Thursday, May 29, 2014

For Bill and Ange: the Family

Some of you will remember that our Shutterchance blogger friends, Bill and Ange, came to visit us a year ago, just about now.  So how appropriate that this post is about and for them!

It so happens they wanted to return the hospitality favor for two of our days while in England this trip.  And boy did they ever!  This is just the first of THREE posts on that time with them.

Lucky for us, they BOTH love to cook...together.  They even sing together while they do it.
More English you cannot get when you eat a meal like this!

And since we were there for two breakfasts....

Here's Bill's collage of moi eating what he's known for:  a bacon buttie.
He actually put it up on our Shutterchance photoblog.  HA!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

But eating, splendid as it was, was not all that we did!  Trust me.
 One of the most important things on our list was to see their new and only grandchild, Joseph,
who turns one on August 20.  He was almost 9 months old.

I sure hope you're ready to be gobsmacked.
To be honest, Bill has been showing Joesph to us since he was born.
By now, Astrid and I both feel that we, too, are the proud grandparents.

Bill grabbed him first.

Talk about a grandpa who is also a grandma, working off both sides of his brain.  Seriously.
And Joseph just observes, soaking it all in.
(I should mention that Astrid and I brought Joseph the Dutch cap...but more on that later.)

Is he A D O R A B L E or what!

The proud mother happens to be Helen, the younger of Bill and Ange's two girls.

Look at him after his tummy is full.

And that's when Ange got her hands on him...patiently waiting all that time.
I would have been DYING if I were the real grandma.

About that time Kathryn, daughter #1, stopped by before work.
She wanted to get in on the action, of course.  
And now you can also see the Dutch slippers we brought, besides the cap.
(Joseph's daddy also wears a cap, so apparently that's why this cap didn't seem to bother him at all.)

Those little hands and feet.  OMG!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Speaking of Kathryn, later in the afternoon we stopped by to see her at her place of work.

She works at The Hive library in nearby Worcester,
a partnership between the university of Worcester and the Worcestershire County Council.
And yes, that's the city of the famous Worcestershire sauce.  You got it.

 Here we are leaving The Hive, the four of us, living and loving life...just like busy honey bees.

And now let me tell you this:  I have seen very few families that love each other as fully as this one.
It starts with Bill and Ange themselves...husband and wife and then parents and grandparents.
It all trickles down, doesn't it!

THANK YOU, Bill and Ange.  You outdid yourselves on our behalf.
Next up, everything else you showed us in your neck of the woods....

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Our Parish Walk in England, 2014

"Over hill, over dale, we will hit the [muddy] trail...."  And we did!

The day before our Sunday Shutterchance meet-up, there were 6 of us Shutterchancers who went on a parish walk through the streets and fields around Bradford on Avon.  Don't you just love the English names of places!

We rendezvoused right outside the Cross Guns pub where we later ate lunch.
It's situated just off the Avoncliffe Aqueduct on the Kennet and Avon canal.

Within minutes of our rendezvous, we were traipsing across the fields.
The fun thing is that we weren't trespassing!  There are even maps for these public walks.

 As in the Netherlands, the war bunkers are still visible, especially along the waterways.
The English call them pillboxes!

 At different points we left the fields and crossed streets, going into small villages.
Here, for instance is the village parish of Freshford, Somerset, about 6 miles SE of Bath.
Population is circa 550, which tells you everything.

And in the true sense of parish, we stopped at the Freshford parish church, St. Peter's.
These wee churches have become my favorites, in spite of the grandeur of the huge cathedrals.
Parts of this church date back to the 15th century.

Before going inside, we walked all around it, while sheep and goats kept watch..

We didn't stay long inside, but at least got an appetizer for the next church on the list....

 ...which was St. Mary the Virgin in nearby Limpley Stoke, Wiltshire, built in 1001.

The Saxon stone archway inside the church was worth the entire visit.

Then we went back into the fields after St. Mary's and played.  That's Lisl, my designated Big Sister 
on Shutterchance, who also hosted us at the beginning and end of our trip, along with her husband Michael
 (who was not on the walk with us).

Chris is Astrid's designated Big Brother on Shutterchance, joining her in the big chair.
He's the one who has hosted us in years past at his partner's farm in the Bath area.
Chad and Ray had their try on the climbing wall...while Ginnie took the pictures.
What can I say:  we're all little kids at heart, brothers and sisters!

 As we walked from here to there, look at what we saw.
How can you not fall in love with the English countryside!

Then, suddenly, we were at the Iford Manor from the 15th century, known for its gardens.
It sits on the River Frome.

From the bridge, I captured this Grey Wagtail tweetie-pie with my magic camera, 1000+ mm away.
Thanks to Lisl who knew what it was.  We don't have them in America, I don't think!

On that note, it was time to eat lunch back at the Cross Guns pub where we had started our day.
Were we ever hungry! A perfect place for a typical English lunch with a local hard cider.
Astrid and I were in heaven.

Look at all the wild flowers we saw on our walk.

And the weathervanes!

And all the sweet impressions throughout the day.

Lisl and Chris had been planning this parish walk for weeks, if not months.
Do they know their little sisters or what?!?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Why War?

In commemoration of America's Memorial Day, it seems appropriate...yet ask WHY?

This is a picture I took last summer in Northern Luxembourg of a war poster at the Clervaux Castle
war museum on the Battle of the Bulge.  I immediately thought of Memorial Day when I saw it.

As you celebrate this festive holiday, please don't forget to ask WHY?

That's what my post is about at Vision and Verb today:  Why War?

Friday, May 23, 2014

The RAF Museum in Cosford, England

This is when I really really really hope you like airplanes!

That's becasue we DID see enough airplanes to sink a ship at our 2014 Shutterchance meet-up, held at the RAF Museum in Cosford, England, on Sunday, May 11 (Mother's Day in America but not in England)!  In my last post I showed pics of all 28 of us who gathered for the day.

RAF stands for Royal Air Force and the museum is located in Shropshire, offering "a fun, entertaining day out for all the entire family. Situated next to an active airfield, this is the only place in the Midlands where you can get close to so many breathtaking aircraft for free."

 The show actually begins outside, which is where we all started to meet up, one by one.

And starting outside, you discover it's not just about airplanes.

But mostly it IS...big planes...

...and little planes that snuggle right in under the big ones.  Over 70 planes altogether in 3 buildings.
The feat of getting them all inside, fitting together like puzzle pieces, must have been Pure Magic.

There were war planes, of course.

Actually, the planes started running together for me.  I don't have a clue about most of them!
But we kept bumping into each other as we went along, which was the big fun of the day.

Don't you love how many planes (and boats!) are named after women!  :)

 To be honest, airplanes are photo-ops waiting to happen.  Who would have known!

Definitely worth a meet-up of photobloggers, right?!

 It was chock full of all kinds of stuff for kids of all ages.

There was even a shop to satisfy any of our RAF/war interests.

There was even an exhibit of the Berlin Wall.
This is Europe, of course, where especially WWII is up-close and personal.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I know I showed people pics in my last post but this meet-up was especially special
because of 2 long-time SCers we met for the first time:

 Elizabeth (left, with Astrid) is from Arizona and is unofficially married to Frank, a Brit.
We've had lots of correspondence with Elizabeth because their situation is similar to Astrid's and mine,
an internet romance from two different countries begun on our same photoblog.

Ray (right, with moi) is an Australian married to a Thai lady living in Thailand who has been with me
on SC since 2006. His visit was planned and kept a secret by a couple other SCers.  
What an incredible surprise and treat to finally meet him in real life!

 As you'd guess, someone (Penny!) got us all organized for a group photo.

And here we are, just the SCers (well, one isn't) minus 2 who somehow missed it.
21 of the 28 present that day are actual SC photobloggers, 18 here in the pic (and Penny makes 19).
I'll say it for us all--what a motley crew!
(thanks to Maureen, Brian's wife, who took this picture)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The 2014 Shutterchance Meet-Up in England

Yes, we're back from our 9 days of gadding around England, and do I ever have the images to show for it!  Guess what I'll be doing almost every waking hour for several days/weeks to come.  HA!

By little bits-n-bobs (a new English expression I love) I will get it all done, so let's start with the Shutterchance photoblog meet-up we attended on May 11 (yes, Mother's Day for just about everyone except the Brits) at the Royal Air Force Museum in Cosford, England.

This post today is just about the people.  There were 28 of us altogether:

Can you tell that most of us aren't spring chicks anymore?
I know...speak for myself!

Of the 28 who attended, 21 were actual Shutterchance photobloggers.
The rest were spouses or guests.

14 of the 21 were men (and still are, I presume)...

...and 7 of the 21 were women.

One of the guys came from Thailand as a HUGE surprise to everyone who wasn't in on the secret.
Another guy came from Ontario, Canada, along with his wife.
One of the ladies came from Arizona because she's in cahoots with one of the English gents.
Then there's Astrid and me, coming from the Netherlands...easy-peasy.

And to add a bit more intrigue, CherryPie and hubby joined us as token SCers for the 3rd time.
Cherry is one of the 21 Vision & Verb collaborators and has become one of us.

As I said, this post is just about the people.
Next post I'll show you what's at the RAF Museum (did anyone mention airplanes?).