Saturday, June 9, 2012

As the school year draws to an end, I just have to say, "Whew."  And then I might just have to go grab another British brewski and toast myself because holy guacamole, it has been a hell of a year in the life of Holly Huffman.  I'm not going to bother with the 'sorry for not blogging' excuses this time.  I work full time, I've got 3 kids, and I live in a foreign country.  As far as I'm concerned, that gives me permanent license to fade in and out of life in general at will.   That said, we are eagerly counting down to our next big adventure. In 11 short days, we'll cross the pond again for an extended visit to our east coast family and friends.  We've got plans for barbeques, concerts, fishing trips, and lots of catching up with loved ones.   We are quite looking forward to the sunshine and warm weather.  If you're looking to meet up with us, we should be pretty easy to spot.  Just look for ten glowing white legs attached to five jet-lagged people with delirious perma-grins. 

Here is a photo run-down of the last six weeks of Huffman Family Adventures.
Brandon Country Park

We have an on-going 'problem' (using the word loosely) where we feel like we need to be traveling and sight-seeing every chance we get.  We aren't sure how long we'll live in England, or where we'll venture when we feel ready to leave here, so we are always trying to eek out as much as we can on the weekends.  Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that it's okay to stay put, and relax at home for a few days (a notion that I've struggled most of my life to accept!).  In mid-May, we took a  short drive to enjoy a sunny day at a local park, and were reminded of the awesome places we can visit without packing the car or boarding a ferry.  The kids even got to see a real live redwood tree, in England--how cool is that??

Not a redwood, but super cool and climb-able.

Arger Fen

Dave discovered this forest park about an hour from here, which conveniently happened to be near one of the only two pubs we know of that serve only vegetarian and vegan food.  We spent a nice afternoon exploring before stopping at the pub to stock our cooler full of some dangerously yummy eats. 

Another cool photo victimized by our family creeper--Marley just cannot make herself stay out of the frame. 

(We had friends over the night before we went to Arger Fen, and we all agreed that the true mark of a good night with friends is when someone wakes up with an unexplained black eye.)

(Photo by Casey, with adjustment to contrast by Mommy.)

Mother's Day

Dave and the kids treated me to an afternoon of 'punting' on the River Cam, along with tea and scones at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.  It was a beautiful day to float along and hear our young guide share historical trivia and random facts about the colleges along the river and some of the traditions there.  There is an ancient rule on the books that Cambridge students may take home a cow as a graduation gift from the University.  Apparently a student from a rural farming village took advantage of that old rule and was able to take a cow home to his village after graduation last year!

 Yep, that's me holding Marley's head down so she couldn't creep into the picture. Hey, it was Mother's Day, right?

 Sweet gift from Dave and the kids.  I love the puzzle, but love spending time with the kids putting it together even more!

Isle of Wight

We spent a warm, sunny 3-day weekend on the Isle of Wight over Memorial Day.  Our digs for the weekend:  converted barn on a beautiful farm on the western side of the island.  

View of the farm

View of the coast

Casey termed the loft area "paradise" and retreated there to "write"  several times per day.

Alum Bay.  Note to self:  chair lifts are downright intimidating when they drop off the sides of cliffs and nearly plunge into the sea

 Compton Bay, where we enjoyed a few extra special sights including a Troy Polamalu jersey (represent!) and a parking lot that has literally crumbled into the sea due to erosion.  It is estimated that in 10,000 years, Isle of Wight will be completely gone.  Pretty crazy.

Keller did some fossil hunting on the cliffs

 Bear Grylls got nothin' on my boy

Yaverland, where the kids had their first experience of hanging out near a topless sunbather.  Too bad she was 80 years old, with saggy baggy pieces and parts, and may have permanently scarred both of my boys.  No photo evidence, but a funny story to share:  her husband convinced her to take a walk along the beach, so she started rummaging through her bag.  I assumed she was looking for her top or a cover-up, or anything at all to hide her scary 'girls.'  Alas, she pulled out a bracelet, put it on her wrist, and then headed off for a walk.  Stay classy, granny.

More fossil hunting

Zen girl

 Dinosaur Isle museum

Ft. Victoria, a defense battery built in 1850, which has been converted into a variety of random exhibits

Ventnor Botanic Gardens

 David and. . . Goliath?

 Yarmouth Harbor and Pier, where the kids got to sample Minghella double creme ice cream, an Isle of Wight speciality

Queen's Diamond Jubilee

London-style was certainly a bit more fancy than Barton Mills-style, but our little village had it's own brilliant celebration that the Huffman family rather enjoyed.  We didn't brave the cold rainy weather or the crowds to participate in the festivities in London.  Some may think of it as a missed opportunity, but it is a bit akin to celebrating 4th of July in Washington, DC.  Both sound like wonderfully patriotic experiences, and both are likely to end with 5000 intoxicated people crammed into a train car, sweaty armpits in my face, and feelings of "I would've had a better view on the TV at home."  I've done DC 4th of July twice, so just trust me on this.  We may not have had the fancy fireworks and random British celebrities. . .

Fireworks explode over Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee concert, in London

. . .but we had flags, a barn dance and bbq, and our own visit from the 'Queen'.   We had a church service with the British national anthem as the closing hymn, followed by prayers and a choral chant of "God Save the Queen."  We had a sunny day on the village green, and to that, I'll say "Hip Hip Hooray!" any time!

 I'll close with a few random shots from around our village, just because I think they're 'purty'

Last but not least, I'd like to give 'props' to my very created and talented brother-in-law Jim who is getting ready to direct and produce a short film that he has written.  Take a minute to visit the film's Facebook page and see what it's all about!!