Wednesday, October 31, 2007


One sees strange creatures on the tube sometimes. Halloween is celebrated in England, though amid many complaints about unwelcome American cultural imports (and children wear "fancy dress" rather than "costumes".) Monday is a much more British holiday: Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night, a celebration of Guy Fawkes' failure to blow up Houses of Parliament on November 5, 1605. Community events include bonfires, burning of Guy Fawkes effigies, and fireworks. We're celebrating both!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

British Museum (for kids)

This week is half-term for most schools in England, meaning they have the week off. Many of the museums have special activities for kids, and the British Museum had an awesome one for kids this week - making their own terracotta soldiers (to go along with the special exhibit from Xi'an currently at the museum). Here's Abby with the raw materials, and an hour later . . . here is Abby with her creation! Below, her soldier along with those made by other children.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Abby's still a great photographer - this is the Royal Palace in Madrid.
Calle Huerta, where we stayed. It's a really pleasant area very close to the Prado. The Prado was definitely the highlight of our stay in Madrid. There were lots of amazing paintings, including the great Velazquez painting Las Meninas[uid]=390&no_cache=1. We also loved seeing the Bosch painting Wayne was very disappointed that the gallery with that painting was closed. He asked a guard, and she said that maybe it would open at 6. He checked again at 6 and it was still closed. Then, just as we were getting ready to leave, the guard came rushing up and said, "The room is open!" She had searched us out in the museum to let us know. Abby loved this picture, with lots more questions about why someone would end up in the right panel than the middle one. My favorite piece of statuary in Madrid. It was a little hard getting this photo, as there was a woman screaming and throwing her shoes into traffic right next to me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Salamanca, Spain

We spent the weekend in Salamanca, Spain. This is the cathedral (taken from the old Roman bridge).
It is an amazingly beautiful city with facades like this one all over the old part of the city.
This is the Plaza Mayor at night. The plaza is entirely enclosed by 3 and 4 story buildings, making for a constant hum of activity. The hours in Spain took a little getting used to - many restaurants open for dinner around 8 or 8:30 p.m. and it's hard to get any food at all early in the morning!
Part of the old cathedral was redone in the 70s, and this is an interesting addition! Anyone who wants more pictures of Salamanca let me know and I'll connect you with the gallery of photos!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Historic markers

Maybe we've been doing a little too much tourism when Abby starts to make historic markers to go along with her building projects.

Canterbury Cathedral

As you can see, Wayne took most of the students on an outing to Canterbury this weekend.

This is the quire of the cathedral. It is beautiful, and keeps rising towards the east.
This is looking back at the ceiling of the nave from the quire. I think this would make an awesome jigsaw puzzle.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Back to school!

It's back to school for me, now! I'm taking a class in Leadership, Management, and Development in the DrPH program at the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. My classmates are from Trinidad, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, Malawi, Bangladesh, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, and there's not more than one of us from any one country. It should make for great class discussions! The class is team taught by a variety of instructors, most of whom work in the public or non-profit sectors of health here in London and most have international work experience as well.
Luckily for me, the class meets in one of the Birkbeck College buildings that is about a 3 minute walk from our flat. The challenge has been negotiating the LSHTM bureaucracy. I thought I knew higher ed bureaucracy, but they have it down to a not-so-fine art here. I have my student ID and library privileges, though, I just need to figure out the computer network.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Irish weekend

We spent the weekend in Ireland - be sure to see the post below about Skellig Michael. This is a view of Small Skellig taken from Michael Skellig. All the white is a combination of gannets (a bird) and their droppings. We saw a couple of seals, too.
We did a little hiking in the Gap of Dunloe in County Kerry. It was a nice break from the city!
I don't know about you, but when I think Ireland I don't think beaches. This is Inch - a sand spit into Dingle Bay with an incredibly wide sand beach (at least at low tide!). We saw surfers and kite flyers and we hiked in the sand dunes.
Staigue Fort, dating from the 3rd or 4th century. Inside it's empty, but at one time probably had homes and shops.
A really cool snail poking out. We found tons of snails at Inch. Abby especially wanted this picture on the blog!