Thursday, 29 November 2012

Royal Experiment

Okay, Dr Faff is super smart, and he has found way for me to share pictures on this blog. He is the handiest husband imaginable. I half expect the website to just implode or something because it's a bit of a roundabout way to get pictures on, but here goes nothing. I am so pleased, because I really want to share these pictures and this story!!

Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, came to Cambridge yesterday. (Two questions: 1. do I have to have a comma after Catherine and the first Cambridge? and 2. does anyone else find it irritating that she isn't a princess, because it would be soooo much easier for the entire media to just call her Princess Catherine?) Obviously, I had to go. We went to see the Queen last April, and it would just be poor form if we didn't receive her grandson and his new wife.

Elizabeth & I arrived at 10:20, and they were due to drive into the city centre at 10:30. True to form, their motorcade pulled in exactly on time, and Elizabeth was super stoked for the motorcade. So many flashing lights and motorcycles. Luckily for all of you, I brought Matthew's camera, and was able to paparazzi up, with shots like this:

 We scooted around the corner in time for them to come out on the balcony of the Guildhall. Here are a few good shots - I may or may not have taken several dozen. Don't judge me. It's the combination of terrible photography skills, never taking the time to actually look at the pictures I've taken before just randomly snapping away for more, and having a toddler to entertain while 'shooting'. It's a good thing I got some good ones, and then was able to crop those bad boys up. Imagine if I'd just taken my cruddy blackberry? Gasp!

I like to think that last shot is him being a normal husband, and saying something like, 'Hey honey, look over there! What's going on over there??' And she's all, 'Babe, we're supposed to be smiling and waving, pay attention!'

It was a nice way to spend a morning - it's not everyday you get to see the future King of England in the flesh.
Elizabeth was very well behaved, and talked nonstop about Pwince Chawming and the Pwincess. This was good because it was a grey and drizzly day, and she could have been just miserable. Luckily, I was prepared:

I decided E & I should make a nice day of it, and we went for noodles for lunch. I just love taking Elizabeth out for lunch - it feels like she is so grown up, and we actually have mini conversations. We talked a lot about Princes and Princesses (obviously), and also about the rain, and whether she likes rain or sun, and the things you can do in the rain but not the sun, and vice versa. I confess: we had a really lovely time together.

After lunch, it was coming on nap-time, so we got on the bike and headed home. Halfway there, right smack in the middle of Midsummer Common, right in front of the Fort St George Pub (aka the pub we went to about a billion times this summer because it opens onto the Common and the river, and Elizabeth can run around or watch the rowing while we have a pint) - - - what do we see??? Nothing other than the motorcade of Will & Kate!!

We pulled up, and found out they were watching some College rowers. We decided to wait until they came out - there were only 10 people or so there, and we were about 10 meters away from the exit. Elizabeth & I talked about what they were having for lunch - she thought he was having a burger and she was having chips. And then Elizabeth said (on her own), "I like ice and water. I think Pwince Chawming likes . . . a beer! Like Daddy!!!" I laughed and laughed - and so did their police escorts who were waiting listening to our chat.
After about 5 minutes, during which we went through the all menu and drink possibilities for Kate & Will, they emerged. I was really terrible at the photography by now because by this point Elizabeth was exhausted and needed a carry, and it is awkward holding her and Matthew's heavy camera at the same time, let alone focusing and zooming, etc etc.
The mini crowd was all laughing and cheerful, and having phone calls with friends that went something like this, "Hey Jeff, you'll never guess who's having a pint at the Fort St George?? Prince William himself!! ha! I wonder if they made him pay for it!!" etc etc.

Here is one last, terribly blurry but still exciting photograph for your enjoyment. Squint hard.

I feel silly saying this, but it is wild that the future King and Queen of England were in a pub that I have been to so many times. That's pretty wild, right?

Monday, 19 November 2012

It's the Little Things That'll Getcha

We moved into our house in January 2011. That same month we had visits from Holger & Anne (Matthew's Dad and his permanent Dance Partner.) Anne bought us a cyclamen as a house-warming present.

That bad boy is still around. And I love it.

I have since bought two other cyclamen, and a basil plant, which never stops kicking. And last spring, I was having a crummy day, so I bought myself a hyacinth to cheer up. Matthew's Mum, Susan, told me that when the hyacinth died, I should let it wither away and put the pot in a dark place, like a closet, for a few months. Then, I should take it out of the closet, and start watering it again, and it'll come back to life. Susan is an excellent gardener though - me, not so much. These houseplants are the best I've done in my whole life.

But I did it anyways with the hyacinth. It was pretty hilarious when I'd forget it was there in the linen closet, and then go to grab some toilet paper or a fresh towel and see this nasty, dried up plant on top of the pile of clean towels. I brought the pot back out in October, and said to Matthew, "I have no faith in this experiment."

But guess what: my little hyacinth is coming back to life!!! 3 beautiful little green buds are coming through the soil, all hopeful and promising. The cyclamen are still ticking along, constantly in bloom.

Today I had a sad little moment when I realized I won't be around to see the hyacinth fully bloom. There are some real hidden emotional traumas when you move.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

We went to the Happiest Place on Earth

No, not Disneyland: Denmark!!

I saw this Oprah show a few years ago when Oprah went to Copenhagen to interview people there, since (and this is a direct quote from Oprah.com --- a truly credible source):  "for the past 30 years, scientific researchers and survey results have all reached the same conclusion—Danes are consistently happier than the rest of the world." Oprah.com tells us next up is Switzerland, Austria and Iceland, with Canada at 10th. Not too bad!! (I don't know where the UK falls on this "world map of happiness", sorry.)

Since then, I have wanted to go to Copenhagen so bad. And this fall we were hemming and hawing about going for a sunny holiday, but all of the "sun" destinations couldn't guarantee good weather, and there's nothing worse than being at a beach town in the rain. So I convinced Matthew that Denmark is awesome. It wasn't hard to do, since Denmark is awesome. 

Here is a quick collage of Elizabeth, to keep you interested. She loved Copenhagen, even though she called it Pocahontas for most of the trip.

Copenhagen is a really beautiful city, and just like our trip to Budapest last year, we had no idea what was there. We got guide books out of the library but didn't read them, so we were pleasantly surprised to find a really pretty little city to wander around. There was public art, lots of parks and green spaces, a palace with guards, and of course, the famous harbour. 

So, the highlights of the trip were:

(1) We rented an apartment on www.airbnb.com, which I totally recommend. It was a 10 minute cycle away from the city centre, and Copenhagen is bike-friendly utopia for bicycles. The perks of apartment living when traveling are numerous, but the best part is pretending that you actually live there. We totally pretended we were cool Danes, I won't lie. We also got to experience Danish bathrooms . . . So tiny!! And there's the added bonus of being able to spy glance into your neighbours' windows and see how "real Danes" hang out. Turns out, "real Danes" play World of Warcraft on their massive televisions. Hmm. (This kind of lets the cat out of the bag that Matthew once played WoW... it's okay, he's over it now. Thank goodness.)

(b) We went to Tivoli Gardens. It is a super amazing theme park right in the middle of the city, and it was apparently the pre-cursor to Disneyland. Walt Disney came to visit and was all, "Imma do that too." There are rides, amusement park games, a theater, food and restaurants (but regular, chain-type restaurants, not Tivoli-owned ones. In my opinion, this is better than Disneyland and their overpriced boring food. That, and the fact that it is literally in the middle of the city. Sorry BKos.)

So there are a million rides - carousel, ferris wheel, bumper cars & bumper boats, you name it. Does Elizabeth want to go on a single one? Nope. Thank goodness the entry is a flat fee, and you buy tickets or passes or whatever for rides. Instead of using her tickets for a ride, we went to the aquarium. . . Aquariums are fun, don't get me wrong, but Matthew & I were so surprised she didn't even want to go on a single ride!!

She did play a carnival game where you "fish for ducks" with a magnetic pole, and you always get a prize at the end. And she chose a toy cell phone. And then she talked on her phone for the rest of the trip. Most of the time she was calling her Auntie Suzie and Uncle Adam. She had a lot to tell them, apparently.

(4) The zoo. Never underestimate a zoo when traveling. Elizabeth loves them, and (big surprise) so does her Dad. This zoo was awesome - there was a family of lions, and they had a roar-fest while we were there!!! It was unbelievable! I have never heard a real lion roar!
video

But the ultimate highlight of Copenhagen was that when we rented bicycles, from this guy (all Monty Python fans should check his site) and the baby seat was a kangaroo seat attached to Matthew's crossbar. This meant she got to hold onto the handlebars, and (in her words), "I am driving the bike!! I am the leader!!" It is safe to say that day was the best day of Elizabeth's life. She was laughing and smiling the w-h-o-l-e day. At one point while we were riding, she yelled out, "I am having so much fun!!!"

There is also secret option (D) as the ultimate highlight: the fact that all cafes and pubs and restaurants have outdoor seating, and they give you a blanket so you can snuggle up with your beer when it starts to feel chilly. I think this might be the reason Danes are so damn happy.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Who Thought Football Needed Interpreters??

Our friends, Kate & Sam Tudor are true Cambridge City Football Club fans. They go to every home game and their two boys, Freddy & Cal, are being brought up to bleed white and black. They used to  make it to the away games too, but two little boys + driving to and from games in a day = eye-stabby.

My Mum's family (well, most of them) bleed blue for Chelsea Football Club, a big London club. I suppose if I had to choose, I would have to support Chelsea, because if I didn't my entire family would lynch me. My cousin just married a Tottenham supporter, and he never hears the end of it - especially when Chelsea beat Tottenham.

Here is some perspective on English Football:

Chelsea is in the Premier League - the highest in the English Football League System (which is well explained, if you care, here). There are 20 teams clubs in that league. Under them, is the Football League (aka Championship League), with another 20 clubs. Under them is League One & Two, with 24 clubs in each, and under them is Conference National, with yet another 24 clubs. So far, we're up to 88 clubs.

At this point, the nation divides in two: Conference North, and Conference South, each with 22 clubs. And then it further divides into three Premier Division Football Leagues: Northern, Southern and Isthmian - and all 3 of them have 22 clubs. (Yes, Isthmian - it refers to "London and South East England" - I can't believe I had to explain that to you, jeez.) Cambridge City Football Club is there, in the Southern Premier Division.

Then, each of those 3 are further divided into two Division One teams - either North or South (or Central and South-West - so specific), and each of those  Divisions have 22 clubs. So from the top down to that point in the pyramid, we're up to 358 clubs. Keep in mind, in this English Football League System pyramid, we're only at row 8 - out of a total of 24 rows. Football is kinda a big deal over here.

Every year there's a tournament called the Football Association Challenge Cup (FA Cup).  Eligible teams are the Premier & Championship Leagues, and the next six tiers of the pyramid. Theoretically, one of the smaller lower teams could make it through the six rounds to the quarter finals, and just maybe, make it all the way to the top, and win the Cup. I don't think this has ever happened, but everyone loves a David & Goliath sports story.

So here's your David & Goliath Sports Story!!!

Cambridge City made it to the first round of the FA cup this year! Their game was against the Milton Keynes Dons, who play in Football League One. That's in the 3rd tier of the pyramid, while City is in the 7th. That means there are 116 clubs between City & MK Dons. The Dons are full-time footballers; City players get paid, but not enough to live on, and all of them have jobs. The Dons play every day, all day; City players... not so much. But who cares! City is in the FA cup!! Kate & Sam were pretty excited, as you can imagine. Matthew & I obviously got a babysitter & tickets, and joined them to cheer on the good guys.

So that's where I have to take a detour from this blah blah blah to tell you something interesting:

Football fans are insane. And impossible to understand. And unexpectedly musical.

Here is a very small sampling of the cheers from Cambridge City fans. The videography is just nothing, because the game was televised, and the camera was right in front of us, and I didn't want to be caught either on camera or by the cameraman. So close your eyes, and listen. Except for the Disco one, you'll want to watch that.
video

It's true -there really is only one Adie Cambridge - a midfielder, whose actual name is Adrian Cambridge. But that tune is totally changeable to whoever has the ball - or generally, whoever does something awesome. It is my new favourite household chant: There's only one Lizzie Hawkeye!

By the middle of the first half of the game, Matthew & I were proudly chanting along, especially to my favourite "Gary Roberts' Family Holiday". At halftime I asked Kate what the deal was - Gary Roberts is the manager, but maybe he also has a family holiday business, or a B&B, or something? No, no, he doesn't. It's because they're chanting "Gary Robert's Barmy Army." Ohhhh.... oopsies.

I know you're all dying to hear the ending of the sports saga - did the underdog win? Was it a glorious victory???

Well, no, but a draw was a most excellent result for the boys in White!!

For Kate & Sam, this means they get to go to Milton Keynes for the rematch next week, and do it all again! I don't think my nerves can take it - I'd rather take care of Freddy & Cal, and let Sam & Kate get sore throats again.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Bonfire Night

It's weird when you don't really feel permanent in a place, and yet you've been there long enough to do annual things twice. Like Bonfire Night - aka the 5th of November - aka Guy Fawkes night. Remember?

We went down to see the fireworks last night, and it was chilly. Correction: it was mildly cool. We dressed appropriately and weren't cold at all, therefore, it can't have been very chilly. Also: we rode our bikes there, so clearly it's not cold here at all.

I'm not sure what part Elizabeth liked best:

(a) Her new snowpants, which she has renamed "Swishy Pants"

(2) watching the fireworks

or (d)the Chocolate Fudge Sundae we got at the pub afterwards

I have two "best parts of the night":

(I) that moment of relief when you find your keys after a panicked bike ride back to where you had locked up - only because your key ring is from your University Graduation and you feel a bit sentimental about things like that...

or (ii) These girls with matching platinum blonde hair who took duck-face, pouty lipped
pictures of themselves for the 45 minutes we were at the pub.

It's a tough call.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Shelob

We have a pet. She lives on the outside of the kitchen window on a huge web. She has lived there for about 4 months. We have to look for her every morning before breakfast, because she hides under the lip of the window sill.

She scares the shi*t out of me.


As a frame of reference, here she was back in September. Look how skinny she was.

Look how chubby huge  she is now. And even though she's been our pet for 4 months now, if she ever comes through the window, I am not kidding, I will kill her immediately. Before she starts eating me and my family.


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Things, Things, Things

I have started the anxiety-ridden process of planning our return to Canada. I feel like all of a sudden, my very sparse home is full of stuff  that I have to sell/give away/throw out. And I am planning in reverse - as in, what can I get rid of now and not notice for the next 7 weeks? Microwave? No, I need that. Kettle? Defo need that. Lego set that Elizabeth never plays with? Gone. 

So far, I've sold some of Elizabeth's toys on gumtree (aka kijiji for England), and today someone is coming to pick up a little toy chair & a high chair. No sweat, she doesn't use them anyways.

 I got a little bit over zealous in my photograph-taking and gumtree-ad-placing, and took photos of her crib & change table. Seriously Jammy? If someone responds and wants to buy it - what will Elizabeth sleep in??? Time to get a grip!



But on that note . . . anyone want some of our stuff?