Sunday, October 29, 2006

Art and Football (Parisienne Style)

We visited the Georges Pompidou Center. The day we went was quiet, no crowds, so it was a good day to be there. Check out the webcams. Number two is my favourite. This is the modern art exhibition of Paris.

The first exhibit we went to was on the ground floor, a touch and feel exhibit on heads. You could put your hands under a cloth and feel different heads. Further into the gallery were other exhibits that you could touch, one painted pictures based on heat. The kids really enjoyed this. We knew that the Pompidou Center had a fabulous view from the top, so we climbed the stairs that are in the tube (actually escalators) all the way to the top and the view was worth climbing for. There was a silver service restaurant at the top as well. We went down to the fourth floor gallery which was having an exhibition on moving images (Les Mouvement des images). The one I liked most was a montage of scenes depicting women sleeping, waking and looking scared, creeping out of bed, moving slowly, with terrified looks on their faces to a door. Opening the door, screaming and then moving slowly back to the bed and getting back into bed. There must have been 100 actresses doing this, some quite famous.

We went down to the ground floor for some food, but decided to go outside and find some in the area. We ate Italian (again) and then bought the children paintings from a street vendor. AJR got a dragon with Paris 2006 written on it and MLR got her name on hers.

The apartment faced a main road and on two of the nights we were in Paris, France played soccer matches. On the 5th of July France played Portugal. The French won and put themselves into the final against Italy. We watched the game on TV and listened to the neighbourhood, every time France scored a goal a roar would go up - around 10.30pm the game finished and the road went wild - we have video footage which I will upload sometime. The guys across the road waved their tricolour over the balcony, the cars tooted the national anthem, one guy was leaning horizontally out the car window waving a French flag. The noise was amazing.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Paris Disney

We set off around 10 am and in true American style, started the day with McDonald's, across the road from the apartment. We caught the Metro to the nearest RER station that went to Disneyland.

ParisDisneyland is about an hour out of the centre of Paris and we did think about staying there in one of the hotels that surround the complex. However we would have to stay a minimum of two nights and we just did not want to devote that much time to Disneyland. Arriving at the station we were confronted with Disneyland Park, Disneyland Studio's and Disneyland Village. AJR of course wanted to go to all three.

I will let AJR tell the story for a while.

At 6am in the morning we all woke with excitement everything was done in a hurry and through the slowness of the trains and crowds of Paris we didn’t get to Disneyland resort Paris till1pm. Okay it was amazing. From the second I stepped in my eyes where overwhelmed, it was impossible to describe. After about 5 minutes of standing in silence dumbfounded we slowly stepped forward. The first thing that assailed my senses were the horse drawn carts heading up & down Central Street U.S.A past many restaurants.

But in the end we selected Walt’s and took our photos with a bust of Walt Disney. The food we selected was absolutely amazing and the dessert was even better than that. Michaela’s dessert of choice was a puzzle made of white chocolate. The completed puzzle was of Mickey Mouse donning a chef’s hat holding a wooden spoon with sauce dripping off and it came with a paintbrush and blobs of different coloured liquid chocolate to paint Mickey with. After the delicious meal we headed to the central plaza where sat a giant disc with a mosaic of Jiminy Cricket on it waving his wand that extended out from the mosaic.

But sitting behind the gargantuan disc was the Disney castle from the beginning of Disney movies. That the beam shoots across which underneath was the gate to Fantasyland to our west was frontier land and adventure land to our east was discovery land. That was where we split up. Me and Dad headed for Adventure land we were dying to go on the pirates of the Caribbean ride, It was probably the shortest line, It probably only went about 50 metres long and it took about 5 minutes yet was very enjoyable and though the line was short there was like 150 metres of pirate styled caves where it was bright enough to see but too dark to see our feet

When we got off the ride we went to Captain Hooks cave it was dark damp and the best place in parc Disney to spook your friends by jumping around the corner and shouting. When we made our way to the eye sockets of skull rock we noticed a guy looking very relieved, In fact he was the man who had ran past Dad & I only minutes ago in a hurry, with a panicked expression on his face. It was odd but Dad and I soon discovered why the sudden change, because the first thing we noticed was that the place smelt of urine. Dad and I were absolutely appalled.

Dad and I then went on a number of fast and exhilarating rides from the slow paced Buzz Lightyear shooting game to the thrilling thunder mountain ride to the eerie phantom manor Disney land had it all at 5 pm we regrouped well kinda, you see the girls were late. So Dad and I decided to go on another ride, it was based on Star Wars and it was a simulation of us being in a space ship, with a panicked robot screaming in French. Then we headed back to the ice cream parlour and found the girls. We had a drink and showed each other what we had bought. After that we once again split up. Dad and me went to the dragons lair, which was this dark cave, in which was a lake, but that’s not important, what is important is what was in the lake. It was a giant smoke spitting dragon. It was gargantuan and it literally made me feel like an ant.

At 8pm we left because we had too, Disneyland was closing. We regrettably left the magic behind and returned to reality,
The End!

Here is MLR with her desert.

MLR and I went on the cups and saucers ride and the dumbo ride, they were our favourites. We also went to Pinnochio, a favourite of MLR's for the whole trip, the Phantom Manor, Pirates of the Caribean, Swiss Family Robinson, and through the Indian reservation. Here is the map we followed (in Francais of course!)JR &AJR had the one in English.We got home very late, about 10pm. The Monoprix closes at 9.50pm. I went across the street to the chinese and managed to buy seafood for us and vegetarian for AJR. We all had a fantastic day and went to bed happy.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tour Eiffel

We caught the metro to Ile De La Cite and had lunch in an outdoor cafe, near the Sorbonne, on the Boulevard Saint Michele. It was of course much warmer than the last time I had had anything to eat on the Boulevard, as the last time it was January and freezing (and I was 14). We walked back down to the Ile DeLa Cite and tried to see the Sacre Couer. It was too busy. Then we walked along the Seine towards the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel tower in Paris was inaugurated on 31 March 1889. It was the keystone of the Universal Exposition celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the French Revolution. It was built by Gustave Eiffel. With 2 million visitors the first year and almost 6 million people a year today, the Eiffel Tower is a real crowd pleaser. Not bad as a temporary tower that was really meant to come down after the Expo. In 2000 they called in the new century with a firework display, and today they have a light show most nights.

Parisian's are not happy with the light show, tourists of course love it. If you are interested in the facts and figures about the tower, then click on the link at the top of this page.

It took us 45 minutes to get to the lift. Then another twenty minutes waiting for the lift and finally we rose to the second level. The second level has two stories, multiple shops, cafes and a restaurant. The views were stunning and it was not too windy. We then queued again for the lift to the third level. There was no signage that we could see to direct us to the queue, we just followed others. There were several groups of Aussie and NZers in our queue's. The top story was very crowded and made me feel a bit claustraphobic, also I was not feeling well and there was nowhere to sit down.

Around 7pm we made our way back down to the street and caught a taxi home. J went to the Monoprix to buy supplies for tea.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

MLR photo essay no.1

No idea why you photograph your own foot!

I think it must smell??

Here is what is important when you are 8.

It is amazing how amazing your face can look!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Paris Je t'adore

At last we are in Paris, in a fourth floor apartment with a view into a courtyard from the main bedroom and a view over the Boulevard General LeClerc from the living and dining rooms. The apartment was well equiped with a dishwasher and washing machine, as well as cable TV. We were in a secure block, although we did not get the right security number to get into the building. We "borrowed" someone else's. The entrance to our building was masked somewhat with a luggage seller, who had suitcases and handbags, belts and hats set up for sale to the passing trade. Another thing we liked about where we were in Paris, was that there were few tourists, mostly workers and students.
Living room at night.
The apartment is on the Boulevard General Le Clerc which (after 3 or 4 kilometers) turns into the Boulevard Saint Michel (my favourite street in Paris) and the centre of Paris. Across the road is a chinese/asian restaurant and on every corner that we can see there is a cafe. Looking to the right about one minute's walk away is the metro station, looking to the left about one minute's walk away is another metro station, both on the same line. Less than 50 meters from the front door was the local woollies, or Monoprix where we could get the stuff not in the Market. Like travellers washing liquid.

Then there was the market - Rue Daguerre, a whole street dedicated to fresh fruit and veg, stall holders calling out their wares, housewives and workers rushing along. One thing that I did that I had not thought we would do is buy cherries in July, when I know that I buy them in December. I asked for 300 grams in my best French of the indian stall worker, who did not speak French either and took home 1kg of very yummy cherries - we had no trouble getting through them!

There was handmade pasta, a cheese shop, bread shop and wine shop, along with Cafes and

stores not selling food, such as the
second hand bookshop that was piled to the roof with books and it was difficult to see how you could get into the shop, let alone buy anything.

The photo of the street sign is my favourite here as it has both our street name and the market street name on it. We were sure that we were in heaven.

After we had put our things away and explored the apartment, we went for a walk. Had a late lunch in a cafe on the corner, then walked through the market and bought fresh hand made pasta, hand made pesto and fresh cheese and walked "home" to cook it up for tea, accompanied by a bottle of red. Here is the view from our bedroom window into the courtyard.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

To Ashford and Paris

Up early this morning to wave S off to a field day for work and then packing up and cleaning up as we have a lunch date with Uncle S, Aunty D and Cousin A.

Arrived late for lunch, but recognized the dove cote immediately we came round the corner. There was my Cousin standing in the drive looking for us. We sat down to a sumptuous feast, I am sure that my Aunt wanted to make sure we wouldn't starve for a few days. Kids played with the pond, taking weed out. We took photo's and video. Uncle S and Aunty D both seemed very well and Cousin A is part way through his teaching degree. Getting great results and really loving it. We discussed the amount of security they had. They had suffered from a number of burglaries, including one where they had taken a gazebo. Aunty D said it took about 10 minutes to turn everything on before going to bed or going out. They also had the ride on mower bolted down. Aunty D is still mad about animals and the bird (sorry forgot what sort) that they had when I was a child there, had only died recently - lived to 43 and they still miss it. They also have a dog, who is easily spooked, so was locked up. The kids found it hard to see the dog and not touch it, but as we all said, wedid not want anyone to get bitten!

Aunty D drove with us through Scunthorpe, to send us on our way south to Ashford. Thank you so much. We had a booking at the Premier Inn, which is very close to the railway station where we will catch the train to Paris. We got in about 8pm and went straight to the Woolpack Beefeater restaurant next door. Here they had colouring in books for the kids, as well as a playground and great meals. J and I sat and talked and relaxed, it was a lovely last evening in England.

Next day we took the car to the petrol station and filled up - the petrol station was on a very busy round about, but I am quite good at pushing in now. We parked the car in the multistory attached to the railway station and were met by a rep of Avis who took our keys and agreed with us that the set up of the handbrake was stupid. Off to the waiting area for our train. If you are interested, click on the link for more information about the Channel Tunnel. We had premium seats, which entitled us to breakfast, not cattle and not first class. Unfortunately at Ashford station the ticket person reassigned our seats so that we had four facing each other. However those seats had been reassigned in London and had not shown up on the database at Ashford, so we spent the first 20 minutes on the train arguing about the seats. We sat in our original seats and enjoyed a great breakfast. Suddenly we were in France and the train sped up. A blurr of green, brown and blobs flew passed our windows. It is a fantastic way to travel. Before we knew it we had arrived in Paris. Stood in a long queue for the taxi, we had to be at the apartment by a certain time and we were running out of time. Eventually we got to the front of the queue, J had fended off a beggar or two and then flying through the streets of Paris. Did I mention that I love Paris? Found our apartment, but then had to get change to give the driver, so I bought an English language paper and J bought batteries. I took the tiny lift to the fourth floor and then stood there, as I was not sure which of the two doors I was looking for. Then the door on the right opened and a lovely lady welcomed me in her excellent English. Her English is most certainly better than my French. If you have not seen the apartment before, then check it out here. We immediately felt at home.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Brocklesby Station part 3

Here is the church in Scunthorpe, where P and K got married and where the art gallery 20/21 is.

After a sleep in and a rest we drove into Scunthorpe to check out an interactive art exhibition in the art gallery called 20/21.
Here the kids played with the exhibition it really was fantastic, great when kids are allowed to touch.

We walked into the town centre for lunch and were disappointed with Scunthorpe, it was dirty and scruffy and apart from smoky pubs, there was nowhere to eat. We did walk through the market and I managed to buy some anchovy sauce for Mum. We returned to the cafe at 20/21. Kids then had a second go at the exhibition and I went off to the internet cafe for half an hour.

We decided to go and explore the rest of the area and ended up in Brigg - very pretty little market town that S grew up in. We walked though the main street, which was eerily quiet. Then we realised that England were playing Portugal in the quarter finals and everyone was in the pub. We heard lots of boo's and shouts of disgust, so we assumed that England were not doing well!!!!

We headed back to S and J's and had a wonderful meal with my other mum P - another late, but great night.

The next day we headed off for York. We took the park and ride option, which makes for an easy afternoon. We had lunch at Pizza Hut, as it was the first place we saw, then we realised that there were thousands of great cafe's here. Oh well. We went to the Jorvik Centre after lunch - it was fascinating. We went round on a track, the cars swung us towards the exhibits, left and right. Jorvik is the actual site of a Viking Village, as you go around you are subjected to the sights, sounds and smells of an early village. Not pleasant, but very informative. We then looked at the York Minster and went for a long walk that took in many streets, including the

We saw an official haunted pub.

We caught the last bus back to the park and ride and drove back to S & J's for our last night.

Brocklesby Station part 2

Only 10 days until we return to Aus. Edinburgh rains, which only seems right, as we head for a packing place to send 30kg of books, coats and armour back to Monash. First place we stopped on our way south was Jedburgh Castle. This was a prison built on the site of the original Jedburgh Castle. We were all desperate for the loo and so happily paid the £2 each to get in, kids free. Having done what we needed to do, the kids had fun dressing up as prisoners and gaolers.

We headed closer to the Scottish border, as sometimes happens with us, we took the wrong road and ended up having lunch in Hawick. There were no noticable holes in the walls in Hawick, so we scrapped all our cash together to buy a very cheap meal in a bakery - 3 sausage rolls, spinach roll and iced buns, I think. We had some slightly warm soft drink in the car. Hawick is a pretty market town, who's main claim to fame is cashmere garments. It was here that we noticed the return of the cars with the English flags all over them!!! We started making good progress (Edinburgh to Ulceby is a long way) until we hit Newcastle, where we took the ring road at 20 miles a hour, we saw the Angel of the North that we had seen on Billy Connolly's world tour of England, Wales and Ireland. After a couple of hours of crawling we made it to Durham. Next stop was "Little Chef" at Scotch Corner, for a disgusting meal, temperature in the diner was around 30 and the temperature outside was not much better. When I asked if they could turn the heating down, they just looked at me as if I was mad - probably am. Shortly after we detoured into Scunthorpe to Tesco's for a toilet stop and to stock up on some wine and beer for later. Arrived at Brocklesby around 9pm. It was great to get off the road and after some toasted cheese sandwiches and the grand tour, we settled in for a great evening of catching up.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Today we went to Stirling. First to the Castle, where we were able to park close to the Castle itself. Walking towards the castle is the impressive sight of a statue of Robert the Bruce, to the left a view over Stirling itself and of course the Wallace Monument.

Everyone enjoyed the castle, it was well preserved, the kids liked the Lions Den (internal courtyard) and had fun "spooking" themselves as they explored the passageways beneath the palace. We checked out the Museum of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders. There were unicorns all over the castle and we tried to count them, but there were too many. In one part of the castle they are recreating tapestries of unicorns that would have been there in the 16th Century.

One of the best things we saw at Stirling Castle was the demonstration of the use of medieval weapons - mostly swords. Two guys had mock battles, discussed tactics and mucked about. They were very entertaining and funny. We talked to them afterwards and the kids got to hold some of the swords. The guy we spoke to was 23 from NZ and had been living in Scotland since he was 17, he would like to go back to NZ, but did not think it would be any time soon.

Stirling Castle towers over some of the most important battlefields in Scottish history. It was at Stirling Bridge that William Wallace defeated the English in 1297 and at Bannockburn where Robert the Bruce delivered another defeat in 1314.

Late in the afternoon we drove to the Wallace Monument

Took a picture of everyone with the statue of William Wallace, who looks remarkably like Mel Gibson. We bought our tickets and then boarded the minibus up the hill. Once at the tower we climbed the 246 steps, through the three different galleries, for the magnificent view from the top. The Wallace Monument is a fantastic building, if a bit windswept.

We had afternoon tea in the cafe and checked the visitors book. Imagine our surprise when we found that the Wallace family we had travelled across Europe with on the bus, had been at the Wallace Monument at the same time as we were at Stirling Castle.

Drove back to Edinburgh for our final evening meal. We found a nice restaurant opposite the Scott Monument. The Scott Monument is 200 ft. 6in high and 55ft square at the base; the highest gallery is reached by climbing a total of 287 steps. It was a step sort of day, although this time we chose to look at it, not climb it, food was much more interesting.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Thornton, Fife

Today we drove out of Edinburgh and into the countryside north of the Firth. We crossed the magnificent Forth of Firth bridge.

It took about 2 hours to get to Thornton and it was an easy drive once we crossed the river. We are of course the first relatives ever to visit Thornton, to get lost. We spent half a hour driving down every street we could find, two phone calls to Helen and Alex, and still we could not find them. In the end we spotted Helen standing on a courner and we managed to get to their house. We had afternoon tea and Helen and Alex looked after us well. Alison and James (Helen and Alex's kids), their partners and another couple soon came over to share afternoon tea and stories. Lindsey took a picture of us.

We then went over to Alison and Lindsey's place, they live two doors away. The kids got to ride on the Harley and rev the engine, both of them caused it to backfire. The neighbours started twitching the curtains. At about 6.30pm and all six of us went down to the local chippo. I had red pudding!!! Kids had macaroni cheese and J had fish and chips. The people who ran the place were lovely and gave the kids a great scottish children's book "The broons and oor Willie". We gave them some little keepsakes of Australia. There was a lot of discussion about how the Aussie's were out of the soccer and how well they thought the French might do - no interest in what the English were doing!!!