Monday, 27 July 2009

little trips

Friday we decided not to go anywhere, since Ella had a high fever and was feeling puny.

Saturday we went to Bury St Edmunds, to the market and Cathedral and parish church and Abbey gardens. It was actually a nice relaxing day because we didn't have to be anywhere later. We split up for lunch: Mom and Dad went to a tea room and had tea, sandwiches, and crumpets. Turns out a crumpet is like an "English muffin" (as we call them in the states). The rest of us went to McDonald's. We bought lots of good cheap fruit at the market.
Afterwards we drove through a couple of pretty villages, and back to Mildenhall for Chinese takeaway for dinner. Then everyone had a shower, and we went to bed.

Sunday we went to church for the first time in a long while. We passed on the fundraiser "tacos" (the 'a' pronounced like apple) that smelled like curry, and got Popeyes for lunch. Then we went to Ely to the cathedral there, and the stained glass museum upstairs. We had leftovers for supper.

Now it's about time to get ready to go to the airport. I'll miss my babies, but I don't feel at all bad about leaving. Yet. :-D

trip part 2

Sorry for the long wait. We are still busy.

We woke up Tuesday morning after a good night's sleep, took turns in the bathroom, and had a cooked-to-order breakfast. Our hostess was great, the food was good. Howbeck Lodge was worth it all. After breakfast we walked around the farmyard and saw the puppies, goats, rabbits, chickens, etc. It was fun, but raining.
We drove on up to Carlisle, not far at all, and toured the castle there. Then we went on further north into Scotland, to Gretna Green. It used to be a place for elopements, and is now a tourist trap. Dad got a souvenir plate and we bought a few other little things.
Then we headed toward Hadrian's Wall. There are a dozen stops along the wall, and we stopped at two of them. At the first one, we were just coming up the hill when we saw a regiment of Roman soldiers marching away, down the wall. Dad asked in the shop, and we were told it was a group of UK soldiers and sailors who dressed up and walked the length of the wall as a fundraiser. We would have stopped more, but the weather was discouraging.

That night we stayed at a Premier Inn in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. There was a Table Table restaurant next door, and we had dinner there. They had a table for 10 in its own dining room, and we enjoyed that very much. Service was great, food was good (the duck packet starter was wonderful), and the children's meals came with ice cream (they shared). SO back to the rooms, where we were surprised to find a Bible in the room. It is standard in the States, but the first one I've seen in the UK. The room was comfortable enough, with two small beds for the children, instead of the full-size sofa for 2 to share. Breakfast wasn't included, but we decided it would be worth it at 7.50GBP for the adults, and free for the children. The cooked food was okay, not exactly our style, but there was plenty of toast and fruit and yogurt to make up for it.

We went over to Tynemouth to see the "Castle and Priory" there, only it was just a priory, not a castle. That's where the children dressed up, as seen on my Flickr. Soft rain on and off. From there we headed to York. We stopped in Richmond to see the castle. Very pretty setting, just above a river.

Got to our Holiday Inn Express in York in time for dinner at the adjoining restaurant. It was a "carvery" - almost a buffet - and the food was decent, but the walls were covered with R-rated cartoons. I hadn't noticed them until we were seated, or I'm sure we would have left. As it was, we tried to keep our eyes on the food. It was good to have some vegetables.
This Holiday Inn was the friendliest we've been in. The man at the counter (both when we checked in and in the morning) was very friendly and personable. We were made comfortable for the night.
Had the free continental breakfast, which kept the staff hopping to keep stocked. They didn't begrudge it, though. After we were all stuffed we went into the city. Found parking easily enough (if not as close as we'd like), but we could only get a 2hour ticket. So we went down to York Minster, where we almost decided not to go in (it was a little pricey), but then went for it. Joined a free tour that was very interesting, but a little slow. We had to break off half-way through in order to use the toilets, finish up, and rush back to the van. It was now approaching lunch time, and we had a long drive home.

We made a pitstop for toilets and snacks, but didn't really "stop" for anything until we got to Boston. We got there as it was closing up, but went on over to the "Stump" and walked around it. We looked at having dinner there, but the adults weren't really interested, so we drove on toward home. Stopped at a McDonald's later, and then home and to bed.

Yeah, no details here. But I got the highlights down, for posterity. :-)

Friday, 24 July 2009

Written Monday. (trip part 1)

It is now Monday night, July 20, 2009.

Saturday we went to Cambridge. Bob had signed up for a PhotoWalk, where a group of people gt together and walk around and take pictures, later to be uploaded to a group Flickr page and a winner chosen to receive a gift and be entered into the worldwide contest. Friday night I found a parking lot that we could get into (our minibus being tall, we can’t just park anywhere) – it was the Babringham Road Park and Ride. No height restrictions and even special large spaces for parking caravans. Anyway, we parked and rode. Then we went to the toilets, as Ella announced a dirty diaper the minute we got onto the bus. By this time Bob was concerned about meeting his group, so we split up. He went to meet his group and the rest of us went on into the park. The children played hide and seek while Mom took pictures of the flowers. Then we had our picnic lunch. After lunch we walked down to King’s College, where a graduation was going on. In spite of the crowds of gawkers, there wasn’t a lot of people inside, so after finding the ticket shop, we bought tickets to go in to the chapel.

King’s College Chapel is famous; they do televised choral programs there at least once a year. It was big, and pretty, but felt a little empty. Most old churches have lots of unique and interesting details, but this one seemed very well planned and kept, and the oddities weren’t there. I tried to take some pictures, and put 2 on my Flickr, but as I haven’t been online since, I don’t know if there have even been views.

Our hosts tonight have internet, but they don’t have OpenZone. (So if we want on we have to find them and ask for the password).
Okay, Cambridge. We were just coming out of the chapel when Bob called me. He’d gotten separated from his group, and wanted to meet up with us. Turns out he was just out front of the college, so we got together pretty quickly. We got a quote on a punting tour, but at 70GBP, even for the whole group, it seemed a bit much for 45 minutes of “cool.” We walked through the craft market, then to the round church. It is one of 3 round churches in England, built by the crusaders in honor of the chapel built over Jesus’ tomb in Jerusalem. About the time we got there we noticed that Ella’s diaper was leaking. The nearest toilet was a couple of blocks away, and cost 20p each. There was also a line. After that we saw we weren’t far from another park, which bordered the river. So we went out there, watched the ducks and the kite, and had the leftovers from our lunch. Being rather tired and hungry, we decided to forego waiting for the punt prices to go down (we were told it’d be half-price in the evening) and find something to eat. Decided to go back to the minibus, and on the way Bob saw Nando’s , a place he’d heard good things about. So we drove back into town a little ways and had a decent dinner. It wasn’t awesome, but there were free soda refills, and it didn’t rain until we were done.
It rained on the way into town and the way home, but we had perfect weather while we were there.

Sunday we headed out on our big trip. Mom and Dad are fans of “Last of the Summer Wine” which is filmed in Holmfirth, and they wanted to see it. So that was our destination. About ½ way there was the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton, and we thought it’d be a good rest stop. Only problem, we got there at 10 and they don’t open til 11. So we went back on the road a little and stopped at Clumber park. It’s a big place, part of Sherwood Forest, and used to be a private estate. Fancy chapel there, and lots of flowers and trees and a couple of frogs. I recommend it. We stayed longer than expected, but only because we liked it so well. Then on to Holmfirth. We got there a little late and most of the shops were closed, but we did get to go into Sid’s Café. We walked around town, took pics, oohed and ahhed over the scenery, and got hungry. There was a hotel with restaurant, but it was Sunday carvery until 6:30 and we didn’t want to wait (or eat roast beef). So back in the car. We kept eyes out for places that would suit us, and stopped at one restaurant, but it was Indian and had only a set menu that was pretty pricey. We saw several curry places and pizza places, and finally stopped at McDonald’s. Wouldn’t you know it, just around the corner was a nice-looking pub. Oh, well.
We found our hotel in Bradford with little trouble, but getting in was another matter. Had to drive all around the block to find the parking garage, and it was height-restricted. On our way past, I saw another parking lot, so we drove around the block again and pulled in there. It was pay-and-display, open air, unpaved. You gotta do what you gotta do. We parked, unloaded, and started hauling everything up the hill, across the street, and around the corner to the hotel entrance. Boy, we were about ill by the time we got to the door. The reception in 2 floors up, so after 3 trips of the elevator we were all there. Got checked in easy enough, but they didn’t have rooms next to each other, even though I’d requested that a few weeks earlier. They were close. Up the elevator again, to find the rooms without A/C. It was nearly cold outside, but it was HOT in there. The windows opened about an inch – for our safety. We got the children to bed and I took a cold shower. The shower had no door, so the bathroom got a bit damp. Then we tried to sleep. Yeah. Mom came over to get a diaper for Ella, and said she’d got a fan from the front desk. After trying to make do for awhile, Bob decided to go get one. SO I pulled the duvet out of its cover in order to use the cover as a sheet. With the fan on the temp was almost bearable. Even so, the bed sloped down at the head, so I slept with my head at the foot. But it also sloped to the side so badly that the only way I could sleep at all was to lay a pillow down and sleep half on the pillow.

This morning we got up at 6 – 6:30 and started getting things together. Oh, at check in the man said we could ask the parking lot security guy, and they let us park in the back entrance of the garage. But we had to be out by 8 so the delivery trucks could come in. So packed up, loaded the van, and moved it back across the street, then breakfast. It was a decent breakfast, and the place was very clean. But with the heat and the parking and the bed, I do NOT recommend the Bradford Holiday Inn Express.

Leaving there we headed for the Lake District. Words cannot describe the beauty of the place, so I’ll direct you to wait for pictures on Flickr, which will likely not do it justice at all. Bob’s a good photographer, but scenery has to be experienced. We stopped at the visitors’ center between Windermere and Ambleside, and spent 4 hours there. Bought lunch in the café, walked the grounds, played in the playground, saw the lake, and went back to the café for ice cream. Beautiful place. After that we went on up to Keswick and out to the Castlerigg Stone Circle. It was more crowded than I expected, remembering the circles we stopped at in the peaks, but pretty nice place. Lovely setting.

We went back into Keswick to see the pretty town and have dinner. Ate in a little café that was friendly enough, just not overly serviceable. Decent food, okay prices. And then on to our B&B, down a narrow single-lane (two-way) road several miles. More than once I thought we’d taken a wrong turn and were in someone’s back yard. But we made it. The lady here was very welcoming, and the place is just gorgeous. A couple could stay here for a week. Huge bathroom with claw-foot tub (that’s calling my name right now), king size bed in one room and queen in the other, plenty of room for two cots in each room, closets, bathrobes, etc.
We’ve been relaxing as hard as we can, and it is tiring, but oh, so worth it. Looking forward to tomorrow, which should be just loads of fun.

Sorry I’m not detailed enough to give miles traveled, or hours of sleep, or numbers of toilet stops. But you all know vacations are full of that stuff and nothing is as simple as it sounds. I must say that the whole time, we have seen rain every day, but never had to walk in it. Always had a meal at meal time, and no car trouble. I don’t think anyone’s got terribly mad, either. God is good.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Kitchen tips

I recently had a breakthrough on my pie crusts, and thought I'd share. Don't know if I'm a genius for thinking of it, or an idiot for not thinking of it sooner.
I use the pie crust recipe my mother uses; it's called Fool-proof Pie crust, and it is delicious and flaky and tender. The recipe makes 5 single crusts, and we wrap each dough in plastic wrap (that's cling film for you Brit-type people) and freeze for later or chill for today. We've always then unwrapped the dough, place on a floured surface and roll out. Turns out okay, but then there's the mess on the counter. SO yesterday when I went to make my strawberry pie, I thought "Why not?" and straightened out the plastic wrap, put a little flour on it, and rolled the dough right on the plastic. Didn't stick at all; was a cinch to fold over for placing in the pie pan, and no mess to clean up! And it's not wasteful, because I was using the plastic wrap anyway.

Another little tip.
I'm in the process of transferring all my recipes to regular-size paper, so I can keep them in 3-ring binders. But in the meantime, I still have quite a few on 3x5 cards in a little box. I assume most people have something like it. As the box has been dumped out more than once, I recently got a better system. I put each category of recipe into a ziptop sandwich bag and wrote on the bag with a marker what its category is. So if I want chicken, I pull out the chicken bag and they are all there, instead of trying to hold my place in the box while I flip through cards. And if the box gets dumped again, all I have to do is put the baggies back in. :-)

Thursday, 9 July 2009


At the commissary today (yes, again!) we took our normal bathroom break. The big girls went in first, then I went in with Ella to check her diaper. There was a woman there , waiting for her son to come out of the stall. He looked about 8, and she was hovering, even turned on the tap for him (using a paper towel so as not to get any cooties). As she did so, she told him with complete disdain and amazement, "Those 2 girls that were in here didn't wash their hands!" Boy, I wanted to let her know what was what. Maybe those two girls didn't pee on their hands. Maybe it's none of her business. Maybe she needs to let go just a bit and send her son to the boys' room. As I went into the stall he'd come out of (it was the bigger of the two, and I had Ella with me) I noticed that "that boy" had peed on the seat, and put a paper towel in the toilet, AND hadn't flushed it! Did I make a speech to Ella about the delinquency of some people? No, I didn't. Oy. We aren't germ freaks, what can I say?

Then there was a lady with a newborn. Baby was strapped in its car seat, which is handy and I do that. But, baby cried the whole time we were in the store. Mother (I assume it was a mother and not a sitter, taking baby to the store) didn't speak to the baby, didn't touch it, didn't try to do anything for it. It was like a nurse in the newborn nursery ward. I nearly cried myself after a time, inwardly begging the woman to take the baby out of the seat; at least hold it in one arm and continue shopping, at best go sit down for a minute and feed it and check its diaper. But she just calmly and slowly kept on shopping. So sad. Sad because I've done it myself in the past. Nowadays, if it starts in the checkout line, the baby will have to deal for a minute, but if it's not even half-way down my list I will stop and take a break and get things fixed if possible.

But enough of the rant.
We went to the dump this morning, taking a broken bicycle, tricycle, chair, and coffee pot.
Then we went to the BXtra on Mildenhall, where I got a curtain rod for the upstairs bathroom, some Hobnobs, caulk to fill the ant hole outside our house, a new doll for the girls (still on half price), and a Tonka crane/flatbed truck for the boys. The truck wasn't on the list, but I saw the red price tag and looked closer - regular price $24, now on sale for $6. Even though it's not all steel like the old Tonkas, it still seemed like a good deal.
Then we went to the hospital to have Cedwryck and Ella get a finger prick for iron count. William doesn't like doctors, and started crying as I pulled into the parking lot. We had to wait just a few minutes, but not long. Everyone was friendly.
Then we had lunch at Burger King. About halfway through, my phone rang. One of Bob's spies had spied me there, and Bob wanted me to bring him some lunch. I cannot go anywhere on base without someone from Bob's work seeing me and telling him about it. I guess I'll just have to accept that I'm fascinating. :-P
So I got Bob a burger and took it up to him.
Then I went to the bank to get cash for tyres, tithes, and the trip.
THEN we went to the commissary.
All this and home by 1pm, so no excuses for not fixing a nice dinner. We're having chicken pot pie tonight.

Ah, the tyres. (Yes, I'm spelling it that way on purpose; it's British.) We want new tyres for the minibus. I called up the place on base, and was told they'd run about $200 each, plus for balancing, disposal, and warranty. So I looked online. Found one place for about 60BGP each. Then I found a mobile place that had them for about 60GBP, minus 15GBP when you get a full set, and that includes them bringing the tyres to my home and putting them on, all inclusive of weights, balancing, disposal, etc. So guess where we ordered from? I'll pay cash when the job is done, so no worries about scams. They'll come out Monday.

Okay, enough drivel for now. :-)

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

the children

Those who know me on Facebook will have noticed that we spent 2 hours in the grocery store on Monday. How?? WHY?? I'm not sure why it took that long. We got there bright and early (8:30), and I had a list and some coupons. The place was nearly empty, which was nice. How is a little more complicated. I got the big cart, with William in the traditional basket seat, and Ella and Cedwryck in the big plastic seats. Taryn started off calm enough, but Naysha and Riah took turns giving each other piggy-back rides. We made it half-way through the store before the inevitable bathroom break. After that things got shaky. Everyone was in a good mood, just really wound up. They started a game. Ella would say "Hi" to fellow shoppers (there were more of them now), and when they responded all the children would laugh until they nearly fell out of the cart. In between other shoppers, William would stand up in his seat and proudly say, "TaDa!" But I got everything I needed, and saved 17% with my coupons.

William is talking quite a bit now. He finally learned "yes" instead of just saying "no" with varying degrees of intensity. This morning when I went to get him out of bed, he looked past me and said, "Daddy?" I told him Daddy was at work, and he sat down in his crib and stuck his lip out. It took a few minutes to convince him to let me pick him up. All the way down the stairs he pouted, "Daddy, work." (Daddy feels the same way most days.)

I know I had more when I wrote this in my head earlier, but that's all I've got now.
Talk to you soon.

Sunday, 5 July 2009


Just some random thoughts.

1. I was raised in a more-or-less pentecostal church. We believe the gifts are for today. We sing choruses, we don't follow a liturgy, we clap. We sing about dancing, but seldom do it. As a young person, I'd occasionally lift my feet off the floor, and a few others would, too. But I never saw the "old" people get excited. Other than a fiery preacher, I never saw an 'old' person get terribly emotional about the whole thing. (Using "never" loosely here, I'm sure it must have happened once or twice.)

2. I had a friend who did "liturgical dancing" as a special in church. She believed that dancing ought to be done skillfully and orderly.

3. I've been to churches that have a dance team, with streamers or banners, and choreographed movements. It always seems strange and distracting to me.

4. In our current church, the young people get excited but don't approach dancing. My age group will maybe bounce up and down a little. But there are 2-4 "old" people - mid 60's to 70's - who actually get out in the isle. It blesses my socks off.

5. Talked to Bob about it after church, and he said it was the old people who danced in his childhood church. I wonder if that was part of the problem at my childhood church.

Anyone have thoughts to share on dancing?

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Going and doing

Yesterday Bob got the day off for Independence Day, so we high-tailed it out of the area. We'd thought about spending the night out, but decided we had some work to do at home. So we went to Castle Acre, to the castle and priory. The Priory was the first English Heritage property we visited, soon after we got to England, and we hadn't been back yet. On our first visit we skipped the castle because it was cold and we were tired.
Well, I can't think, but we had a good time. There was a nice rain shower while we were at the Priory, and we found refuge in the abbot's house. It was nice to not be so scorching hot. We had a picnic lunch under a tree - the children ate IN the tree.

This morning we got to work, cleaning the walls and floors and hanging pictures. I cut up some fruit we'd got delivered Thursday. Tesco gets some really good cantaloupe! The pineapple wasn't bad, and the peaches were a nice change.
We'd talked about going to a beach this afternoon, but the children kept bugging us about it, so I think we won't.

Anyway, a Happy Independence Day to you all. And just to give you something to think about, here's a quote from the Declaration.

Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

so I don't have time to wax poetical

I have/had 2 lovely, flowy, flowery posts floating in my head, but it just ain't gonna happen.

So on with my normal rambling style, I guess.

Sunday we were privileged to receive hospitality from a lady at church. We followed them home after church. The husband grilled meat while the wife got the other things together with the girls' help. Their 16 yr old son played with our boys, and the little ones had a box of toys to dig through (and a dog to run away from). We stayed all afternoon, talking, playing Wii, admiring the garden, etc. The food was great and nothing too weird. It was the first time we'd been invited over for a meal (other than relatives and a birthday party) since Riah was a baby, 5 years ago.

Also Sunday in meeting I had a lovely thought about God as lover. No offense, but when people love each other it's always "in spite of" some character flaw. When we are brave enough to give ourselves completely to another person, there is bound to be some hurt or disappointment along the way. But God is not disappointing. He's perfect in everything so we don't have to hold back for fear of being hurt. And not only that, but if you are redeemed, God isn't disappointed in you, either. He doesn't look at us and see all these things that He loves us "in spite of." His love is unconditional, not in that He loves us anyway, but that there is no "anyway."

Okay, back to dirt. It has been pretty warm lately, with official temps just over 80*. No A/C, no shade trees around the house, and windows that don't open properly make for some long afternoons. But I can still joke about it because I'm from Oklahoma and Texas, where it's been over 100* for a week or two now. So an 80* day in context of 'home' would be nice and refreshing. Right now (at 7:30 am) it's 66*. Nice.

Yesterday I forced the children into hard labor. hehe. I poured hot soapy water on the kitchen floor and they put on socks and skated around for 15 minutes or so. They had a blast, and the floor is clean now. Thanks to a blogger (In a Shoe, on my side bar) for the idea.

Yesterday I tried to make some Jello with fruit in it (Jello being the brand name of packaged gelatin mix), but it didn't gel. So after an hour of wondering what to do with it, I figured out to make it into popsicles (I have Tupperware molds). Today we will see what the children think of them.

Oh, the Wii. Bob has been sort of wanting a Nintendo Wii since they came out, however many years ago (2 or 3). Every time the BX gets a shipment in, he'll look at them and check the prices and talk about it. Then Sunday Taryn got to play one at the people's house, and that was the decision maker. Monday after work Bob stopped and bought one. We have Sports (came with the console), with tennis, bowling, boxing, golf, and baseball. He also bought Fit, but we haven't tried that yet, and an extra controller that came with Play (basically training exercises for using the remote, but it's fun, like target practice and ping-pong). Last night we connected to the internet with it so we can get updates and watch the news. So far it has proved a great incentive. "Can I play the Wii?" "First you have to put your clothes away." Taryn says it is easier to work when you are working towards something.

And I think that's all for now.

Another award

Ganieda really likes me. :-} She gave me this cool award and didn't make any rules or instructions or anything. So, thank you, friend. I wear it with pride (as soon as I figure out how).
Oh, this is the reason:
"Those who receive this award are of the sweetest nature. They are kind, friendly, funny, loving, eager to share their love for Jesus with others, and brave in their efforts to reflect Him to this darkened world. They are the kind of folks you're blessed to know, even if it's only in the bloggy-sphere."