* yes, there should be FIVE sets of boots but Allen ignored my advice to get adequate rain gear...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tower of London

One of the main things we saw on our visit was the Tower of London.  While we were outside we heard a carillon playing Christmas Carols.  Gabriel's Message is quite well suited to the bells.  I've been listening to Sting's version.  I'm convinced that he must have been a Catholic choir boy in some former life.  He does these fabulous renditions of various traditional carols.  To the point... if you haven't heard Gabriel's Message, here is his version.

I have apparently crossed a threshold.  When we saw the Footguard (whom I mistakenly called a Beefeater to the children- oops!) I looked at him as a mother and wished I could offer him a cookie, a hug, and a hot cup of cocoa.  Once upon a time, I would have wondered if he had a girlfriend.  :-)

While we were touring we happened into King Edward the First's bedchamber and got to "meet" Edward the Second.  He asked Charlie if he would like to be a knight but Charlie said he would rather be an inventor.  Prince Edward allowed that there were rather a lot of things that needed to be invented in the 12th century.

Megan spent the entire time playing a rather complicated seeming game involving marbles and dice but we never did get a good picture.

Noah was convinced that the symbol for England was a tiger.  I finally took him over to some of the "servants" to ask them and they confirmed it was, indeed, a lion.  After that disappointment, it was time to talk Christmas.  Noah reported that he was hoping for a red apple.

 Interestingly, in the 12th century, the rules for celebrating Christmas were quite a bit different from ours.  Advent was something of  a mini Lent during which you abstained from sex, meat and various other pleasures of the flesh.  You didn't decorate until Christmas Eve and gifts weren't exchanged until New Year's.  Christmas Day was all about feasting.

We then saw the crown jewels and various armament through the ages.  Of which, there is little to say but that the former was very sparkly and the latter looked very uncomfortable.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


This post is rather introspective and is mostly about the tube.  I didn't take any pictures of the tube.  However, we do have any number of pictures that really won't make it into any other posts about London and make for something of a counterpoint.  Enjoy!

Riding the London Eye 
(Noah says "Aargh" instead of "cheese" as a matter of course)
We spend vast quantities of time on various forms of mass transportation during our European travels.  I always find myself contemplating who rode this line before me.  In London, it is not hard to almost feel those prior inhabitants of the tube.
Trying to get a picture in front of the Tower Bridge
Of course, I can imagine myself as the turn of the century shopgirl, anxious to get home as I was once one.  The distracted mother of the 50s, wondering how to get both the packages AND the children home, also me.  The punks of the 70s and 80s are only a slight stretch as we make our way through the more eclectic stops where the music has changed but the manic panic has remained.  But, most vividly remain the whispers from those seeking refuge during the Blitz.  The lights flickered repeatedly on of our trains.  Coupled with the screeches and groans from the other trains, holding Charlie's small and slightly sweaty hand as he nervously asks why the lights are out, it is not at all difficult to feel the vestiges of hope, fear, and courage that were once there.

This time with the Whole Family- so close...
As we explored London further, it became clear that this is what New York once wanted to be when it grew up.  The stop names are those of places in America that can only aspire to have a hint of the history and gravitas found in London.  Blackfriar, Westminster, King's Cross, Notting Hill, and anywhere on the anything are the names of malls and subdivisions in the US.  Here, they are where kings are still crowned, cabals were invented and revolution fomented.

Whee!  Everyone actually looking in
same direction but too small to be seen.
I have never really understood how London could have been bombed for so very long.  How was there anything left for the Germans to target?  Clearly, my understanding of a metropolis was far too limited.  London could have been bombed to oblivion and still, it would have remained.  London is clearly past her prime but has grown to be a Grande Dame, gracefully nodding her head toward how to accommodate change while still maintaining your standards.
Ben and Me

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real

round button chicken

So, this is a bit late as the Christmas posts were to go with the last link up.  But, we spent the first hunk of Christmas break in London and Disney World and Paris.  That was pretty, funny, happy and real but not so much everyday life.  :-)  Since we got home, we've been potty training which is very real but not so much pretty. However, it so happens I also never managed to put up any of our December things which were pretty everyday life-ish.  So...

We started December with neverending rounds of conjunctivitis and a smattering of coughs with the odd tummy bug.  The children considerately spread out the infections by about 5 days each and all spent at least a couple of days home with me.  The loss of those precious hours where you will secretly shop for and wrap Christmas gifts is always welcome- especially when it involves lots of extra laundry!  Happily, my children are ridiculously adorable.

Noah decided to take Duck and Sheep on a boat ride.

The boat needed some repairs
A whisk was the obvious tool of choice

We got a rather sad tree but the children still found it quite satisfactory.  I hadn't really thought through the implications of buying a tree in the middle of an urban setting.  Freshly cut Christmas trees are readily available and not too dear in rural Virginia- not so much in the middle of Dublin.

We then set to making some cinnamon ornaments!

Waiting for them to harden was TORTURE!

Everything is better with glitter!

We only broke 1 while hanging.
(We won't talk about what happened over the next week)

All 3 children were shepards in the Church Christmas play.  The tea towels never looked so good!  All 3 children also were in Christmas pageants for school but we didn't get any pictures.  Noah had the tummy bug on the day of his and while St Matt's Church has a very lovely sanctuary it was not designed for picture taking!  Imagine cherubic faces and off key but heartfelt caroling and you'll have the gist.  :-)

Santa hangs out in grottoes here.  The children visited him at his zoo location.  I guess it's sort of connects with the manger?

The mall had this absolutely wild Santa's grotto with a motorized "Santa" going up and down a rope.  The children watched him for AGES.

The month o'festivity wrapped up with a Christmas fair at the kid's school where they had a magician who also made balloon objects.  Bucking convention, Charlie and Noah got hats while Megan got a sword.