Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Vacation Recap: Days 2 & 3

On Saturday the 19th, we -- well, Simon -- had a longish day of driving. Just outside Ypres, we made a quick stop at the Hill 62 Museum. It's a private museum and a bit chaotic and pricey, but it's worth visiting if only for the trenches. (Plus, the stench of cat and the opportunity to pet the skinny perpetrators of said stench are included in the ticket price.)

A close-up of the remnants a tree amongst the trenches.
There were about three or four of these trees, all dead, full of bullet holes,
and held up with cement and metal poles.

After this stop, we drove on to our house, "Le Petit Corbon," located just outside the village of Putanges Pont-Ecrepin. The house was so nice and comfy and ended up being about half the cost of two hotel rooms for all of us.

Even after all the driving on Saturday, Simon was ready for another roadtrip. So on Sunday, we headed across Normandy to Monet's house and gardens in Giverny. Before going into the village, we stopped for lunch at a little outdoor pizza cafe. There Daddy, Simon, and I had pizza with andouillette sausage. In other words, we had chitlins pizza.

Monet's house with cute, well-dressed French child in the background.
I love the way French people dress their children as children,
not as (skanky) mini-adults (hello, people of the Netherlands!)

Tulip and little blue flowers whose name I do not know.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Vacation Recap: Day One

On Friday, 18 April, we headed out for Ypres, Belgium. Simon piloted the rental car (a snazzy Skoda), and I -- map in hand -- navigated. Mom and Dad engaged in the ever-popular "Crop Talk."

I grew up hearing "Crop Talk" from Mom and Dad whenever we drove anywhere: "That corn is gettin' right high" or "That tabacca needs toppin'." My parents don't generally talk like that -- only when they're playing car-window-farmer (sort of like armchair-quarterback, but not as interesting).

We arrived in Ypres around mid-afternoon, with enough time to tour a few sites and get back to town for the "Last Post" Ceremony at the Menin Gate.

A crowd gathers for the "Last Post" Ceremony.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

At the Keukenhof with Bud 'n' Bren

Just a few quick snaps from the Keukenhof. Tomorrow we're off on our road trip, one night in Ypres, Belgium, and then nearly a week in Normandy, France.

Daddy ("Buddy") in repose

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

We Fired Up the Quattro

Woo hoo. Simon and I are back on the Quattro. We kept waiting for spring to arrive, but it ain't here yet. So we took advantage of the sun and tried to ignore the cold. Today we rode past the Keukenhof. Here our are stats:

Time: 66 minutes
Distance: 19.78 miles
Average speed: 18 m.p.h.

Because we were riding for speed today, we didn't stop for pictures. But here are a few from last week's trip to the Keukenhof with Elaine, Simon T., and the indomitable Jean.

Simon T., Elaine, Jean, me, and unidentified butt guy.

Photo by Simon K.

So, the ticket to the Keukenhof, including return bus fare to Leiden, costs €19,
yet -- once one is inside the Keukenhof, a tinkle costs €0.40! In American money, that's 63¢!
And don't even dream of a free refill on your coffee!

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Books Read in March

A shorter list this month

Ian Rankin (writing as Jack Harvey): Witch Hunt
Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
George Orwell: 1984*
Markus Zusak: The Book Thief
Nick Hornby: Slam
Anne Perry: Half Moon Street

The Line of Beauty was excellent but intensely sad. As it is, in essence, a contemporary Henry James novel, this book also took forever to read.

And I loved The Book Thief. Read it before the movie comes out!!!

*No, this wasn't my first reading of 1984. I read it back in 1984 when I was way to young to understand the novel. I reread it because one of my students was assigned it for senior English. Now I need to dig up all the other books I read in my tweens (just think, back then I didn't even know I was a tween) and didn't understand.