flying home

Today is our last day in England; tomorrow we head back to Houston.  As I mentioned last week, I'm actually typing this in the past for the future (or something), so once we return stateside, I'll be able to fill you on everything that has happened over the last few days, both in Cornwall and London.  As I write this on November 20th, I can tell you this has already this has been an amazing trip -- I'm sure there will be so much more to share.

See you stateside.  Have a great weekend.

SongI ran, by A Flock of Seagulls.  Dude, don't blame me, she made me do it.

love thursday, and happy thanksgiving

Becks and Nathan (Marcus' brother), photographed in Jephson Gardens in Royal Leamington Spa, England, November 16, 2008

Sometimes, if you're very lucky, the best part about visiting family is witnessing how much they love each other.

* * * * * * *

Happy Love Thursday everyone.  Please leave your links to your stories and images of love in the comments section. 

And may you all, wherever you are, thankfully enjoy and celebrate the love of your family today.

Song: Crash Into Me, Dave Matthews Band

the cotswalds

The Village Restaurant and Tearoom, Bourton-on-the-Water, The Cotswalds.  Photographed November 20, 2008.

Our last full day with Marcus' dad, we drove out to The Cotswalds, an area of England so beautiful even Brits sigh when they speak its name.  Our primary purpose was to take Alex to see Birdland in Bourton-on-the-Water (where I shot the previous image).  Birdland is weird and wonderful in a tired sort of way, but I'll never forget it, primarily because of Anne's uncanny knowledge of all things orthonological.  While the rest of us were trying desperately to find the little sign which would describe what weird animal was currently in front of us, she would just quickly glance at the bird, toss out its name, and move on to the next exhibit.  It is because of her that I'll now describe all dim-witted souls (myself included, natch) as "not knowing their rhea from their cassowary." 

You know I can't wait to use that phrase in day-to-day conversation, right?

After we'd marveled at the birds, we walked into town for lunch.  Seriously, the villages in the Cotswalds can't be real -- they look more like a movie set.  I kept stupidly asking Marcus: "Can you believe people actually live here?"

I have no idea what kind of bird this is, but I bet Annie does.

Update:  Good Lord, it's a pigeon.

SongCentral Reservation (Ben Watt mix) by Beth Orton

now *that's* cold

King penguins at Birdland, Bourton-on-the-Water, The Cotswalds, England. Photographed November 20, 2008.

You know it's cold when the penguin exhibit at the local bird sanctuary isn't in a refrigerated quonset hut like it would be in the rest of the world, but merely in an outdoor, open-air, fenced-in area that allows you to get so close to the penguins you could reach out and touch them, if only you weren't afraid they might mistake your frozen finger for a herring.

Update:  While on holiday, I wrote an article on how I pick the photos I choose to take on vacation over at Gadling -- feel free to check it out.

SongThe Joker/Everything I Own mashup as performed by Jason Mraz and Chrissie Hynde

bath and unravelling

Pulteney Bridge, Bath, Somerset, England.  Photographed November 19, 2008.

About two weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Susannah, the artist behind Unravelling and Ink on My Fingers.  She had noticed that I had linked to her photoblog on my links page, and had written to thank me.

"If you're ever in the UK," she said, "please look me up."

"Well, actually ..." I wrote back.

As it happens, Susannah lives in Bath, about an hour's drive from my father-in-law's home.  So last week Thursday, we drove out to meet her.  Susannah is absolutely lovely, but I don't want to tell you too much about her yet, because she's agreed to be featured in an upcoming Authentic You Interview (so stay tuned for that).  I'll just say that she's the epitome of London Cool, in all the great ways.

We spent 6 hours together, strolling through this amazing little town, on a surprisingly beautiful English day.  Bath is known for its hot springs (in England!), where the Romans built baths and a temple, back in the day. It has only about 80,000 inhabitants, and it's really out in the middle of the countryside, but it feels like a cosmopolitan little city, and I think I could totally live there. 

You know, if I could just get over my distate for the cold.

The Royal Crescent


Bath Abbey

SongCome Together by the Beatles

bonus shot: nigel and kate

Nigel and Kate clowning around.  Photographed on Maenporth beach in Cornwall, England on November 22, 2008.

I'm able to steal a dodgy internet connection long enough to post this shot I took on the beach today in Cornwall.  Nigel and Kate (Marcus' sister) might quite possibly be my favourite faces to photograph.

off to cornwall

Alex, on the swing in Marcus' dad's back garden.  Try not to focus on the travesty that is the sweater hand-knit by me.

Today we leave Gloucester and head southwest, to Cornwall, the region of England that Marcus calls home.  We'll be staying with his really lovely sister, Kate, and her family.  Alex is in awe of Kate's daughters, Ellie and Keziah, and is positively quivering with excitement at the prospect of spending time with them.  They live very near the ocean as well, so Alex keeps asking me with much anticipation if we'll be going to the beach.  I assure her that it's very likely.

What I haven't told her is that if we do go, I'll most probably be waiting for her in the car until she's ready to go back to the house.  With the heater on full blast.

Okay, I most probably won't.  But I suspect I'll really, really want to.

Kate and Nigel don't have internet connection in their home, so you won't have as intimate a knowledge of what we're up to as you have this past week; however, I've preloaded daily posts with more memorable images and commentary of our trip thus far.  So stay tuned:  it'll be almost like I'm blogging from a different time and dimension.  Except, with, you know, more pictures!

Have a great weekend, everyone.  More on Monday.

SongRoad Trippin' by Red Hot Chili Peppers

love thursday, from jephson park

Becks, photographed in Jephson Gardens in Royal Leamington Spa, England, November 16, 2008.

As we were walking through the park, my sister-in-law suddenly exclaimed:  "Karen!  Look at this leaf! Perfect for Love Thursday, I think!"

Happy Love Thursday, everyone.  Please leave your links to your stories and images of love in the comments section, below (and incidentally, you can turn them into active links using HTML; otherwise, I'll turn them into links for you). 

And may your day be a perfect day.

SongLovely Day by Bill Withers

role models

My father-in-law, Bob, and his lovely wife, Anne.  Photographed in Jephson Gardens in Royal Leamington Spa, November 16, 2008.

There seems hardly a minute that goes by when Bob and Anne aren't teasing each other -- they're constantly joking around and needling each other good-naturedly.  Through it all, however, their mutual genuine affection is palpable, almost like another presence in the room.

At one point this week, after hearing them banter in the kitchen for a while, Marcus smiled wryly and looked up at me from his seat on the living room floor.

"Think we'll be like them in 15 years?" he asked.

"God, I hope so," I immediately replied.

Marcus threw his head back and laughed in hearty agreement.

 SongCan't buy me love, the Beatles