Sunday, June 26, 2011

A day at the beach

Today was a whopping 79 degrees! That is really hot here! So, since we have been lamenting the cool summer and lack of beach time (along with our translucent skin tone), we packed the pups up and drove to Seaham. Seaham is a seaside town on the North Sea with a long and stoney beach.

We were surprised to find that this quaint little town with gorgeous sea cliffs is only a 25 minute drive away from our house in Durham. We were even more pleased to find that the parking was FREE!! The pups were very excited to be outside running free and especially to have a vast amount of water nearby in which to swim.

Maggie started out overjoyed by the water and jumped in and swam and swam, but then later was scared of the waves.

Belle, however, was more fearless and would jump through the crashing waves continually. It was really nice to have such a beautiful day here and I even found a starfish that I was able to throw back into the ocean.

Here's a video of our fearless Belle riding the waves!

Here's one of Maggie fetching the bottle we threw and then being scared by the waves.

And here's one of Belle swimming after rocks Todd is throwing into the sea.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Longest day of the year

June 21st as you know is the longest day of the year, but never have I felt the length of a day like I do here in the United Kingdom. The official sunrise time on June 21st was 4:28 and the sunset time was 9:48, but this photo of the sky taken at 10:30 shows that the sun still has a ways to go before we've seen its end to the workday. The extra sunlight is a nice trade off for the lack of it in the winter, though convincing Maggie and Belle that wake-up time is not at 4:30 is something we're still working on.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


For our five year wedding anniversary, Todd and I found a cheap flight to Prague for an extended weekend. We stayed a bit outside of the tourist part of the city, but still saw all of the tourist sites. We stayed near the TV tower, which is a bit futuristic looking and has statues of babies crawling all over it.

Apparently, they were placed on it in 2000 as some sort of artistic piece and the locals liked it so much it became permanent. The public transportation in the city was pretty easy to maneuver, even given our limited knowledge of the Czech language. Even so, we still ended up doing a lot of walking on the city’s many cobblestone streets.

We saw the famous Astromonical Clock that is over 600 years old,

where on the hour a rooster crowed and the windows opened to a statue procession of the twelve apostles.

Here is a fun video of a light show done for the clock’s 600th anniversary.

Prague has many beautifully constructed buildings; you can find unique settings all over the city.

One of my favorite buildings was the Dancing House, named because it resembles a pair of dancers.

We saw the Charles Bridge (the one from Mission Impossible) from many different locations, behind me in this picture.

It was built in the 15th century and there are 30 large statues of different saints decorated on the bridge. This is the statue of Augustine.

The most famous statue on the Charles Bridge is St. John of Nepomuk, where many people were crowded around trying to touch the statue because it is said to bring good fortune when touched.

We walked up a large hill to visit Prague Castle,

the largest castle in the world.
Inside we visited St. Vitus Cathedral,

an art musem of Czech artists, the history of the castle guards and saw a house where Kafka lived and wrote.

We also saw a very nice view of the city from the elevated castle.

Jan Huss, a forerunner to Martin Luther, served as a preacher at Bethlehem Chapel in Prague prior to his excommunication and eventual execution by church authorities. Here is a large statue of Huss located in Old Town Square with St. Nicholas church behind it.

We visited Bethlehem Chapel where we got to see where Huss preached. The Chapel reflects his high belief in preaching with the raised pulpit.

Todd was very excited to visit this historic site.

Of course, we ate good food each day (we found great mexican!)

and at one place even found the same wine that we had at the fancy restaurant where we went on the night of our engagement.

We drank some great pilsners and watched ”Friends” and “The Incredibles” in German on our TV in the hotel. It was really a treat to get away to this fascinating city with all its cubist shaped buildings, religious history and strange statues (like the hanging man, who is easily missed by many passersby).

We had a great time and packed a lot into our four days!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gibside Chapel

Last week, Todd and I took a trip to Gibside to see Gibside Chapel and the surrounding Bowes estate lands. The chapel was built in the 18th century in a style called “Palladian” that is copied after the style of the ancient buildings of Rome.

Inside the chapel was beautiful with a large three tiered pulpit right in the center.

From this pulpit, a preacher would preach at the top tier and the sounding board over his head would help to project his words. From the second level, the readings would be read and at the bottom a clerk would sit. In front of this pulpit is an altar.

According to Todd, the pulpit would have been constructed in this way to signify the importance of the preached word in a service.

We then ventured out through the Bowes estate, working our way to the “Column to Liberty” that was exactly one mile away from the Chapel. It was not hard to miss it as it stands 150 feet tall.

Here’s a close up photo I found online of the statue on top of the column.

We visited the Orangery built by Mary, the daughter of George Bowes, which was continually heated year round, though its present state is in disrepair and Gibside is hoping to restore it to its original form in the future.

The most interesting thing I remember about Mary Bowes was that she married John Lyon and their children hyphenated their last names to Bowes-Lyon. Elisabeth Bowes-Lyon, the late Queen Mother, is a descendant of this union.

The estate was beautiful and had lovely walking paths and beautiful views. There were rhododendrons everywhere!

It was a rainy day when we went so the pictures don’t really capture the beautiful grounds and he views.

Even with the rain, it was a very beautiful place to spend our Bank Holiday!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Happy 5 Year Anniversary

Five years ago today:

A girl was walked down the aisle by her Father
Two young persons vowed to love, comfort, honor and keep
A host of friends and family agreed to uphold this union
Two persons were joined to help and comfort in prosperity and adversity


We live on a new continent and we drive on the wrong side of the road
We have a few gray hairs
We’ve managed to grow and change together through the curve balls life has thrown
We’re still learning about each other

There’s no one else I’d rather be with at any moment on any given day
You have truly become my best friend
I thought I loved you so much 5 years ago today, but today I love you more than ever

Happy Anniversary Honey!

Don’t you know, baby, I’d do it all over again! -Derek Webb