Sunday, April 27, 2008


Got in a little over my head on Friday night at bells. After my success at ringing Plain Hunt on 5, I thought I could manage an inside bell for Plain Bob Minimus. I managed it in that I didn't let go of my rope or get TOO tangled up, but I managed to finish each course with my bell upside down. Everyone else was on handstroke as I was merrily tolling away on backstroke. Hmm. I've spent some time with the diagrams from Winston and my Rope Sight Tutor, and we'll try again next week.

We were at F & T's yesterday - we helped Travis prune some trees in the back yard and generally frolicked in the glorious spring weather. We all smelled v. smoky after the bonfire of tree parts but we were happy and tired. We'd brought all the lenses along - here's someone noshing on the fat-ball (with the telephoto lens):

And here are some of Freda's glorious tulips:

James lost another tooth on Friday at school - he brought it home with him and wanted to leave it out for the tooth fairy. Mummy also keeps his teeth (eew) in a little tooth-shaped wooden box, so there was a special request for it to go back to their house. There were some logistical issues with the Stowmarket Tooth Fairy on Friday night, but this morning James found this by his bed:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The London of Tower

My day off in London went really well and was super-relaxing. I took the 8:45 train, which got me to town at about 10:30. I'd finished the last of my books (The Savage Garden, which was ok) earlier in the weekend, and hadn't had a chance to pick up a new one. I've since started Edward Rutherford's London, which I thought would be way too heavy to take on the train. Anyway, I ended up doing something that I hate: going on a train with no reading material. ACK. I did have my iPod, though, so I looked out the window and listened to the Verdi Requiem and some Kate Rusby.

I then did a little shopping in town which will remain secret until after May 1 (Mom's birthday), but was v. enjoyable. I walked over to Covent Garden and met our friend M. at 'Food For Thought'. It's an earthy-crunchy vegetarian place with very few seats and even fewer menu options. We got there bang on 12, which was good because we were third in line and got our food and a table relatively quickly. I had really tasty quiche and salad (they give you pasta salad, green salad, and a bean/grain salad). V. cheap and tasty. By the time we left at 12:40, the line was up the stairs and out the door. Not sure where all those people work that they have time to queue for 40 minutes during their lunch hour.

At 2, we went to the Transport Museum to meet up with my friend Nate, who I used to babysit for and who was in London. I was really impressed - he's a senior in high school and had completely organized a trip to London for spring break with a bunch of his friends. My senior spring I went on a chaperoned trip to France that I had nothing to do with planning. It was awesome and fun, and I can't imagine the logistics of having planned it myself!

Anyway, it was me, Nate, and 9 of his (girl)friends. M. set off to do some shopping and other fun things, and we found N + 9 some lunch and then bussed over to the Tower of London. I'd forgotten what it was like traveling with a clump of highschoolers - it's like herding cats. Granted, Nate seemed to have Pied-Piper-like ability to lead them wherever - we'd set off and they'd just troop along behind. It was cracking me up.

Right as we got inside the tower (while I was feeling v. virtuous and frugal for having printed off a 2-for-1 coupon that went with my eye-wateringly expensive train ticket), they announced that a tour would be leaving in 5 minutes. We decided to hop on the tour, with the option to abandon if it wasn't any good. Our Beefeater was FUNNY. And a really good storyteller - one of those people who makes leading a group tour look completely effortless. He had us eating out of his hands - 'ooh'-ing and cheering at his stories. There was a little boy on our tour who thought he was great, and the Beefeater kept trying to scare him with gruesome beheading stories. I don't know who was laughing more: the Beefeater, the boy, or the rest of the tour. Here he is, mid-story:

Here we are in front of a guard (had to do the tourist shot to prove to our parents that we were, in fact, there):

We saw the crown jewels and sped round the rest of the tower, which was closing and it was clear that all the docents were ready to go home.

Loved this sign:

Most of the group peeled off and went back to their hostel to prep for a big night 'out'. Nate and two friends and I went to a Thai restaurant that I had found on the interwebs, although we were somewhat delayed by the fact that I had completely misread the map and marched us in the wrong direction for 10 minutes. Had to ask a v. nice City commuter who corrected my pronunciation of the street and then pointed us in the right direction. Once we got there, food was v. tasty and relatively cheap for central London. They did attempt to add a 12.5% service charge to our bill, which I merrily crossed out (and then left a tip on the table). Pah...we may look like tourists but I'm a LOCAL now, bitches.

Last night, I went to Old Newton to ring the bells, where I had two minor bell-milestones. First, I rang the treble for Plain Hunt on 5 bells (which I'd done, muted, on 4, and counted along with for weeks and weeks). Then I let down a bell (on purpose) all by myself. I caused much laughter in the tower when I took a slightly larger coil in the rope than I meant to, and was lifted off the floor, but otherwise it went well. Woohoo!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


We had the inlaws for the weekend - 4 grown-ups, 1 kid and 2 Labradors make for a very crowded house. We had a good time with them - lots of brother-bonding and sister-in-law-bonding!

My parents bought this birdhouse in Holland about 15 years ago. De Oude Munt was our favorite restaurant in Weert - we used to go there all the time. They made these birdhouses so of course we had to have one. There are a LOT of cats in our neighborhood so I don't know if we'll get any birds, but we'll see.

Here's my 'Hyacinth Bucket'.

The lone surviving courgette plant (the other one succumbed to frost):

In the 'greenhouse'.

The flowers I bought for the 'guest room' - so pretty.

Off to London tomorrow (day off!) for lunch with a girlfriend and then the afternoon with a kid from New Ro I used to babysit for. Who's going to Cornell in the fall. Feeling old? Me? Naw. Well, maybe a little.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Globetrotting sm. boy

The small boy is now back from the first of his two epic globetrotting adventures this year - he spent 2 1/2 weeks in New Zealand with Mummy & co. The overall impression - the trip was fantastic. The specifics: Singapore has great (and unique) KitKat bars, there is an amazing amusement park somewhere in New Zealand, and they have Nintendo DS there but no Wiis that he could find. Oh, and he took lots of pictures.

When my brother bought me a new camera for my birthday last fall, James inherited my trusty Canon Elph. I was talking to my parents about it yesterday - while Edward and I both had cameras as kids, we were always limited by the film. Not that we couldn't take as many pictures as we want, it just seemed like a waste to take 15 pictures of the same thing. Not so with digital, and James has no such inhibitions. Of the 200+ photos that he took, there were some supremely blurry ones, some incredibly wonky horizons, and some really brilliant shots. We already knew that he's incredibly artistic and creative, but hadn't seen the fruits of his photographic labors. Here are some of the best:

Auckland, as seen from the water:

A building in Auckland:

A zoo in NZ, somewhere:

A 'geyser place':

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I love the BBC

Not only does the BBC have Michael Palin, Dr. Who, and BBC Good Food, iPlayer is now in beta for Linux.

What more could anyone want?

Well, maybe ringing plain hunt for the first time on the treble bell at Stowmarket. Wait, I did that yesterday. Woohoo!

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Two exciting things yesterday. First, I finished washing all of our windows with the new and fabulous E-cloth. My mom has always washed windows with an ammonia-water solution, a squeegee and old (clean) cloth diapers. I can't stand the smell of ammonia, so I've been trying out other methods. We went with the windex and water route last fall, which basically made the windows smeary and still pretty dirty. It took forever and there were lots of drips of dirty water on the windowsills when I was done.

The M-i-L gave me one of her back-issues of Good Housekeeping, and in it, they reviewed the E-cloth. The reviewer couldn't find enough superlatives for it, and they recommended it as the invention of the year. Good enough for me, then! The windows are SO clean now, and not streaky or yucky at all. Granted, the (washable) white dirt-grabbing towel is filthy, but I think that's the idea. We bought the 'window cleaning kit' from Lakeland, which includes a spray bottle, the 'cleaning' cloth, and the 'polishing' one. They're kind of expensive, but for the fact that I will always have clean windows (and mirrors) and will never have to buy Windex again, it's worth it.

The second exciting thing yesterday was that John and I went to the Baylham House Farm for a walk. The lambs have been appearing in the fields on the way to work, and I checked their website and found out that yesterday was a 'lambing day.'

I LOVE lambs. As in, I can spend 45 minutes in the lambing pen watching them. And then I'm mystified when John says, "Can we look at something else, please?" They were so funny yesterday - there were some that were only a few days old and were v. bouncy and unsteady on their feet.

We saw the llamas when we walked around the rest of the farm - it was pretty late in the day so most of the screaming children had left.

John loved these double-decker goats:

Here I am, with my very own lamb. So warm and soft. I could have sat there for hours.

And Kristen is having a macro-photo month - this one is for her! A glorious daffodil, with raindrops from a few minutes before still on the flower.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I passed my test!

Sorry for the slow blogging lately - every spare minute has been spent studying for the Life In the UK test. Which I passed, yesterday. YAY! I think I overstudied (we had 45 minutes but I finished and checked all my answers in 10 and was in the car in 15).

Yay for me!

Next up, the bureaucrats get to decide whether John and I have REALLY been married for the last 2 years. Oh, and whether or not I'm a terrorist. Lucky us.