14 December 2009

Time for Ketchup

Just kidding. I mean CATCH UP! There is so much to tell, I have been putting it off but finally realized I need to jump right in.

Let's see... Where was I?

Oh, yes! Stratford-Upon-Avon with Uncle Josh. Friday morning we had the breakfast we were happily anticipating and our host Pascal was as funny and talkative as ever. I think he is the first Parisian I have found endearing. Of course, the fact that Parisians aren't endearing is exactly what makes them so, but that is another topic all together.

We braved the gray, cold day to wander around the town. We saw Shakespeare's birthplace, the house where he lived until his death and his grave. We wanted to see the house of John Harvard but walked right past it without realizing. It was fun to see what they could think up to peddle in the Shakespeare themed gift shops. My oh my, people are creative. The merchandise ranged from tasteful to delightfully tacky. Somehow we managed to overcome the temptation to buy Shakespeare as a stuffed toy, on a t-shirt, and in pewter as cuff links. I just couldn't resist the Shakespeare's Guide to Abuses and Affronts. Here are some that had Sam and I laughing the hardest:

"Out of my sight! Thou dost infect my eyes." - Richard III

"More of your conversation would infect my brain." - Coriolanus

"He has not so much brain as ear-wax." - Troilus and Cressida

"Thou cream-faced loon. Where got'st that goose look?" - Macbeth

If the temperature reached 40 degrees, we were lucky. Walking the town had us chilled to the bone so we stepped inside a pub which was recommended by Pascal. It is the pub where the actors from the Royal Shakespeare Theater go after performances. It felt absolutely DELICIOUS to enter that pub with it's roaring fire and cozy atmosphere. With hot chocolate for the kids and the same for us with a touch of Bailey's to get us extra toasty, I didn't think it could get any better. Then the bartender threw some fresh orange rind on the fire. Wow! All our senses were completely satisfied.

Sadly, we had to move on. We grabbed lunch to eat in the car so we could start our journey to London. The ride in was smooth and we found our way to our friend's flat without much trouble. It was interesting to arrive in London by car this time. I kept waiting for the city to overwhelm us, like New York does. Miles outside of NYC you feel the pace of life quicken. Your pulse responds and everything seems to move faster and loom larger. London is not like that at all. New York is over the top, bold and brash. London is elegant, understated and refined. I love both places.

That evening, we had pizza at our favorite neighborhood restaurant. Mark took Josh and Sam to a concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the Anglican church in Trafalgar Square. They walked the city a bit to take in the sights since this was Josh's first visit. The rest of the kids and I stayed home and enjoyed some cable tv, knitting and computer time. If you remember, we are in tight quarters at this flat and now there was another adult with us. Poor Mark slept on the floor with Elise with several comforters we had brought from home. In the morning, we were no worse for the wear and ready to take in more of the city.

We decided to visit the British Museum. It is one of the most comprehensive collections of art and artifacts in the world. One of the most famous pieces in the collection is the Rosetta Stone which led to the deciphering of the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt. We started here and moved through the Egyptian artifacts which included mummies of both humans and animals such as baboons, cats and crocodiles. In some cases, you could view the bones, hair and lungs of humans that had been mummified. William was both fascinated and frightened. There were massive sculptures from the tombs of pharaohs and pieces of walls with intricate hieroglyphics. We also saw Roman jewelery, vases and busts. The exhibit on the history of money was fascinating. Sam was especially interested because he has been intrigued with foreign currency since our arrival. We were tired but pressed on to a lovely neighborhood called Marylebone. Window shopping was fun at the boutiques and shops that line the streets, each beautifully displaying their goods. That night, for yet another time, we headed to Harrod's. They have a Wizard of Oz theme to their holiday displays. Since our last visit, they added giant ruby slippers on the witches feet. It looked as if the entire store had caused her demise instead of Dorothy's house like in the film. What a sight! One last night in our cozy flat then up early to drop Josh off at the airport.

Thanks, Josh for a great visit. We are blessed to have you in our family.


1 comment:

  1. Still recovering from jetlag. Had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed the trip, especially Warwick Castle - the coolest place on the planet.

    M.E. - do you know anyone named Shane?

    Cheers, then.

    Uncle JJ.