Wednesday, May 31, 2006

last bath

i'll never take you to bath ever again after this, i swear. these are photos of our last hours there before boarding the train to the comic book expo in bristol.

it was such a sunny day, the parks were loaded with people soaking up rays and playing with their kids.
everywhere we visit, t always has to go on a hunt for the local comic shop, and we found it. luckily, because of this, i also found the ugliest bath in bath. the guys at the shop were really nice, but i had drank about a gallon of water that morning, so i asked to use the toilet. the guy said to me, "have you ever seen trainspotting?" well, i had, i but there's no way it could be THAT bad, and it wasn't. i crawled down the winding stairs from the second-story shop to the basement bathroom, ducking so as not to bump my head. i felt my way along a dark little hall until i found the light switch and was instantly struck by the urge to photo and blog. it was impressively nasty, but when ya gotta go, ya gotta go. the coolest part? the seven flies in the toilet bowl that magically wouldn't flush.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

magnolias in bloom

i do realize that this blog has been rather image-heavy... for those more prone to prose, i apologize! i have always been (and probably ever shall be) a visual person. not to let that undermine the words... spoken, read, or written... as i love them as well! but there's nothing like a great (or even mediocre) photo or illustration to go along with a story, hence my love of children's literature. and my love of a particular illustrator, but i'm not mentioning any names! lately i've been digging jacqueline wilson's kid lit.

anyhow, more photos. i couldn't resist. our three mangy, 3-year old magnolias are blossoming. what's that gardener's saying?? 'first year they weep, second year they creep, and third year they leap'? well, if that's the case, then 3 years is a charm, since they are loaded with blooms. it is sad that only photos can be posted, and that i can't post the delirious lemony fragrance. pure heaven! so here are the buds...

and the bud just opening... and the full blown bloom...

on the tree.

Monday, May 29, 2006

roman baths

yes, i'm STILL blathering about our trip to england, and it's almost ancient history now as we returned two weeks ago today. i am sorry, but i'm doing it mostly for myself so i can remember the trip! a good exercise in brain power.
for no particular reason, we saved some of the most famous sites in bath for our last day there. namely, the ruins of a roman bath house for which bath was named. it was cool, but loaded with tourists on a lovely friday morning. we wandered through, learned a bunch, and went on with our day.

do what?

there is a little southern thaing that is seemingly popping up everywhere these days, or perhaps it's just that i hadn't noticed the prevalence of it before now, for some avoidant reason. it is a phrase, and it simply baffles me. remember that, in general, southerners like to draw out the words in their sentence, or the syllables in their word. for instance, we have a neighbor named tim, but i always think of him as "tee-yum."

let's say you're having a conversation with your (southern) neighbor. you're telling them of the, oh, say, water in your swimming pool. their eyes wander... their face goes blank. as you prattle on, you realize that they are no longer listening to you until suddenly their unfocused eyes snap slowly back to your face. realization hits, their mind has wandered, and they no longer have any idea of what you are speaking. eyes focusing, they peer into your face and utter the incomprehensible two words.

"do WHAT?"

i guess it's a replacement for phrases such as "pardon?," "excuse me?," or "what the hell were you just saying?" however, to my ears, it comes out as a kind of blunt way of asking "what are you doing?" well, i was speaking to you, and you either weren't listening, couldn't hear me, or couldn't understand me. that's what i was doing. but WAIT! oh, i understand. you simply want me to repeat what i was just SAYING! OHHHH! why didn't you just say "WHAT?" why did you add the "DO" in front?

to me, the word "do" is an action word, and i have no idea why it would be inserted before "what" to denote a misunderstanding.

i have a snappy comeback for the "do what" phenomenon, one that is untried. the next time it happens to me (probably later on today) and someone looks at me and says "do what?," i'm going to smile broadly and say "diddy diddy dum diddy doo!"

Saturday, May 27, 2006

a little more england

on the remainder of our cotswolds tour, we went to bibury which had the lovely row of cottages shown above, and a nice coffee house and gift shop. i bought my one souvenir there... a used roof tile of cotswold stone. there was a pile of them in a cardboard box, with ants crawling all among them. the sign said 3 pounds, and i felt that an authentic piece of england would remind me of our trip, and the price was a steal. every time i see the stone in our home it reminds me of the idyliic little villages in the english countryside. really!

we saw many lovely churches and intriguing graveyards. many of the gravestones were unreadable, the text washed away by years of wind and rain.

for lunch we went to a touristy little town called bourton-on-the-water which had a shallow river and small footbriges, and plenty of green space amid the shopping. great place to have lunch and get trinkets for the kids, but far too commercial for my taste.

our last stop was upper and lower slaughter which was full of sheep! and slaughter apparently did not refer to the sheep, but to the muddy landscape. we wandered from upper to lower slaughter, watching the baby sheep bleating for their mamas. jane (our border collie) would have been in dog heaven! i wish we could have a few sheep here just to keep her busy. alas, our neighborhood covenants allow for horses, but no livestock of any kind.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

states i've been

create your own personalized map of the USA

thanks for the idea, j!
not many left to go!

warning: don't sushi and drive

can you see the soy dripping down my thigh (which looks gigantic in this photo)? well, i got done at the gym and was starving, so i got grocery store sushi and attempted to eat it on the way home.

bad idea.

Monday, May 22, 2006

castle combe

the first stop on our mad max tour of the cotswolds was Castle Combe. it was the loveliest village we visited all day, and was truly out-of-the-way as we had to drive down single lane country roads to get there-- with traffic going both ways! the driver was so collected... i would have fallen to pieces driving like that. anyhow, the beauty of the place was somewhat enhanced and somewhat marred by the fact that they were shooting a film there that day called Stardust. the scenery was enhanced by the props you'll see in the following photos that looked hokey in real life, but photographed beautifully (i guess that's the point). the scenery was marred by the pylons, cables, clamps, stands, lights and everything else it takes to make the place into a living movie set.

the village is actually still inhabited by private residents, which i guess can be somewhat rare. other historic cottages and villages are owned by the national trust in the uk. there is a lovely manor house at the edge of town which has been turned into a posh hotel, the likes of which we could only hope to afford. turns out it didn't matter whether or not it was too expensive... the whole place was rented out by the cast & crew which included robert deniro, michelle pfieffer, sienna miller and claire danes. so, in a way, we got a bit of stardust ourselves.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

cotswolds textures

a textural introduction to the cotswolds... all photos were taken by t. i take no credit.


i'll take a quick break from my travelogue to insert the story of our morning. and i hadn't even gotten to the photos of the cotswolds yet!

as you can guess by the photos, it was recital day today. the studio we attend doesn't make a huge production of it... no $100 costumes to buy or $60 performance fees. just kids dancing and having fun.

the production was a 27 minute rendition of 'hansel and gretel' and featured our daughter as a bunny (left) and our son as a blackbird (below). he was the ONLY BOY in the entire thing, and it didn't faze him even a bit.

the dancing was so cute it made me laugh until i had tears in my eyes... watching these little critters tromping about the stage, mostly cluelessly. utterly precious.

but thank god we don't have to do it again until next year. whew!

Friday, May 19, 2006

prior park landscape gardens

overlooking bath are the prior park landscape gardens, just about a 20 minute walk (straight uphill) from our b & b. it was recommended by our host, peter, and was the perfect thing to do after our trip to stonehenge. the day was breezy, warm and sunny, and the nature trails and vistas of the park were stunning.
there was a private (catholic, i think) school just past the gardens up the hill, shown below. these students get to overlook the view every day! imagine the deprivation they must feel. i'm thinking of encouraging our children to go away to college in bath, if only so we can visit often.

below is the vista, bath in the distance. there is a gorgeous palladian bridge over the lake, as you can see.
the next photo is simply a reverse angle from the bottom of the hill, but no less majestic. i was so glad we spent the afternoon wandering in the hills! there is also a 6 mile "skyline walk" that you can hike in the hills above bath. we opted NOT to do this, but did exit the park the back way and wandered down quaint narrow lanes back into town. it was fantastic.


early on the morning of may 10th, t and i boarded the minibus that would take us to stonehenge. we were initially supposed to take a full-day tour of glastonbury and wells with scarper tours (and i was REALLY looking forward to it) but due to lack of interest, that tour was cancelled. the kind folks at the tour company offered to take us to stonehenge for free, and although neither of us really cared to see it, we accepted the generous offer and figured that we could put a big CHECK next to STONEHENGE in our lifelong THINGS TO SEE list.
the trip there was about an hour. the tour guide, simon, reminded me of our son, as he said his "th" sound as an "f" or a "v" as in "nuffing" instead of "nothing." we passed over the hills surrounding bath into the wiltshire plain. everywhere were fields of green and an almost blinding neon yellow. we asked what these crops were, and were told that they were "oil-seed rape" or what we call rapeseed, and it is used for canola oil and margarine. we were also told that these fields turn a dismal brown color for the entire summer.
stonehenge was cool, we got to wander around it for an hour, which was really too long. i was surprised by how close you could get, and what panoramic unadulterated views you could get, even with all the people milling about. the best part was getting trinkets for the kids in the gift shop, and i was right... they loved them. while we were gone, they had even watched a special on stonehenge, and h learned more about it than i did!

after the tour we had the whole rest of a sunny day to explore bath some more.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

it's superman's life...

i was at walmart with s today, wandering the cereal aisle when... lo and behold!... it's a bird, it's a plane, it's.... SUPERMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!! okay, it's not so special, really, unless you consider that the illustration of superman was done by the INIMITABLE tommy lee edwards. i got a dorky fangirl look on my face and couldn't wait to take it home. here's the part where everybody figures out that i'm a fool in love with my husband, and i'm SO proud when i see his work. even when it's at walmart. on a cereal box.

still wasn't as good as the men in black lunchbox or the harry potter valentines, but it was still a great surprise.

bath abbey

the abbey from the square
a reflection of me and the ceiling



incoming storm

wandering bath

i like the post title... it brings visions of an old claw-footed tub toddling aimlessly about, doesn't it? anyhow, welcome to my official 100th post! ah, and it seems like just yesterday that i wrote post #1. but, here we are, a mite bit jet lagged still, after 3 days. for some reason i still want to nod off early, and my eyes have been popping open by 5 am.

have a wander around bath, somerset, uk as we did on may 9th. i'll show more specific photos in different posts.
walking across the bridge into town we had a view of the avon & kennet canal as well as the pulteney bridge. many days we walked along the canal into town.

a lovely cityscape in bath on a lovely day.

chimneys of the many many bath-stone georgian townhouses you see throughout the town.

just a pretty gate on pulteney street.