Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A day trip to Cambridge

Our Aussie friends, Peter and Deb, planned this trip to Cambridge just to experience a posh restaurant so we agreed to tag along. After our extraordinary 5 course lunch (Yes, I tried Pigeon!) with a delightful Australian wine we "waddled" down the Cam River to explore.

Punting is supposed to capture the essence of carefree college days: a student leaning on a long pole, lazily guiding the flat-bottomed boat while others stretch out and relax. But too many Punters can mean a traffic jam and at least one capsized boat! Although Rick tried to convince me that he would keep us upright, I was not planning to ride back to the city on a train, soaking wet!

Cambridge University has 31 colleges but we really wanted to see the chapel at King's College (top picture). We missed the closing time by 15 time we will plan better!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Living in the heart of London we have access to buses, the tube, the train, black cabs, and crowded sidewalks so we really don't need a car, nor do we want one! But sometimes it would be nice to explore the countryside and shop for more than we can carry home. The ZIP Car!

Isn't it cute! It's a Mini!
Our adventure today was to locate the car (parked near Harrods), open it with our approved credit card (key is inside), and drive to Surrey to a huge garden shop called Garsons to bring back new plants for our very tired window boxes. We had a smooth start until Tom-Tom (the same as Tomas-Tomas in Italy!) lead us right back to the flat! I screamed when Rick almost took out the side mirror of a Rolls Royce (could have been) and slightly "curbed" the mini. Maybe driving on the left side of the road with a the gear shift on your left takes a little getting used to! Rick reprogrammed Tom-Tom, we both took a deep breath and off we went without another incident! The nursery and farmer's market were incredible. We stopped in Richmond at a pub for fish and chips and hit the BIG grocery store on our way home. The mini was FULL!

These are the window boxes before and after ..... I think the day was a success! Lillia, the housekeeper, is not happy with our selection or the mess we made, nothing new. Now we have to keep them alive in this heatwave we are having!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A DOG walk in the Park

When I'm missing the girls and Tucker I will take a walk through the park and I always come back energized. In an hour I can see more breeds of dogs than I can name. Most of the dogs are in groups with dog walkers and I must tell you, they are the most well-behaved dogs I've ever seen! I often wonder about their know what they say about a pet and it's owner. (Stay with me here, I haven't completely lost it!)

This one's easy! This owner is full of energy and independent. She is training for a marathon, eats only raw vegetables and can walk into a room and become the center of attention.

The all-American dog in London! His owner plays rugby, drives an old Range Rover when he's not commuting on his bike, and meets friends at his local pub on Thursday nights.

Ohhh...the puppy! I know this owner likes to cuddle and giggle. She is happy with life and spends her days making other peoples lives better!

I actually met the owner who is a breeder. She was very friendly but a little eccentric as she told me about the long "dynasty" of her championship poodles. Aren't they well-behaved? They posed for this picture!

You know his owner has a beard!

Best dressed and much too busy to chat....Her owner is most certainly attractive, flamboyant, and has celebrity friends. She is busy with appointments - the hair salon, personal trainer, nail salon, personal shopper!

Tucker's Irish cousin! He is only behaving because the dog walker is about to throw a ball - which he won't bring back! I am sure he comes from a happy, quirky family and the Mom- friendly and completely content- feeds him treats while she is getting dinner ready.

Don't you think his owner drinks her afternoon tea out of a Wedgewood cup and has embroidered pillows with her favorite terriers on them. She is charming and persuasive and can make people believe that just knowing her is a privilege.

Very regal, this dog's owner may have a "Sir" or "Lady" in front of their name. My guess would be intelligent and cunning at the same time. HE may give out good investment advice and can be very persuasive.

I would like this owner....probably charming, practical, hardworking. He's the kind of person you would bring home to meet your parents!

He can't help but bark out orders and obey the rules...he is German! His friends were not supposed to be in the lake!

Look at those eyes! The owner doesn't seem to mind slobber and wet dog hair, probably not the tidiest person but patient enough to throw a ball over and over.

The largest dog I saw today. His owner dreams of living on a country estate and is adventurous, like possibly dog sledding across a frozen terrain!

No further comment necessary!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Borough Market

It is Saturday morning market time and today we are going to our favorite market - Borough Market. We hop on the District line to change trains at Westminster only to find the Jubilee line is down so with a quick adjustment we reroute and eventually get to Tower Bridge and the market. I sympathize with the groups of tourist who are staring at their tube maps trying to translate the conductor's announcement which can't even be understood by those of us who speak the language! Aunt Sandi knows my philosophy.... Just walk!

On our shopping list today we are looking for farm fresh tomatoes, basil, buffalo mozzarella, gorgonzola and walnut pasta, lemon, lime, oranges, strawberries, mint, asparagus, parm ham, olives with almonds, parmesan cheese, English cheddar cheese, and anything else that looks fresh and good!

Our usual "Grilled Sausage in a Bap" place is closed so I settle for a German knockwurst with spicy mustard and sauerkraut. Christy and Haley would love it! Now, what's for dessert?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Woburn Abbey (& history lesson)

On the road again with the AWC, this time to Woburn Abbey!

Set on 3,000 acres, Woburn Abbey has been the home to Dukes of Bedford for over 300 years and is now occupied by the 15th Duke and his young family. The reason it is called the Abbey is because... (if you have read all the Philippa Gregory books as I have, remember the Pope would not grant an annulment for Henry VII first wife, Catherine of Aragon), Henry VIII dissolved the Catholic monasteries and in this case gave the Abbey and its estates to John Russell of Chenies who became the first Earl of Bedford. This "home" has one of the most beautiful collections of portraits, silver and china I have seen so far.

One of the attractions was the Woburn Abbey Antiques Center. I think the only purchases on this trip were a silver toast rack and silver napkin rings. Everyone has started a collection of something but I am still trying to I really want more silver to polish?

After our private tour we enjoyed afternoon tea in the Duchess' Tea Room. This tradition is said to have been started by Duchess Anna Maria, wife of the 7th Duke, in the 1840's. She felt that it was a long time between lunch and dinner and that taking tea and sandwiches, cakes and biscuits at 5 o'clock helped to bridge the gap. A woman I can relate to but next time I am going to skip the scones - they are so delicious with clotted cream and jam but I can never make it to the top where all the sweets are waiting!

We ended our trip back to London humming the song Doris Day made famous "Che Sara, Sara"! Who Knew that was the motto written on the Duke of Bedford's family crest!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Summer Picnic and Pimm's

Saturday the rain held off for the annual EY Summer Barbeque. This year it was held at the Fulham Palace, about a 20 minute bus ride from us. It is not often that the whole group gets together and it was really nice to have families there.

This is a good picture of me and some of my new EY friends Jeni and Jill.

On the other hand.....

These two pictures are not that good but I just wanted to point out that the guys Rick works with have a lot in common- and that is all I'm going to say about that! I also wanted Haley to see that some kids accompany their parents to fun events like a "Firm" picnic. Ken and Kelly's daughter will attend U of Florida and seems to be enjoying the conversation with her Mom and Anne ......and a Pimms!

Ahhh..the British quintessential summer cocktail - Pimm's and Lemonade served in a tall pitcher! At the party it was served with chopped fruit (instead of sliced) and it was more like Pimm's and a fruit salad - we LOVED it! I must admit I was trying to use my straws like chopsticks to get to the fruit. The bottom of the glasses were full of the traditional orange, lime, strawberry, cucumber, and mint. I am bringing this tradition home with me!

PS I apologize to Aunt Sancy because this blog is going to sadly remind her that her bottle of Pimm's from the London Airport ended up soaking her suitcase and running down the luggage carousel. You will just have to make a trip to Boston in August to share a pitcher! XOXO