Thursday, July 28, 2011

St Helens, day 1

Here we are! After a long day of airplanes and airports and airport security, we arrived yesterday in the lovely town of St Helens where we will be staying with our friends Helen and Dennis. That is their lovely garden pictured above, and in my jet-lagged delirium, I am enjoying the chance to sit quietly and gaze out it. Today is a recovery day after 24+ hours awake and what seemed like one very short night sleeping like the dead. As write this, Helen is at work; Roger and Dennis have gone off in search of a pay as you go cell phone and a few other goodies; Caroline is upstairs napping; and I am sitting here in the lounge waiting for the delivery of two of our three suitcases which managed to take a side trip to who-knows- where.

But we are here, which feels miraculous. We have lots of fun days of talking and sharing and sight-seeing ahead, and then Festival of Quilts at the end of it all. The fun has just begun!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

UK here we come

We are getting ready to travel to the UK this coming week, for a fun and friend-filled vacation.  We'll have a grand time visiting our friends Helen and Dennis and touring Northern England, and then at the end will be the quilty excitement of the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England. All 144 of the 12x12 quilts will be exhibited.  I can hardly wait and have been busy getting ready for our big UK adventure.

To that end, I've done a bit of shopping, and have been tempted by these goodies, if for no other reason than to torment Helen who is already wincing about the Royal Wedding pay-as-you-go cellphone I will be using there.

Comfy walking shoes?  Check.

Some extra warmth for layers? Check.

A good carry-on bag for the plane? Check.

Something casual and stylish for daytime wear? Check.

A hat, in case of inclement weather and/or bad hair day? Check.

A stylish handbag?

I'm confident I'll blend right in with the locals. They won't even know I'm a tourist, I'm sure.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Joy in Tahoe

We have officially entered the travel portion of our summer, which has been preceded by a crazy combination of rushing and planning and doing and accomplishing and checking things off of lists.  But last week we flung our lists aside and drove up to Lake Tahoe for the annual family week.

And it was lovely.  But the highlight of the week this year was spending time with our 4 year old niece Boitumelo.  She was born in southern Africa, and her name means "Joy" which is fitting as she is a very happy, bouncy kid.

 As little kids do, she took to her big cousin Caroline with rapt fascination and wanted to emulate everything she did.

But the memory I'll hold close was the morning we took Boitumelo for her first pony ride.  Despite not having seen many horses in her native Lesotho, Boitumelo decided early on that she is going to be a "horse rider" when she grows up.  When asked what horse riders DO for work, she will fix you a serious look with her dark eyes and say "Ride horses!"  Well, duh.

So the first pony ride was a Big Big Deal.  Boitumelo promptly fell in love with her lovely white pony "Merrylegs" (who, by the way, seemed to have very tired legs and didn't seem very merry except when she was headed back toward her hitching post).

Her ride consisted of her being led several times in a big circle around a field, accompanied by me (aka Auntie Diane), Uncle Roger, and her moms.  We made quite a procession and I kept thinking that she looked like a princess being escorted by her servants.

I loved seeing the amazed concentration on her face the whole time.  And all four of us grown-ups just grinned the whole morning, too.

We have a few days at home before we head off on our next adventure -- to England! 

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


In the midst of the crazy things going on around here, I have felt compelled to do some serious updating of our household technology. Our upcoming trip to England has been one main excuse reason. Because, of course, one needs to sort out one's access to home and world before setting off to venture to another continent.

First, the cellphone issue. We wanted to make sure that we could get calls from the US and the discovery that my little old Blackberry is not global capable set up a whole set of decisions. I will spare you the details but I will show you the outcome:

Is this not the most delightful thing you've ever seen?! My friend Helen found this pay-as-you-go phone for me for the bargain price of £1. I can't imagine why the British aren't snapping these right up. It even comes with a "God Save the Queen" ringtone. I am thrilled. Helen has commented that it will also be useful as a finding device should we become separated -- all she has to do is ask the nearest person "have you seen my American friend?" and everyone will point at me and my obnoxious Royal Wedding phone.

And then there was the "do we bring laptops" question and again, after some pondering this was the outcome:

iPad. I am writing this very post on it, in fact. It is quite wonderful and it promises to make the 13 hour flights to and from Europe quite fun. I can get lost just reading about apps, never mind downloading and using them. (By the way, if you have any great app recommendations, I'd love to hear them.). Hmmm, I wonder if there is a Royal Wedding IPad cover? (Just kidding, Helen! I have a tasteful solid red one.)

But wait, there's more. In the process of making the IPad decision -particularly the "wifi only or wifi+3G" question -- I learned that the price difference between the wifi only and the wifi+3G was pretty much the same as an Iphone4 . No brainer, yes?

This actually makes great sense given how much I dislike my old Blackberry. But all this stuff at once has me in a techno-whirl. This probably means that all of my airport and airplane time will be spent reading the instructions for all of these exciting things.

Now that it has taken me all morning to figure out how to write and post a blog post from the IPad, I'd best get some chores done. But I will be humming "God Save the Queen" as I go.