Some of you may remember from long ago that when Chelsea and I visited Paris together, about five years ago, they had just introduced a bike sharing service called Velib’ in the City of Lights. It has been such a huge success that many other cities are doing the same. New York is preparing to roll one out right now, in fact. London introduced their system about a year ago. Their system is officially called the Barclays Bike Hire, but everyone in town knows it as ‘the Boris bikes’, in honor of their mayor, Boris Johnson.
Boris bikes are available to all, even foreigners, so one evening Chelsea and I rented a pair of bikes and took a leisurely ride along the South Bank of the Thames. Our destination was the Tate Britain art museum – more on that another day. During our ride, we passed through a lively pre-Olympic scene of concerts, a circus, and numerous street food vendors and riverside cafes. It was great fun to see and we could have easily spent a few hours wandering around.
One of our favorite sights was this huge temporary play space, a giant sandbox filled with a rainbow of colored sand. Beautiful.
Our ride took us past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, a landmark that is always worthy of a picture.
We’ll be back next week with the rest of our London adventure. Happy weekend!
By the end of the week, I had finished with my work meetings, and Chelsea was back from her foray to Scotland. (She saw some amazing things while there, so I will see about getting copies of her pictures to share with y’all.) We took the opportunity to do a little sightseeing together over the weekend. We started at the Globe Theatre, which is a modern reproduction of the place where Shakespeare staged many of his best-known works. The Globe is open to the sky, just like the original, and you can buy standing-room ‘groundling’ tickets, just like the old days. We were assured that the groundling crowd smells better today than it did in Elizabethan times.
The show of the evening was Henry V. We enjoyed it very much, even though we had to scurry off to the gift shop at intermission and quickly read the rest of the play so we could follow the action. Elizabethan English doesn’t exactly flow through modern ears without a little help.
The set was relatively simple and quite versatile – probably a good representation of how it would have been done in the olden days.
We weren’t supposed to take pictures during the performance, but one of us (I’ll never tell) snuck a photo during the final scene without the flash. Figured we weren’t bothering anybody.
It rained during the performance, which seemed fitting. Chelsea had a hood to protect her head. Your intrepid correspondent got his hair washed.
It was a great show and a wonderful experience.
Tomorrow: Bikes and sand.
Hotel availability was tight in London, and I had to arrange this trip for work on pretty short notice. I happened to discover a new hotel that was available to us, though the place was so new that they were still working on bits of it. The hotel is part of the Olympic Park where many of the key events of the upcoming Games will take place, including the opening and closing ceremonies.
Our hotel room overlooked the Olympic Stadium and the tower that will hold the Olympic Flame. You can only imagine how much money this room will cost during the Games themselves. In this picture, the lights on the right side are atop the Stadium, and we’re pretty sure the dark tower on the left is where the Flame will be. The yellow structure on the left in the foreground might be the Aquatic Centre. In a couple more weeks we will see it all on TV and know for sure.
Construction work in the area was going on 24 hours a day. During the week we saw men drilling for crowd control stanchions well after midnight, and we heard testing of an emergency alert system in the train station at 2:00 in the morning. (That was INCREDIBLY loud.) As of this writing they’ve got a little more than four weeks to go, so the pressure is on to finish everything.
Tomorrow: Henry V.
When Chels and I first arrived in London, I had to head straight into some meetings for work. Chelsea decided to take a walk around town, since her train to Edinburgh wasn’t leaving until later in the evening. She stole my camera for her walkabout, which means I got the rare opportunity to see Chelsea’s photographic eye at work on my own gear.
That marvelous piece of architecture above, of course, is the Tower Bridge. Sitting at the foot of the bridge on the banks of the Thames is the Tower of London, an infamous place which now houses the Crown Jewels.
Chelsea walked over the Tower Bridge and discovered that some merry prankster has hung the Olympic Rings on the underside of the bridge. It might be that they have something Olympics-related coming up in London in a few more weeks. We’re not sure, though – they never said anything about it in town, and we never saw any preparations underway. (Kidding! It was madness.)
She also sought out and walked across London Bridge, finding it to be rather unimpressive. We did some homework later and discovered that the modern London Bridge was built in the mid 20th century and has very little historical significance. Some of you may remember that the old London Bridge, with more historical significance, was carted off many years ago and reconstructed in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Strange times.
Tomorrow: Les Jeux Olympiques.
Last week I was traveling for work, and spent a week in London. I had a surprise guest along for the ride… my darling wife! We flew over together Sunday night, arriving Monday morning in London Heathrow. I had my usual work meetings and such, so Chelsea continued onward to Edinburgh, Scotland, where she met up with her stepsister Lauren:
We have more, much more to share, and we’ll keep posting pictures and stories as we unpack and get everything organized.
It’s not possible to top the White House, so I’ve decided not to try. Instead I’ll tell you about a little restaurant up the street from the White House where we had dinner before the tour, and dessert afterward. It’s called Founding Farmers, and it’s a cool little spot that has been made to look like a refurbished farmhouse, even though it’s in the ground floor of a sleek modern office building.
We had an excellent meal, and then for dessert, Chelsea was able to order a piece of red velvet cake the size of a lunchbox. Most impressive.
Gentle readers, the blog will be on one of its occasional holidays this coming week. Posting will resume the week of June 25th. Until then: Happy summer!
Did I mention we’ve been busy around here? I’m getting wiped out again just reviewing all these pictures with you. Mercy me.
The day after Anna’s field trip, Chelsea, Mary, and I took a quick trip down to Washington to visit the White House. Chels and the kids have been there half a dozen times, but it was the first visit for Mary and me. We got to town a bit early, so we walked around the National Mall and visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial before our tour.
There were tons of school groups on the Mall, and all of them seemed to be from Boston. We figured this is the time of year when high schools are doing their big wrap-up trip for the year, just like Anna had been doing the day before.
We don’t really have any pictures to show from the tour itself, but believe you me, it was impressive. I was delighted to see the place, and surprised at how small it is. The White House seems like it ought to be a big bustling place full of people, right? Instead it’s more like a rabbit warren full of little rooms you’ve seen before on TV. And only about 100 staff actually work in the West Wing itself. Most folks are in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (the EEOB) next door.
Nevertheless: The White House!
I’m not sure I have anything to top that for tomorrow.
Rolling right along: the day after the graduation party, miss Anna had a class field trip to New York. Her class has been studying China all year, so we visited the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit at the Discovery Museum in Midtown, and we also visited the China Institute to see a special exhibit of artwork from burial sites in northern China. I went along with her as a chaperone for the trip.
The bus for the field trip happened to be wrapped with a huge advertisement for Legoland Florida, which of course we visited during spring break this year. The kids all thought that was great. The adults liked it because the bus was super easy to find in Manhattan.
Astute readers of the blog may remember that Chelsea and I visited the Terra Cotta Warriors in Washington a couple years back. They are no less amazing to see in person the second time around:
The kids had homework to do. Not the parents, though!
The China Institute was much smaller and quieter, but no less interesting. I went a little crazy taking pictures there because the exhibit was really neat.
Just a regular ol’ Monday around our house. The next night, Chels, Mary, and I were in the West Wing of the White House. More on that anon.
You may remember that we had about half a dozen family members graduating in the last few weeks. Two of them – my Mom and Kate – teamed up for a graduation party that happened to fall at the tail end of Showcase weekend.
Before we go any further with that, check out the height difference in this picture:
My little Mom has been lapped by the grandboy, and it’s not even close.
Speaking of grand people:
We had a lovely time at the party!
As part of our continuing series titled The Madness of The Sperger Family, we had Maria’s ballet Showcase weekend the first weekend in June, about two weeks earlier than in past years. That made the latter half of May pretty hectic around our house, but the results were beautiful as always:
I am noticing in my photo archive that somehow Maria escaped the entire weekend without a single photograph – at least, none taken by me. I suspect there are some pictures out there on other people’s cameras. Anna was not around to be photographed, but for other reasons – she decided to take her retirement from ballet this spring. She spent the weekend camping with the Girl Scouts instead.