Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween !
from our house to yours

Monday, October 29, 2007

All Out Halloween

Last year, September '06, I read this book called 100 Things to do before you Die. I was inspired to make my own list. After they read my list, Griffin and Riley both made one. (At this point we were calling it 100 things to do in your lifetime because it sounded more positive.) Anyway one of the things on Riley's list was... Go "All Out" on Halloween. We decided that this would be the year. According to Riley- "all out" Halloweens include-
  • lots of spooky (not cute) decorations
  • a Terror Trail around the house
  • a party with friends, hotdogs, rootbeer, cupcakes and zombies
  • a fog machine
  • the coolest costumes ever (it's a secret but I will tell you that we're gonna rock and roll all night and party every day. Any guesses?)
  • Trick or Treating on TWO nights in a row
  • and giving out BIG candy bars to trick or treaters

True Love, Zombie style. Actually, Tim's a mummy and I'm a vampire bride.
(wedding dress- two dollars from a rummage sale!!!)

The spiders have caught Spiderman!

The rising of the dead.

Me and my Mom

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I'm on Flickr !!!

I spent some time today uploading some pictures from the trip onto flickr! So far I've put about 100 pics on and have only a couple thousand left, which I'll probably add next week. Fair warning- in case some of you want to clear your schedules. Halloween excitement is heating up around here so I'm off to help with decorating and costumes. Have a great weekend!
Link-- my Flickr account

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Highlights from the trip

Everything is already running into each other. My sister JoAnne asked about seeing the Pantheon and I couldn't remember which one that was. (the one with the hole in the ceiling, oh yeah, that one). John has a blog and he's a wonderful writer so I'll just link to his trip diary and let him do all the work.*
I took a million pictures and I'm hoping to make a slide show on one of the photo hosting sites in a couple days. I had to buy two new memory cards while I was over there- one in London and a 2gb in Rome!
I just want to make a list of some of the most memorable moments- both good and bad-
  • Number one highlight was just seeing my sweet boy again- I'm so glad I was able to see where he's living , meet his roommates and friends and see , firsthand, how very capable and independent he's become. Do I sound like a proud mother?
  • The tour to Stonehenge, Lacock and the surrounding countryside was just wonderful. We met the tour in Bath- so we went early to walk around. Maybe because it was early in the trip and I wasn't so over the whole walking thing yet- but, this day was the most perfect sightseeing day for me. I think I may just be a country girl at heart.
  • Rome- the only city we went to that I feel I have to go back and see more of. "This place is lousy with old stuff." Walking and climbing around the ruins right next to the Coliseum was surreal. In a stunning display of poor decision making, I wore my flip flops for this part of the trip. My feet just didn't want to go back in my sneakers after two days of walking. Sandals just felt right- like Caesar wore or Mark Antony. Not really good climbing shoes though. " The dust of Rome covers my feet." Doesn't that sound more romantic than my feet are flippin' filthy? Still, it worked out pretty okay until we got to the Trevi Fountain. I don't know what kind of footwear would've helped me stay upright on wet marble- maybe something with suction cups? Certainly not flip flops. The Trevi fountain was beautiful. We got there at dusk and sat and stayed for a while as night fell- magic. Of course we threw our coins in so we will be sure to return.
  • I preferred the hostel in Rome to the hostel in Paris. The one in Rome was just so homey and friendly. There were four sets of bunkbeds in our room. A very nice Australian and myself were the only girls in the room. The other bunks were full of boys from all over.I was by far the oldest person there. Everyone was so interested in where we had been and what our plans were. Tuesday night I sat in the lounge area and watched Miami Ink with several young people. The hostel in Paris was nice also but not as homey. Our room there had only two sets of bunk beds and it's own bathroom. I learned that when you arrive late to the hostel expect to be stuck with a top bunk. Probably the only thing funnier than watching me climb into a top bunk is watching me try to get down. John kept telling me just to jump and it wasn't so far but it looked pretty far from where I was sitting.
  • It was so exciting to hear the Pope speak but the Vatican Museum was depressing to me. So much gold and splendor- I kept thinking how they should sell most of this stuff and feed the poor .You know- that whole vow of poverty thing. Also there was a gift shop in every other room where you could buy Rosaries ( expect to pay extra if you want the ones with the Papal Blessing). Johnno really wanted to go in and the Sistine Chapel was pretty cool but very crowded and we weren't allowed to take pictures.
  • The food- this is getting too long so I think I'll make the food into it's own post- but OMG! Gelato, Pastries, Pizza, Meat Pies,Toad in the Hole, Crepes, Donner Kabobs.........
  • Then there were the "Shake it off" moments. A bird crapped on my hand at Stonehenge-that's good luck! I thought I saw an eyeball in the hole in the ceiling over the shower at the hostel- probably just my imagination. Getting passed on a hill by a German tour group who were all over 80 years old, while I have to stop every ten yards and gasp for breath- they must be part mountain goat! We stop to sign a petition for a gypsy mother/daughter team in Rome and the Mother scams Johnno out of ten euro while the little girl pokes me in the boob with her pen- "shake it off". Really we were mostly able to just laugh off anything - I think we traveled well together.
*link to Johnno's Blog
DISCLAIMER: this is the blog of a college age boy- you can pretty much get a beer buzz just from reading it. Do not read this blog and operate heavy machinery or drive a car.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm Back!!!

I'm so tired- but I wanted to write a quick entry and let some of my co-dependent New Jersey friends know that I made it home with all my luggage. I wasn't able to zipper shut my carry-on and the maximum allowance for checked bags is fifty pounds not seventy but they let me through anyway.
We had head winds and the flight home took 7 1/2 hours. I don't know how I can feel this exhausted since I just sat and snoozed in a seat all day. Probably it's just all catching up to me. I'll write more tomorrow.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Again with the walking

I wanted nothing more than to sit and read my book today but I only have today and tomorrow here so I pushed myself to go out exploring. I walked all over Bristol with a map and a strong desire to find some thrift stores. I managed to find four of them - all of them uphill. They are called Charity shops here. The shops that I found were a little more upscale than the ones I frequent back home. Everything on hangers and polished up with price tags and all. Still, I found some great stuff. I got a dish rack for the flat here(one pound) . Some books- The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger- I've just started it but so far it's great. I got of those ten in one game sets for the flat (2 pounds fifty). The boys have already played several games of chess. Also- a couple of shirts, a yellow teapot that I love (two pounds fifty), some old maps for collage making (50 pence each) , some odds and ends of old jewelry (five pence each piece) and one pair of checkerboard shoelaces (which both Griffin and Riley are going to want). I went in some regular stores but the exchange rate is so bad for american money that every time I saw something I might want to buy, I realized it was actually going to cost twice the price and I didn't want it anymore. Also, packing might be a problem. I'll probably start some packing tonight. I did bring some food here that I won't be bringing back. But I also bought even more food here that I want to bring home. And I have a bunch of newspapers from London, Rome and Paris. I thought I would make some cool decoupage with them. And I kinda picked through someones trash in Italy and scored some nice fat fashion mags for collages. I have no shame about garbage picking especially in other countries. Anyway, all that stuff is gonna take up some room.
Tonight is a very big Rugby match- the finals. England vs. Someone. Every man I spoke to today- at shops, asking for directions, my cabbie- asked me if I was going to watch the game. It's so huge here -kind of like the Superbowl times 100. My cabbie was going on and on about England's chances and I felt like teasing him a bit so I asked him who he was rooting for. He laughed and laughed. "Good one, my love." I really adore being called "my love" by total strangers.
Also while I was walking around I ran into a couple of members of the Bristol Parkour gang.I went up to them and told them I took a movie of them last week and posted it on my blog and they had already seen it! Small world!!

This guy came up to me while I was taking pictures of a church and told me I should be taking his picture. So I did.

For Riley- they look like your guitar!

The entrance to Diagon Alley (Harry Potter reference)

L to R - back row- Nick, Piia, John and John
front - Mai-Lys and Christina

Chicken and Dumplings! And for pudding(dessert) Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream frosting
A meal inspired by and in honor of my Nana K.

Some of my Charity Shop treasures.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Which is your favorite?

Or, as we say here in the U.K. , favourite. (mine is the one with the *) I've started a list of the destinations on the buses that go by John's kitchen window. This is just the kind of thing I love to read, sorry to anyone who finds it boring. So far I've got-
  • Hengrove Depot
  • Lockleaze
  • Temple Mead
  • Hanham
  • Broadmeade
  • Blackhorse via Staplehill
  • City Centre
  • Cherry Gardens
  • Cadbury Heath*
  • Rookery Farm via Windways
  • Bislington
  • Stockwood
  • Broomhill
  • Southmeade
  • Emersons Green via Downend

We're back!

Back in Bristol- and we almost didn't make it. There is a huge strike in Paris. Almost all the transportation has been affected. John and I tried get to the airport starting at 6:15am. Our flight was at 10:55am. You know all that B.S. people give you about being at the airport at least two or more hours before your flight? Nah- we arrived fifteen minutes (no joke) before our flight and they let us on!! There was some begging involved, I won't lie. Maybe a little pleading, too. I was supposed to cry (part of our plan) and I really thought I was up to the task but all I managed was some bizarre giggling while chanting merci, merci,merci. Which actually means "thank you" in french but maybe I was thinking "mercy, please have mercy". John kept saying "s'il vous plait" (please) while doing this little bouncing move. I don't know how but this worked. We ran through the airport- really- I ran!!!- and showed up at the gate as they were boarding people. We couldn't believe we made it. We hugged and burst into semi-hysterical laughter. O.K. so maybe it was fully hysterical. I know some of our fellow passengers looked a little nervous. Such relief I have never felt! We really had resigned ourselves to having to buy new tickets on a later flight. Our efforts involved - buying tickets and waiting for Metros that never came (twice), walking miles following a group of people all with luggage to the free shuttle bus (which may be a urban myth, we certainly never saw one) -waiting for taxis that never stopped, getting ripped off by some guy with a trolley cart who let us believe he was taking us to a taxi (Merde head), looking around for someone to bribe, and finally finding a train which was free but we had already bought tickets. Because it ended well with us catching our flight- we are thinking of all this as an excellent adventure and a funny story. I'm not sure we would see the humor if we missed the flight. As it was, the plane was more than half empty. Everyone was having the same troubles as us, not everyone was as lucky.

The internet at the student housing might be going down for the weekend soon. I'll try to post more about our trip from an internet cafe tomorrow. Hopefully, I can post some pictures ,too. John has to help me with that. He's busy hanging out with friends now. After five days with his old Mom, can you really blame him?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

How it is going in Paris

Just my luck. But it is so beautiful, you almost don't mind the pain from walking for miles and miles. No trains, no Metro, no Buses, and taxis almost impossible to find. I'll update more tomorrow- this hostel only gives you 30 minutes free internet and I used most of them up emailing Tim and the boys and checking Aimee's blog.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Quick update

I am here in the Hostel in Rome. It has free internet! We're staying in a room with four sets of bunkbeds- all full. I might be too old for this. Also-maybe I'm out of shape- soooo much walking! But, we've had such a marvelous time. London was great. We saw all the major landmarks - Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, London Bridge, The London Eye (the very big ferris wheel). I can't believe Johnno got me on that thing. We decided that since our flight was leaving so early, we would stay late in London and sleep at the airport. I was worried about being arrested for loitering, but we were just two of hundreds. Some people even had air mattresses. I had some trouble sleeping- but was able to sleep on the flight. When we first got here we had some trouble getting to the hostel- Metro broken and crazy crowded buses full of people who had no respect for my personal space. We finally found it, took showers and headed out to the Colliseum. Yesterday and today have been amazing. Everytime we turn a corner, there is a fountain or statue. We've had pizza twice and gelato three times. Today we took the Metro to the Vatican and the Pope was speaking! Not in english but I just clapped when everybody else did . We've been to the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Sistine Chapel and a bunch of other things that I can't even think of now. Sooo tired. Tomorrow- Paris!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bath, Stonehenge and Lacock

Today we took a bus into Bath. We walked around for a couple hours, ate a picnic lunch on a bridge and shopped. We met our tour guide in front of the Abbey of Bath. He took us on a tour in his van with about ten other people through the countryside, past cottages with thatched roofs, farmhouses and pubs . It took about an hour to get to Stonehenge , after that we went to Lacock National Trust, a village that has been in many movies including two of my favorites, Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice ! Now we are trying to get the Laundry here to work. I just rang out our clothes by hand and put them thru the dryer again. It's late and we wake up early for our bus to London tomorrow. As of tomorrow, I will be without a computer for the next five days. Monday is London, Tuesday we fly to Rome, Thursday we fly to Paris and we will be back here Friday night. So until then- Cheers!

The River Avon, and the Pulteney Bridge

Arch by the Roman Baths

Our lunch, delicious Pasties (rhymes with nasty).

There are really just no words to describe actually being there. And it is NOT just a pile of rocks in the middle of nowhere, like some flight attendant friend of mine who shall remain nameless, said. John and I walked the whole way around it (not too far) and took pictures from every angle. Time flew by, when I asked someone the time, we had only five minutes to get back to the bus! It felt like we had just got there.

first there was Strawhenge , then there was Stickhenge.......

a cottage in Lacock

in front of Harry Potter's parent's house

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Just chillin'

I'm a person who is used to a lot of down time during the day and the last few days have been crazy and this upcoming week is going to be crazier yet so today we slept in and made no plans. We went to the foodstore. I made French Toast for some of the roommates for brunch. The girl from France , Mai-Lys, had never heard of French Toast. How is that possible? The roommates (really flatmates) are ; my John, the other John from New Jersey also , Nick from Pennsylvania, Mai-Lys from France, Christina from Germany and Piia from Finland. It's a nice flat because everyone has their own bedroom. There are two bathrooms and a kitchen/dining room.
John spent a couple hours researching our London/Rome/Paris trip this afternoon. He's planned pretty much everything. I baked a cake and looked out the window. I know it sounds boring but I was fascinated. I come from a long line of people who enjoy looking out windows. Anyway, I made a nice dinner (Roast Chicken, Salad and Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cinnamon Whipped Cream) . I've declared myself House Mother and I'm trying to get everyone to eat an orange (some of them have terrible coughs). Now it's almost 10 pm and everyone is out. John ,the other John and Nick are out at a pub with a few mates watching a Rugby game (France vs somebody). I was invited to come along but I'm just not the sporty type (or the pub type). So, I've taken a shower and done some dishes, wrote some emails and looked out the window some more. I wish I brought a book, but Johnno showed me how to watch a movie on his laptop (they don't have a telly).
Tomorrow- Stonehenge- the biggest henge in the world!!! Don't click the link if there are children around- it's funny, but it's fresh.

Bristol Ninjas (Parkour)

For Griffin and Riley-- The view today outside Johnno's kitchen window. Don't try this at home!!!