Sunday, 22 April 2012

The very hungry caterpillar

So I know I should have been blogging more. Really I have not had many planned activities while I was in the States. What I have done was play pirate and baseball with my 3 year old nephew.

When he was napping or at home I was making this adorable little costume for my new niece. I had seen a picture on pinterest, and with no pattern or knowledge of the type of yarn, I made my version. She has already outgrown it! Isn't she just adorable!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

My Royal Adventures: part I

A bit of Royal Patriotism
This week when I called the G Family to invite them over for a big roast dinner on Easter Monday we got to talking about what they'd been up to while the kids were on school holidays. Mrs G mentioned they were currently in town scoping the road closures for the Queen's visit the following day.

Completely surprised that the Queen was visiting York, I got a brief explanation from Mrs G and promptly started Googling "Queen visits York 2012". Most of the hits came up with ... "for Maundy Thursday service", which I also had to Google.

What I found out was Maundy (Holy) Thursday was named so from Jesus' 'mandate' or commandment at the Last Supper to "love one another as I have loved you"

In England the Royal Family has presided over a Maundy Thursday service since the 13th century. The last time the Queen was in York for such a service was 1972, just before I was born. She visits a different Abbey, Minster, or Cathedral each year. At this service members of the church/community are honoured for their good works. The number of people and their service award is based on her age This year 86 men and 86 women were honoured. They received 2 purses, one contained specially minted silver pennies valuing £0.86 and the other containing  5.50. This is all legal tender and can be spent in any shop. I don't think I would spend it though, I think the sentimental value far exceeds its currency value, especially this year during the Queen's diamond jubilee.

Now that I was well versed in the reason for her visit and studied her itinerary, I needed to plan my way into town. My husband works about 35 minutes drive the opposite direction and leaves the house very early in the morning. I would have been in York at 6am or even earlier for him to get to work on time. It may not have been a bad idea to go in that early, but I really didn't want to stand in the cold and damp alone.

We thought about the options and decided the bus should work. It stops in the village just before 9 am and arrived in York on Station Rd about an hour later.  The ride was pleasant and I will be expanding my territory regularly by taking the bus into the city!
Most of my view

I hopped off the bus just about a block away from the G Family.  We met up and walked towards the minster.  I had to leave them behind as the pram (stroller) would not fit through the crowds.  They waited on a corner and had a view of the Queen driving towards the minster while I managed to weave myself into a spot about 5 people deep along the crowd barriers across from the Great West Door of York Minster.  I was really quite surprised as to how many people tried pushing wheelchairs and double strollers through this crowd.  I was glad I wore comfy boots, they protected my toes from getting squished a few times. I just managed to see the Queen enter, I would have seen more if the woman behind me was not so rude.  She continually leaned on me to prevent her from loosing her balance while standing on her tip toes raising her phone over my head and in front of me to get a picture.  I guess crowds bring out the worst in people.

I held my ground as the crowds dissipated during the ceremony and managed to snag a spot slightly closer (about 3 people deep) and waited for the Queen to exit.  I was rewarded for my diligence and met some lovely women in the crowds as we waited.  The Queen exited in grand fashion, as she should.  First out of the Minster were the BeefEaters in full dress, then the Archbishop, and finally the Royals.  Everyone posed in front of the Minster (in a sort of wedding portrait fashion) for photos before The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and Princess Beatrice entered the royal car and proceeded to The Mansion House for their lunch.

The G family was already in the Museum Gardens lunching on the wall around the museum.  I met with them and we asked the police where we would be allowed to sit upon the Queen's arrival to the museum.  He informed us anywhere on the grass surrounding the museum, so we came down from our wall and proceeded to the first open spot of grass that we could fit the pram and give little MG a spot to tootle around on while we waited for the Queen to finish her lunch.  We had a couple of hours to wait and a good seat, so felt we had a good opportunity to see Her Royal Majesty as she entered/exited the museum.  This spot was included on her trip to York as the museum was opening a new exhibit following the 800th anniversary of the city receiving its Royal Charter.  More about this leg of her visit tomorrow! 

Dr. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York
He didn't waste time getting out of his formal robes after
The Queen drove off!

Yoemen of the Queen's Body Guard

Loved the Uniforms, especially the shoe ornaments!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

My Royal Adventures part II

Okay, if you recall, we were sat on the green in front of the entrance to the York Museum. As we waited, crowds slowly filtered in from other parts of the city and more and more people attempted to squeeze in front of us. About an hour or so before her scheduled arrival, a huge crowd came from behind and as one woman put it, it felt as if you were in the ocean and had a wave curling and crashing over your head. They held no regard for those of us who were seated on the ground or the fact that small children were present on the ground. There were no crowd barriers up yet, so many of them tried to push right up to the front door of the museum. We didn't mind children on the steps, in fact figured it would give them the opportunity to see their Queen. It was the adults who pushed their way onto the steps as well that were a problem...especially when I am only as tall as most of the children on the steps! One older woman insisted on staying in front of us and karma rewarded her by putting an even pushier woman (who was more common than you could imagine) on the step in front of her. She struggled to see as she continued to lean left and right attempting to catch a glimpse. I however, did not push back (too much) when I leaned away from her to get a photo and she leaned on me.

Eventually some crowd barriers were brought in, but still, nothing was placed at the steps were we were stood. The Queen came, but her schedule might as well been written with disappearing ink as she was more than 40 minutes late. The crowds were becoming ever more wrestless and those of us at the front, it was becoming ever more difficult to not smash into the kids on the steps.

She finally arrived, but quickly moved from the opposite side of the car into the museum with barely a wave. The kids were deeply disappointed, especially when the Royal Car turned around and parked directly in front of the doors again. They soon began chanting "MOVE THAT CAR" with no response. After several minutes of chanting with barely a smirk from the security detail, I recommended they change their tune. Ironically enough, as soon as they chanted "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN", the car lurched forward and the children cheered, very pleased with themselves.

Soon afterwards, one of the guards came to the top of the stairs looking for children with flowers to give to The Queen. None of my friends children had flowers but several of the children on the stairs and a few more in the crowd were brought up to present theirs. While they were lining up, they were primped to look as best they could, shirts tucked in, hair tied back, oversized hoodies removed and tossed into the crowd towards parents.

Waiting was finally rewarded when The Queen and company exited the museum. She proceeded down the line shaking hands and smiling with the children, the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Beatrice, and Archbishop Sentamu followed behind The Queen.
Before she entered the car, HRH stopped and waved for her last photo opportunity in York. There would be no boarding at the station, her tight schedule did not leave any room for error and she missed her train. Word was she was collected be the royal helicopter.

All in all a great day, but the city of York seriously underestimated the nature of the crowd, although they are celebrating the 800th anniversary of receiving their royal charter, much of the population still responds with common mob mentality.


Well just a quick note to apologize for no big post. I worked on it yesterday while my nephew was napping. When he woke up he wanted to play and all of my edits were not saved when I switched to cake ninja... Promise for a full post before I got to bed tonight. (remember I am on US time!)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Heading home

I am off to America for a couple of weeks. This trip was in the works before my husband booked his 12 week holiday from work. Thinking about it, I guess I didn't really need to book it, but I promised my soon to be 3 year old nephew I would be home for his birthday. I couldn't go back on a promise, especially one to a 3 year old!

As always I pack tons in just before going out of town. I spent last week painting our hall way. It probably works out to the equivalent of 2 rooms of painting, and much of it was on a ladder reaching over the stairwell with a long radiator roller. Ok, so I am not the fastest or most skilled painter and decorator, but I get the job done. Well, almost done. I have not painted the ceilings or the trim work, maybe when I get back... But I also want to do a little touch up work on the dining room and redo the living room (snug). Plus de-cat the guest bedroom for my parents, pack for our cruise, paint and fit the skirting boards in the guest bedroom, take Toby to the vets for his annual checkup and shots, build a few bookshelves, sow the flower seeds and the list goes on!

On Saturday, when I was supposed to be cleaning up, doing some of said trim work, and packing, I spent most of my day with my little Isis cuddled on my lap she was not feeling well at all and I was having flash backs from little Mona Moo. After consulting our vet and discontinuing her antibiotics, she has perked up a great deal. She was even playing fetch with my hair ties and even initiating the game by bringing one from the loft down 2 flights of stairs (meowing the whole time) to my husband! We will work on getting her back on the renal diet when I get back, after all any food is better than no food.

Easter Sunday we spent at my sister in law's house and were completely exhausted by her three children. Needless to say, we were pretty much straight to sleep by the time we got home.

So that left Monday. You would have thought i would have left Monday open with little scheduled, but not me! My husband and I hosted The G family to a roast dinner. We cooked lamb and pork with roast potatoes and veg. It was like going to a carvery (except we forgot the Yorkshire puddings). My husband did buy dessert instead of me making something. He felt I had a bit much on my plate to be baking something from scratch. I suppose in the long run he was right and I was glad to be able to cuddle Isis and the other cats instead of heading into the kitchen to bake. It was a few less dishes for him to wash as well! Maybe that can be my ploy to redo the kitchen to get the dishwasher fitted! I have plans for that too lol.

After a brisk walk around the village (and one sleeping baby G), the G family headed home and we put our feet up for the first time that day. We watched a little tv and my husband headed to bed. While he slept, I put away laundry and packed my stack that I gathered over the week into my suitcase. I was surprised how quickly I got everything done as I was in bed before 11 o'clock. Unfortunately, I did not fall asleep as quickly as everything fell to place in my suitcase and 4am came way to quickly.

Everything was going smoothly this morning and we headed out of the village towards the train station. My husband was quizzing me to see if I had sorted the cats appropriately (check, Isis in the loft -clean fed and watered, American cats in their room -CFW, and English cats free to move about the house today-CFW)

Did I have my passport? Check
My English phone? Check
My flight info? Check (in the iPad which meant he didn't have to ask if I had that!)
Did I have my American phone? Ch...NO.
Fortunately we were barely out of the village and my key was handy. After a quick turn around we were on the road again. I made it to my train with plenty of time to wait in the cold.

So now I am one car ride, one train trip, along walk to my terminal and over halfway through my first flight. I have customs, another short internal flight and a quick car ride before I get to the end of today's journey. 17+ hours in all with a list of things to do in the morning lol and possibly bully sitting tonight for my sister's 2 English bulldogs!