartment for a quick nap before meeting Andrew's other cousin (Caroline) for dinner. Busy day! Here are some more photos:

Millenium Bridge behind us.jpg

 Me and my kids (Millennium Bridge is behind us).

 Maddy and Gwen on Millenium Bridge.jpg

Maddy and Gwen goofing off on the Millennium Bridge. 

Saint Paul's Cathedral

 Gwen and Maddy at a side door of Saint Paul's Cathedral.

Donna and Andrew St Paul's Cathedral.jpg

Donna and Andrew in front of Saint Paul's Cathedral.

Today was a very busy day! Tomorrow is going to be even more busy since we're getting up at the crack of dawn and taking the Chunnel to Paris where we'll spend the entire day and return back to our apartment late that same night. Oh, and a certain very special little girl will turn FIVE YEARS OLD tomorrow! I can't believe my Gwenny is 5! I hope we can find a birthday cake for my little big girl so we can sing her happy birthday in French!

June 23, 2009

Vacation 2009!

London 2009 red phone booth resize 
We arrived Sunday afternoon and after too little sleep that first night, a new day dawned and we hit the ground running. 

There are two competing open-top double-decker tour operators in London:  Big Bus and Original Bus.  We took Big Bus, although they seem mostly identical.  They pick up 20 steps from our front door, and we went past Marble Arch around Oxford St, up to Regents Park, all the way down Regent St to Trafalgar Square, then to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, over the Thames, and to our first "destination": the Eye of London.  This is the giant ferris wheel that was built recently on the south bank.  It has 32 giant "eggs" around the perimeter of the wheel (about 400ft across), each capable of holding 25 people, and the thing rotates once every 30 minutes.  If you're curious, this means they're taking in about $750/minute of entry fees -- it's the most popular tourist attraction in Britain.  Views are fantastic, and the eggs are heavy plexiglass on all sides, although opaque on the bottom.  We enjoyed this a lot.

From there, we went to a tour at the Tower of London, led by a Beefeater who was pretty entertaining.  Lots of gory stories, and an impressive history back to the days of William the Conqueror.  It was first used as a prison when a Bishop was incarcerated in the 1200s.  He escaped, however, when he received a rope hidden in a barrel of wine.

However, he was forced to imbibe the entire barrel over the course of several weeks in order to access the rope, and in his cups he became so jovial that his captors remarked upon his decision to "let down his hair" -- when it turned out this was all part of his escape plan, the legend of Rapunzel was born.

Okay, I made that last paragraph up.  Sorry.

From the tower, we went on a nice river cruise on the Thames, at which point we were pretty exhausted, so we hiked from Embankment around Parliament and Westminster Abbey to catch the Big Bus back to Marble Arch for dinner, then we walked home.

More photos of our last two and a half days here:  <thumbnails>. 
We'll add to that set daily so check back if you're so inclined.

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