Monday, January 21, 2013

Other Holiday Adventures

We spent the week after Christmas going on a few more adventures.

First, to Leeds Castle:
I did not take this picture because it was not even remotely sunny on the day we were there. And I don't have a helicopter. However, I wanted to provide a shot of the castle in all its glory. It was too rainy, cold, and wet the day we were there to snap many good pictures. This castle is alright. I think a lot of its appeal is in its grounds, which were expansive, but very, very wet with lots of dead trees. In the summer, I'm sure it is fantastic.

I think we were all quite keen on seeing some good old fashioned torture chambers and dungeons; however, this castle mostly had old lady furniture and tapestries. Its was okay, but we would like to have seen some dank, dark prison cells, too.

This is how impressed Penny was.  

On New Year's Eve, we drove out to Chawton, the village where Jane Austen lived for the last part of her life and wrote, or finished, most of her novels. Roo and I had been here before years ago, but visiting the second time was even more interesting for me.  I find the lady intriguing.

This isn't Jane's actual piano, but it is like one she would have played. I felt very accomplished whilst playing it.

Roo and Penny by Jane's bed.

The kitchen where I was hoping to be imbued with Jane Austen-type brilliance. Didn't happen.  But I did gain a new-found appreciation for her, and after reading her biography last week, I have an even newer new-found appreciation for her. (That is a sentence Jane would be proud of, right?)
After Jane's house, we stopped at the pub where supposedly the Austen brothers used to drink. They had really yummy food. My mom could have written a novel just about how much she loved her Winter Pie. We were refreshed for our long journey home.
That night we stayed up to ring in the New Year by watching Return of the Jedi, then Pride and Prejudice. While I am admittedly a Jane Austen fan, I don't recommend Pride and Prejudice (the 6 hour version) to help you stay up until midnight. Big Ben and the fireworks woke me up just in time to pretend I wasn't dozing through Mr. Collins' proposal.

New Year's Day was the one clear and sunny day of the whole two weeks. It was gorgeous, so we drove down to Arundel, our favorite castle. It is breathtaking. We couldn't go inside, but walked around the quaint town for a while and visited the cathedral.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Boxing Day on Salisbury Plain

Here are some photos of our outing to Stonehenge on Boxing Day. It was about an 1.5 hour drive and thankfully the weather held long enough for us to take a walk around the perimeter of the stones, though it was very, very cold and surprisingly crowded.

Esmé was really impressed with the "Big Rocks" as she calls them. But we were freezing and hungry so we hurried another 20 minutes into Salisbury. We ate a yummy Italian lunch then walked through town to the cathedral. Salisbury cathedral boasts the tallest spire in England. It was impressive. These massive churches always take my breath away. We also stopped by the house where some scenes from Sense and Sensibility we filmed. Of course we had to watch the movie when we got home.

We made it back to the car just in time for the rain to come pouring down. It didn't stop for the two hours it took to get home. It was a long, wet excursion, but we saw a lot of amazing countryside and we were all duly impressed.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Christmas Day

Christmas Day was great! We were spoiled with lots of presents and lots of time to just hang out together. Roo and my dad surprised me with coat stand that my dad made and shipped in secret here to England.  I surprised Roo with a Star Wars lego pen.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was perfect. We spent the afternoon baking gingerbread cookies and cooking dinner.

Here's our festive little table, complete with Christmas crackers (an English tradition. You pull them open for a small toy, a paper crown, and a Laffy-Taffy quality joke.)

After dinner, we walked into town and attended the Christmas Eve candlelit service at the old church. I loved hearing the Christmas carols echoing through the stone building, flickering in candlelight.

Penny was not so happy to be going to church on a weekday. She cried and wiggled through the service until we slipped out the side door. Meanwhile, Esme ate a blue lollypop and tried to touch everyone's flames. It was a Christmas miracle that no one caught on fire.

After the church, we walked home through the town, dark except for twinkling Christmas lights on houses and in windows. Once home, the girls opened their Christmas jammies. Esme loved her Minnie Mouse ears. Penny looked like a Catholic cardinal in her red cap, and we all laughed at her for it for the rest of the night. We love Penny!

Once the girls were snug in their bed with visions of sugarplums and all that, we attempted to make our first ever fire in the fireplace. Then we watched It's a Wonderful Life and waited for Santa to come. It could not have been more perfect!