Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ashland Feed and Seed

Here's another peek at our new favorite store. They have so much in there that we always discover something new. The employees must think that I am a crazy person as I am always wandering down an aisle calling out "Well, look at that" to the kids. It doesn't help if you also take photos of buckets and shelves.

Here's the storefront:

I still haven't found out where you are "supposed" to park. It's a bit of a free-for-all by the side of the building and I've been known to circle the block a few times to get in, but get in we do.

Especially for sights like this:

That's not just a charming modern-county-gone-faux display - that's seed by the ounce. Really! Look closely:

Names, prices by the weight, and a helpful employee hovering somewhere to scoop and weigh. I picked up onion sets, blue seed potatoes (who says these guys are hip and with it?), and horseradish. I have little idea how to plant these, but isn't that the fun of gardening?


Chicken Reload

It's been a week ago already, but we went back to Ashland Feed and Seed for more chickens.

The Rhode Island Reds weren't in yet on our last visit.

The sign out front has a BIG cute factor:

Here are a box of little ladies that they used to restock the pens out in the store. They were quick to assure me that they don't keep them like this in the back, they just use the box for moving purposes. I was tickled by the sight of wall-to-wall fuzz:

Tubby's adjusting very well to having chickens around. I don't think that he wants to eat them, but he REALLY wants to play with them. We had them out in the yard (before the monsoons set it) and he almost rolled over on one.

He's almost the same color as one of the new girls.

So cute!

Labels: ,

Friday, April 18, 2008

Carmel Church Quarry

We had glorious weather for a field trip to the Carmel Church quarry. Led by Dr. Dooley from the Virginia Museum of Natural History, we were allowed access to an active archaeological dig being conducted by the museum.

This site is "one of the most significant fossil deposits on the Virginia Coastal Plain. The Carmel Church Quarry is one of the richest vertebrate fossil sites east of the Mississippi. The 14 million-year-old Calvert Formation deposits at Carmel Church contain at least five species of whales and two dozen shark species, as well as manatees, crocodiles, turtles, birds, and bony fish".

The site itself wasn't overly large - perfect for a group of enthusiastic diggers:

Previous diggers had burrowed into the hillside leaving little "caves". The small piles at the base of the hillside are the remnants of past digs. While the piles had no fossils, small sharks' teeth were found in them.

Here's my littlest rock hound prying through the crumbly layers with a screw driver:

My son was really into it - literally!

Our find for the day - a partial shark's tooth:

Other's found more sharks' teeth and fossilized whale parts (technical term). One person even found something "museum worthy" that was taken by Dr. Dooley for further evaluation.
The only down-side of the day was the family that coordinated the trip was unable to attend, so I felt a little guilty about enjoying ourselves so much. They were sorely missed!!

Labels: ,

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Eagles Have Landed

Our new babies have arrived! This time with much less fuss than the two unfeathered ones.

Here the kids are holding our two new Plymouth Barred Rocks:

We picked them up at the Ashland Feed and Seed. We wanted to get Rhode Island Reds also, but they won't be in until next week. By then we'll be professionals!

They had so many little chicks out in holding pens, and lots of folks just stopping in to ogle them. The 90-year-old gentleman helping us deftly cut air holes in a box with his pen knife and scooped up some shavings and two little layers and off we went. So cute and fuzzy:

Here they are warming up under a heat lamp in their box full of shavings:

One of their cuter features is that they have little pale yellow bottoms:

And their own little mama:

My daughter is going to wear those little ladies out! But she and Tubby are trying to be gentle. We'll see if it works.

Next up - the quest for the perfect coop.

Labels: ,

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Grand Finale: Ode to the Dames Family

Thank you guys for hosting us, showing us around, and, most of all, being such wonderful friends. And thanks for sharing your neck of the woods with us. We wanted to show you what we saw of your own "backyard".

The lovely street that we walked to get to the tube station was a wonderful way to start the day and great welcome home from scurrying about the city. And you can't beat the delivery service:

Even the side streets are pretty vignettes:

I've never seen florists so lovely:

Or flowers so fresh and abundant:

And then to come home to a beautiful building:

I can't imagine how frustrating the 4-hour per load washer/dryer must be. I wouldn't want to try to get on a bus during rush hour in the rain. I can't imagine trying to drive on the wrong side of the road. But, boy howdy, do you live in a beautiful city. How enchanting. Thanks for sharing it all with us!


Day Six

Our last day proved to be our easiest. We knew where we wanted to go. We knew how to get there. We knew we had to be up at 5 a.m. (and their time changed that night, too). We knew we had to get home to get to bed early.

We finally got to use one of the cool mail boxes:

This one was right outside our friends' apartment (across the street, on the corner). You can see it from their living room, a fact that my friend does not think is as cool as I do.

We decided to sleep in a bit and then hang out at Portobello Road - a giant outdoor market with stalls selling everything under the sun. We knew it must be a humdinger when there was a solid wall of humans marching from the tube station straight to the market area. Solid. wall. Really.

And it didn't let up once the shopping began:

I was so overwhelmed that I finally called it quits so we could go look for lunch. After a bite at Pret a Manger, we went for a surprise tube ride. The surprise for the kids was that they didn't know where we were going. The surprise for me was that I couldn't find it. But we finally made it to King's Cross Train Station to find the most famous platform of all:

Then it was time for "Revenge of the Babies". Let me explain. My husband went out on his birthday eve with our host to have a pint. Our friend introduced him to "Casque Ale" which is beer, but not really carbonated (is that right?). There is some kind of pump system that is part of the experience. Unfortunately, pubs that had casque ale didn't allow children and those that allowed children had no casque ale (or so it seemed to us). While at Portobello Road, we saw a sign advertising the ale, so we knew what to look for. And on Day ?, we stopped in one to be yelled at (good naturedly) by the bar keep with "No babies!". Well, at King's Crossing, the planets finally aligned and casque ale was being poured at a pub that allowed kids. The kids enjoyed their lemonade and let mama have a quiet pint. Revenge of the babies!

This is their idea of revengefulness. I just think that the lemonade it kicking in!

Luckily it wore off in time to fall into bed in their travel togs, ready to face the long trek home.

Just enough time for one more Cadbury fill up!

Labels: ,

Day Five

It is a sad state of our Internet affairs that I can have our vacation photos printed and in an album before I can get my blog updated. Rain and satellite Internet service just don't mix.

We started Day Five with the goal of seeing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. On the way from the tube station to the palace, we had a lovely stroll through Green Park. When I tried to take a picture of the serene beauty, here's what I wound up with:

Amazing what a good night's sleep will do for a kid!

When we arrived at Buckingham Palace at 10:15, folks were already 2 deep at the fences (for the 11:30 ceremony start) and it looked like it was going to rain buckets at any minute. Since the Queen neglected to come out and welcome us:

we opted for a walk through St. James' Park:

As we were leaving the park, we saw the horses arriving at the Horse Guard Palace:

My daughter got her daddy and horse fix all in one:

Before we left for London, we made a giant list of sites we might like to see. On my personal top five list was the Rosetta Stone. One of those things that I've heard about forever and have never seen. I just had to see it in person. And today was that day:

My friend was not kidding about knowing where it is in the museum because of all of the people. Indeed! When we had patiently pushed our way to the front, I snapped an awful picture of the kids with the Stone, and then I snapped this one. I almost deleted it before I realized that my son's reflection and hand are in it. Kind of cool. My kids still don't understand what the big deal was about seeing it. But isn't making your kids do things because you think they're neat the responsibility of parents? Didn't want to disappoint! But they were good sports:

And as a special treat, we hit the Tesco on the way home to stock up on junk-food souvenirs.

What's a Tesco? I have no idea. I think it is a grocery store chain, but the "Express" is like my idea of heaven. Lots of junk food with just enough milk and bread thrown in to make you feel like you are actually buying food. I was ready to fill out my customer loyalty card by the time we were ready to leave for home.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Day Four

We were rolling early on Day Four to get to the Tower of London by opening at 9. We did a great job, but unfortunately a funeral held up opening time 'til 10:30. We used the time for a snack at Eat (toffee waffles!) and to walk along the Thames. Here we posed for a quick pic at the Tower Bridge (look closely - it's my blog pictorial debut!).

We were able to see Traitor's Gate at the side of the Tower of London. Out of all the reading that we had done about the place and this gate in particular, I'd swear it never mentioned that it was a water entry. Even the kids were surprised. A nice reminder that I seldom know what I am talking about. Here is my daughter as a defiant traitor:

Finally, they let us (and a thousand others) in for a tour. I don't think that the former inhabitants smiled this much when entering:

The White Tower was the first part of the complex and was begun by William the Conqueror in 1075. That's as in almost a thousand years ago. Thousand. With a "th".

After an unexpectedly long visit at the Tower, we scrapped plans to take in Greenwich and made our way to the shopping mecca of Harrods. Dinner, souvenir shopping, and Princess Di/Dodi memorials galore later, we limped home with full bellies and full shopping bags.

And my husband wanted a relaxing vacation!


Day Three

Day Three was our first day to fend for ourselves and a milestone birthday for Team Take the Lead's leader. We started the day with a "flight" on the London Eye. Here's the birthday boy as we set off with the Parliment buildings behind him.

Then it was off to Trafalger Square for prime pigeon chasing and statue climbing. Here is the clan chilling on the base of Nelson's Column:

After lunch in Chinatown, the birthday boy spotted cakes:

but we opted to skip dessert and head for the now-open St. Paul's Cathedral. Good thing we did, because I felt every one of the 434 steps to reach the top. But we made it! Here are the kids celebrating while mom cringed against the stone walls.

To round out the day, we had another wonderful snack from the Paul cafe beside the cathedral. But first, we had 433 more steps down:


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Day Two

Day Two's highlight was spending the entire day with our friends and learning about how to navigate around their wonderful city.

This is the view we had when exiting the Underground station - wow!

And a couple of blocks later - my son at the entrance to Westminster Abbey:

We made it to Tate Modern for lunch where the kids explored the Shibboleth exhibit " a long, snaking crack across the vast length" of the concrete floor.

Next up - a stroll across the Millennium bridge to St. Paul's. Unfortunately, we missed the last admission time by 25 minutes, so we headed home "early".

Can you tell from this picture that my daughter loved being on her Daddy's team (Team Takes the Lead). My son and I made up Team Walks A Lot - and we all lived up to that name!

Not bad for the first full day for four folks still trying to figure what time it was.