Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Freshly fallen leaves

There is something unique about the smell of freshly fallen leaves. It is a dark and mysterious scent, earthy and fragrant at the same time - not quite decay or mildew, but not a fresh scent either. It is a comfortable smell, but with a hint of adventure. It is also not a smell often found in a warm climate like Houston - it comes with the cool feel of autumn.

I passed freshly fallen leaves by the train station tonight outside of London in a place called St. Margarets and the scent immediately took me back to my childhood days in Michigan. My thoughts went immediately to kicking leaves on my way to the bus stop, riding my bike through the yard, leaves spraying in a trail behind me and of jumping into a carefully constructed pile of leaves under a tree limb. Maybe these memories are why I feel a sense of adventure with this wonderfully unique smell. In any case I love it and I love the memories!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Best street performers I have seen so far.

I fOund this old blog in my drafts and thought i would post for your entertainment.

As I was walking through Kingston today, there was a big crowd around two guys and a microphone. This group is called The Dualers and they write their own music and lyrics. They play concerts, but Kingston was treated to a street performance today. I guess that is how they got their start.

Enjoy - they'll make you smile.


They actually have four CD's out and you can check them out on their website: www.thedualers.com

They also have a youtube station: UpBeatChannel

Friday, March 11, 2011

Time flies

Is is really mid-March already?  This year has been a whirlwind already!

So here is a quick update on what I can remember so far...
  • I went to work in the Houston office just after Christmas and got right into the work.  Soon I had seven searches on my plate as well as a key account.  I love my job, but this has left little time for a blog - so bear with me on this.
  • Alexa fractured her arm on New Year's Day during our family Christmas - which was amazing!  (the family Christmas - not the broken arm.) She had two separate casts and just got the last one off mid-February.
  • Amber auditioned for a local teen talent show and made it to the final show.  She performed last Saturday and was great!  I think it is so cool how easy it seems for her to perform in front of an audience.
  • Alexa turned 10 and Amber turned 16.  We spent Amber's birthday at the Berend house and had a fabulous time!
  • I am trying to pick up golf again in my spare time - not getting very far yet though as I do not have much spare time.  Anyway - I am trying.
  • I joined the Fat Olympics with Theresa and Richard.  I am feeling pretty proud of my progress (lost 11 pounds so far).  Richard though is kicking butt!  I think he has lost more than 20 pounds already and is pushing it to the limit since we only have 5 days left in the contest.
  • We thought about adopting another dog in February.  We fostered Trapper for a few weeks and he is a great dog.  Unfortunately, Sara Lee did not adapt too well - so we decided he might be better for another family.  Sara Lee is our girl and she has to be happy first.
  • I finally bought a car!  I got a Hyundai Accent.  Pretty little and very basic - but great gas mileage.  This helps since I drive so far for work.  Funny thing though - there were none on the lot with automatic door locks and  windows.  Not that it is a big deal - but we haven't had a car like that in awhile.  So long in fact, that the girls actually asked how we open the doors!?!  They like the window cranks too.
I am going to work this weekend on finally downloading my pictures from my last trips to Belgium and France.  I will share soon.

Also, I am heading back to England for a week of work the last week of March.  I am ready for a night at the pub!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas in Texas

I am so far behind in blogging. The last month has been so incredibly busy for me. I will have to catch you up on my last few weeks in the UK and my trip to France before I left in the coming weeks.

But for now, I am completely enjoying being home with my family and soaking up the joy of the season. Shopping is done, decorations are up, and even have a few holiday movies under our belts. Alexa is in the Children's Choir at church this year and they are doing the entire service and nativity on Christmas Eve. I am listening to them practice and it is beautiful. I cannot wait for the real thing in just a few days!

I am hoping you all experience the joy of the season as well and look forward to seeing everyone soon!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Belgium

I spent the day Saturday traveling to and from Belgium.  Yes, more time was spent traveling than actually in Belgium - but it was totally worth it!

I woke up at 4 AM and was in a hired car (car service) on my way to Waterloo Station by 4:20 AM.  I waited around at the station for about 45 minutes.  The station is open to the outside obviously and was freezing!  And I mean freezing - it was only 25 degrees F.  At least there was one coffee shop open so I had something warm to drink and an almond croissant.

While waiting for the coach to pick up outside, I met a young couple waiting for the same trip.  The bus picked us up just before 6 AM and we were on our way.  We drove down to Dover and boarded a ferry to cross the English Channel.  We drove right by the edge of the cliffs as we boarded and I saw actual doors - old wooden ones with medieval looking handles - right in the cliff face.  There were only a few and we went by them so fast I was unable to take a picture.  Cool though!  It was also very cool watching the cliffs fade into the distance as the ferry chugged away.

The ride to Calais was fairly smooth.  The water of the channel is more green than blue, but seemed pretty opaque or murky.  You cannot see much below the surface.  As we neared the French side of the channel, there was a fog over the water.  As we moved into it, it was very different than typical fog, it looked like several tiny pockets of mist rising from the water.  It was beautiful and spooky at the same time.  As we pulled into Calais, an older gentleman told me it was sea mist.  In contrast to the English coast, the French coast was all sandy beaches.

We drove another few hours through France and then into Belgium where there was snow covering the trees and ground.  The sky was a beautiful blue and everywhere you looked, it was like a Christmas postcard.  Bruges was even more beautiful.  I cannot describe it exactly, but imagine a medieval town from fairy tales and you would have a pretty accurate idea of what it is like.  The buildings are very old, all of the streets are cobbled and there are canals running through the city.  There is even a large cathedral in the center.  The people are so friendly and there were three Christmas markets with beer and Gl├╝hwein running freely.  There was even an ice skating rink in the town center with a giant Christmas tree in the center.

I really enjoyed the markets as well as the local shops.  Of course, a must-have in Bruges is a freshly made waffle.  I had one from a woman selling them out a window.  Mmmmm - it was so yummy and so warm!  Did I mention how COLD it was?

So after 4 hours in Bruges, it was time to board the bus again and we were off again on a long bus ride.  Lucky for me, my new friends had purchased a good quantity of Belgium beer and we started the trip back with a toast to Bruges.  We had excellent conversation and another beer on the ferry.  We made it back to Waterloo around 11:15 PM.  It took me another two hours on public transportation to get home - which I am still having trouble figuring out.  I only took a train to Hampton Wick and a bus to my flat.  I did wait a very long time for a bus in Hampton Wick in the freezing cold though!

Anyway, I have unloaded all of my treasures and cannot wait for Christmas to share them with my family!

(I cannot download any of my pictures until I get home - so I will share them in a later blog.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Holidays

I sure missed Thanksgiving and Black Friday this year.  It just feels weird to work on Thanksgiving.  I was listening to holiday music Thursday morning and "There's no place like home for the Holidays" came on.  I cried a little as it had so much more meaning than I ever gave it credit for before.

In the end, all my friends at Maxwell Drummond were so thoughtful that we all got together at a traditional English pub, drank beer and had Bangers and Mash for dinner.  So I still got to spend the day with friends being thankful.  While I miss all my family and friends in the US, it was still a very nice Thanksgiving in the UK.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A blank canvas

I love how kids see the world. 

On the bus the other morning, it was so cold outside that the windows fogged up.  Adults usually just think of how cold it is.  But kids see an opportunity. 

I loved watching a ten year old girl on the bus as her face lit up looking at the window.  She stared at it thoughtfully and then began to draw.  Here is her creation...