Saturday, April 28, 2007


Thoth likes to style our hair. It's really cute but that raspy tongue hurts! To make you quit wiggling he grabs your head in both paws.

Friday, April 27, 2007

To bee or not to bee..?

Bee populations are collapsing all over the world. Nobody knows why, and it could have devastating long-term effects on pollination. They don't seem to come back to the hive. Are cell phones signals confusing them? Are pesticides poisoning them? Are the higher levels of pathogens a cause or an effect of a weakened immune system. Will scientists bee able to solve the problem and save them? Tune in next week...

Once you go Mac...

You'll never go back! I've been saying that for ages, but here's more proof:

While we were in London, a housekeeper bashed the heck out of Matt's laptop. It was fully functional except for a cracked communication board. Unfortunately with the bent frame we couldn't replace the board, so yesterday we went to the Apple store and got a new laptop. The old one is being donated to a non-Internet using friend.

Today, Matt was getting out of Wendolene, balancing the brand new computer on 2 boxes of Spongebob popsicles. Not his smartest move to date. Of course it took a header and landed corner-first on the garage concrete.

It still works. Perfectly. There's a tiny corner scratch. Hee hee!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ben's truck

When Matt was in Tucson, he saw a wonderful old truck in a parking lot car show. "Hey," he told his parents, "that's exactly the truck Sharon wants, a '30 Chevy flatbed! She fell in love with it after seeing Carnivale." He took a closer look... and it was the truck from Carnivale! A gent named Skip bought it at a prop auction, and had the dash signed by the entire cast. It's in great shape: The rust is actually painted on. And yes, I told him to call me if he ever wants to sell...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lady Tottington takes her leave

We are thrilled to announce that Totty has been adopted by Bill, who runs a unique business trading old English and American tokens and coins. He's had over 300 cars, but his current project is Mr. Boulton, a 1957 FX3 London Taxi. Yes, that door is supposed to be "missing." It allows easy access to baggage, but also provides a path for wind and rain to the poor driver!

I expect Mr. Boulton will enjoy sharing his garage with a "younger woman."

In other exciting news, Matt took his girls to see his parents in Tucson. Gillian is examining the bird/squirrel feeder in the back yard. He took these critter pics at the zoo.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

York Minster

The statue of Constantine the Great outside York Minster. The basement of the Minster contains the remains of the Roman HQ and personally I think it's the best part of the church.
Lots of sculpture on the tombs: Some are relaxed, while others take a more formal approach. And what's with the headless semaphore guys?

Matt thinks they are dancing to the Village People's "YMCA."

Going home...

Off to Manchester to drop Preston with Ray. He provides cars for TV & movies, including the new Casino Royale (That Miami airport scene was his collection of Crown Vics! We also spent time with Mal of Vintage Spares, the man to call on for taxi parts.). Ray took temporary custody of Preston and will deliver him to the dock. Isn't his Checker gorgeous? What a gentleman: He didn't even charge us cab fare for a ride to the train station. We railed down to London and spent a day and a half there before our flight home. Visits to Harrod's and Hamley's were quite productive. The picnic at St. James Park was a nice pastoral break in the concrete. Matt eyes the shot glass of orange juice meted out by our Victoria-area B&B.

My favorite in-flight shot: Ice sheets break up off the coast of Iceland.

The Roman Baths

The Roman Baths in Bath, found intact in the late 1800's... the Victorians had built another spa on top. We enjoyed two sessions in the waters ourselves. Lovely!

Victorian scuptures of Romans.

There was a floor over these stacks of bricks. Romans wore wooden clogs to protect their feet from the extreme heat below.

Bath Minster and a Roman Villa

Bath Minster.
Matt at Old Sarum Castle.
Remains of a Roman villa at Rockbourne.
Old Wardour window - looking out on New Wardour.

Leaving York, headed for Bath

Back in the land of ketchup

We just got in. Many thanks for all your wonderful emails and blog comments. You guys rock! Pics tomorrow when I regain conciousness.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

More "Heart of England"

That's what this section of the country is called. You'll have to wait for the next download to see the pics of Bath itself. Here: More of Wardour Castle. The second pic is the grotto behind it. The limestone has all melted together now and you can see both stalagtites and exposed fossils (Matt was very amused by this evidence of evolution in a religious site).

Wardour from the outside.

More random houses. Note the thatched roofs. Others have slate tiles. The phone boxes date from when individual homes didn't have lines. They are still operational. The mail lorry is a tiny Vauxhall. We see these mini panel vans everywhere, made also by Citroen, Peugot, and Ford. The cars here are all small and extremely cute. Even the brands we are used to (Toyota, Mazda) provide completely different models.

Notes on driving in the UK:
1) It's very weird to see no driver on the left!
2) The Brits are better drivers than Americans. I think this is due to the skinny highway lanes (called motorway carriageways) and high speeds. Either you learn, or you go back to public transit.
3) There aren't any stop lights outside of large cities. There are also very few overpasses. Intersections of both local roads and highways are handled with roundabouts. Traffic keeps moving smoothly, since everyone knows how to merge (see 2).
4) There are no beater cars, since the annual inspection is so stringent. They practically take the car apart - tyres to roof - looking for cosmetic and functional flaws.
5) Gas is 4x as expensive as the US.
6) Because of the last two bits, people take very good care of their vehicles. They are polished, free of stickers, and clean inside.
7) There are lots of one-way roads, but we can't figure out how to tell them apart from the 2-ways. They don't bother with the big arrow sign. The roads are single-car width most of the time anyway. All painted lines are white. And you can't tell by the direction of the parked cars, because...
8) Parking is a careless free-for-all. You can point in either direction. You can be up on the curb, or smack in the middle of traffic. You can even park in the middle between lanes. Everyone just flows around it. Lovely demonstration of the Tao in action. :)

We are now in London and will fly home Monday from here. Love you all!

Bath and the surrounding countryside

Catching up - we LOVED York but had to move on eventually. Saw some of our cab guys. Spent many many hours tooling through the English countryside. The roads are positively lined with photo ops. These picturesque stone and brick homes aren't just an isolated pretty spot - they are ALL like that. 15th - 18th century buildings with TV dishes on top.

You obviously recognize Stonehenge. We also visited Cathenge and Nothinghenge. That skinny road seen through Preston's windscreen is a two-lane road. It's only 1 car wide, so if you meet a neighbor you both dive into the bushes. In the case of coming grill-to-grill with a large lorry (truck) or farm equipment, you throw it into reverse and race backwards towards a suitable widening. Pheasants, crows, sparrows, lots of other birds everywhere. Rabbits and badgers also spotted.

Acres and acres of dense yellow flowers. They are mustard plants and have a wonderful spicy aroma.

That's me at the very top of Wardour Castle. Utterly wonderful and you get to scramble around with no adult supervision. Of course we went climbing. More pics in the next entry...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

still Yorking around

Have walked about 934 miles since we arrived yesterday afternoon. The foot fracture, which I thought had healed, has let me know in no uncertain terms that it hasn't, actually, thank you very much! Having an utter blast. Walls here were built by Roman soldiers 2000 years ago, and you get to touch them and walk all over them! More pics on Flickr now, all from yesterday and last night. Much more coming.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Old York, Old York

We couldn't be happier. Flew into London, bussed and railed to Birmingham to collect the cab. Preston is even better than we expected (Yes, Totty is for sale now). The weather is perfect - sunny and just cool enough. We stayed in Naidine's flat in Scarborough last night. It was so very, very English... I couldn't stop picturing Jeeves & Wooster knocking about. Today we swooped down to York and secured a terrific B&B right in the middle of town. We are staying here through Tuesday morning. What we're seeing lots of: newly hatched lambs, scads of Vespas in wacky custom colors, ubiquitious old brick cottages tucked into valleys, the popular "bad wig" hairstyle on young men. My face hurts from grinning so much. Driving on the left is FREAKY!! Here are a few pics. Check out that ice cream truck! I'm working on getting them on Flickr but so far have about half - most still need titles & descriptions. Time for bed!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Warning: Intense cuteness!

This is probably the most adorable video I've seen in years. Watch it all the way to the end. :)

Matt and I are practically vibrating with excitement. We secured our International Driving Permits and bathing suits (for Bath) and WOW I'm so fired up I can't think about anything else! Not even the supercool knitting machine I got my mitts on - many thanks to Terri for parting with it, and Annie for showing me how to use it. :) We leave Thursday morning - anyone want to give us a ride to the airport?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Oranges & Emeralds

Emma worked her magic and dyed these brilliant silk hankies for me. I spun them up fairly thin and have about 130yds. Now I just have to figure out what to make with it. Meanwhile, Fig visited Blackberry's room for a hay snack. See the annoyed ear position? She immediately chased him out and treed him in the cat tower. I so love that rabbit.