Sunday, December 11, 2011

London Trip 3 - Fall Break

During the boys' fall break we also took a trip to London. I know the title of the post says London Trip 3 and there isn't a trip 2, but that is because the pictures aren't on this computer and I need to find them. Anyway, on our 3rd trip we again took the train and this time spent the night so that we could have more time to see London.  At the end of the trip we realized that you can never have enough time in London. Our lists of things we want to see and do in London grows and grows and grows.  Here are a few of the MANY pictures we took while on our trip.
Day 1 - Bus Tour
Best Seats on the Bus
Big Ben
Palace Guards 
Harrods Department Store
Tower Bridge
Tower of London
London Eye
Trafalgar Square

Southsea Castle (and Lighthouse)
One day, about 2 months into our time here in England, while sitting at the playground watching Nathan and Sarah play, I looked up and saw a lighthouse.  I was stunned because Nathan has an uncanny ability to see lighthouses everywhere and we had never seen this lighthouse before.  I called him over to me and just before I could point it out to him, Nathan yells LIGHTHOUSE!  Needless to say we planned a trip to visit the lighthouse as soon as possible.

 England has a wonderful thing called fall break that gives the children 10 days out of school in the fall, so while the boys were out on fall break we visited the lighthouse which is part of the Southsea Castle.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Sarah & Nathan's 1st Day

Sarah and Nathan have school too, it is just getting off the ground a little bit more slowly. They are being home-schooled this year and before we could start school we had to have a home. We have begun on a modified schedule now, we are still waiting on some materials to be sent. This is a good thing because one of us really needs to be eased into this whole school thing.

As is only right and fitting I wanted to share pictures from their first day of school too. Nathan decided that he didn't want to go to school even if it was at home with Mommy, but Sarah makes things more fun.

Monday, September 12, 2011

First Day of School 2011

Better Late Than Never

This year school is a little different. Alex and Spencer are going to school at Ryde School with Upper Chine. It is on the Isle of Wight just off the coast of Portsmouth. They wear uniforms and ride a hovercraft and walk almost two miles literally up a hill. After school it is down hill. Sarah and Nathan don't have a school. They will be being home schooled once we get a home. The day before school started we had welcome and meet and greet type activity. The weather was a little harsh with high winds and drizzle. The hovercraft was closed and we had to take a foot ferry over to the school. Now we know the procedure for bad weather.

Luckily the first day of school weather was much more delightful. We left the hotel, took a taxi to the hovercraft terminal and as a family took the boys to school. The hovercraft had about 10 students going Ryde. From a not so discreet distance we followed Alex and Spencer up the hill till they arrived at the back gate of the school. They were lucky enough to be friended by another boy Spencer's age who showed them the way.

While the boys were at school Sarah, Nathan, Jay and I toured a part of the Isle of Wight by history telling double decker bus. We also did some shopping and had hot chocolate at the Chocolate Apothecary. After school the boys came down the hill and met us for ice cream. Not your typical 1st day of school, but highly memorable.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Southsea Kite Festival

One more quick fun blog before school begins. The first weekend we were in England, and more specifically in Portsmouth, Southsea, which is the part of Portsmouth we will be living in, had a Kite Festival. We had nothing else to do so we went to the Kite Festival. There were expensive food stands with food that isn't good for you. There were great jewelry, clothing and knickknack stands with things that we can't really afford to spend money on. There was also the carnival section with rides to make children very excited. Unlike Busch Gardens the rides cost money every time you ride one and so we had to limit the children to one ride each.
The Kite Festival was our first real experience with the weather here. It was beautiful, but very windy with occasional showers. When we arrived we were taking our coats off, but about 30 minutes into it the clouds blew in and it rained on us. Then it stayed cloudy and windy for about 30 minutes. Finally the sun came back out. I spent almost as much time looking at the kites as I did studying what people wear. From shoes to coats it is almost an obsession with me to figure out what we are going to buy for this ever changing, yet fairly moderate climate.

The last part of our day, and I really wish I had a picture of this, we had lunch at a deli. Lunch was good, but the Lemon donut pastry was the best, it ruined me for all other pastries. It was AMAZING.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Striping Up on the HMS Victory

Today Jay and I were happy to be invited to attend the Striping Up Ceremony for Jay's sponsor, Joe Bainer. Joe has been a terrific sponsor before we arrived in the UK and since we've been here. The favorite saying our first week here was "Joe Says". The kids even talked about playing Simon Says and changing it to Joe Says.
Joe was promoted from Lieutenant to Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy and chose the HMS (Her Majesty's Ship) Victory as the location for the event. (HMS Victory is perhaps the greatest successful war vessel of all times. It was Admiral Nelson's flag ship for two very decisive Naval battles.) There were officers from the US Navy, Her Majesty's Royal Navy and other NATO militaries all joined together on a beautiful old wooden hull war ship.
During the ceremony they read the Warrant (US Government's official statement of promotion), recited the Oath of Office and then the newly promoted officer changed into his new uniform with the assistance of the Admiral.
We loved being a part of it. Congratulations Joe and thank you for including us.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

London Baby

Let me just start this by saying that Jay and I enjoy the TV show Friends. We have watched it before bed for years just so we could have a good laugh before bed. We have been referencing the Friend's trip to London ever since we arrived here and our trip to London was no different. We really wanted to find a pop up map like Joey had so Jay could step inside the map to find his way around, but the one we bought was more useful.
We took the train from Portsmouth to London and I'll tell you I love the train. It is so much fun to travel with the family and no one need to navigate or drive and we can all just hang out together. There was the time that not all of us got thru the doors of the train fast enough, but luckily we were able to get the door back open and everyone in before the train took off. Our hearts got a little workout, but no harm done.
When we arrived in London we thought that we were headed to one of the Navy's offices, but we were off by about 10 miles and 4 underground zones for the metro. No biggie, we just took another trip on the train/metro and found where we needed to be. After all the work was done we got to do our sightseeing.
Right off the metro we saw Big Ben and Parliament, The River Thames and the Farris Wheel.
Westminster Abbey was also on our list.

Not exactly sure what this was, but it was a beautiful view through St. James Park.
Sarah and I were excited to Buckingham Palace and Sarah was sure if she zoomed in far enough she might see something more exciting than just a big palace.
Nathan loved the ducks and wanted more picture of ducks than some big building.
We saw a lot of the highlights of London, but barely brushed the surface of things we want to see. We look forward to returning and digging deeper into all there is to see and do.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Trip to Ryde

On our third full day in the UK we took a little trip from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight. Yes, I know, we really didn't need to come all the way to England for a Portsmouth and an Isle of Wight we had those in Virginia. Alexander and Spencer will be going to Ryde School on the Isle of Wight. We traveled over on hovercraft to meet the headmaster and visit the campus.

We had a wonderful meeting with the headmaster and the hover craft was an easy and fun 10 minute ride. The boys are looking forward to a great year and Sarah hopes to join them next year.