Saturday, February 20, 2016

Christkindlmarkt Zeit!!

I love Christmas Market time in Europe!  Besides the one we found in Edinburgh this year we went to:

Lovely Tubingen to their Chocolate market

 Chocolate art

 All made from chocolate

 Best dessert ever- literally melted chocolate in an ice cream cone
chocolate shots- something we didn't try

Esslingen's Medieval market (as a school chaperone)

We dipped candles, went on the man powered ferris wheel and ate lots of good food and drank some wonderful chocolate and kinder punch (hot fruit punch, basically!)

and Beautiful Strasbourg, France's market

 Each street was decorate differently.  Most of them had stuffed bears and other animals hanging from windows and balconies and tied up to door jams.  Poor cold animals!

Memorial for those killed in Paris by the terrorist.

Slam Dunking the British Isles

Our first Thanksgiving here we went to London.  The second Thanksgiving we made it to Ireland.  So the obvious choice for our last Thanksgiving in Europe was to hit
Thanksgiving on the Sunday before
Our family tartan- I love it!  But I couldn't find anything made in this color scheme
Oh yah, baby!
  We only had 5 days, but we tried to make the most of it.  
We actually flew into Manchester and ran up into the Lake district for our first overnighter.  We had a cute little home on Lake Windemere which would have been perfect if it wasn't for the fact that we couldn't figure out how to turn the heat on and froze our patooties off all night and then took cold showers in the morning.  Luckily we figured out the hot water situation, but even with all the wall heaters on full blast 24/7 it never heated up where you could wear just regular clothes inside.  I wore my outside winter running clothes most of the time.  Also, the parking was crazy hairy!

Luckily we survived and didn't ditch the rental car in the staircase well.  It was touch and go, especially driving on the wrong side.  Don't you Brits understand that you are supposed to drive on the other side so the shotgun person can actually use a shot gun if necessary? Your obvious lack of understanding of the two commandments "Thou shalt not trust thy neighbor" and "Walk quietly and carry a big stick" is probably why you never converted to Americanism!
We made it to see Dove Cottage (home of Wordsworth)
The World of Beatrix Potter- which was a little on the babyish side for our kids, but since her gallery wasn't open, it was the next best thing.

 Look!  We found Peter's jacket

Castelrigg stone circle- our substitute for Stonehenge, because it was free!

We met a lovely Brit there who had scattered her mother's ashes around the area.  Her mother believed it was a magical place- magical in the sense that it made you think about history and your ancestors in a lovely scenic setting. 
The Pencil Museum up in Keswick - which we went in to get pencils with our names on them and not to actually see the museum.  It was supposedly the first sight of pencil making.
and The Beautiful countryside.

Then we wended our way up to Edinburgh.

We saw the castle

walked the royal mile
Checked out Deacon Brodie's tavern from Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde
Tried to spit into the middle of the Heart of Midlothian to bring us good luck- only one or two of us made it
And walked all the way down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
We also found a nice little Christmas market- no delicious fish chowder like in Ireland, however.
The next day we skipped up to St. Andrew's to see
The college where Prince William and Catherine Duchess of York went to school.

Yep that is actually the name of this street- weirdly the sign goes missing quite often
The Famous Green's, 

but first we stopped to see Sterling castle, because "He who holds Sterling Castle, Holds Scotland!"

Yes, I know Sterling is not on the way.  Our vacations tend to have a mind of their own.  We meant to see Sterling on the way up to Edinburgh but it didn't happen and then on the way back to Manchester we meant to see Hadrian's wall and then check out Manchester's famous Christmas market, but it was windy and rainy and yucky, so we ended up doing neither of those things and just wasted our whole last day in Scotland/England, by eating yucky food at a yucky restaurant twice!  Sometimes you just need to relax and do nothing but eat yucky food to call it a vacation, I guess!

Saturday, February 13, 2016


Fall time came.  We had 1 week between football and wrestling.  We celebrated Robert's birthday.  He did turn a year older.  

We got our first dusting of snow and had a beautiful walk in the surrounding woods.

And the boys made lots of videos.

You can find some of their fun creation on Youtube.  They are named explodingsalad.  My favorites are some of their extreme children's games videos like this one and this one.

Experiencing a Little more of Germany

There were a couple things that we hadn't done in the area that we finally did this fall.
  The first was to take a walk up Rubble Hill.

 It is where they piled bunches of rubble from the bombings from WW2.

 They say the whole hill is made of rubble and it has just been overgrown with vegetation, but the trees look pretty old to us.

 Anyway, it is a nice little hike and there is a beautiful view of Stuttgart at the top.  Afterwards we went and ate Doners as big as our heads.

The other was to blow our own glass vases at the Huttenhaus.

 This would never go over in America.  You actually get up there with these guys and they are twirling this hot melted glass around with you right there and then you blow to make it into a vase.  It is really quite fantastic.

There is also a whole glass museum inside.  After we waited for the glass to cool down by going through the museum, we took it over to the grinder, who stops what he's doing to grind your vase down for you.

 Really just amazing.  The idea that people should know the consequences and be responsible for their own actions is quite refreshing!  We didn't even have to sign a waiver or anything.  It was even more fun because we had friends along with us and we stopped for a bite to eat on the way in and out of the Black Forest.   It was a grand day!