Thursday, August 30, 2012

Forgot to mention: We're home!

So, I clearly gave up the blogging in Paris. We were pretty busy and as you can see below, having a wonderful time!

But reality returns, and we are home again! The day after we got back I started a new job at Cornerstone Schools of Alabama ( teaching 6-8 grade English. It has been pretty wild!

A post for days gone by!

Enjoy --

 Monday: Post-Louvre, Pre-Eiffel Tower climb

Tuesday: Musee d'Orsay! 

Bridging the Seine

Dessert platter extraordinaire.

Outside St. Sulpice

Wednesday: Walk from Etoile Victor Hugo to the Luxembourg Gardens

In the gardens

Thursday: Versailles!

Bike ride through the gardens: 

Grand Trianon

Friday: Pere Lachaise
Tyler at the gravesite of Gericault. A bronze sculpture of the artist and a relief of his  "Raft of the Medusa" are installed on the tomb.

with a map of Pere Lachaise 

to Montmartre and up to the dome of Sacre Coeur

Back on the streets... yes, I had a sketch made. No, it doesn't look much like me. 
But, look how French my sketcher is! 

 Can't believe it's time to go. What a wonderful week!!!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Weekend in Paris!

Made it to Paris on Saturday and are having a great time! 
We are leaving this hotel for our next home with Francois' grandmother, Renee and are about to go meet up with her now. Before we go, I wanted to send some pictures. I am sorry we haven't had time to write about everything we have been doing, but here is a taste! 

Saturday -- walking through Tuileries and Louvre area

At the Arc d'Triumph just up the street from our hotel!

The view Saturday night at dinner on the terrace of the Tokyo Museum:

Lunch/reading break Sunday morning at the Tuileries

Notre Dame

Sunday wine break at a tiny place on the Ile St. Louis

Outside of Victor Hugo's home in Le Marais:

Should we or shouldn't we? After a full day, we decided at 9:45 to go to dinner after all. 
We found this place down the street that only serves steak frites! The line was out the door, but then the hostess asked for two and we jumped to the front! 
All she asked was how we like our steak cooked, and then it arrived -- in two helpings -- coated in an unbelievable butter sauce! 


Want to get pictures from yesterday up too, but not sure when I will be able to! Will do my best! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Addison's Walk

Quick post before I leave Oxford -- 
Yesterday I went on a great walk around Magdalen College (pronounced "Maudlin" apparently). This is the College where CS Lewis lived and I was making a presentation in class that reference him, so I thought I would go have a look! 

This is The Great Tower. It is impressive. Used at one time as defense where people would throw stones down at the invaders - ouch! 

This is The Cloisters area of the college -- beautiful hydrangeas all around the perimeter.

Addison's Walk was one of Lewis's favorite places to stroll around the grounds.  He wrote this short poem which is now engraved along the wall:

A nice picture of Addison's Walk.

Crazy trees in the Fellows' Garden. What are those things?? This looked like a fir tree, but with grapes!

Then I saw this, which I thought was a pine tree -- and still think it is some type of pine, but look at the "pinecones"! They look like big green eggs!

Then I went to Hamlet at the Bodleian Library last night!
Amazing! Very musical production. Really fun.

OK - Lunch then off to London!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hyde Park

While I was frolicking across the countryside, Tyler was in Hyde Park.
Here are some of the sights in the park today:
 Geese in the lake!

Birds flying high about the Olympic stadium for field events and maybe viewing stands...

And here is a nice picture of the neighborhood:

We have had beautiful weather the past 2 days! 

Successful Excursion!

My trip to Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey turned into a marvelous success today!
I took pictures until the camera battery died. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed inside the castle, but you all know what it looks like in there.

Each of the downstairs rooms had a tour guide to explain where you were and what all was in the room. They were all exquisite.  One great touch was the current family photos they have placed in each room. Removes the museum-like feel from the house. Let's see, they showed us the Drawing, Dining, Smoking,  and Morning Rooms, as well as the Library. The middle area that is open to the 2nd and 3rd floors is called the Grand Saloon or something like that -- its walls are covered in painted leather -- all the walls are works of art the leather, silk tapestries, hand paintings, silk wall coverings - as are the ceilings (exception being the Smoking room)! Each room has an unbelievable fireplace, too.

On the 2nd floor, there was a wonderful lady who showed me all around! I was the only one in the house for a while because it was later in the afternoon and pretty slow. She snuck me into one of the bedrooms to have a real look. It is the room used as Edith's in the show.  Amazing views! Can you imagine waking up and seeing those rolling hills every morning? And sheep! Everywhere --
3rd floor wasn't open, and the power was out for some reason, so they weren't letting people downstairs because it was too dark.

After I descended the grand oak stairwell, I visited the gardens surrounding the castle.  Beautiful, and accompanied by bleating sheep in the background.

I did get the impression from the show that the driveway pulls right up to the front of the house, but actually you drive up from the left side of the house. There is an enormous field in front.  Tricky cameras!
 Speaking of cameras, here are my attempts to capture some of the sights for you:

 My first full view of the castle from the drive. 

 The family's motto is engraved above the window sills and doorways and on the dining room wall.

 I was here.

 And here!

These columns are called the "Jackdaws Castle" and you can see how near it is to Highclere.
I imagined it to be found in an isolated field, but it is just a short walk from the castle. 

One of the views around the castle.

The "Secret Garden"

Field of wildflowers behind the castle. 

Wish you all had been there with me!

Here is a peek at what was going on when I had my picture taken in front of the castle:

No wonder I look so awkward! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Weekend Update.

Here are some of the pictures from our last Friday in London: 

Tyler in front of Purdey and Sons: 

We did go in and have an amazing lesson in gun making and the history of Purdey. Tyler was in heaven, and I was having fun, too.

Then we went across the street for a pint and to watch the British Open. We had talked about going to the Open, but the bus we would have ideally taken was full. Worked out in our favor though.

Had a nice dinner and topped it off with a stop at my favorite new gelatto (sp check is trying to change that to gelatin) place --

Mmm cinnamon gelatto! Delicious:
They shape it into this floral design -- 

Back in Oxford since Saturday and adjusting again to the solo tourist life. As I headed west to Oxford, Tyler went south to Brighton. Here are some pictures he sent me on Sunday from his views of the English coast:

He said some of it felt like Coney Island and there are rocks where you would presume sand.

Here you can see the "Brighton Eye"spinning along by the sea.

While he was clowning around, I was taking in some culture at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. 
"Britain's Oldest Museum" 
They have collections from all ancient civilizations. 

This ceramic plate is from Iraq. I thought it was interesting because it depicts several quail, and the man at Purdey spent quite some time explaining to us that quail are only indigenous to China, India, and I assume Iraq. All the Western quail were imported from those countries for "shooting parties." Lovely! 

Also, in a recent email conversation, my mom asked if I had seen any "reject china" shops where I could potentially purchase more of my china pattern, which I would not label reject, but maybe they would have some. 
Well, I haven't seen any, but here is a nice dinner plate just for you, Mom!

They also had a great exhibit of hand painted Chinese fans like this one. I took a lot of pictures of these, but here is just one of some fish. the others are bees and insects! Lots of preying mantis images. Reminds me of my 6th grade bug collection!

Also on Sunday my class took a tour of Merton College, one of Oxford's oldest colleges. 
Here is an image of the cathedral exterior:

That is what you see from the street, but when you walk through the outer gates, a whole secret world is revealed.  

Here, the entrance to the hall where students of Merton take their meals:

As you walk through the school's quads and gardens, you come to The Meadow which I believe is associated with Christ's Church College, but is open to the public and just beyond lies the river. 

It was really the most beautiful day I've had here.

This picture shows the boundary of Merton and the Meadow. The wall is the former Oxford city border. Probably built in the 11th or 12th century.

Behind these narrow stained-glass windows is a wooden room full of books. It is one of the oldest functioning libraries in Oxford, and seeing it all was astonishing. I don't think I was prepared. It was like stepping back in time. The books are all leather-bound and they smell... like old books! Delightful!

Here is the interior of the cathedral, specifically the Quire area. The ceiling is beautifully painted with different depictions of angels, and the side windows are original to the building.  Apparently the large stained-glass windows above the pulpit were replaced after Queen Elizabeth I's army laid siege to the college and shattered the originals when attempting convert them from Catholicism to Anglicanism.  Today, it is a Catholic cathedral.

Really fun! 

Class is going well and I have a big day tomorrow.
Will hope to report back then!