April 29, 2009

haiku wednesday - April 29, 2009

This week's words are

A five syllable word! How exciting. I am sorry to all my 3WW friends, but work will keep me from visiting many people until at least later in the week. I hope you have a great week.

bad quarrel at home
opportunity to drink
hot bargirl service

service goes wide--OUT!
opportunity to rant
quarrel with the judge

they quarrel; I watch
he departs; she needs service...

April 24, 2009

there's a giraffe in London

I've been cajoled into posting what few photos I have from the Minions meet at Giraffe-Upon-Thames, London, UK. Both Jane and FairyHedgehog have done a better job of detailing events (and taking pictures) than I can, so read their entries and ignore this one. You'll thank me for it later.

Now, expectations properly set, I can get on with my entry.

It was a long way to come for this meeting, but it was worth it. Something like 6,500 miles each way for me, somewhat less for most of the others (unless they were using the same GPS system that I was using). Thanks to whoever chose the spot for the meet--very public setting (in case some of us were ax murderers), outdoor seating (for easy and quick getaways in a pinch), serving both coffee and wine.

I must admit that when I left the house in the morning, I had some reservations. I certainly was excited to meet the attending minions, but what the hell was I doing taking a full day out of my 12-day vacation, leaving my wife and children behind, and going all the way into the city (30+ minutes by train) to meet people I only knew from blogs and a few emails? Originally I'd hoped wife and wee ones would accompany me, but our wiser selves realized the kids would have been bored out of their skulls as soon as their sodas were finished.

There was a long line outside the Giraffe when I got there, and it seemed to block the entrance so I wasn't sure if I should wait or try to squeeze through and see if I could find the group. As I deliberated, a couple of business types started chatting, and my hopes flagged when one asked with incredulity, "Are you actually queuing for the Giraffe then?" It was then I noticed all the baby strollers in the queue. And then I saw FHH dash through the door. And then I made eye contact with some redhead who seemed to be staring me down from across the patio. Fortunately before I quailed and fled, she mouthed the word "Pete?" (or it could have been "feet" but that would have been weird). So I made my way to the table.

OK, so long story short: Conversation went from zero to sixty in about oh-point-two seconds, and it did not let up (even after FHH and hubby left) until I was seated safely back on the train at Waterloo station around 6:15 p.m. (That's about six hours for those keeping score at home.) The conversation had so much momentum that it actually followed me as I walked alone from Giraffe to the train platform.

We talked about EE, about blogs, about the education system, about London pollution and pea soup fog, about ocean currents, about flying small planes, about other blogging friends who could not make it, about health, about children, about each other, about ourselves. Before I got there, I expected more talk about writing and our projects, but really that almost didn't even come up. We were only seven people, yet we finished five bottles of wine. Perhaps more. I lost count at some point.

And I really don't have a lot more to say about it. Anyone who couldn't make it... you missed out, big time. We missed you.

It is now time to begin planning Minion Meet 2010. We talked about San Francisco or Las Vegas. Who's up for it? And it doesn't have to be just EE's minions; you other writerly blogging friends would have had a good time, too.

And now for the photos:

April 23, 2009

Shakespeare's birthday? And I didn't get him a gift.

NPR posted this to Facebook, so apologies if you've already seen it. I was only able to identify about half the cliches in the article. Can you get them all?

To be or not to be? Either way, it's a cliche.

April 21, 2009

the last day in England

I once heard that when you're visiting a place far from home, and it rains when you leave, that country is sad to see you go. What does it say that our final day in England was the most gorgeous of our entire trip? It was even warmer and sunnier than yesterday, a perfect day for a jaunt through Covent Garden.

Not much to report today. We hung out a while at home and took a later train into London, then the tube to Leicester Square. We had lunch at Tokyo Diner, highly recommended.

After that, we walked over to Covent Garden and just walked around, found a toy store and candy shop, a tea shop, and some other things. A man and a woman were singing opera quite well in one portion of the market. Then when the girls (Maria and our hostess) went off to do shopping things, the boys and I went to the London Transport Museum.

I know! Weird. It would be like someone coming all the way from, say, Portugal to San Francisco and spending the morning at the Wells Fargo History Museum. (Which, by the way, is worth a visit if you happen to be in the financial district.) But the Transport Museum was pretty cool. Great gift shop, too. I especially like the thong panties with the "Mind the Gap" logo on the front. Very tasteful. I did no acquire a pair.

Anyway, the museum is much more interesting than you'd think. They had a number of old buses and train cars and cabs and such around, but they also had a lot of the history of how the Underground was built, some interactive activities, and other cool exhibits.

Probably the thing the boys liked best was the Jubilee Line simulator, which had just one control: the throttle. You had to start it up, then try to position the train (without brakes or reverse) at a station platform. I thought it a little boring, but they had fun.

We spent about two hours there, I think, and kind of rushed through the final exhibits in order to meet the ladies on time.

We took our final tube ride back to Waterloo, then our final train ride back to Virginia Water.

Then our hostess (the first person, incidentally, to purchase one of my stories for a literary journal) and I went out for an hour of writing at a local place. Not a lot of writing got done, but we did talk a lot about writing. And especially a lot about my new WIP, which I was losing confidence in when we arrived in London but which I now think has a better approach.

Our hostess is also quite a good photographer, and she set up her equipment for some family shots in her house and also a couple of head shots of me. One or more may be appearing in a future installment of my blog or Facebook. Or not.

Tomorrow: Up at 6 a.m., then off to Heathrow for our return through Frankfurt to San Francisco, finishing up with a BART ride home. Then, back to real life and real work. Le sigh.

April 20, 2009

finally, The Tower (and a double decker bus!)

My crowning moment today as a stupid American tourist was when I told my children that the towering statue in Trafalgar Square was of Admiral Halsey. Thank God I whispered it to them instead of shouting it out--I knew I had at least an 80% chance of being wrong. At least I didn't say it was a statue of Willie Nelson.

Anyway, today the weather cooperated very kindly, and after we boarded the train for London around 10:30 a.m. I took my jacket off and never put it back on. It must have reached 70 degrees (to you in the Metric System, that's somewhere around 10 below, I think), and the sun was out nearly all day. Very un-London, from what I've been told.

We rode to Waterloo station again, this time heading straight to the Underground to get to Tower Hill. I thought that Warwick Castle had a lot of steps. Sheesh, it's got nothing on the average Tube station. The pathetic little "maze" at Hampton Court? A mere trifle compared to each sinister labyrinth underneath the Underground symbol. Still, it is remarkably well documented with very polite signs leading this way and that. After a brief orientation, I let the boys navigate most of the way, and we got to Tower Hill without incident.

I love the Tower of London. It's got traditions and really gruesome stories that bring to life all the brutality of the middle ages. Right now is the 500th anniversary of the coronation of Henry VIII, and all the Royal properties have something going on. The Tower has "Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill," an exhibit of arms and armor that is thrilling and jaw-dropping in the quantity, quality, and breadth of original armor and weaponry from the period.

We had just missed a Yeoman Warder's tour, so we hurried off to see how long the line for the Crown Jewels was. I had already been to the Tower of London twice before--once in 10th grade, and once in the year One BC (BC here meaning "before children," or about 14 years ago). In 10th grade I don't remember seeing the Jewels; I think I went to the gift shop instead. In 1 BC, we waited and saw them, but the line was over an hour long. Today, we walked right through.

The pieces are truly incredible, with jewels that are unbelievably large, beautiful, and plentiful. But the sense of history was to me the most impressive (again). There is a golden spoon that is 300 years older than the United States. It is the Coronation Spoon. What the hell do they use a Coronation Spoon for? I mean, really? WTF?

My older son was most impressed with the thickness of the vault door where the jewels are kept. I think he wasn't sure what he'd be seeing or its value until he saw that we were in fact walking through a ginormous bank vault with real actual military guards outside with real actual weapons.

That's another thing the boys enjoyed but did not expect--unlike other historical landmarks we've visited where there were very official looking doorpeople like at Hampton Court Palace, or in-character actors like at Warwick Castle, or sheep like at Stonehenge, the Tower of London has real honest to goodness guards, with weaponry. Which is pretty cool to a little boy.

If you get to the Tower, the one thing you must do is take a tour guided by a Yeoman Warder. These men live in the Tower with their families and have served in the military for a minimum of 22 years. And they clearly love what they do, have a good time with the tour groups, and are proud of the Tower and its history. The tours don't take you anyplace you can't see yourself (except perhaps the Chapel, which might be off limits to the public without a guide), but the stories they tell bring the whole place to life. Which is, of course, ironic since most of the stories are about execution. With it being Henry VIII's special time, we got an extra dose of Anne Boleyn detail I hadn't heard before. (Such as that Anne chose to be beheaded by a French two-handed sword rather than the traditional British ax, so Henry--being the kind and loving and caring husband that he was--paid out of his own pocket to bring an expert executioner all the way from France to do the deed.)

We ate lunch at the cafe there, which is a bit hectic and difficult to navigate at a crowded lunchtime but otherwise decent food at tourism prices. We were able to print off some coupons from their web site allowing for a cheaper kid meal, which was a bonus.

Finally, we made a point to see the ravens. For some reason, my 12 year old's teacher decided a clever homework assignment would be for him to find out what types of trees inhabit the courtyard where the ravens are. We saw two trees that had trunks that looked pretty oakey, but with leaves that didn't look much like oak at all. So we tracked down a Yeoman Warder and asked, and his response was, "I should know that, but I don't. They are supposed to be trees that are very good at pulling smog out of the air, though--that's the type of tree they used to plant back then, and I imagine these are one of those types." So that's our answer to the homework question. But doggone, wouldn't you know it, the Historic Royal Palaces web site has a page with a whole section on the trees at the Tower of London. It turns out there are 88 trees at the Tower, with two thirds of them being mature and many expected to live not that much longer. (Maybe they spent too much time topping the humans and not enough time topping the trees.) I believe the linked report notes the trees to the south of the White Tower (on the south lawn) to be London plane.

After our time at the Tower, which was over four hours but could easily have been extended (we never got to see the cells where prisoners scratched notes into the walls, for example--a bit I was particularly fond of on my last visit), we hopped on the #15 bus for a ride to Trafalgar Square. We were lucky enough to get one of the old-fashioned buses, maybe one of the originals. It was empty, so we sat right up front on the top level, right above the driver.

I'll tell you, this was a better ride than Disneyland's Indiana Jones ride. Whoo, we thought for sure we ran over 40 pedestrians, 10 signs, two taxis, and eight boxes which I think had something to do with traffic but which Sam thought were mailboxes. HIGHLY recommended, especially for those of you fond of roller coasters.

Drove past St. Paul's Cathedral and alit at Trafalgar Square, where I mistook one Admiral for another of a different nationality and different century.

We hit a book store in search of Top Trumps cards and bought one deck at Waterstone's, somewhere right near Charing Cross. The boys were nackered by now, so rather than walk down Whitehall Street and back up along the river, we simply went across the pedestrian bridge and back to Waterloo Station.

A pleasant nap on the ride home, a nice dinner with friends, some telly, and a blog post. A right wonderful day.

April 18, 2009

History rocks!!!

Ethan and Sam both have homework during our vacation (what kind of sadist does that to a kid?), including geography and history. But really what was cool today was our visit to a place Ethan had to write a report about earlier this year in 6th grade: Stonehenge.

The place itself it not terribly impressive. It's a bunch of rocks in the middle of this remote field next to a highway. It's ringed round by a rope barrier to keep us unwashed masses from fouling the ancient stones with our personal grime. (Actually, I think that's a good thing. Not because I'm personally grimy, mind you.)

The audio tour is a must, however. Here's a tip for the novice tourist: When picking up your audio tour handset, be sure not to get the Japanese version, unless of course you speak Japanese. The English version is much easier to understand. The audio tour could benefit from some wordcount reduction and could be spoken a bit faster, but if the rocks stood in one place for nearly 6,000 years, then the tourists can stand to listen to a few extra minutes of narrative. It's pretty good narrative, after all.

Not much else to say about Stonehenge, really. I enjoyed visiting it (again, as I had seen it on my 10th grade trip many years ago), and I'm glad we went even though it was an hour drive or so.

The one thing I wish I'd done before going down to Salisbury, though, is brush up on my Alfred the Great history and see if there were other sights to see regarding him. For some reason, I became terribly interested in his story about 20 years ago and read several books, and I'd have liked to visit a few of the interesting points if there were any. But I didn't.

Tomorrow: The Meet!

April 17, 2009

... and the rains came

Another lazy morning (at least for the grownups... the boys found a way to wage major battles in a small bedroom with an upper bunk, a few wooden swords, and a gaggle of beanie babies). Sprinkles in the morning breaking into more sprinkles by 11:30 a.m. Lunch at the house, then off to Hampton Court Palace in the afternoon.

As with Warwick Castle, I had been to Hampton Court on my 10th grade trip to England many years ago. My journal from that time remarks on the beautiful gardens--it was a similar time of year--but I don't remember much else about it. And it did not look terribly familiar when we drove up.

It's fun driving right through the gates of the palace and into the parking area, then walking up the long front drive to the entry. The building is impressively large, built in installments I gather. They had a special, widely spread and ubiquitous exhibit for Henry VIII, as this is the 500th anniversary of something or other. I have the details nearby, but this is a blog, not a NYT article, so forgive me if I don't check all my facts (if it was the NYT, I'd just make them up).

This is another site I'd recommend visiting. The artwork and rooms are really phenomenal, and the tapestries are ancient and mammoth. The sense of history, as with most places around here, is palpable. The great hall is enormous, with perhaps the highest ceiling I've ever seen (except the Kingdome, perhaps). I enjoyed touring the older parts of the palace more than the newer, perhaps because I really enjoy older medieval and dark ages history. (Being, of course, a recovering D&D aficionado).

(This photo happens to be the same photo used in the Landmark Trust properties catalog. Without, of course, the children. Apparently, there are apartments you can rent in Hampton Court Palace through the Landmark Trust, which I think is one of the coolest concepts I've ever come across.)

With a 9-year-old, a 10-year-old, and a 12-year-old, though, we could not linger long over the tapestries or artwork or architecture. We hurried through the majority of the building, then out to the maze. The maze is very cool and very old, an outdoor shrubbery labyrinth that frankly is not terribly difficult to navigate but is fun for kids and also fun to imagine the aristocracy of the old days frolicking in. The boys led me at breakneck speed through the shrubs, past preteens playing tag and knots of little girls looking bewildered. All told, they made four full circuits of the path before we adjourned to the cafe for delicious ice cream (I had rhubarb).

Then, on to the gardens! The gardens are really quite spectacular. I somehow imagined there would be more drama to them, but after a little while I found the simple geometry and smartly placed color to be much more enjoyable than the Disneyland color explosions I'd anticipated.

Of note is the Great Vine, an ancient grape vine that yields nearly a thousand pound of grapes each year. It's immense, and I am sure the tremendously immense Wisteria outside has vine envy since the grape gets all the attention.

The boys also enjoyed this long tunnel, having a couple of sprints along its length.
While we were at the gardens, the British weather finally arrived. The refreshing, light sprinkles we'd enjoyed all afternoon finally turned into what this Bay Area resident would call light rain.

A quick trip to the gift shop and a hop into the car, and at about 6 p.m. the light rain turned into a legitimate rain in earnest. Dinner at home (nice little local Indian place delivers, thank goodness) and a relaxing evening.

Tomorrow the plan is Stonehenge, but we're not sure what the backup plan is if we chicken out due to the expected rain.

April 16, 2009

Imperial War Museum and HMS Belfast

We spent the morning recovering from our day off (yesterday was a total day off with a walk through the Royal Landscape somewhere between Virginia Water and Windsor, in which we walked across the Queen's Polo Ground and saw a robot lawnmower and lots of daffodils and forgot our camera). The afternoon was dedicated to London's war monuments: The wicked cool Imperial War Museum and the mostly wicked cool but not as cool as an overnight on the USS Hornet HMS Belfast.

It was another fine day--overcast and a little dreary, but warmish with a hint of sprinkles on the air. We wandered off to the local train station, a short distance from our hostess' house, and had a grand time on the platform for the two minutes before the train to London arrived.

On the train, I listened to a spritely young beauty yap on her cell phone with her mate about how awful the rain was (it had shed a few drops on the windows but nothing I'd actually call RAIN) and whether they had their umbrellas (which I think she called a bully, but I wasn't quite sure). Anyway, a short ride in to Waterloo station and a quick cab ride (for the kids; I'd have walked) later, we were at the Imperial War Museum.

Now, we'd heard this would be impressive. You walk in, and there are Spitfires and biplanes hanging from the ceiling, and four or five tanks facing you with six different artillery pieces between them. A couple of mini subs and a jeep and a lorry round out the lot, making for a very impressive and engaging entry room indeed.

Although our hostess had to chat with the handyman in the morning about fire alarms and light bulbs, she joined us partway through our tour. The museum has a number of wonderful features. The cafe is one of them, though I would not include the steak and kidney pie among its recommended fare. It was too crowded, but once we found some seats it was pleasant enough. The staff certainly were quite nice and helpful.

The museum itself has this terrific "trench experience" exhibit downstairs where you can walk through a mock WWI trench. It's not muddy or cold, of course, but for those with a good imagination and a little academic background on WWI, it is a moving experience. Very well done and well worth the $0 admission. (Yes, it's free! They ask you to buy a museum guide for 3.50 pounds, which we did, but it's otherwise free.) They also have this terrific 1940s era house inside the museum. We happened to be walking behind an older gentleman who had been about 8 or 9 years old when the Blitz started, and he seemed giddy with memories and eager to share his thoughts. The whole museum was striking, from the dramatic display of firepower on entry to the gripping human drama illustrated in the Cold War exhibit and evacuee section. I did not see the Holocaust exhibit because I was in charge of the younguns, but the ladies did see it and were impressed with the quality of the exhibit.

(Speaking of the ladies, here they are in front of their preferred vehicle for hitting the high street shops on a leisurely Saturday morning. Then there are Maria and I in front of the Jeep and truck outside the cafe.)

After the Imperial War Museum (which, if you hadn't figured it out, I highly recommend), we continued our little boy day by visiting the HMS Belfast, a Cruiser class ship from WWII that is a docked museum near Tower Bridge. We had a good time finding the Northern Line of the Tube, wandering up and down about 300 steps (only slightly fewer than the Warwick Castle offers in their towers) and up and down through an open air market of questionable repute. Find it we did, however, and we boarded the Tube at the Elephant & Castle stop for the London Bridge stop.

Once there, we had a good time viewing the ship. It's certainly a fun time for anyone interested in military history, particularly WWII or naval military. It was a little smaller and less impressive to our boys than the USS Hornet aircraft carrier we've spent a few overnighters on. But it is very well done, with excellent descriptions and a top notch self-guided tour. I thrilled to see the inside of a big-gun turret and the magazine room below it, and the boys loved the boiler rooms and engine rooms. We also enjoyed inspecting the AAA guns on the side, and then seeing them from above from the upper decks. All in all, another site worth seeing.

The train ride back from Waterloo Station was uneventful, followed by a pleasant dinner out at a local restaurant with too much wine, which will account for any typos you see in this blog post.

April 15, 2009

Two days in Paris

It was a whirlwind. We rose early on Monday and made it to the airport in about 18 minutes instead of the 90 or so it took us to find the house on the first day. (When you're totally jet lagged and unsure of the difference between dusk and dawn, what's "early"?) British Air from Heathrow to Charles de Gaulle was pleasant and quick, and the train in to the center of Paris was simple and enjoyable.

We exited at Saint-Michel Notre-Dame (purple dot on map), and because we had no idea which exit to take we accidentally walked up into the gorgeous Paris afternoon right in front of the cathedral. Last time I was here, it was dark and rainy and freezing, and the whole front of the cathedral was under scaffolding. This time, it was festive with hundreds of tourists wandering about, taking photographs. It was about 70 degrees and sunny-hazy.

We hauled our bag across the bridge and down a few streets to our hotel (red dot right near the center of the map), the Best Western Left Bank-St. Germain. I would say we had a wonderful experience with this hotel. The staff were courteous and friendly (as friendly as any Parisian I met, anyway), they gave us two adjoining rooms on the top floor, and breakfast Tuesday morning was pleasant enough. The rooms were tight but not cramped, and each had its own bathroom. I'd recommend the hotel to first time Paris visitors for sure.

After checking in (one of our two rooms was actually ready at noon) and depositing our gear, we walked across Pont Neuf to the Louvre (orange dot).

Maria had read a travel writer's article that said, "In all the times I've been to the Louvre, I have never seen a child under the age of twelve look happy there." I am sad to report that he is entirely correct.

While our boys loved the pyramids and the plaza, it was too crowded, too hot, too free from the burden of drinking fountains, and too full of boring old art for their taste. We did get this photo of some guy, and as luck would have it we think there's something of interest in the background. (Yes, that is I in the extreme foreground. No, it was not the 9 year old who took the picture.)

After the Louvre, we hiked back across the Seine and down to Jardin du Luxembourg, an enormous park south of the Left Bank area we were staying in. The park must have had the entire vacationing population of Europe in it, and most of them were taking up the benches and chairs. We sat on a stone wall and within 30 seconds were shooed away by a polite but insistent Gendarme; I don't know what building this is, but it has lovely flowers.

The rest of the park was quite pretty and serene despite the billions of people. Pretty much everyone seemed happy. There were tulips that had blooms the size of small dogs. We stopped to get some ice cream, and I was momentarily confused by the wild gestures and French babbling from the poor girl who served us, until I realized I had tried to hand her a five-pound note instead of a five-Euro note.

Refreshed from the park, we returned to our hotel for some rest before heading out for dinner. From our 5th floor windows, you can see the candy shop at the end of the road where we spent half our children's inheritance. (It was mostly worth it.)

Maria wanted to walk through the Latin Quarter, so we tried and mostly failed, having gone straight through an interesting plaza instead of turning left. We ended up meandering among some monstrously granite university buildings (Sorbonne?), which would have been pretty if we hadn't been trying to find something else while dragging along two reluctant, tired, hungry children.

Eventually we made our way back to the restaurant (lime green dot), a traditional bistro called Cremerie Restaurant Polidor that Maria had found online reputed to be family-friendly.

I would have to agree, and although it is more expensive than we're used to, we had a fine dinner. Poor Sam was so tired that between ordering and receiving the starter course, he took a five minute nap in his chair with his head on the table. Poor Ethan didn't like anything we ordered, but we pieced together a dinner for him mostly of bread and chicken with the sauce wiped off.

After dinner, we wanted to have a wander so we gave the children the map and had them guide us back to the hotel. We are pretty sure we walked most of the Latin Quarter before finally returning to the candy shop right outside the Metro stop Odeon. But at least the children were yelling at each other and not at us. It was quite a pleasant walk.

The elegance of these areas is inspiring--I kept wanting to stop and just sit in a cafe and watch people, but with the two boys that was impossible. It's easy to get a sense of the rich history and culture of Paris just wandering the streets. Some are tight little alleys filled with boutiques; others are wider avenues strewn with people and color and energy.

We had our breakfast in the hotel Tuesday morning around 8:30 and checked out at 9:30ish, our adventurous goal to navigate the Metro system straight away. The breakfast attendant was efficient and polite, but not quite the quality we had come to expect from our stop at Holiday Inn in St. Paul, MN a couple of years ago. (Then again, that was the Holiday Inn Breakfast Bar Attendant of the Year.)

Our first mission: A stroll up the Champs Elysees to the Arch de Triomphe. Another gorgeous morning filled with the vibrancy of tourists everywhere. Tourists seem to smile a lot in Paris. We did see a lot of Brits along the way (or rather, hear a lot of Brits).
From the Arch we Metroed a few stops to Trocadero, which provides a brilliant walk to the Eiffel Tower.

The wait for the elevator was two hours, but we waited along with everyone else because Sam really wanted to go up, and with all the activity it didn't really seem like two hours even though it was. Be bought some souvenirs while in line and truly enjoyed the view once we got up to the 2nd floor. We didn't go all the way to the top, but we didn't feel the need.

Quote of the week: A woman waiting for the restroom up in the tower said, "This is the only women's room in all Paris that doesn't have a line!" Having just spent two hours waiting for the elevator, I wasn't quite sure of her logic.

Sam was elated that when he looked through the view finder thing, he saw the "one room hotel" with the perfect view of the Eiffel Tower that is supposed to be $10,000 a night or something. He read about this in his Ripley's Believe It or Not book, I think. It was an odd looking thing, sort of a broken-in-half train car on top of a roof across the river.

After the tower, we were pressed for time. A quick trip to Montmartre (not the porn area near Moulin Rouge but the more bohemian feeling part northeast of there, at Anvers Metro stop), where we saw the energetic and touristy market street on the way up to the Basilique du Sacre Coeur. Only had time to buy a Coke and then hop back on Metro to retrieve our bag, get a few quick snaps of the flying buttresses of Notre Dame again, then back on RER to the airport for our flight back to London.

I never really thought I liked France much, but these two days have changed my mind. I could spend a few weeks in Paris, easy, just hanging out and really soaking in the feel, watching the people, seeing sights we missed, and writing in cafes. (Also, I say the boys were reluctant and whiny above, but really they had a great time and enjoyed most of the trip quite a lot.)