Meet my two Jedis...Master Sam (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Master Jack (Anakin Skywalker). There is a lot I could have written about today with my family leaving. Instead, I chose something completely different because we are having such a good time together tonight. There isn't much trick-or-treating here so we opted for a family night with movies, popcorn, candy and pizza. I wanted to make sure the boys could wear their costumes (which they have been wearing for two weeks straight). It was also a chance to show you that our boys have been schooled in the Jedi ways from a young age, as was their father before them. Happy Harvest Day!
Today was difficult. A day of denial. I have cried three times. I am positive that tomorrow will be worse as I say goodbye to my dad, mom and my great Aunt Jane. At 12:40 pm our time here, they will board their plane headed 4000 miles away to North Carolina. I will come clean and tell you that I did not take one picture today. As I sit here, I know that fact makes it "almost" impossible for me to have a Photo of the Day today (but between you and me...I never really liked rules...). I decided to post a picture that gave me some joy. I took this of my mother while we were in Paris. I caught her laughing and she didn't see my camera until I had already snapped it. And I think she looks happy and beautiful...I love it. I long for her to see herself the way I see her. This time has been so sweet and I am so grateful for it. Together, we have seen so many things, shared a lot of laughs and reconnected on so many levels. They will be missed dearly. I know that many of you are praying for my peace of mind as my family leaves and I appreciate it...
We had another day in the city today that lasted into the evening. Our day ended in Covent Garden. It is really one of the coolest areas of the city. There are street performers ready for tips, musicians hoping to make it big and smells of hot Belgian waffles cooking. You can spend hours and hours here in the indoor and outdoor market halls. The stalls are full of handmade gifts, clothes and food and just about anything else you could want to find...it is all here. I took this picture as I was leaving. I looked down to the lower level and there were patrons crowded around listening to an acoustic group of musicians. I liked the lighting, the mood, the colors. It is just the perfect place to hang out.
When I have gone to Westminster Abbey before, I have never been by myself in a room there. Today was the day. This place is packed all the time with tourists from all over the world! I could not believe that when I looked up...I was sitting alone looking down an empty hallway...so I snapped this as fast as I could. The iron in the windows looks out into a courtyard area that is surrounded by the abbey. It is breathtaking. The Abbey has been here since 1045 and is the resting place for Kings, Queens, writers, painters and many, many others. Princess Diana's funeral service was held here although she is buried at her family estate in Althorpe. This is also the site where Elizabeth was crowned Queen of England in 1953 at the age of 27. SO MUCH HISTORY! This picture seemed very nostalgic to me. Hope you like it.
To read more go to www.westminster-abbey.org/
Windsor, the Queen's "other" official residence was built during the time of William the Conqueror. It used to be considered the "country home" of the royals and they would come here when they needed to get out of the city and relax away from Buckingham Palace. The drive is just a short hour from our home. The castle is magnificent with its beautiful buildings, lavish furnishings and the meticulously kept grounds. It isnt hard to imagine the lure of this place over the last 900 hundred years. Along with St. George's Chapel, which is on the grounds...it took about three hours to tour inside and out. This is a snapshot of one of the hundreds of windows there.
Enter the web address below to see more info on Windsor Castle...
There is something about walking up and down old streets...today we spent part of the day in Notting Hill, which is in the west area of central London about 8 miles from our home. We poked around in antique shops along Portabello Road (you must come here if you visit London). Then we enjoyed the ever-so-sweet cupcakes at the delightful Hummingbird Bakery...the red velvet ones are my favorite! FYI for all you expats...they sell MOTTS applesauce, Libby's packed pumpkin and JIF peanut butter (crunchy and creamy)...at a price! I got this picture as we were exploring today. I love the ecclectic atmosphere on the street, the vivid colors of all the shops and homes and the smells from the different foods that are cooking. Another memorable day here...
Rainy days and London are synonymous with eachother. Today was no different...it has rained ALL day (and is still raining as I write this). I snapped this pic looking out the glass window of our conservatory tonight. The light is not the glow of a peaceful sunset, or my flash...it is the reflection of the light fixture behind me on the wall. Just liked the way it all looked together.
Today was a day of sightseeing. We are on quite the schedule trying to fit in so many "must-see" things. I took this pic while on the top of the double decker going under the Tower Bridge. I really liked how it turned out. If any of you have ever seen this bridge, it is painted really cool. There is Carolina blue (is there any other shade of blue?), red and white along with the classic architecture...it is quite the sight to see. You see this, you feel like you are here in London. It was gray and rainy when we started this tour and by the time we got to this bridge the clouds were breaking and the blue skies were peeking through. It turned out to be an ideal day for exploring the city.
Another Monday, another grocery day. Life in the fastlane! Grocery time is my time. I wander the aisles...take time to myself. Sad, huh? Welcome to motherhood and all that comes with it. Grocery shopping is now the same as "time for myself"...when did that happen? Today my mother went on her first grocery trip in the UK. I have to add that I drove us there which was an experience...for her! I got this picture so it is proof that we got there in one piece. I have always wanted to take a picture of these carts (or trolleys, as the Brits call them here) all lined up...my eyes goes right to these everytime I go in the store. My mom was fascinated with the fact that the carts move in all different directions because all the wheels turn...
This probably looks like an aisle in your neighborhood grocery store...but NO...it is our pantry shelf here in England, after being restocked by my parents through stuffing their luggage...hehehe. I think there were 18 boxes at last count. Kraft Mac and Cheese is our number one import from the US (with Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies a close second). I just know that we, along with the other American families here are single-handedly keeping Kraft in business. Isn't this just what every American kid must endure at some point? I know I did and so have my kids. I just thought this sight was funny as I opened the cabinet...and then I thought it was a bit silly.
My apologies...my internet connection went down so I was unable to post this until this morning. I threw in a bonus pic!
Our Paris trip has come to a close and I am doing a bit of reflecting my holiday. I went through my endless amounts of photos and pulled out some of my favorites. They had one thing in common. Almost every one was of some sort of architecture. If you notice in several of my Photos of the Day, I look up quite a bit to find my inspiration....here was no different. I think I could have spent my 72 hours in France looking at the buildings only stopping to eat. I am pretty sure I had a couple of narrow misses with cars and bikers while I was "taking in the scenery"...There is something very nostalgic and warm about aura of the buildings there. I think it has to do with the sloped rooftops. They blend in so beautifully with the sky and they add so much character to the neighborhoods. Here is a picture taken out of our hotel room window...
Neighborhood in Paris from an Eiffel Tower view...
This sight was so pretty to me....
I understand that this photo is a big cliche...Paris, the "City of Love", the Eiffel Tower, and the sunset. I can see how people might get caught up in the moment in here. This city is beautiful...the sounds, smells, the architecture. As I was taking pictures of the sunset, a newly married French couple were having their wedding photos taken at the same time. It was quite sweet and romantic...
Cliche? Maybe so. But it really was the perfect ending to a perfect day!
I am in Paris, France with my mom and my great Aunt Jane (it is a girls weekend). We have been looking at beautiful architecture all day...enjoying places like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral. After going through all my pictures from today, I was expecting to give you this awe inspiring glimpse into this city by snapping a piece of history. I have been here several times now and I think that I am starting to notice and appreciate the things that aren't so obvious. Does that make sense? And of all the things to be moved by, it was this tree next to the River Seine. I liked the large knots in the roots. I liked the texture of the bark, and the way it was hanging over the river so peacefully offering shade away from the sun...it just was very inviting.
What a sweet reunion it was! My mom and dad arrived EARLY this morning and are still getting over some serious jetlag. Here is Jack and his Grandma Alice sharing a moment after not seeing each other in person since we moved here 10 months ago. I love the way he is looking at her and she looks more than content that she has him in her grip once again.
In case you were wondering, I wasn't that productive today either. Case in point...I managed to go and get my haircut today. I have been trading U.S. celebrity magazines for haircuts at the salon next door...they are my guilty pleasure...( Did I just tell you all that? What is wrong with me?) Hey, a girl has to be resourceful! And as I laid back into the sink to get my hair washed...I just stared at this light fixture in the ceiling...reflecting on all the things that I had not done to prepare for my parents arrival. What a bad daughter! I was so anxious about it, I nodded off for a minute. Needless to say, I will be cleaning until the wee hours of the morning...this is a fact.
The good news is...my parents and Aunt Jane are visiting from the States in 2 days. The bad news is...I haven't felt well for a few days now and I have so much to do to prepare for them. I wanted to try to be productive today but I couldn't get into a groove. Has anyone of you ever felt like that? As I was sitting at the computer, my husbands mac (YES, we are a die hard Macintosh family) went into sleep mode and all these beautiful patterns and colors started going across the screen. I have to say, I felt better when I grabbed my camera and tooks some pictures. After trying some different techniques with the flash and speed...this is the one that made me feel the best...almost blissful.
Then I went back to bed...maybe I can be productive tomorrow.
One of the reasons I like our new place is the natural woodwork throughout. Just like the skylight post before, I pass by these a hundred times a day...back and forth from morning til night. This is a pic of the bannister spindles in our home. Nothing really deep to say about these. I liked looking at them through my camera lens, experimenting with the lighting and coming up with different ways to capture what I was seeing. This one was my favorite.
Tonight was a GIRLS ONLY movie night for my friend Josephine and me. We left the kids at home with the "better halves" and went to St. George's Centre for the 6 pm showing of "The Devil Wears Prada"...It was great! Most of you know, my favorite thing to do is laugh...it soothes my soul and calms my spirit. What therapy! This is the dome in the center of the shopping area. I really liked the color of the evening sky and the lines of the windows and beams when I looked up...
It has been a beautiful day here today. I snapped this photo just outside our home looking toward the Harrow School. The boys on the right in their uniforms, carrying books and their traditional straw hats are going back to their dormitory between classes. The Harrow School has sat on the hill for over 400 years. Winston Churchill and the poet Lord Byron attended school here. I like how all the homes, school buildings and businesses are nestled around the school. The tall steeple is from St. Mary's Church. I have written about it before on my blog. Do you see the green sign on the bottom left on the picture? That is Public Footpath #75 that I took a picture of several weeks ago and posted...check it out under the archives of September. This picture seems like it is out of an old storybook.
Has anyone seen The Bridget Jones Diaries? I am writing to the ladies. Today, I had to explain to my husband John that there are indeed five men in my life...him (of course), Jack and Sam (our two sons) and Ben and Jerry. This gives you an idea of how my day went today. It was a rough one all around. Nothing that a little chocolate therapy won't TEMPORARILY cure! I just know I am going to be guilty after this! Oprah would be so disappointed in my emotional eating patterns. Oh well then, more for me.
This was taken out of our third floor window today. We had a major rainstorm this afternoon (for 15 minutes) and here is the sky a bit later. It goes without saying that London has a lot of rain...but the skies here recover beautifully. I now have a picture in my head when I think of the word "billowy"...it really was stunning. The blues and whites lit up by the sun look so delicate. Can you feel it floating by?
Fall is here. Of course, the weather here in London has been reminiscent of fall for weeks but I truly knew the season had changed when I saw this plant and the vibrant colors. I go every week to spend the day reading with Jack and Sam's classes to help their teachers. Last week when I walked passed this same plant it was a beautiful shade of green. Not today. This is probably one of the richest colors I have seen in awhile. This time of year is my favorite...the changing colors of nature, the crisp coolness in the air...fall is finally here!
In some of my favorite movies that are shot here in London...like Notting Hill for instance*...neighborhoods have these iron gates in front of the residences. I really like the look of these gates. The black iron against the white homes. I am a fan of clean lines that border on being abstract. This is visually pleasing to me. It is very common to see these gates in the city around some of the more "posh" areas. I pass by this gate on the way to and from the boys school. I stopped today and got some pics of it...I am sure my neighbors all thought I was CRAZY! Oh well.
*Notting Hill starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant is a great movie...go rent it if you haven't seen it!
What a gorgeous day! Sadie went to try-outs for a "football" team a couple of weeks ago. She made the cut and today was their first match. In England, they call soccer...football, they call soccer fields...pitches, they call games...matches, and they call parks...greens. Anyone confused yet? I am. I've forgotten what was I was writing about...
Anyway, Sadie and the team won today which was a great boost of encouragement for all of them. This is the pitch where she played. I love the greens and blues here and the clouds just set the whole picture off!
I was a bit freaked about a finding a "pic of the day" following Sam's artwork. I knew it had to be big...REAL BIG...747 BIG! We had dinner at a friends home tonight and every minute or so (and more often in the summer months) they had the planes landing over their home to Heathrow Airport. This is an Air India 747. I caught this when I looked up and it was over my head. You know it is close when you can read the letters on the bottom.
I couldn't help myself. Can you get the same amount of joy from your childs artwork as you can a sunrise? Most definitely. Sam walked through the door with this masterpiece and I had to share it. Note his name in the upper left corner and I even gave you a bonus pic of his description....the translation is below.
I cracked the code...it says...I like strawberries because they are juicy. That strawberry looks VERY juicy!
Well, yesterday I wrote..."tomorrow is another day".....and here it is. To think that I did not want to roll out of bed this morning. I got up and looked out our back window to the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen. The blues, the oranges, the yellows...the entire back part of our house was glowing...it was breathtaking. One of the great things about this picture is that you can see the buildings of central London. The city is just 12 miles from our home. My eyes and heart needed to see this when I woke up today. I hope that you find a bit of joy in it like I did...
As a side note...check out my friend John's Photo of the Day...you will see his perspective of the sunrise this morning...funny how we both captured different perspectives of the same moment.
What a day today. This picture was taken at Heathrow Airport this morning while I was saying goodbye to my good friend. It is an emotional rollercoaster for me when visitors come. The high of the anticipation, planning and fellowship...the low of saying goodbye, the distance of an ocean and feeling alone. As I was in line with her as she checked in for her flight, I looked over and saw this door...I wanted to run through it and not stop. This picture shows how I felt at that exact moment. I needed an emergency exit from my feelings of sadness and from the low I knew was creeping in as I stood there...
All that being said...I miss her dearly already but I am doing better...and afterall, tomorrow is another day.
For those of you who know me...you know I am NO green thumb! We have a glass conservatory off our kitchen where we have our kitchen table. I went to IKEA (which is like the European version of Target...but then again, NOT...) to get a few EXTREMELY LOW maintenance plants to have in there. To my surprise, I have actually really enjoyed taking care of them. This is a pic of one of my plants. I tried some different photo techniques as I was shooting it and I really liked this one. I appreciate you humoring me while I am learning.
What a gorgeous day in central London. The prettiest days here are the blue skies with the white fluffy clouds rolling by slowly. Here is the London Eye as I stood underneath with my neck all the way back. It reminds me of looking at a bicycle wheel with all the spokes.
I was home all day getting ready for the start of the school week tomorrow. I know...I am leading a real fast-paced, metropolitan lifestyle! A day of making beds, laundry, cleaning, and emptying backpacks. While on the floor reaching to pick up dust bunnies (yes, I have them) from underneath a table, I look up to see the paper shade of our floor lamp. I love the dark to light shading of this photo and how you have to look a few times to figure out exactly what it is...