Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Paris

We set out Friday on the Eurostar and took the chunnel to a long-weekend in Paris. The Eurostar rockets along and deposits you at Gare du Nord in 2 hours. It's a comfortable, affordable and enjoyable ride.

Hannah hams it up waiting for the train.


A little love on the train.

On the steps in Monmartre.
We arrived in Paris in the afternoon and after checking into the hotel we headed out to Monmartre. The steep streets wind up toward the beautiful basilica Sacre Couer. Mira was fascinated by the buskers on the steps and just wanted to sit and watch them sing and do magic. We wandered, caught our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in the distance, and had dinner in a quaint Parisian cafe.

The portrait artists work their magic.




Crepes - Mmmmmm!

Only in Paris can you be entertained by musicians on a moving subway train. I'm sure it's not endorsed by the Metro, but it was certainly an enjoyable experience. The kids loved it!

La Marche aux Fleurs
Saturday morning we went to Ile de Cite and started the day wandering through the flower market.

Mira, bless her little heart, spent the entire weekend collecting as many Metro tickets as she could find. Whenever we stopped for a rest, she'd pull a bundle full out of her pocket and ask for a pen so she could draw on them? Go figure? Oh well, it kept her busy!

Notre Dame Cathedral
Saturday was quite a rainy day so after a couple of cafe breaks and a little shopping on Rue de Rivoli, we headed back to the hotel for the highlight of the trip for the girls - a swim!


Sunday we started the day with a trip to Jardins Tulieres where the girls fell in love with the modern sculpture on display.


Mommy and her girls!



My new favourite picture of Mira.


The Liu's in front of the Tour Eiffel.

The view from atop.





We also took a river cruise along the Seine.

Lovers along the Seine.

Notre Dame from the river.

Waiting in the Metro.

The Louvre - our final stop before heading home on Monday.


Our little artists getting ready to sketch.

Hannah chose this painting to sketch - I don't know why - but she spent forever copying the tiniest details. If we had known they would like the Louvre so much we would have given it more time. Oh well, next time :-)

Hannah's version.



Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Walk around Blenheim Palace

On Sunday we joined some friends for a walk around the grounds of Blenheim Palace. A beautiful baroque palace, Blenheim was home to the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough (don't worry, I don't know who they are either ;-) and was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. It's located in Woodstock, which is a 10-minute drive from Oxford and a lovely little town in its own right.
Our friends knew about the "secret" local entrance that admits you to the grounds free of charge (cha-ching) and off we went on a lovely walk that witnessed geese, duck, rolling hills with grazing sheep, and, of course, the palace.


Hannah greets a goose!


I'm going to hug you and you are going to like it!


The girls had a blast climbing on the low-slung branches of these ancient trees.


The Palace!



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lann and Bob Visit Oxford

We had our first visitors from Canada last week. Lann and Bob checked into Chez Liu for two nights and we all had a great time. Now, we were just a pit stop between Paris and London, but I think our visitors enjoyed Oxford and the lovely weather we were experiencing.

Bob and Lann loved the meadow walk into central Oxford. From our house, you can walk through meadows and farmers fields and be in central Oxford in around 25 minutes.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Warwick Castle


I've fallen behind a bit on the blog, although I've had good reason with Lann and Bob visiting (that will be in the next blog).

We ventured out to Warwickshire to visit Warwick Castle. The drive should have been about 40-minutes, but with construction on one of the major roundabouts, it turned into double that - running into traffic seems to be a continual theme with us. Thankfully we had a pack lunch, so we sat in traffic and patiently ate our sandwiches.

Warwick Castle was bought by the conglomerate that owns Madame Tussuad's. Hence, they've turned into a bit of a wax museum meets medieval England kind of experience. As you wonder through the state rooms, castle kitchens and grounds you are greeted by very realistic wax figures posed in various aspects of castle life. The kids enjoyed seeing the wax figures and Mira couldn't quite figure out if a few of the were real or not.


We watched the birds of prey show and learned a bit about falconry. Apparently birds of prey were quite important to life and status in medieval England. One couldn't own a bird that was considered above his/her station. In fact, if a person were found to have stolen a bird from a noble a vicious punishment would ensue. The convicted was tied down on the ground "spread-eagled" and raw meat was placed on their nether-regions. The bird was then let loose.




In the Princess Tower we met Princess Emily and Hannah was invited to try out her bed, piled high with about 20 mattresses. Lo and behold, Hannah felt a pea way down below the bottom mattress confirming something she always knew in her heart to be true - Hannah is a real princess. I would have said "Drama Queen," but anyway...

give a kid a hill...

... and watch her go


view from the a castle window

Hannah offers to help with the castle laundry.

Our new solution to childcare!