Saturday, March 29, 2008
On my recent business trip to the U.K., I was able to enjoy a little bit of tourism in Devonshire including Salzebury Cathedral where the Magna Carta
(or at least the best extant copy) is located, the fantastic city of Bath
, and the amazine pre-historic site called Stonehenge
The weather was quite bad - cold, rainy, and quite windy. Stonehenge is a world famous site and rightly one of the Seven Wonders of the World. And I'm sure you've seen many pictures of it. However, there's simply no comparison to visiting the place in person.
Founded by the Romans as a thermal spa, Bath became an important centre of the wool industry in the Middle Ages. In the 18th century, under George III, it developed into an elegant town with neoclassical Palladian buildings, which blend harmoniously with the Roman baths that were rediscovered at about the time.
The Romans had no way of knowing about the geological explanation for a hot spring. So they attributed it to the magical power of the goddess Minerva. So it became a holy site for both physical and spiritual cleansing.
My favorite thing about Bath was a fantastic little eatery called Sally Lunn's that was opened in the 1600's. Jane Austin ate there. Sally Lunn made a sweet bun that became the talk of English society as they visited Bath for their vacations. I got to enjoy a Sally Lunn bun with fresh strawberry jam and a local delicacy called clotted cream. This stuff was the best stuff on God's green earth. It was a unusual combination of ice cream and butter, but better than each individually.
Seeing the Magna Carta in person was really amazing. It was a lot like seeing the Constitution in person, since the Magna Carta was one of the first major guarantors of individual rights in the Western World. You'd think that none of the rights described in the Magna Carta would need to be guaranteed, but evidently King John was abusing the English so badly that something had to be done.
For example, right #7 guaranteed a widow immediate access to her inheritance and right #8 guaranteed her the right not to be forced to remarry. Evidently, John was absconding with the inheritance of widows and/or forcing them to marry his cronies so that he could take their property. Go to http://www.britannia.com/history/docs/magna2.html
to see the full text of the document.
Fun in Florida
Dylan and I got a chance to take a trip together to Florida. We had incredible fun at Busch Gardens and at Universal Studio's Island of Adventure.
One of the fun things about our trip was that I finagled a free upgrade on my rental car. So we drove around Florida in a nice, new Mustang. The big V8 had a powerful basso and a lot of acceleration. Too bad it sucked down the gas like a mutha.
We went to two amusement parks, my favorite was Busch Gardens in Tampa. It was less crowded and less expensive, but the rides were easily as good, if not better than Islands of Adventure. Islands of Adventure hasn't had a new ride in a while, so it was a bit tiresome for me. On the other hand, Universal Studios is putting a ton of resources into the new World of Harry Potter attraction that will open next year.
My favorite ride was Sheekra (which you can see in the background behind Dylan). The cool thing about Sheekra is that it starts off with a 200' verticle drop (ala Tower of Terror sort of ride) then goes in to the rest of the awesome rollercoaster ride. Crazy scary!
Of course, the main thing about our time together was the fact that Dylan and I got to spend so much time together. It was great to be able to spend a lot of uninterrupted time with Dylan, talk, and just hang out.
Labels: Experiences, Kids
Friday, March 28, 2008
It was an incredibly crowded night at the elementary school for the annual sock hop. We loaded up the entire posse, all 3 Joslyn girls and 2 Kline girls, and headed out for some fun. It was pretty chaotic. But overall, everybody had fun.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
When I was a child of maybe 4 or 5, I got to participate with my dad in his coin collecting hobby. It was a lot of fun for me and a memorable way to learn how to count by 5's, 10's, and 25's. Despite the fact that it's been decades since I'd really done any sort of coin collecting, the experience always stayed with me as something enjoyable. It seemed like a sort of happy thing for a parent and a child to do, like fishing is for some families.
So, on a whim, I bought a few coin collecting books while at Barnes & Noble with Rachel. They weren't anything special, just the latest books for pennies and quarters, the kind of stuff you could easily find by empying out your change jar and rummaging through the loose change. But the girls and I really enjoyed it. I think it made some happy memories for them and, got them interested, because they've since asked to go through the change again and look for more matches to the open spots in the coin books.
It's nothing fancy really. Just a fun little experience we shared over the course of a few a cold winter evenings. But maybe it's something that'll stay with them for a long time too, just like it did with me?
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I came home from a run to McDonald's to pick up a meal for me, mine, and Rachel and hers. One of the kids (Emily, I think) burst out "That's a huge frickin bag!" I hadn't thought of it until she said so, but it really was big.
So much to blog about and so little time
I'm sorry that I've fallen off the bandwagon. There's so much to do, but never enough time to do it.
A couple things I'm thinking about right now are:
- Getting estimates from contractors on finishing one, if not two, unfinished rooms in the house. This is great because the unfinished rooms have always made the house feel, well, unfinished. I'll feel a certain emotional emancipation by having those rooms finished. It's like having a puzzle with a couple pieces not yet in place. Yes, it's a beautiful image, but it ain't finished yet.
- Maybe possibly potentially getting a new(ish) car for me. I really, really, really want to have a mid-life crisis car - fast, sleek, gleaming, and new. But the practical part of me knows that I have a lot of people who depend on me and would be better served by using that money for their benefit. I should probably get something economical, easy on the gas, and which I can pass down to Emily when she turns 16. But a Mustang GT sure sounds AWESOME right now.
- Less travel in my future, due to getting a damn pacemaker. I truly do not want to need a pacemaker. But if I'm going to have one, let's make the best of it. I'll most likely get the pacemaker put in during June. I hope I can turn things around to perhaps travel less. Traveling 50% is just too taxing and emotionally exhausting.
- Springtime. I love gardens and gardening. Gardening is really soothing to me. But I just haven't been able to do it for a few years now. I think things will be different this year. I can't wait to put in a new flower garden and probably some vegetables and berries.
Well, on to other things.
Labels: Experiences, Kids, Parenting
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Welcome to England
I'm off on my first international trip of the year and, let me tell you, the economic problems at home in the USA have a direct impact on my wallet. Look at these currency prices:
In case you're having trouble reading the sign, it says that you can buy 229 pound sterling with change for $500. That means that every steak, fish & chips, soda, and newspaper costs more than twice what it does in the USA. Aaaagh!