Archive | February 2019

Road Trip Photo Faves: Winery

Here is another of my favorite photos from my road trip.

I stopped in at the Ackerman Winery in the Amana Colonies in Iowa; they have been making fruit wines since 1956.  I loved the way they displayed their wines and the various awards.

 

 

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London 2018: Afternoon Tea

Day 13, Friday, July 6, 2018

After our visit to the museums, Taryn and I went back to the hotel and got freshened up for our afternoon tea.  We had been on the hunt for an afternoon tea to try while we were in London, and had asked around.  A few places that had been advertised were considered by the people we asked to be quite touristy, and some of the others were quite expensive.  We decided to go have a simple afternoon tea at the K&K Hotel George, which was reasonably priced and only a few minutes walk from our hotel.

We got a little dressed up and walked over for our tea.  We sat out on the back patio, and enjoyed our tea.  Finger sandwiches, scones, cookies and sweets, and tea.  For a small additional cost, you could add sparkling wine, so of course I did!

Our afternoon tea!

The day was a little hot for sitting outside, but we had fun chatting and catching up, and enjoying sampling the goodies that came with our tea.  It was good to have some girl time!

Pinkies Out!

After our tea we took a walk and enjoyed seeing a bit more of the neighborhood.  We went to a few of the neighborhood shops to use the last of our British pounds before we had to depart for the airport in the morning.  I got some postcards and Taryn got some chocolates and candies for her kids.  It was a nice ending for our London vacation.

Tube Stations:  None.  We walked to the tea and back, as it was only a few blocks from the hotel.
Costs: 15.50 pounds (I don’t think they charged me for my sparkling wine…)
FitBit Steps: I forgot to write it down!

Numbered Days

Grief is a funny thing.  I read somewhere that you don’t work through it; that it works through you.  I read that it is a manifestation of love; there is no grief without love.  That sounds about right.  It comes in waves.  Some days you can feel remarkably alright.  Other days it is all you can do to take a shower and eat enough.  It would be easier if you could have some advance notice on which days would be which.

I never really thought about my dad dying.  I mean, I guess I did, in an abstract sort of way, the way that all adult children know that that their parents won’t live forever.  But not in any real, tangible way.  My grandmother had other heart attacks before the end, and my grandfather had other strokes before the end, so I guess I was just expecting some sort of warning before it came.  I don’t know which is easier, having no warning but knowing he didn’t have to suffer through some long, sad decline – or having the time to get used to the idea, but knowing he was in pain.  And we don’t get to choose…  You just get what you are given…  That doesn’t stop us from going through all the “what-if’s”, does it?

Dad’s service was nice.  “Nice.”  That word we use to describe things that we have no interest in participating in, but no choice but to do.  The pastor asked how many of us would rather be sitting at a wedding instead of Dad’s service, and I counted myself among that group, even though I don’t really like weddings much at all.  But on a scale of weddings or funerals…  I’m not a fan of baby showers either, if you must know the truth… I would rather have been anywhere else though, instead of listening to people talk about him in the past tense.  I’m not ready for the past tense.  Yet another thing about which I have no choice.

“You gave me a forever within the numbered days.”  John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

London 2018: Museums

Day 13, Friday, July 6, 2018

It was our last full day in London, and we slept in; we all needed the lazy day.  I got up about 9 and was the first one up!  Once we got moving, we walked over to the Natural History Museum; it was a little over a mile walk.

Me with a Petrified Tree, outside the Natural History Museum

 

Pillars at the Natural History Museum

I thought the Natural History Museum was a little disappointing.  They have a huge section with taxidermy animals, but the specimens are old.  The museum doesn’t want to obtain new specimens, for obvious reasons.  The cute armadillo was an exception though!

Armadillo!

The dinosaur exhibit is cool, and very crowded.  They have a lot of dinosaur fossils and casts hanging from the ceiling, which makes it a little tough to see them, but I understand that they don’t want everybody touching them.  They do have a lot of information on how dinosaurs lived; what scientists know about their lives based on how their legs and claws are shaped, what their teeth tell us, etc.  It is impressive to see the educated guesses they can make based on the fossil evidence.

A dinosaur!

 

A whale skeleton

They need to do some dusting though!

We had a snack at the museum cafe; I had lemonade and pesto pasta.

After that, we headed over to the Victoria and Albert Museum next door.  This is a giant museum with exhibits on everything you could imagine.  Asian artifacts, the Italian wing, historic ceramics, mid-century furniture, clocks, glass, modern ceramics…  They had it all.  Five floors and many, many wings of exhibits.  It was far too much to see in one day, and we didn’t even try.  This place was definitely a gem.

We wandered until we were getting hot and burned out on museums for the day.  Taryn and I were going to go have an English Tea!

Tube Stations:  None.  We walked to the Museums and back.
Costs: Both the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum are free.

 

Snow Days

Last week it snowed.  Quite a bit.  For several days.  It started on Sunday afternoon and continued off and on through Tuesday night.  There were between five and six inches at my house by the time it let up.  As usual, our coastal city built on a hill, mostly shut down as roads got icy and treacherous, schools closed, and even the grocery stores and big box stores were closing early.

I live on a hill – Friday afternoon was the first time my street saw a plow, after tracks of bare, wet pavement had been created.  Figures.

I took a few walks in the snow to avoid the cabin fever.  My dad always loved the snow; he would have thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

 

London 2018: Stratford-Upon-Avon

Day 12, Thursday, July 5, 2018

After Bibury and Bourton on the Water, we were nowhere near finished with our tour of the Cotswolds.  Shottery was our next destination – the village where Anne Hathaway grew up.  In case you were wondering, I’m not talking about the contemporary actress Anne Hathaway, but rather William Shakespeare’s wife.  The cottage where she grew up was a cute little Tudor style cottage, built beginning in 1463 by Anne’s grandfather, John Hathaway.  Anne was born in the house in 1556.

The Hathaway Cottage

The home was occupied by the Hathaway family for thirteen generations; the home was purchased by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1892, and the trust arranged for the family members to continue to take care of the cottage and tell family stories.  The last member of the family, William Baker, was there until 1911.  One admission fee included all the the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust properties, including the Hathaway Cottage, the Shakespeare Birthplace Home, the New Place (where Shakespeare lived after he married), and a couple other places we didn’t have time to see.  Taryn and I opted in for the tours; the guys decided they would rather just wander the towns and hit the pubs.

It was fun to see the home, including some of the original Hathaway belongings.  The garden was amazing!  The Hathaways were tenant sheep farmers who eventually acquired enough wealth to purchase their property, before later experiencing a decline in fortune and having to sell the property and become tenant farmers once again.  What goes around comes around.  Enjoy it while it lasts, I guess – it is all fleeting.

We went to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see the Shakespeare sights next.  Shakespeare was born there in 1564, and also returned there in approximately 1613, after making a name for himself in London.  Shakespeare died in Stratford-Upon-Avon in 1616, and is buried there.  The bus dropped us off and set us loose upon the town.

Taryn and I stopped first at the school Shakespeare attended, The King’s New School, which was available for free for all boys in the district.  Shakespeare would have attended there from the age of seven, after grammar school ended, until the age of 14, when he likely would have entered an apprenticeship program for another seven years.  There is no record that Shakespeare ever attended university.

Shakespeare’s School

The school tour was interesting because they had an interpretative talk where the guide explained what the boys would have learned, the expected behavior and how long they would be in school each day.  As it turns out they went to school from 6 am to 5 pm, 6 days a week!  That’s a lot of learning!  The school has the original historic headmaster’s table and several original desks, where they carved their names in to memorialize their time in school.  After the interpretive talk, in the next room they had a place where you could try to write your name with a feather quill pen.  It is tougher than it looks!

The Headmaster at Shakespeare’s school

 

Original desks at Shakespeare’s school

We had a bit of extra time so we went over to the Shakespeare New Place.  It is an exhibit on the site where Shakespeare lived with Anne Hathaway after they married and came into some money.  The house is gone, but the home next door was built around the same time period – 1530, and the exhibit went through there so we could see the style of home where he lived.  They had manuscripts of Shakespeare’s work and other interesting artifacts.

We had to meet back up with the bus tour guide so he didn’t think we had gone AWOL, but he was ok with us not staying with the group (the pace of the group was annoyingly slow).  We told him that we were off to find the next museum; Shakespeare’s birthplace home.  The original home is still standing; it was built in the 1500s.  William Shakespeare’s father Jon was a glove maker and wool dealer; the home was built with his business occupying part of it.  In 1568 John became the Mayor of Stratford.  He originally rented the home, but records show he purchased it in the 1550s.  It looks modest now, but it would have been a fine home for the time!

Me at Shakespeare’s Birthplace

William Shakespeare was the third of eight children to be born here, on April 23, 1564.  When his father John died in 1601, William inherited the house (he was the oldest son), and lived there for the first five years of his marriage.  Later he leased the house, and it became an inn, and it was an inn until 1847!  According to the Trust, when Shakespeare died he left this house to his eldest daughter, who left it to her daughter, and then it was inherited by the descendants of one of Shakespeare’s sisters.  It remained in the family until it was purchased by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1847.  Other sources dispute that and say the home passed out of the hands of Shakespeare’s family in the early 1800s.  It is so incredible to know that England was thinking about historic preservation over 170 years ago!

We toured the home and saw where there were historic names etched in the glass from people who visited the home over 100 years ago – it has been a tourist attraction for a long time!  We also got to stand in the room where the bard was likely born!

After our tour, we had a little bit of time to wander around Stratford Upon Avon, so Taryn and I got some ice cream to cool down on another hot day.  We also poked around in a few of the shops in town.  It was such a fun visit, but soon it was time for pile back on the bus.

Stratford Upon Avon

 

Me and Taryn in Stratford Upon Avon

The bus dropped us off about 7:30 and we went to the Admiralty Pub near Trafalgar Square once more.  I had a mini-pie – the sweet potato and Stilton one (so good!) and some peel and eat Atlantic Prawns.  We got back to the hotel about 9 pm for some cider and British game shows.  They are fascinating, and so very different from American game shows.  It was another great day!

Mini Pie!

Tube Stations:  The bus dropped us off on Gloucester Road.  Gloucester Raod to Charing Cross (The Admiralty), to Earl’s Court (hotel).
Costs: Bus tour to the Cotwolds and Stratford Upon Avon – 59 pounds, Shakespeare admissions – 22.50 pounds, snacks for lunch, dinner at the Admiralty Pub
Fitbit Steps: 9,700 steps