31 October 2011

Disneyland Paris--Part One. . .

The last weekend in August, just before school started, we decided to book a trip to Disneyland Paris.  It was one of the places on our list to visit while we are living here, and the girls needed a trip that was all about them and less about historical sites!!

To break the news, I set up the conservatory to look as if the Disney Store had thrown up in there.  Then we brought the girls in to help decide what to pack for a mystery trip.  They were understandably excited, so I waited for screams, squeals, and jumping up and down.  We did get some big smiles, but instead of a dramatic reaction, we got their inherited (from Daddy) calm (and frankly, unsatisfying) reaction to gifts!  Oh well, at least I knew they were excited!

We booked through a local high street travel agent for a 3 night/4 day stay at the Disneyland Hotel.  Since we were staying at a Disney property and could get in to the parks two hours early (8 am Thursday), we went down and stayed at a nearby hotel, Marriott's Village d'Ile-de-France, Wednesday night to be there bright and early Thursday morning.

Keith had been looking for a chance to travel through the "Chunnel"--the tunnel underneath the English Channel.  You can drive from England to France via this route--you drive your car onto a train that goes through the Chunnel--but we decided to take the train.  First it was a local train to London's St. Pancras International (about an hour), then the Eurostar from St. Pancras to Lille, France (another hour) where we changed trains.  Then it was directly to Marne la Valee Chessy at Disneyland Resort (a third hour).  Traveling by train wasn't too terrible. . the problem was our luggage.  When the kids are older and can help carry more or when we aren't going for four nights, it is a great way to go.  But lugging all of our stuff and all three children through stations and on and off trains was exhausting.  Needless to say, we were glad to arrive at Disney!!
 At the Leicester train station.

After we got off the train, we went on a search for the shuttle to the Marriott--we took the ascenseur. :)  I had to ask at the info desk where we could find the shuttle; I asked in French  (which I do not know--only the phrases from the travel books/website!) if she spoke English. . she motioned that she did a little. . .but we managed to get the answers we needed.  Found the bus, boarded it, tried to understand the driver, and eventually got off at the right stop--and then we walked 3/4 mile to the hotel.  That was fun.

Luckily, the hotel was worth the walk.  It is part of the Marriott Vacation Club and was a two bedroom/3 bathroom/two story villa with full kitchen, dining room, living room. . .it. was. awesome!  We will definitely have to consider staying in that type of accommodation again.  They have a bar/restaurant on site, as well as a grocery with a video library, game tables, etc.  Keith and the older girls did attempt to swim, but it was late enough in the evening that it had gotten quite chilly. . they didn't last for long!  And as a bonus, we got to sleep in an air-conditioned room!  Our house--most houses--doesn't have central a/c, and I forgot just how good a night of sleep you get in air-conditioning!!

 I snapped some pictures at the grocery.

 These were good. . basically Belgian waffles dipped in chocolate.
 I decided to do a load of laundry. . .and then realized that might be a little ambitious!
At least it was a familiar brand!
Thursday morning came much too soon. . I wanted to stay snuggled under the covers in my air-conditioned room!  But, our goal was to get to Disney before 8:00am so that we could take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours.  We had made the decision the night before to order a taxi to take us; our shuttle bus/hike adventure was not how we wanted to start our first day at Disneyland!  The taxi arrived and we were only about 7 minutes late getting out the door (quite impressive for the female members of this family!!)

We got to the Disneyland Hotel around 7:35. . .and I fell in love with Disney all over again!  From the second that you walk in the door, especially at the resorts, you just know that you are in the magical world of Disney!  There's just something about the way they do things leaves you with no doubt as to why they have been so successful for so long!!

29 October 2011

July and August leftovers. . .

Just wanted to get these in the blog while I am playing catch-up. . just some random things from July and August:
Charlotte takes a music and dance class called Jo Jingles. . .like Kindermusic. . and she is obsessed with it!  This is her teacher, LeAnn.
Charlotte and her buddy, Lucie.

Hands-down, the parachute is Charlotte's favorite thing. . .she squeals when she sees it!

This is in Nuneaton, which is the next town over from us.

Charlotte really enjoys our conservatory furniture. . .

Our 4th of July picnic--we had planned to go to TGIFriday's for the celebration they have there, but Keith ended up having to work late.  The girls and I had hot dogs and potato chips--we did have sweet corn. . not on the cob.. .but still sweet corn! :)

Maggie having fun at her Field Day.

St. Peter's Summer Fayre

Hannah's Leavers' Assembly. . .her class, Year 2, was moving on from the Infant School and Key Stage 1 to the Junior School and Key Stage 2.  They had an assembly to say goodbye.

Hannah front and center as letter F.

Our sweet girl getting choked up.
Charlotte's first movie at the cinema. . .Cars 2!  Love that so much was set in England!  And I love the Brad Paisley-Robbie Williams song, Collision of Worlds, at the end of the movie!
Pretending to be Gabriela and a cheerleader from High School Musical--we love those movies!

Hannah with her teacher, Mrs. Dakin, and the student teachers, Mr. Maximuw and Mr. Kelly.

Keith and the girls go to the driving range most Saturday mornings if we are around.  The golf pro there gives free lessons to kids each week, and they have been learning quite a bit about what it takes to have a better golf swing.  He gives them certificates for the distances they can hit to--Maggie is up to 50 yards and Hannah is up to 75 yards. 

Cheeky. . .
. . .cheeky. . .
. . .and more cheeky!!!
Friday is Movie & Popcorn Night.
Mags is turning into quite the little reader!
Fun in the garden. . . on the far left is Georgia, a friend from school, and on the far right is Leah, our neighbor.
Charlotte is mad about shoes. . especially her big sisters'!

28 October 2011

Mom and Dad's Visit--Miscellaneous.. .

Just a few other things we did while my parents were visiting. . .I am ready to be caught up on this blog, so I am going to attempt that today and tomorrow!!  (attempt being the key word, of course!)

We took a walk to our local (pub)--the Hinckley Knight-- down the public bridlepath by our house. .

We went to a boot sale!  These sales are how they do garage sales here; everyone loads up the boot (trunk) of their car and drives to a field, parks, and sets up their own mini-sale.  They have food and drink and bouncy houses, etc for the kids.  Every Sunday morning and some Saturday mornings, too.  It was FABULOUS! I can't wait to go back again.  . .and eventually sell some, too!

Both Dad and Mom tried out driving on the left side of the road (not just in our driveway). . .it didn't take too long for them to catch on!

Keith and I got to have a date night!!  We took a mini pub-crawl and shopped for some antique furniture in Northampton. [We did end up buying a piece--I will blog about that when the finished product arrives]  Dinner and an overnight. . .felt like it had been forever since we had a night out just the two of us!!
Keith on his "throne" at one of the antique shops.

One of our pub stops. . .along a little canal--drinking Hoegarden pints.
This is the picture that Keith took of his beer. . and oh yeah, me, too!

We had a bit of leak in our kitchen. . .a pipe somehow came completely disconnected in one of the upstairs bathrooms and water was pouring out of this light fixture. . and from the edge where the wall and ceiling meet. . even outside along the brick.

The younger girls thought it was fun--grrr!! 
 We went to Leicester City Centre and walked around. . thought it was ironic that we found this gate while my parents were here (my maiden name is Butler):

We had to go to Subway. . it is one of Mom and Dad's lunch spots back home.  It is by far the most American US franchise here. . the food actually tastes the same as opposed to McDonalds, Burger King. . which aren't quite the same!

It was wonderful to have my parents here. . nice to have hugs from home. . and to get to see them face to face.  (But it was also a lot harder to say goodbye!)  I think it makes it easier when they can visualize where we are and know that we are okay here in the UK.  Thanks for a great visit, Mom and Dad. . . we love you very much!  Come back soon!