Thursday, June 20, 2013

Quick Visit by the King and Queen of Idaho

Well the King and Queen of Idaho came for a visit a couple of weeks ago. It was great fun to see them but after several days of delayed flights, their time spent in the UK was too short! We had planned a long weekend away up to the Yorkshire Dales and the cute city of York. Due to their delayed arrival, our 4 day trip turned into a 2 day trip. We rented a mini-van and off we went Griswald Family Truckster-style to the Yorkshire Dales. We stayed in a lovely country house hotel called the Devonshire Arms near Bolton Abbey. It was lush, green and really gorgeous countryside! We had a great time hiking the trails along the river, Pete got to do some fly fishing and spent some quality time together in the car!

We arrived back to our neck of the woods and Gigi and Papa spent a night in London. They had booked tickets to the Book of Mormon and they were not disappointed! I met them the next day in London to go to the Saatchi Gallery and have lunch in Chelsea. The next day they were off to France for a week...way too short of a visit!

The week prior to their arrival, Henry had his appendix out! Another 2 nights spent in the Royal Berkshire Hospital! We are getting our NHS fix in whilst in the UK! He has made a full recovery! Never a dull moment!

4 hours in the British "mini-van" = happy days!

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The Ha Ha Bridge

Still kissin' as they go through the kissin' gate

LARPers at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Bolton Abbey

So happy to see Gigi and Papa

Bolton Priory was stunning

Anyone home?

The kids loved these stepping stones

Gigi and Papa in front of the Bolton Priory

Cool tree was old British pence shoved in it-May contributed the anime charcoal drawing

I continued on the trail through the Strid Wood-really lush and green!

Some of the only trout fishing in England apparently-Pete was in heaven!

Following the current vow renewal trend, Pete and I jumped on the band wagon.

Our country house hotel had TWO helicopter pads!

Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey was stunning


Henry always loves a good  photo bomb!

May in the Dog Lounge at the Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel

Blue bells and wild garlic everywhere

Papa and his little peanut

Loaner willies at the hotel

Patio action at the hotel

Pub dinner in Addingham

Sunny Saturday at The Fleece in Addingham-the lads were out!

The Great British Fisherman

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Camping in the UK - Is it Different Here?

 A few weekends ago we had our first in a series of "bank" holidays that occur through the UK business/school calendar. At the last minute, we decided to go camping with our British friends, Suzanne and Phil. Luckily, we brought our camping gear with us and also had the expertise of LOCALS to guide us to the perfect spot! We chose to go to the New Forest in Hampshire, which is only about an hour away and seemed to have numerous camping pitches for us to choose. Going camping in May was risky, but the weather forecast looked promising. Camping in the UK is similar to camping in the US -- let me break it down for you:

  • The prep time to get organized, packed up, shopping for food items is the same. It takes a lot of TIME and EFFORT to get "ready" for camping
  • Your car will be JAM PACKED with all that crap but the difference is that your UK car is SIGNIFICANTLY smaller than your US car and you have the same amount of stuff!
  • You and your spouse will disagree on how and where to set up the tent, no matter what country you are in
  • You will get just as dirty in the UK as in the US whilst camping
  • Washing up the dishes is still a pain in the ass
  • Your inflatable mattress will lose air slowly through the night
  • The kids will sleep like logs because they have had so much fun but adults will sleep like crap because they have had too much wine
  • Packing up and re-stuffing the tent, sleeping bags and inflatable mattresses takes more time than unpacking
  • Walking to the loos in the middle of the night is still scary, cold and not much fun
  • Kids love camping, love fresh air, climbing trees, having the independence to roam the campground on their bikes and meet new friends
  • You still have to do loads of laundry when you get home
  • There are no specific numbered campsites - you just arrive, pick a spot and pitch your tent. Rule was you had to be at least 3 meters away from the next tent...luckily we didn't have anyone that close to us
  • The loos and shower facilities are really nice-cleaned often, free showers, no vault toilets...
  • Instead of worrying about bears in your camp, one must worry about wild ponies and cows in the New Forest
  • Your car will be JAM PACKED with all that crap but the difference is that your UK car is SIGNIFICANTLY smaller than your US car and you have the same amount of stuff!
  • Every campsite had a cricket pitch set up and cricket was played frequently
  • Playing football was popular too
  • Camping dinner was a quick drive to the pub!

Cute Guy stuck in the mud!

Excellent tree climbing in the New Forest!

Catching frogs with new friends!

Branston boys...ready, steady, GO!

Lots of trails to explore the New Forest!

Guy gets a ride from Uncle PIG!

"Please do climb on this chair"...well what's the point of having it then?

My kind of camping...let's drive to the pub for dinner!

Kids got on so great despite the age differences!

Yes we got guinea pigs. Suckers. Kids promised me they will be responsible for them...
Meet Pippa and Margaret Thatcher

Henry and Maggie T
May and Pip

We decided to join a  boating club on the Thames River this summer. It is super casual, has some BBQs, and different kind of human powered boats to use (canoes, kayaks, row boats, etc). We figured it would be nice to have access to the river and we can ride our bikes there. One of the requirements of the club was that the kids had to do a swim test...across the River their clothes...with shoes May (after a cold winter and a late spring). I was dreading it for them! If they could make the swim then they would not have to wear a life jacket while in a boat. We decided that no matter what they would have to wear a life jacket (just for safety sake-the Thames can be fast moving), so there was no reason for them to really do the swim right? We thought it would be character and confidence building, right?
Oh how these parenting moments can back fire. The kids were excited to do it and were all pent up with nervous anticipation. Let's just say one made it and one are smart. You can figure it out.
Almost done with the swim!

Phew...he made it. Frozen!
Nervously waiting to swim in the River Thames !!
In other big club joining news, Pete is excited to report that he has joined the Twyford Men's Club! Once the church in town, it was donated to the men of Twyford after the Great War as a place to convalesce, relax and be amongst men! Not much has been done to the building in all these years but now it is snooker hall. As a member, Pete has his own key and can play snooker whenever he wants! Hooray! Rules are no women, no alcohol, no gambling, no food and no they play some snooker and then hit the pub afterwards to get to their vices! Whatever makes him happy!
Like a boss in front of the Twyford Men's Club!

Heading into the run-up of the last half term of school, loads of visitors in June and July, not to mention the social season of the Royal Ascot, the Henley Royal Regatta and Wimbledon. Who I am kidding...I don't know enough people to have a social season but we are attending the events in hope of finding the social season. This year we are hitting Royal Ascot sans kids, doing the Regatta with our great friends the Holtzclaws and going to Wimbledon. My sweet neighbour got us tickets to Wimbledon and I have to say I am sooooo excited. Thea and I are going to the men's semi finals on July 3 - should be a great day and our tickets are next to the Royal Box (although I suspect Kate will not be there as she will be having that Royal heir any time in July-damnit!). Pete and I are going on the 1st Saturday to watch the outside courts, have some strawberries and cream and enjoy the Wimbledon atmosphere! So excited!
Love the packaging the Brits do for their events!
Bring on the ponies, the boats and the tennis!