31 January 2012

Collision of Worlds. .

A few months after we moved to the UK, Cars 2 came out.  Not only was it Charlotte's first movie at the theater, it was the family's first "film at the cinema."  The theater that we went to hosts comedy shows on Saturday evenings, and the movie was being shown in that room.  We had a little table in front of our seats for our popcorn, and Charlotte did a fabulous job (with just a little running around!).  The picture isn't great, but here she is--looking like a big girl with her cheesy grin!

Since it takes us forever to pack up and actually leave anywhere, we were still there while the credits were rolling.  The girls like to dance around to the music, and then a song that was just perfect for our family and our life right now came on!  Brad Paisley and Robbie Williams (lead singer of Take That--think a British NKOTB) wrote and performed a song together for the movie called "Collision of Worlds."  Here are the lyrics. . .I love it!  (You can listen to it here)

At the first sign of the morning light, Old Glory's in the sky
Across the pond, it's afternoon and the Union Jack flies high
We're on our first cup of coffee
We're on our third cup of tea
And we can't pretend to live on different planets, you and me

In this collision of worlds
Watch the new day dawn on a distant shore
In this collision of worlds
Oh you can't sit this out no more

Abbey Road, Route 66, CIA, to the MI6
Right lane, left lane, Metric, Imperial
Pounds, dollars, howdy, cheerio!
A v8 growls, to a v12 screams
Hail to the chief, well God Save the Queen
Cops, bobbies, tabasco, wasabi, pistachio ice cream!

In this collision of worlds
Well it's too late and you can't stop it now
In this collision of worlds
Yeah find you a place and just watch it now

Yeah you're a good ole' boy
Well you're a decent bloke
I say it's irony, I say it's a joke
When I look around, now I can see
We ain't so different, you and me

Meat and potatoes, bangers and mash
Dollars, pounds, dosh, cash
Autobahn, to the rising sun
The I10, to the M1
Congress, Parliament, President, The Queen!
Petrol, you say gasoline
Now grab your bird, and get your girl
Now its a small world

Collision of worlds
Watch the new day dawn on a distant shore
In this collision of worlds
No you can't sit this out no more
In this collision of worlds
It's too late and you can't stop it now
Collision of worlds
Find you a place and watch it now

Just a nice little reminder for us that maybe we aren't as far away from home as it sometimes seems!  And I thought it was a nice coincidence that Brad Paisley and his family live in Franklin, Tennessee (the town we lived in before moving here) and Robbie Williams grew up in a town about an hour from where we live now!

24 January 2012

Salisbury Cathedral & Stonehenge. . .

On our last morning on the Isle of Wight, we packed up, snapped some pictures outside "our" castle apartment, and got in a few good looks around. . .then it was off to the ferry!

Driving out the gate.

We were able to explore the ferry a little more on the trip back to Southampton. . 

We had read about Salisbury Cathedral in one of the brochures we picked up on the Isle of Wight. . .we knew that it houses the Magna Carta and that its spire is the tallest in Britain (404 feet above ground).  We hadn't consciously decided to stop there, but on the way to Stonehenge, we saw the spire and turned around.  It is really an awesome church to visit. . .and at this point, it's one of our favorite buildings we've seen!

The foundation stones were laid in 1220, and construction went on for 25 years.  There were a handful of later additions, including the tower and spire--added between 1297 and 1320.  The additional 6, 500 tons of stone actually caused the central supports to bend, so buttresses were added to keep it upright.

All throughout the property there were modern sculptures. . .I can't decide how I felt about them.  The kids liked looking for them, but it seemed to me that they took a little bit away from the impressive history of the church.
Various popes, bishops, etc. . and this guy lined the outside walls.

The whole church was filled with tombs--regular services are still held here; can't imagine sliding into a seat next to poor William here:

This beautiful blue window below is dedicated to "prisoners of conscience" throughout the world--those who have been imprisoned for their beliefs without even committing a violent or illegal act.  They hold early morning services here (it's in the Trinity Chapel--the first part of the cathedral to be built) because the window is east-facing and the colors fill the room.

Keith is trying out the Bumping Stone. .

The new choir boys were led to the stone, and their heads were gently bumped seven times while reciting: "We bump you a chorister of Salisbury Cathedral according to ancient custom". Interesting early form of hazing!!
Photos weren't allowed to be taken in the Chapter House, which houses the Magna Carta, so this is the closest my camera got. . . .

The Magna Carta here at the Cathedral is one of the four original copies.  Two more are in London at  the British Library, and the last is at Lincoln Cathedral (about an 1 1/2 north of us).  The Magna Carta is a crude bill of rights that forms the basis of English law; the "personal liberties that the Great Charter guaranteed to the English" were incorporated into the U.S. Bill of Rights.  Needless to say, it was an impressive thing to stand and look at.

Then we were off to Stonehenge. . .the first picture below is the view from the road.  We were just driving along, looking out across the fields. . and then it was: "Oh, there's Stonehenge!"  It was one of those moments that was a little unreal.  Never in a million years would I have ever thought I  would have a chance to visit Stonehenge!!

This was about as close as we could get to the stones; the car park was across the road, so no Griswold European Vacation mishaps while backing up. . .the stones were still standing when we left!

The first Stonehenge was constructed about 5,000 years ago, and was just a circular ditch and bank.  By 2500 BC, the timber structures that were there began to rot, so stones were brought in from all over the United Kingdom.  Then came 800 years of construction and alteration; by the end of those years, Stonehenge was the greatest temple in Britain.  There is still a lot of mystery surrounding how and why it was built and what the arrangement of the stones mean. 

That's the end of our Fall Break/Isle of Wight adventure--Finally! :)

22 January 2012

Isle of Wight--Osborne House. . .

Osborne is another English Heritage property. . .between our EH membership and the recommendations, it was one of the places we decided to visit while on the Isle of Wight.  It is a beautiful property and we had a really nice walk on the grounds.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought the estate in 1845, and it became their private escape from court life.  They used Osborne for more than 50 years.  The house was built as a sea-side family home rather than a palace, so it was really interesting to see how a Queen really lived.  (Still very luxurious and ornate.)  We were able to visit almost all the rooms. . even the Queen's bedroom where she died.

The gate house?  It was out by the road and matches the main house.

The grounds on the way in.

For a pound each, Hannah, Maggie, and I were able to travel up to the house by horse-drawn carriage--the same way the Royal Family traveled the estate.

Osborne House

We took a walk down to the Swiss Cottage--my favorite part of the tour.  Prince Albert wasn't impressed with the way the English palaces were being run; we were told by one of the guides that he and the Queen actually purchased the Osborne Estate with the money he saved making their various palaces more efficient.  Swiss Cottage was his way of teaching his children to properly manage a household.  Each of their nine children had a garden plot.  They planted, tended, and harvested their own crop which they could then sell to their father at their store for market value.  The children used that money to run their fully outfitted Swiss Cottage--they prepared the food, served it, entertained, etc.  . . learning every aspect of how to run a successful household.

Queen Victoria's bathing machine. ..don't know how well you can read the sign below. . they rolled this dressing room right down to the water's edge so that the Queen could enter the water without being seen in her bathing suit.  I have got to get one of those!!

We ate at the Terrace Restaurant on the grounds. . .and Keith and I went for a traditional tea, with tea or coffee, finger sandwiches, and various cakes and biscuits:

The gardens leading down to the sea.

I got one of my favorite souvenirs here:  a stem of myrtle from  the Osborne myrtle, planted by Queen Victoria in 1845.  The myrtle flower is said to bring luck, fidelity, and security in a happy marriage, and has been present in every royal wedding bouquet since Queen Victoria.  Each of Victoria's five daughters had Osborne myrtle in their bouquets, as did Princess Kate when she married Prince William.  (Their wedding was four days after we moved to the UK).  Her bouquet also contained sprigs of myrtle from Queen Elizabeth's 1947 bouquet.  I am just really impressed by this tradition. . not that all the marriages worked out, but it seems such a romantic notion.
  My myrtle. . artwork by Maggie.