Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ardingly - a shopper's delight!

Ardingly, pronounced Arding-lie, is a huge antique fair with over 1,700 vendors. I have been looking forward to this trip all year and I went with some knowledgeable, purposeful, American women outfitted in our best walking shoes, scarves and gloves, and trolleys. It was so much fun!

Clocks, furniture, silver, ceramics, jewelry...even a water buffalo head!

I've got one of these old sewing machines -
   and lots of these old clay pots in my basement in Boston!

After a long day, these are my fabulous purchases....a heavy copper pot for firewood or filled with ice for chilling beverages, a wooden bread bowl to fill with green apples, a unique ice bucket for Rick -3rd place trophy for the "manure cake" championship, and for £5 a silver(plated) mustard pot because everyone needs one!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Our good friend, Jim Falle, was our guest this weekend and it was his first trip to London so we kept him busy! Sunday we hopped into the MINI Zip Car (I should say folded into the car!)cranked up Tomas-Tomas, and off we went to explore Stonehenge.

Out in the open countryside of the Salisbury Plain stands a monument of rocks in a circle and nothing else - well, a few sheep! The first stage of Stonehenge was built in 3000 BC.....can that be 5000 years ago? The audio tour suggested that the circle was connected with the sun and the passing of seasons and that it's builders understood astronomy. I found it interesting that some of the stones were brought from Wales, 240 miles away.....How?....possibly floated down a river on a barge but no one really knows.

All that fresh air made us hungry so we drove to Salisbury in search of an authentic pub for Sunday lunch. We all had the Fish and Chips and mushy peas - No lamb roast and Yorkshire pudding for me! Then I talked the guys into exploring Salisbury Cathedral, mostly built between 1220 and 1258 and a beautiful example of Early English Gothic architecture. It was built of marble and Chilmark stone - does that name sound familiar to those of you in New England? I have been reading the bestselling novel "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett and I have become completely enrapture by the romance of medieval cathedrals and the story of Tom, the mason who becomes the architect. I am loving this book....put it on your booklist!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Take the Bridge Quiz!

I was going to be so clever and have this all set up as a matching game but I graduated with a degree in Education when we used DITTO machines to develop tests for our students! This just about put me over the edge but now I have simplified the process....nothing is in order, and I may have left one out, so just guess!

Tower Bridge-London::    Chesham Lock Bridge-London::   Hyde Park Bridge-London::           Battersea Park Bridge-London::   Hampstead Park Bridge-London::   Cambridge Mathematical Bridge -London::   Entry Bridge Greenwich-London::   Brugge, Belgium::   
Venice, Italy::     Zhou Zhuang Water Village, China::    Bridge Street, Norwell, MA::  
 Cruise Ship Bridge, Grand Cayman::    Lighthouse Bridge, Scituate, MA::     Pont Au Double Bridge, Notre-Dame, Paris::    Ponte Santa Trinita, Florence, Italy::    Kuenigstein, Germany::  
Tate Pedestrian Bridge, London

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Brugge, Belgium by Eurostar

With Christy in London for a long weekend we wanted to do something special, so our adventure began with a Friday afternoon Eurostar train to Brussels and then a connection to Brugge. We had to stand for most of the hour train ride to Brugge because I didn't plan for rush hour. I wasn't really sure where the hotel was but I read it was just off the square..... follow the church steeple. With over 20 Churches and Squares we ended up walking a bit...yes, we could have taken a cab! Some of us are better travelers than others but when we got to Aragon Hotel our accommodations, for 3 adults -not easy in Europe- were excellent. The sunset could not have been more beautiful and we enjoyed a delicious steak and fries meal next to flaming fireplace at Pieter Pourbus Restaurant. We shared dessert of ice cream with warm chocolate sauce and chocolate truffles.

We wanted to beat the crowds so after a hearty European breakfast at the hotel we went on a canal boat tour and saw Brugge from a different perspective. The morning sun reflecting off the water and bright red vines climbing up the walls of ancient brick buildings made every picture a postcard image. See for yourself! As we made our way to the Chocoladehuisje and Museum we stopped at a few Belgium Lace shops to pick up a gift or two.

All that chocolate history made us thirsty so with the help of Christy as our excellent map reader, we followed the canals to the brewery where we enjoyed a tall glass of the local blonde beer - Brugge Zot. The town is just one square after another of chocolate shops, linen shops, churches, and small family restaurants. We had a late lunch on a quiet side-street at 'tSchrijverke, an outdoor bistro featuring pots of steamed mussels, steak salad, and our course the standard - a bowl full of crispy fries...I'm telling you a meal I will dream of!

We ended up walking back to the train station through a quiet park. After a 1 hour train ride (in the first class cabin this time!) and then a 2 hour Eurostar train to London we got back to the flat around 9 PM. It really was the perfect weekend adventure and so fun to share it with Christy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lavenham and Long Melford

On the road again.... this time we met our Blue Badge Guide for a tour around Lavenham, in the heart of rural Suffolk, about a 2 hour bus ride Northeast of London. The village is a surviving example of a Tutor market town with timber-framed houses still in excellent condition...leaning a little but still in use. In the 15th and 16th century this little town was known for the Suffolk wool cloth which was uniquely dyed a beautiful blue color using cabbages- kind of a Wedgwood blue. We had a delicious lunch at The Swan, the hotel and restaurant in Lavenham. It would be a nice weekend country retreat to return to in the Zip Car!

After lunch we rode to Long Medford and shopped along main street. There were butchers, bakers, art galleries, bookshops, a kitchen shop, and several antique shops. I found a small, framed, oil painting of lambs in a pasture... a perfect memory of the English countryside and another addition to my collection of paintings.