Monday, January 20, 2014

What I did over the Holidays

I haven't been doing much Blogging lately, but I will try to do it more frequently.  Today I'll write about my 3 weeks in England and post a few photos.  (There are some on Facebook already.) Eventually I will have all my photos on Flickr, but they aren't up there yet.  There are far too many to try to put them all on this blog.

Christmas this year was at Kate's in England.  My grandchildren are growing up so fast!  Both Sarah and Olivia are taller than I now.  I can still look down on Alex, but then he is only 11 (almost).  I'm sure his day to be taller than Grandma will come soon.  The girls are very much teenagers, but still very sweet.  There are few issues between the girls or between Alex and Olivia these days.  This makes for a more peaceful household than it was sometimes in the past.

I arrived before Christmas, although not early enough to help decorate the tree.  I did get to attend a holiday 'concert' at the secondary school.  This was remarkable in that kids as young as 12 acted or sang solos or played instruments.  Some of them were very good and all did very well without any symptoms of stage fright.  Sarah did not participate, but Olivia played flute in the 'band' which accompanied some of the acts.

Christmas Eve we attended the traditional neighborhood party with Lana and her family.  Lana is Kate's close friend who lives two doors away.  Her son's birthday is December 24, and every year they have a birthday party for him, inviting the neighbors as well as his friends.  I know most of the people, as I have been there many times, so it's a party I really enjoy. Oh yes, I almost forgot that before Christmas we went into London to look at the displays in the store windows.  More photos from that trip have been posted on Facebook, but here is one.  

 Christmas morning was less hectic than it was a few years ago.  Still we all had fun unwrapping gifts, some of which were surprises.  As usual, I gave the kids cash and/or took them shopping.  Even though they knew what they were getting, they insisted that I wrap the gifts and put them under the tree, so that they would have things to unwrap.  I received a few gifts, including a school photo of Alex and a pair or earrings (from Olivia) in my favorite color (turquoise).

The weather during my visit was rather typical for England - chilly and drippy.  No downpours, but enough drizzle to make outdoor activities somewhat iffy.  We did go to an historic house (one we had been to before), but just wandered around the grounds, rather than paying extra to tour the house.  We were supposed to go to another garden (Wistley) but got rained out on that one. Here are Olivia, Alex and Sarah on an outdoor stage.

Still there was plenty to do.  Kate and the kids and I went to the Warner Brothers' 'exhibit' where they have many of the items used in making the Harry Potter movies.  This was an amazing place with all sorts of props - large and small.  We all had a great time. This is just one of the many amazing displays.

Kate and the kids and I also went to a Panto (pantomime) one evening.  I'd never been to one and it was quite an experience.  It was a bit like a musical, with singers and dancers, but the difference is that the actors and the audience talk to each other.  The villain was greeted with boos and hisses from the audience.  Often a character would say "I'm going to do something" and the audience would shout
"Oh, no you're not!"  It was great fun and the dancers were very good.  There was a team of about 8 Black guys who did the most astonishing athletic dancing I've ever seen!

I think I've covered the highlights of my visit.  As usual it was wonderful seeing Kate and her family, even though the kids talk so fast that I often can't figure out what they are saying.  Even with my hearing aids, I have trouble hearing Kate, who is rather soft-spoken.  My son-in-law, bless him, has a loud voice, so I can always hear what he is saying.  The same is true of Alex.  So, even though I miss some conversations and often don't hear clearly what is being said, I love being with them.  Kate says that my responses to comments are often not germane, but they do provide unexpected humor!