Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tenerife, Spain

Mid October brought us a "holiday" from school, our first week off.  (Remember, there is no Labor Day, Columbus Day, half days, in the U.K.)  We chose to head seventy miles from the west coast of Africa to the Canary Islands, which are surprisingly, part of Spain.  We found a terrific hotel on the island of Tenerife and hoped for a great R&R vacation...the beach, sun, and just lazy outdoor days.  Selfishly, we figured it wouldn't hurt to get our last burst of warm sunshine before the cold England winter hits...after all, it'll be here before we know it.  
Turns out it was all that and more.  We had the sunshine, terrific pools, and continued our quest to see new sights.  We took a day trip to Pico del Teide, the highest mountain in Spain and the 3rd highest volcano in the world.  Our rental car took us to it, followed by a cable car/gondola lift.  After that, we were free to hike around and explore.  Something worth was freezing at the top.  It often snows here in mid summer.  Unbelieveable, especially since we had just come from the beaches below!  Our next day trip was to Loro Parque, where we saw dolphins, sea lions, and killer whales put on amazing performances.  I guess it is similiar to Sea World back home.  The kids loved it and each had their favorite animal.  :)   Other fun things were parasailing while at the same time looking below and seeing wild dolphins in the ocean.  I swear they were meant to put on a show and make people smile! 
To sum it up, it was a terrific family getaway to somewhere we would never have chosen from the States.  Just too far.  In fact, I think it was the farthest the kids have been from the the US and needless to say, we were just about the only Americans there.  Bonus though, we enjoyed the food much better there, than in our area of London.  We ate well, and the sangria wasn't bad either.:) 
One last detail worth mentioning is that our kids got their first taste of "European bathing suits".  As soon as we arrived they ran way ahead to check out the beaches and came running back, all saying the same thing in unison..."the bikinis here are missing the top piece!"  Nick now has a whole new vocabulary...most of which he made up himself and is decriptive to say the least.  Seven year olds can really charm "el senoritas"!  Winthin days, it was just reality and much less of a culture shock.  I must say that I couldn't help but laugh looking out to the ocean seeing my kids swimming beside ladies and their tatas!  Oh well, part of the whole educational process I suppose...I'm sure they all will remember Spain and all it's beauty.  I know Kyle will...:)

Hibachi tonight at" Kamakura"

Friday, October 7, 2011

First October weekend...Sunny & Blue Skies

The weather this week has been gorgeous.  27 degrees celcius....that converts to approximately 80 degrees farenheit.  We can switch the math fast now...experts no less, and we'll take the sunshine anytime.  :)
Two things made this week unique...first you'll notice Kate's sling.  She had a horse riding accident and fractured her arm by her right shoulder.  She's okay now, just cannot play soccer, write, or take PE...and of course, riding is out for at least 7 weeks.  We at least figured out the nearby hospitals, and local doctor offices...getting our first taste of National Healthcare.  On a more positive side, Jack's birthday was Friday!  He turned 11.  He had a birthday cake at school and home, and spent the day with his friends after school.  Happy birthday bud!

On Saturday we decided to visit the medieval Warwick Castle in Warwickshire, England.  It was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror.  Many prisoners were held in the dungeons.  The largest catapult in the world sits toward the back of the castle along the Avon River.  It was about a two hour drive and the kids were able to see falconry, warfare, defensive towers, archery, & visit 'The Dragon Tower'.  

Below are pictures from our crop picking day...we went for pumpkins, but also came home with strawberries, rasberries, and corn.  The kids had a quest to find the perfect shapes and colors.  Many were eaten before they hit the basket...just a fun day.  Strawberry shortcake tonight...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The line between two hemispheres

Kate's 4th grade class took a field trip to Greenwich, England to see the Prime Meridian of the World.  Longitude is 0 degrees.  Every place on Earth is measured in terms of distance east or west from this line. The line divides the hemispheres...pretty cool for a nine year old to step on!!  Hopefully a memory (& concept) she'll hold onto.