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Archive for the ‘Vacation’ Category

Sunday Snapshots (of home)

In Family, garden, Vacation on June 30, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Ocean City, NJ was lovely. We had perfect weather. Every morning was spent on the beach.

From Ocean City, NJ 2013

(More pictures of our vacation can be seen by clicking on the album.)

Elly had a blast in the ocean and digging in the endless sand.

Still it was so nice to get home.

While away, the vegetable garden had exploded. So, today was spent picking zucchini and peas.

Elly helped.

She even helped shell the peas.

Home sweet home.

Vacation Notice

In Family, Vacation on June 21, 2013 at 11:53 pm

We are leaving for Ocean City, NJ tomorrow morning. Elly knew of our plans a month ago and has been ready to go all that time.

The past two days of packing have just increased the “Why can’t we go now?” questions. Though I am excited to put an end to those questions, I am not looking forward to 2 hours of “Are we there yet?” questions. Perhaps I will be the woman who invents the vehicle that can transport you to your destination by the push of a button. Necessity is the mother of invention, right?

Typically, on beach vacations, I never set foot on the beach as there is little that I like about the sun, cold ocean water, and sticky sand. Elly, on the other hand, would live by the water, so truly a compromise or two will have to be made. Hopefully, a little hand quilting will do wonders to help me forget my surroundings. If that doesn’t work, a glass of port at the end of the day should ease my sun-weary feet.

Hope you have a wonderful week! I’ll be back with lots of pictures.

Thrill of Amusement Rides

In Vacation on August 27, 2012 at 8:34 am

The first ride Elly picked out had Dan and I a bit apprehensive, but her enthusiasm overrode our instincts.

Perhaps we should have tried to talk her out of it more.

She was very happy to get off the roller coaster. Yet, the first thing she wanted to do was to go find more rides to go on.

At first, Dan went on the rides with her.

Then, we put her on a ride all by herself.

There was no turning back. She would have lived on the piers if we had let her.

Her favorite ride was called the Speedway.

So, as you can see, the trip to Seaside Heights was a success. Elly loved the rides as you can see above. She also loved the lights, sounds and games in the arcades.

She showed off her swimming skills in the hotel’s pool, yelling at complete strangers to “Watch me!”.

The beach was fun for all. Elly built a sand castle, dug holes in the sand with another young girl and ate handfuls of the sand despite our grimaces. Dan took Elly into the ocean where she screamed and kicked her legs as the waves came in. Yet, she wouldn’t let Dan leave. She wanted to stay on the beach forever. We adults waved the white flag first – just as it should be.

My favorite pictures from the trip:

All 46 pictures of the trip can be viewed below. Note that no pictures were taken at the pool or the beach as I was concerned about getting water and sand in my fancy new camera. Of course, the cheaper point and shoot that I brought along for such occasions wasn’t working because I had failed to charge the battery. Boo. Let me assure you, she was adorable in her bathing suits.

Seaside Heights 2012

Headed Back to the Jersey Shore

In Vacation on August 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Since Elly and I had such a wonderful time in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, we are going back as a family.

Well, we are going back to the Jersey shore. Instead of LBI, we will visit Seaside Heights.

You might recognize Seaside Heights as the host town of MTV’s Jersey Shore. The show is not the draw for us.

We love Seaside Heights for the memories. It’s the shore town Dan visited every summer as a kid. It’s where Dan asked me to marry him (and I said yes). It’s the only shore town besides Atlantic City that we’ve ever gone to. It’s our little oasis.

We also love Seaside Heights for the boardwalk. A beach without a boardwalk is just boring. It’s where all the good food, amusement rides and arcades are located.

This will be Elly’s first trip to Seaside Heights. It’s our hope that she’ll fall in love with it too.

My other hope is that I’ll kick this fever and sore throat before we leave Friday morning.

This blog will be silent while I’m away. More pictures than you probably care to see will be published on our return.

Have a great weekend!

Fun on MPB Day

In Sewing, Vacation on August 12, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Saturday was MPB day. Saturday was also my birthday.

I decided that there was no better way to spend my birthday than hanging out with Peter and people who loved to sew.

Though the day started at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, I opted to meet up with the group at the Brown Cup due to travel time.

They were just sitting down to lunch when I arrived.

After lunch was finished, the group divided into two. Half of the group went straight to Mood. The other half followed Peter to the budget-friendly fabric stores. I went with the latter group as this was my 1st time in the garment district and I wanted the full experience.

The first store Peter took us in was unlike any other fabric store I had ever been in. Bolts of fabric were leaned up against the walls, leaned up against each other and blocking passage way through some of the aisles. Almost nothing had a price tag. There was no air conditioning. A yard stick in hand was used to measure the fabric rather than a ruler anchored to the cutting table. The owner of the store along with his son were present and remarkably friendly. It was overwhelming and amazing. In the midst of it all, I found a cotton embroidered fabric that I couldn’t leave behind.

Here is Elly looking it over later in the day.

Our next stop was Paron Fabrics. Though they had better organization and even AC, I didn’t fall in love with any fabric. However, Peter pulled this fabric out and remarked about its uniqueness.

During the conversation, it occurred to me how wonderful it would look on a bag. I tried to walk out of the store without it, but I knew I would regret it. So, I blame Peter for this purchase.

Next we made a quick stop in a magazine store where most folks perused the sewing magazines; I flipped through some old Trend magazines on Knitwear.

Then, it was on to Mood. At this point, I was slightly disappointed that I hadn’t found any fabric suitable for Elly. So, I headed to the printed cotton section at Mood. I found nothing close to what I was looking for and yet I found exactly what I wanted.

Apparently, it was designed by some well-known designer. I was told the name at the cutting table by the friendly staff member named George who assisted me. But as I’m not up and up on fashion and designers, I neither recognized the name nor cared enough to write it down. George did tease me for buying designer fabric for a 2-year-old. I just loved the colors and the apple motif.

The tour was to continue on to a park, but I and another lady said goodbye here. I was eager to meet back up with family and spend time with them.

It was a wonderful day!
Thank you, Peter!

For complete photos of MPB day of which most are of Peter, see the link below.

MPB Day 2012


–Marie

Disney Cruise Review

In Family, Vacation on February 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Let me start by saying that for years, I had sworn that I would never take a cruise. Never. I didn’t want to be stuck on a ship in the middle of the ocean with no way to get off and with nothing to do. Yes, I know cruises supposedly have loads to do, but when people would list the activities onboard cruises, I wasn’t impressed. I don’t like to swim, to lay in the sun, to gamble, to go to a spa, to go clubbing and there is only so much time one can spend eating.

So when I announced to Dan that I wanted to go on a Disney cruise for our 12th anniversary, he asked “Who are you and what have you done with my wife?”

There were 2 main reasons I changed my mind: babysitting and trust.

Dan and I have been away from Elly for a total of 6 hours since her birth 2 years ago. 4 of those hours were used to attend a funeral. Clearly, we could use some time alone. Yet, I wasn’t willing to leave Elly for any length of time. The Disney cruise ships offered the best of both worlds; we could have adult time, Elly could play with other children her age in Disney’s nursery and we could reconnect as a family in a few short hours for fun together. It sounded perfect.

The other reason was based on our previous vacations to Walt Disney World. I have grown to trust Disney. Any company that can make standing in line fun should be able to make a memorable cruise.

The first day was spent checking in – a quick and easy process, napping, dropping Elly off at the nursery (after which I cried – so not ready for preschool) and enjoying a romantic dinner with Dan at Palo, an exclusive adult restaurant. In a word, wonderful.

The next day, the ship docked at Nassau in the Bahamas. We had booked seats on the semi-submarine tour months in advance.

Though Elly was excited to see so many fish, she did not love the loud noise that the engine made. She also wasn’t a fan of the “central air conditioning”, salt water air whipping into her face, or the cramped quarters. She spent a good portion of the excursion comfort nursing, fussing and looking for an escape route. Elly was happiest when we were off the boat and she could once again run free.

Exhausted and hungry, we headed back to the cruise ship for a quick lunch and a long nap. Shortly after waking up, it was time to head to dinner. We were seated with a lovely family from Virginia. The food was delicious. The environment was fun thanks to Crush, sea turtle in Finding Nemo. The problem was the duration of the meal. We had recently patted each others’ backs for training Elly to remain at the dining table until Dan and I had finished eating supper. We even thought she was ready to start taking to restaurants. We got a rude awakening on the cruise. Elly’s limit is about hour. The dinners on the cruise lasted upwards of 90 minutes. We bailed early on the first night. It took a smart phone equipped with toddler puzzles and a tablet playing Wall-E to get her to dessert on the final night.

By bedtime, doubts were swirling in my head. Had I made a mistake by choosing a cruise for our vacation? Would Elly be able to play with other children and have fun outside of the nursery? Would Dan and I find time to relax and just hang out?

Thankfully, the answer to those 3 questions were no, yes and yes.

Once we started paying attention to the activity list for each day, it was easy to keep Elly happily busy.
Nemo’s Reef, a splash park, was a big hit.

Andy’s room in the Oceaneer’s Club was also a big hit.

(Note that Elly was only allowed in the Oceaneer’s Club during Open House hours since she was under 3 and still not potty trained).

Surprisingly, Elly loved seeing all the characters. She would run right up to them and hug them.

Surprisingly because this is the same girl who screamed when I tried to get her to sit on Santa’s lap.

Thanks to music being played everywhere, Elly had lots of opportunities to show off her dancing skills.
She danced by herself.

She danced with Daisy Duck.

She even coerced other people to dance with her.

To ensure that we adults had a good time as well, I insisted that we not get off the ship again despite being docked at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island filled with fun activities, the very next day. I needed nice, quiet days with no comfort nursing, no fussing and no 2-year-old-tantrums. Nice and quiet. This cruise was booked as a romantic cruise for Dan and I. By going at our pace and just participating in the events and dinners that we wanted to do, it became just that.

On the 4th day, Elly headed back to the onboard nursery. This time, she cried and I (barely) held it together. Dan and I got our romantic time away from Elly.

In all, it was lovely. It really was.

Yet, we learned that we are not cruisers. We will probably never take another one. The strict schedule (when to eat, when to play, and when to depart the ship), the casual dress code and the constant service was a bit too claustrophobic. We are very lax laid back people. We don’t like being fussed over. Not so say that our servers weren’t amazing and fun, because they were.

Additionally, I didn’t walk off the ship feeling like I had missed anything, despite not seeing 1 show or setting foot in the spa or the gym.

Our best vacation to date remains the one we took to Clearwater, FL to watch the Phillies in Spring Training. We did absolutely nothing except eat, watch a baseball game everyday and check out neighborhood bars. We never set foot on the beach. It was relaxing, fun and amazing. When Elly is a bit older (and willing to sit through a baseball game), we’ll go back.

Full album of the Disney cruise can be viewed here.

Disney Cruise 2012

Vacation Notice

In Vacation on February 10, 2012 at 7:00 am

This blog will be idle for about a week while Dan and I celebrate our 10th anniversary (2 years late) onboard a Disney cruise.

Disney Dream, image by The Walt Disney Company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our actual 10th anniversary gift, otherwise known as Elly, will be coming with us because I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her behind.

R&R in Playa del Carmen

In Vacation on March 3, 2011 at 9:28 am

Dan, Elly and I had a wonderful, relaxing vacation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. It took us a day or two to come up with the right rhythm. We over exhausted ourselves on the first day by getting up before dawn, spending the first half of the day traveling and then trying to enjoy the evening walking through town and making Elly sit through a long sit-down dinner. It wasn’t the brightest idea. Yet, somehow we always try to do too much on our first day of vacation. Maybe one day we’ll learn.

Once we took a more leisurely pace, everybody had a great time. Only Elly refused to indulge in R&R. She was too busy mastering her new skills: climbing steps, opening doors and walking.

The vacation was a resounding success due to the following reasons:

1. Luxury home away from home complete with a heated pool – On most days, we took a morning swim, Elly included. Oh, how I miss that pool.

2. Visiting with family – It was a wonderful experience being able to spend a week with Dan’s family. I really do like my in-laws. I’ve always felt lucky to marry into such a big, warm family. Alas, poor Elly misses all the attention.

3. Friendliness of locals – We couldn’t walk down a street without people stopping to say Hola and to ogle at Elly. They marveled at her red hair, called her beautiful, and even pinched her cheeks.

Plus, they were extremely patient with our inability to speak Spanish outside a handful of words, mostly nouns.

4. Avoidance of things we dislike – Though we were 1 block from the beach, we didn’t step foot on it. I have a daughter who makes Casper look tan. No amount of sun protection can save her from getting some degree of a sunburn. Besides, Dan and I are not fans of the beach. We prefer a pool.

5. Good food – It had been my goal to only eat Mexican food while in Mexico. I failed. The meals and snacks taken at the house were your normal American cuisine: pastries, grilling meats, and snacks. When we were out on the town, I stuck to my guns. My favorite finds were tacos de chorizo and cochinita pibil. Yum! Dan pointed out that I have a knack of finding sausage wherever we travel to. When we came back from London, I did nothing but rave about their selection of tasty sausages. I do love me some sausage.

6. Gorgeous fabric – Just gaze your eyes upon my finds.

I already have plans for most of it: dresses out of sequined fabric, apron out of the Madonna fabric, and a gored skirt out of the hand-dyed fabric.

Will we go back? I’d go back just for the pool. Pity it won’t fit in our backyard.

Not Knitting

In Knitting, Vacation on February 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm

The waistband on Elly’s wool soakers is finished.

Not much else is. My knitting has once again been placed on the back burner. What is more important than knitting now? Packing for our vacation. We’re headed to Mexico!

Elly has a passport and a bikini. She’s ready.

Actually, it’s amazing how somebody so small could need to take so much stuff. We are following the advice of my best friend who has been traveling with her son since he was 12 months old. “Pack for the worst scenario; hope for the best” she says. So, we’re taking everything you need for a sick child and everything you need for a healthy child.

London, the Long Version

In Vacation on April 20, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Winners from my 2nd Blogversary:

Loren
Katia

Thanks to everyone who left a comment! You make blogging fun.

 

 

Upon my return from London, I didn’t care about the fabulous time we had on vacation. I was just so happy to be back home, to see Jake, to sleep in my own bed and to cook in my own kitchen. Now that a week has passed, I can look back on our time in London with fond memories.
So, for those of you who asked (nay, insisted) on hearing all the details from our trip, here you go.

(List of people who traveled with us:
4 of our friends flew out with us: Vaishali or V, our godson Finn, Arecia, and Mike.
Dan’s father and his girlfriend Donna Jo flew in from TN.
Dan’s sister Michelle also joined us. It should be noted that this trip was her idea – ever are we grateful.

Further details: Mike and Arecia stayed with us (Dan and I) in the rented flat.)

We arrived in London at 9:30 pm on April 1st. We breezed through customs, especially after we announced that we were here to drink their good beer. Our taxi driver was waiting for us outside baggage claim to escort us to our rented flat. On the drive there, we were desperately looking for something – anything – that looked “English”. The houses looked similar to the row homes in Philadelphia. The trees, gas stations and shores also looked just like the ones we had back home. Then, we spotted the Fuller’s brewery. Arecia and I broke out in applause. Dan proclaimed, “You can celebrate now. We are officially in London”!
Shortly thereafter, we arrived at the flat. It was lovely, spacious and conveniently located. It had 2 floors, a huge kitchen, an electric kettle (I ordered one for myself as soon as we got back home),

2 bedrooms – each with its own bathroom, a spa-sized tub in the bathroom off our bedroom and a cute patio. It was in the kitchen that we learned a new word; a hob is a range.

We got a slow start on our 1st full day in London. I woke up hungry and went to ravage the pantry. I try to be resourceful, but I couldn’t think of a single thing that I could make with just honey, marmite and sea salt. Instead, I sent Dan out in search of bread. Thankfully, he had spotted our local convenience store the night before.
Once everybody was bathed, dressed and fed, we headed to Covent Garden neighborhood in search of the Tea House and pubs. We traveled almost everywhere via the Tube, London’s subway system. Fulham Broadway was the stop closest to our flat.

While Mike and I perused the Tea House, Dan and Arecia enjoyed a beer at the Bunker Bier Hall. The Tea House was filled with exactly what I hoped for: a wide selection of loose tea. Most teas had samples stored in clear glass jars that could be opened and sniffed. Both Mike and I left 2 new teas in hand. I chose White Monkey and a Yogi spice blend.
Philly pride note: Philly has a tea shop with a much broader selection of teas and with better service than London’s Tea House. If you are in the area, stop by Premium Steap at 111 S 18th St.
Mike and I rejoined the rest of the group which now included Michelle. The group decided to move onto another pub, the Cove, for cask beer (real ale) and pasties. I opted to head back to the flat for a siesta (nap). It was a luxury that I tried to indulge in most days.
Feeling well rested, but once again hungry, I went in search of a bakery. Can I tell you how difficult it was to find a bakery in London? I found lots of delis just in our walk around town, but no bakeries. I had assumed that I would stumble across several selling scones. No such luck. The local grocery store didn’t even sell cream. I think I’m still in shock over that finding. I was so certain that scones and London went together like peanut butter and jelly. Once I abandoned the “stumbling across a bakery on my walk through town” plan, things started looking up. In a Coventry Garden guidebook, I found all of 1 bakery listed. Still dreaming of scones, I sallied forth to Paul’s Bakery.

They had a beautiful selection of cream and fruit pies, cream cheese pies, breaks and much more. I bought 8 pie slices and a loaf of bread for the rest of the week’s breakfasts. They were delicious, but you’ll notice the lack of scones in my description. They didn’t have any.
Happy with my purchases anyway and a wee bit proud for locating the bakery on my own, I met up with Dan and the group. They had found Dan’s father and Donna Jo and were off in search of yet more pubs. On the way, they told me about the Cove and the wide assortment of pasties available to eat. Unfortunately, it was about this time that I learned something awful about myself. Apparently if I don’t eat for a few hours, I lose patience with people and start to curse. Michelle was so kind to me. She stopped everything and helped me find a snack at a nearby convenient store.
Renewed with energy, I rejoined the search for dinner We finally settled on Belgo Centraal. Rick Steves had featured it in his London episode and for good reason. Belgo serves a good selection of Belgium beers and traditional Belgium fare, such as mussels.
Philly pride note: Monk’s Cafe’s selection of beer is hard to surpass even in London.
We learned a new phrase at Belgo Centraal: “take away”. Rather than asking for “a box” to put the leftover food in, which is what we do at home, you should ask for take away when in London. It keeps them from apologizing and saying that the best they can do is wrap it in foil; would you mind?

Friday, April 3rd we visited the Borough Market and Vinopolis. While I went in search of scones at the Market, Dan tried a Devil in Horseback, prunes wrapped in bacon. Dan gave the thumbs up on the Devil in Horseback, a great combination of sweet and salty. I didn’t have as much success; not 1 scone did I find. I was beginning to think that all of London had abandoned the whole scone-eating tradition. Maybe everybody was on a diet. Maybe there was a conspiracy against me. It was Michelle who shined a light at the one flaw in my search. All the time I had been searching for triangular scones, since that is the way they are shaped in Philly shops. In London, scones are round. Still, even armed with this new knowledge, I only found 1 scone in the entire market out of several bread shops. I didn’t buy it; it didn’t meet my grandiose plans. I wanted to buy an assortment of scones: plain, blueberry, orange, cranberry, oh my. So while Dan, Mike and Arecia perused the selection of beers in Utobeer,

Michelle and I visited the cheese shop. One of the clerks recommended his favorite goat cheese, a 3-week-old goat cheese from a local farm. It was so creamy and delicious that I bought a chunk to take back to the flat. Loaded down with our purchases, we all headed to Vinopolis.
Vinopolis is a wine museum that is short on museum artifacts and long on wine tasting. After walking through the mini-museum, you listen to a short lecture on how to enjoy wine thoroughly via sight, smell and taste. Then, it’s time for the wine tasting. Several tables are lined up in 2 adjoining rooms displaying rows of wine bottles, each with a detailed description.

I made the following observation: Wine is nice, but port is delicious. Specifically, I fell in love with a port called the Duke of Cumberland.
Philly bash: Nowhere in all of PA can I find the Duke of Cumberland. The state-run wine and liquor stores don’t carry it.

Saturday, April 4th started with a fry at the Slug on Fulham Street, nearby where we were staying. Beer was included with the cost of the fry which is a lovely tradition, don’t you think? We ate it while watching a rugby match and wondering what the heck the rules of the game were. While Michelle hooked up with Dad and Donna Jo for a boat tour, Dan, Mike, Arecia and I attended a football (soccer) game.

QPR vs. Crystal Palace.
The game ended in goose eggs: 0-0. Despite the no score, it was exciting to watch. The teams seemed evenly matched and several attempts on the goals were made. We supported the home team, QPR, but I secretly wished we had sat with the visiting team. Crystal Palace had the best fans! They cheered, shouted and sang the whole game while the QPR fans only mustered two cheers.
The day ended with a dinner out at Rasa with Michelle and her group of friends from Wharton.

Sunday, April 5th started at the Fox and Anchor pub for Dan and I. We were quickly joined by Michelle. The three of us sat, talked, ate appetizers and tasted our way through all of their cask ales. When Michelle left to catch her plane back home, I joined her on the walk to the Tube. Two stops away from “home”, I realized that I didn’t have a set of the keys to get into the flat. Dan had our set. I called; he apologized and we agreed on a meeting spot. The error led to a wonderful discovery: our neighborhood pub, The Pelican. While I waited for Dan, I drank a Fuller’s London Pride on cask, knit the BSJ and chatted with the friendly bartenders, the friendliest bartenders we would meet in our travels.

Dinner was taken at The White Horse, a pub a few blocks away from our flat. Mike and Arecia joined us in short order and told us of their walk along the Thames earlier that day.

On Monday, April 6th, we were reunited with Vaishali and Finn, who had been in Paris. They met Dan, Mike and I at the Tower of London. This was a lot of fun to tour!

I was excited to see the Koh-i-Noor because of a story I had heard years earlier. Come to find out the story isn’t true, but it was beautiful all the same. It was the story of a young Indian prince who gifted the diamond to Queen Victoria. Later, when he was older and wiser, he visited the queen and requested for the diamond. Nervously, the diamond was handed to the prince. He turned to face Queen Victoria and stated, “Now that I know what the Koh-i-Noor is worth, I bequeath it to you out of gratitude”. Like I said, it’s not true. The real story can be read on the link above.

After touring the Crown Jewels, we took lunch in the form of a cream tea at the outdoor cafe within the Tower grounds. Finally, I had found my scones and clotted cream! I should have taken pictures, but I was too busy stuffing my face. Oh, they were so good.
Poor Finn had a minor meltdown on our way to tour King Henry VIII’s collection of armor, but he recovered quite quickly and was a joy the rest of the trip. As a reward for his fine behavior, Finn got to pick out a toy at one of the shops. Finn chose a collapsible lance, after being told the sword wouldn’t fit into the suitcase. I opted for a bar of plain (what we would call dark) chocolate as well as gifts for my nieces. The ladies (and Finn) went home for a siesta before the evening’s supper. The evening meal was taken at The Pelican.

Tuesday, April 7th required an early start. Everybody met up at Waterloo station to take a train up to Windsor town to see the Queen.

The best part about the Windsor castle wasn’t the castle itself, but the chapel that was attached to it.

St. George’s chapel held the burials of King Henry VIII and Queen Mum among others. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the interior. It’s a pity because there is no way I could describe the marble tombs or the intricately carved wood paneling, seats and balconies. It was a marvel to see.
For lunch, we headed over to the Carpenters’ Arms for cask ales and meat pies. V, who almost never drinks beer, fell in love with the cask ale. Even Dan’s father was converted. Arecia, on the other hand, never found one she liked. The rest of us needed no convincing. I had made it my mission to drink nothing but cask ales and tea whilst in London. Mission accomplished.
The trip was tiring and upon returning to Waterloo, we all retired early for the night. Although Dan did find the energy to venture back out for a beer with Mike and Arecia at the Royal Exchange, you guessed it – a pub.

On Wednesday (April 8th) morning, I stood outside the Natural History Museum waiting for V and Finn while Dan waited for his father and Donna Jo at the Cove. The beer drinkers then ventured over to the Spice of Life and later to the Porterhouse before Dad and Donna Jo had to go catch their plane home.

The museum had an entire wing dedicated to the dinosaurs – the very reason for our visit. Finn was quite good at identifying the various dinosaurs. Some of my favorite quotes of the day:
V: “We saw a lot of dinosaurs. Have you had your fill yet?”
Finn: “No” as he runs over to the last exhibit

V: “Do you want to get a T-rex stuffed animal”?
Finn: “He would scare the rest of my stuffed animals”.

Me: “What was your favorite dinosaur”?
Finn: “T-rex was real! (The exhibit moved, roared and blew steam). But he couldn’t get out because of the fence”.

After the mid-day siesta, I went in search of the local yarn shop, since by now I had almost finished the BSJ. With a little help from Alice, the store owner, I found Socktopus!

Alice was slightly surprised to learn that I came to a yarn store named Socktopus, but had never actually knitted socks and had no desire to start. She didn’t hold the ‘fault’ against me. We had a lovely conversation, I bought 2 skeins of yarn, and she even invited me back for Thursday’s knitting circle.
Dinner was taken with V’s sister and BIL, who V and Finn were staying with in London, at an Italian restaurant called Bella Italia. We would equate the restaurant to an Olive Garden, but with better food. For dessert, Dan and I stopped off at The Pelican for a pint.

Thursday, April 9th, is when we did our city stroll with V and Finn, while Mike and Arecia visited Whales.

We started at the Big Ben and walked all the way down to Picadilly Circus. I took so many pictures of the buildings along the way – not because I knew of their historical significance but because I thought they were pretty.

We rested our weary feet at de Hems, a Dutch bar. While the adults ate traditional Dutch fare and drank Belgium beers, Finn played on his Leapster until he could no longer keep his eyes open.
Forgoing my daily siesta, Dan and I headed over to Albannach, a Scottish themed bar. This is the place to go if you love Scotch whisky, which we don’t. We downed our ales and then high-tailed it out of there. Parting ways, I stopped by the flat to grab more yarn before setting off for the knitting circle. I had a good time sitting and chatting with the other knitters while drinking a glass of wine. These were the first knitters I had met in all of London! Not once did I see another person knitting on the Tube or in the pubs or in the airport. Just as the circle was breaking up for the night, the woman sitting across from me introduced herself as a fellow American. She went on to tell me about her search for a friendly yarn store, noting what I had observed: people in London are very respectful of your privacy and prefer to not bother you. It’s a very kind gesture, but it also can feel unwelcoming.

While Friday, April 10th was a day of rest for V and Finn and a day of touring museums for Mike and Arecia, it was a day of pub crawling for Dan and I. Foolishly, we started our tour in Holborn, a business district within London. Because it was Good Friday and thus a bank holiday, the area was largely deserted. Think ghost town. Both of the pubs we had hoped to visit were closed. By chance, we stumbled across an open bar, the Duke of York. Gratefully, we both ordered Hobgolin, on cask of course, and reviewed the list of bars in our London “beer bible”, Around London in 80 beers.

Dan came up with a new route, but this time we called to make sure they bars were indeed open. Upon leaving the Duke, we headed to Cittie of Yorke for meat pies and more cask ales. We enjoyed both in one of their snugs.

Next up on Dan’s route was the Dog & Duck. On the way there, we came across Princess Louise, a beautiful Victorian pub. We couldn’t pass by without peaking our heads in and at least drinking a half pint. We didn’t want to appear rude, you know. Then, we picked back up the trail to Dog & Duck. While Dan enjoyed an ale, I had my afternoon tea with a raspberry and almond tart. It was at about this time that Mike and Arecia called us and invited us to join them at Porterhouse, an Irish pub.

It was a wonderful way to end the day and to end the vacation.

Conclusion:
We had a wonderful time. We were thrilled to travel with so many of our friends and family.
We stuck to a relaxing pace, spending the lion’s share of our time chatting in one pub or another.

Will we ever go back? Probably not. We have enough memories to last us a lifetime.

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