Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Tribute to the Olympics...

Just like the real Olympics, my tribute to the Olympics starts with our own version of the Opening Ceremonies.

(Clicking on any picture will make it larger.)
First we enjoyed the flags from our different nations, and then we celebrated both of our countries by going to Tommy Guns in Chicago and The Bristol Renaissance Faire.  A little something for everyone!

Then the events began...

Water Sports:

To fully understand the complexities of synchronized swimming, we first practiced synchronized sitting.  It's not as easy as it looks.  (Another name for this sport is jet lag.)

Frisbee and boat racing followed!

Talk about a long gun!


530-Step Dash:

Here we are at the starting line ready for our climb up 530 steps to the top of Warwick Castle.

It was a beautiful view from above and we knew we were winners because we actually made it to the top!

Biathlon (boating and walking):

This is St. Michael's Mount.  During the day the tide is high and the way to get to the island is by ferry, so that is exactly what we did.
Once on the island, the only way to get to the top it to walk.

After walking up and up and up on uneven ground, the trip was worth it.  This is one of the views from the top!

By the afternoon when we were ready to leave it was low tide, and we were able to walk back to the mainland.  This was really something to see and experience!

~And now for my favorite sport  ~

Competitive Eating:

Whether in England or America, this is one event where we all excelled!

And, as we know, all good things must come to an end.

Closing Ceremony:

To good friends and good times!

7-6-5...You won't believe your eyes!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Love and Marriage...

The Royal Wedding we attended for our friends Thomas and Jane who we dubbed King and Queen (at least on their pillow cases)

It all began at the Olton Friary on May 17, 1997
Remember clicking on any picture will enlarge it.

I was flattered when Jane included me in their wedding by asking me to do a Reading during the ceremony.  My American accent was a dead giveaway that I was from out of town!  I recall being at Thomas and Jane's home visiting with their families before the wedding.  There were Charlie and I from America, and both Jane and Tom's families from England and Ireland.   We were sitting in the living room and there was a lot of talking going on.  All of a sudden I began to laugh...we were all speaking English, but most of us couldn't understand what each other was saying.  

At this point, you may want to click on this Frank Sinatra link to enhance your wedding experience with some appropriate music.

Love and Marriage sung by Frank Sinatra

 After the ceremony, Thomas and Jane traveled in style by horse and carriage from the church
 to Jane's family home where we had the first part of their joyous celebration.
Everyone was standing by to greet them and they were serenaded by a few tunes on the bagpipes as well!

This is the marquee that was set up for good food and good cheer.

Jane even decorated their wedding cake herself!

We spent the evening at the reception where the theme was an American barn dance.  It was here that I first learned how to promenade!  Luckily, you are spared. I have no pictures of me dancing.  Clockwise...anti-clockwise, I just couldn't figure it out!

Our gift to Jane and Tom!  This is a picture I drew and painted for them!  

It's hard to believe they celebrated their 15th anniversary this year! Time really does fly by but memories last forever!

Make sure you check in for my 4th and final part of our visit across the pond.
Topic: My tribute to the Olympic Games!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Traveling in England...but first a quick look at headline news

I was going to veer away from my England  blogging series to comment on the mediator's report for the Chicago  Public Schools and the Chicago Teacher's Union, but I figured there is not much to say at this time except the bell has rung and now Round 2 has begun.  Will there be a compromise or will they go a full 10 Rounds?  The clock is ticking...

England...Part Two
(Remember, clicking on any picture will make it larger.)

Now, on to something more fun. While in England, we visited Stratford-upon-Avon.  It was a lovely area with some great shops.  I love the American flag flying high!

At a distance this building looked so "timely" and upon closer look we see stores like Pizza Hut and Hush Puppies.  What would Shakespeare have thought of that?

What beautiful architecture!

One of my husband's favorite stores in all of England!

Chess Anyone?
Another very nice area was that of Solihull.  This was in Solihull Square.  It almost made me want to learn how to play!

Okay, not the real one, but this one was very cool too.  The stone in front of a hedge that is so dense you can barely see light through it. 

and now on to...

Blenheim Palace-
birthplace of Winston Churchill

I do not use the word "awesome" very often, but here is a time when that word is just perfect. Take a look!

Our dear friends Jane and Thomas...just days before the wedding bells rang out!

I couldn't end this edition without a little food.  Actually it was a lot of food. We went to Pizza Piazza and had a blast!

'Til next time...

Stay tuned for Part Three:  "I Do" 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Merry Ol'

With the summer Olympics beginning soon in London, I am getting a bit nostalgic about Merry Ol' England and our friends there.  I love to tell the story of how a young girl from Chicago ended up with having such a great friend from across The Pond.  Way back in 1981, I had the opportunity to "buy" a pen-pal. At the time, pen-pals in the USA cost 25 cents and outside of the USA they cost 50 cents.  Well, me being the big spender that I am, I paid 50 cents for a pen-pal from England.  Little did I know way back then that I would end up with a friend for life!  

After writing to Jane for over 9 years, she and her boyfriend (now husband) came to visit my husband and I here in the states.  They made us promise that when they got married we would travel to England for their wedding.  I remember thinking...they have been together so long, they'll never get married. So, my husband and I said yes and thought nothing further of it until that one day when our phone rang at such on odd time. Jane was calling us to tell us she and Thomas were engaged and we had to make plans to go to England because we said we'd be at their wedding.  Wow!  For the first time in our lives...we needed Passports!  We got right on it and did what had to be done. The next thing I know, Jane asked me (little ol' me) to take part in the wedding by reading one of the Readings during Mass for their wedding. (Of course I said YES! There will be more on their wedding  later.)

So May of 1997 was here and my husband and I were on a plane to England. When we first got off the plane in Birmingham and "security" was standing quite seriously with their automatic weapons, Charlie reminded me that we are not in America anymore and that I needed to keep my lovely wisecracks and sarcastic remarks to myself.  I promised I would behave...they were a bit intimidating.

Our friends picked us up and I couldn't believe that I was actually half way around the world.  Jane and Tom gave us a very nice welcome.  They even hung our flag in their window.

Now, even though our main reason for going to England was to celebrate their wedding, they made time to show us around their country.  First, Jane showed me the house that she grew up in.  

Over the years, I remember writing "Eversleigh" on many a letter I sent to Jane. Her childhood house was absolutely beautiful!  Believe it or not, shortly after our visit, the house was sold to a developer and torn down making way for apartments to be built.

We saw a double-decker bus...

And then our  next stop was London...can't go to England without a visit to London.

We saw the changing of the guard.

I tried to make one of them laugh, and he just didn't find me funny!

We saw Big Ben...which was a sight for sure.

And we were stunned when we saw one of the bobbie's Patrol cars.  It reminded us of a clown car, so small and compact.

On our way out of London, we were lucky enough to go over Tower Bridge. This picture doesn't do it justice, but it looked like a bridge you would read about in a fairy tale.

Stay tuned for my next installment when we visit Shakespeare's home in Stratford-upon-Avon, a few castles,and Solihull Square. (And yes..I will eventually get to the wedding!)