Sunday, December 23, 2007

Back in Toledo...for a while

We've been home for about a week visiting family and friends. Have been real busy living it up, saw lights at the zoo, Sweeney Todd at Levis (excellent), mom took the kids to COSI, played in the snow, ate lots of good food, you get the picture.

Next week we are off to visit Megan's family in Erie.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sweeney Todd

Megan and I went out with Jeff and Steph to Levis Commons. We ate at Biaggi's and caught Sweeney Todd on opening night (in US). I loved the music and the overall story, gave it a 9 on IMDB. That is one star down from being one of my favorites, as I only rate 10 movies with 10 stars.

We had a nice night out.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Intro to Geocaching

This week a colleague of mine from the Toledo office was visiting for a week of training in St Helens. On Saturday we took him around to see a bit of Chester and then on to Wales. He is an avid geocacher so we decided to look for a couple of caches near Conwy. It was really exciting to find this little plastic container that others had hidden in the old rock wall. We read through the long list of people who found it before and left their little trinkets in the collection. How cool, thanks Richard!

Sunday we went into Manchester and walked around the Christmas markets. Later on we faced the daunting traffic leaving the city and decided instead to go back to the Printworks and watch a movie (Golden Compass - really good).

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I traveled down to the IBM laboratories in Hursley on Thursday and Friday for a closer look at their Websphere and Workplace WCM products. It is a terrific campus, part of an old estate complete with a huge manorhouse.

I stayed at a terrific B&B called Pyesmead Farm (a real working farm) and took in some nice food and real ales down at the Shoe Inn... get it, shoe in? Actually one of the owners is from Holland so their sign has a big wooden shoe on it. The pub itself has been around since the 15th century, existing once as a toll booth.

Saturday I took a look around Gunwarf quay before heading home. This is a really nicely built up harbor that is buzzing with activity. There are ferries moving in and out constantly. Also there is a naval base and you see some impressive warships on display, both past and present. The most amazing, to me, was the HMS Victory. It had about 100 canons and carried about 1000 men.

Sure beats riding around in one of these...

I also went up the Spinaker tower which dominates the skyline and is really beautiful.

The view is terrific, obviously!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dorr Street Rally

Its really good to see some organized action in support of the Dorr Street Corridor. Here is a Blade article regarding that area of town.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The demise of COSI Toledo

I'm still a bit in shock over the failure of the COSI levy. I find it incredible that Toledo voters would throw away millions of dollars of investment, an excellent resource for regional schools, and a great magnet to downtown Toledo. And at what cost, 5 or 10 bucks a year? What can I say... other than we'll be making even more trips to Ann Arbor when we move back to the area, as we have a tendency to spend a Saturday afternoon at a hands on museum about every month or two.

On a more positive note, thanks to those who supported organization, and more importantly thank you to the workers and the board members of COSI who have given us some great times over the years and touched our lives. We especially loved the Halloween parties.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

weekend log

Saturday we went over to a colleague's house and watched the wedding videos of another colleague's brother. The interesting bit is that it was an all out Indian wedding of a well to-do family, so the multi-day party was quite impressive (by my standards). We also feasted on traditional northern vegetarian food, all very nice.

Sunday I took the girl for a little journey, just the two of us. We visited Rhos-on-Sea for the Harlequin Puppet Theatre's production of Alice in Wonderland. What a wonderful little show and venue, I recommend it to kids or adults.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dashehra Diwali Mela 2007

Today we took the kids to Manchester and met up with one of Megan's friends to see the Diwalli festival in Platts Fields Park. Diwali is the annual Hindu festival of lights. I've never been to one of these before and we were all pleasantly surprised. There was a lot of nice eastern dancing, food, music, etc. There were some crafts for the kids, and also an area to have henna decorations on the ladies hands. At the end of the evening there was a lantern procession near the lake lead by a brass band, culminating with a fire works display and the burning of a large statue of Ravan.

They also had a small fun fair for the kids. The boy was quite green when they slung him in the air for this one!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Buzz around Dorr Street Development?

I recieved a survey from the university today that made me perk up. They are seeking opinions for how Dorr Street should be redeveloped. This is especially interesting to me being an alum and also being a resident (well, not at the moment while traveling).

Here is a news article from the spring when President Jacobs met with Carty and discussed the topic.

My dream? A Barnes & Noble, 24 hour diner, a Trader Joes, and pretty much everything currently residing in Cricket West. Westgate is too far to walk for students...a pedestrian friendly development along Dorr Street would be a great feature for students and residents alike. My major dislikes would be: yet another laundry matt, video rental, or low end fast food joint.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Camping expedition - Rhosneigr

We drove back to the island of Anglesey on Saturday and pitched camp at Rhosneigr. A good friend and colleague of mine has a static caravan literally on the edge of an RAF base and a hop / step / jump to the beach. Their kids and ours are nearly the same ages and get on pretty well. Here they are making a mess in the back of the Jeep.

The weather was a bit soggy on Saturday but was perfect on Saturday. We went to the beach to let the kids splash around and dig in the sand. On the way home Sunday we stopped at the Pili Palas, an really nice indoor butterfly garden / aviary / reptile house / and more.

A big parakeet decided to befriend me by swooping past and around and eventually landing on my shoulder. It was very funny, Megan snapped a photo and then I leaned my shoulder next to a rail for it to walk out on, but instead it walked across my neck to my other shoulder. I tried this once or twice more before getting more blatant. I reached my hand near its feat and it started pecking at me...didn't hurt, just a warning I think. But my daughter was getting quite upset by this point. So I gave the shoulder a little shake and it finally flew off to find a better perch.

All in all a great weekend but everyone thouroughly knackered out.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Glasgow Photos

I haven't had a chance to blog about our trip to Glasgow last weekend. All I can say it is a great city, that I'd love to go back to someday. We had a lot of fun and saw some great things. My flickr account contains 22 new photos which will occasionally scroll the cool little flash app along with my navigation controls.

One aspect of the Buchanan Street shopping experience that the whole family loved is this Borders, that has to be in the most fantastic setting I've ever seen for a big box store! The inside of the place was equally impressive with about 4 levels of books and a big atrium at the middle where the cafe goers looked down through glass. The photo is of the back of the store, the front has lots of big windows and bigger doors. This side faces the Modern Art museum and is part of the old market exchange square.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

weekend log

Saturday we went to see The Reef (Shark Bait in US) at the St Helens cinema. Then we walked around town for a while, had lunch at Frank and Benny's, then headed home. We took a couple hours to pour through the huge box of travel momentos, brochures, and event ideas that has collected over the summer and fall.

Sunday we had our traditional breakfast of whole wheat pancakes with whip cream and maple syrup, bacon, eggs, and hot chocolate. We try to do that once per weekend depending on other plans. Later in the afternoon we took a drive out to the Cheshire Ice Cream farm. This is a dairy farm deep in the country side which has a farm market, tea room, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, area to view farm animals, area to view birds of prey, area to see the milking of the dair cows, and most importantly a wide selection of fresh ice cream.

After putting the kids to bed I watched "28 Days Later" and "28 Weeks Later" back to back. A friend had recommended (not in one setting) but I found them pretty cool for zombie movies. The first was a quite a bit better than the second. It was so incredible how the made London look deserted, and I had to laugh now that I recognize some of those places like Trafalgar square and the CBI Business centre. I've started an account at IMDB to start tracking my movie recommendations in one place, but not sure if I'll stick to it. I really like how I can scroll through my latest Amazon reviews right here on my blog (top right). But Amazon annoys me slightly that you must choose 1 edition of a movie to review, and also there are no "top 250 movies" type lists (that I know of).

What has been on Aaron's mind?

I've been concious of the fact that my blog has sort of turned in to a travel journal over the past year. It doesn't really bother me because the goal is to keep track of both what I'm doing and what I'm thinking. I need to post a bit more on the thinking.

Some friends of mine in Atlanta recently had a new baby girl who had some spinal trouble. She has just come home with them after a couple weeks in the hospital. That really makes me feel good, and stirs memories of my little sister's experience. She spent the first several months at MCO in Toledo including spinal and heart surgeries. I was about 10 at the time and a lot of that has become a blur, but she was a miracle baby and a testament to the field of medical science.

In other news, a good friend and colleague of mine here in the UK has quit his job (for the second time) and plans a solitary bike trip from the south of Argentina up through Chili and Peru. This, while not exactly tempting for me, does make me think. You see these extreme examples of super human people who go on incredble trips, run ultra marathons, overcome great adversity (mental and physical I always think of Lance Armstrong). Jason Lewis just came back to UK from a 13 year person powered trip around the which he was run over by a car in Colorado, arrested as a spy in Egypt, and attacked by a croc down under. What motivates people? Probably millions of things, combinations of those things, and they can change over a life span. Philosophers categorize, pontificate, and generalize the reasons. They dream up fiction or capture biographies or poeticize about it. One of my favorite thought experiments in this area is objectivism.

I think much of motivation is due to world view or spiritual views. I think for many people religion is a moral rudder but not a true motivation in and of itself. In the staggering numbers of people in poverty, survival is key motivation. But what about well-to-do productive people who veer off course and do something dangerous/exhilerating? These extreme challenges I think are persons pushing themselves to the boundaries of human social and physical limits, for their own sake. They believe their one physical life is sacred and should be explored as completely as possible. They would rather take an interesting avenue of life, thereby choosing quality over the possiblity quantity, since even the quantity of longevity is never garaunteed.

My suggestion to anyone reading this, is think about your life. Pretend you have 10 minutes to live, and you really aren't certain what the afterlife will hold (even if you are certain). What scenes of quality living flash through your mind? When are your happiest moments? When were your most harrowing? What achievements are you proud of? Any regrets? When you've done this, do you feel content having what you have experienced? If not, get out there and LIVE people! And if you want any further advice, do it in a compassionate, respectful way towards your worldwide brothers and sisters, both future and past. Oversimplified? Maybe...especially for those struggling for survival. But not due to financial means or being tied to a region. Living intentionally and experiencing more doesn't require a bycicle trip across a foriegn contentent. The goals are up to you.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A night at the Liverpool Empire Theatre

We took the train into Liverpool tonight to see the Disney theater production of Beauty and the Beast. The girl claims this was one of her favorite things EVER. I have to admit it was nice with some songs you don't hear in the movie. However, I'd say the acoustics aren't terrific at this theatre even though the old restored decor is very ornate.

That is so cool...

Those who know me can get weary of me espousing the virtues of my pda/gps/mobile phone. I have had an HTC P3300 for about 6-8 months and it is such a joy.

Today it got even better, as I noticed JD Wetherspoons released their pub finder in Tom Tom POI form... for the less tech oriented, that means wherever I'm at in UK I my phone gives me step by step walking or driving instructions to the nearest Wetherspoons pub.

For those who aren't from UK, this chain always have a reasonably high standard of food at decent prices, but best of all they have an excellent selection of cask ales. We will miss this one when we go back to the states.

a Day in London...

Today I caught an early train to London for a web content management seminar being hosted by the Butler Group research company. The train takes about 2 hours from Runcorn right to Euston Station, although a plane can do it in about 40 minutes, that only gets you from airport to airport, and just think of the possibilities for delays and hastles.

The seminar had some good examples of what different large businesses are doing for 2nd and 3rd generation WCM strategies. I still get the feeling SharePoint is too immature to be a good WCM, and that these long time players (and even some short term ones) do a better job.

After the seminar I walked down to the National Gallery for a couple hours before catching the train back home. What a beautiful place!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

weekend log

This weekend we visited Ormskirk. There are many nice shops and resteraunts, since it was Saturday it was a market day. All of the pedestrianized streets had clothing and food and anything else you can think of for sale. There were some nice pickings in the charity shops and book stores. One little one we wandered into is called the "The Fairy Wing Repair Shop". Very eclectic little shop of statuary and cute prints, trinkets, gemstones. Megan and the kids were happily occupied for almost an hour, very nice staff who were pointing out the hidden sprites around the store to the kids.

There was a very good park with modern playground, bowling green, and lots of opens pace, right off the town centre. We walked around the old church, which was interesting because it had both a spire and a separate tower. Also, a very creepy graveyard that the girl was just not feeling...

Later we drove into Liverpool and did a little shopping at he new Primark, what a mad house...they had to hire a private security firm for extra croud control!

On our way home, we decided to stop and see the Anglican Cathedral, I've been to that city 100 times now and have never gone inside. It dominates the skyline of Liverpool. The red sandstone it is made of (like so many other walls and buildings of the area) gets dirty...kind of a black fadded look. But the place is absolutely massive, I was very impressed and will go back some day for a trip up to the top.

This picture is actually just a chapel off the the side of the main church!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Weekend log

Saturday we spent doing misc things at home and in the town. Mainly I was setting up all the wireless devices to work with the new pre-n router... I think there was a kids birthday party to go to in there somewhere, oh yes, and a trip to the library. Widnes has an absolutely terrific central library, housed in a very fancy historic building near town centre. Put that together with good schools, frendly people, low crime, and the excellent "Vicki" park, it adds up to a great place to live.

Today we went to the Manchester Printworks, saw the Silver Surfer for 5 pounds (total, for 4 of us!). Ate at the Hard Rock. That part was the boy's idea but they have some good grub and atmosphere even if it is a bit... I'm not sure... tourist-franchizy-merchandice-rich-shallow-rock-veneerish. Guess it shouldn't matter. We seem to visit that area a lot because we much prefer that area around the Arndale than the Trafford Centre or Cheshire Oaks or anything in Liverpool. Another couple of chains nearby that area we seem to eat at are Nando's and especially the Wagamama noodle bar.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


The lack of posts recently has a direct but opposite correlation to the amount of post worthy activities that have gone on. My blog is missing 2 months of the busiest time of my life!

Families have come to call, and we've gone to Germany, Nederlands, France, around UK, etc. But that isn't what this post is about.

This weekend we went to an eco-festival in downtown Bristol. It is a terrific city with a harbor and quays, all done up very nicely with museums, parks, housing, resteraunts, pedestrian bridges, mature trees, coblestone streets, all very nice. The festival was mostly focused on healthy / sustainable lifestyles and food. It was not really a vegetarian focus, but more about organic methods, the negative impacts of flying foods around the world to be consumed, consuming them in season, that sort of thing.

There were music acts, variety shows, acrobatic performers, kids activities, all around a very good family friendly event. We took a harbor cruise on the Matthew, a replica wooden sailing ship with modern amenities. A ship like this is what John Cabot discovered Newfoundand with. Another famous replica ship we were able to tour was the Amistad, which has been to Toledo before, in 2003 I think. We met a young lady on board from Toledo, who lived near UT like us. Small world!

We also went to the Create center, which is full of eco-friendly exhibits and educational materials. One of the neatest parts about it is the eco-home which is right next to Create. The natural heating and cooling of the structure is based on convection, similar to Enertia homes. The most amazing thing about these facilities is that they are city government sponsored projects and maintained by volunteers!

We spent a couple of hours at the Bristol City Gallery, what a terrific museum. It blends fine art, living history, and natural history together, all for free admission.

Also in town is Explore@Bristol which is a very nice science museum, we had a quick walk through part of it but not enough time to stay :-(

We traveled via the Virgin speed train, and stayed in the youth hostel. The hostel was decent basic accomodation at a perfect location, breakfast was excellent. I'll post some pictures when I can.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

An evening at the Prince Edward Theatre

Tonight after a trip to the Tate Modern I took Megan, Carol, and the kids to see Mary Poppins. One of the most amazing productions I've ever seen, incredible cast, set, and nice venue. Megan's mom said it made her whole trip so anything extra from that point would just be bonus.

The girl was pleased to finally see a Jackson Pollock up close, but I think later in our trip while visiting the Musee de Orsay the boy and I convinced her that impressionism like that of Van Gogh and Seurat is worthwhile too.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

crazy busy

Life has been hectic lately... still haven't caught up on the last holiday memories and they just keep rolling on.

Had a crackin' double rainbow tonight, very beautiful...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cornwall - Day 3

First, a couple photos with the kids.

We traveled back to the Minack theatre to see it in nice weather. It was built by a lady named Rowena Cade and her two gardners. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING story and one of the most beautiful places I've been to. We will go back to see a play there someday. Currently is playing "Man From La Mancha", which is not family friendly so we had to settle with walking around a bit and snapping some photos.

You can see how so much of a personal touch was put into the space, the chairs are inscribed with the headline titles performed through the years.

Later we made our way up the cost to see this famed St Michael's Mount. It is an island that has a cobblestone causway that can only be traversed at low tide. Tide was coming in when we were arrived, and they would close the causway shortly after. I believe it is just private residences with some public footpaths so we weren't broken hearted about walking all the way out (as most people seemed determined to do!)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cornwall - Day 2

The weather wasn't on our side today, very windy and rainy which limited our options. We ended up driving all over the place on treacherous roads. This picture is on one where I felt relatively safe to snap a photo. Megan was gritting her teeth at various passes and I am now quite experienced in narrow winding lanes with steep grades in my 6 speed stick shift minivan! This was much worse than when I tried to cut through back roads across the Swiss alps into Bavaria.

There are a bunch of these stone formations that have been left around by the Celts in Cornwall a couple thousand years ago. These two are called Lanyon Quiot and Men an tol. Supposedly a virgin who crawled backwards through the circle about 13 times would become pregnant!?? Stranger things have happened...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Cornwall Experience - Day 1

The kids had some time off from school so we packed up on Friday night and set off early Saturday morning for the southwest tip of England. We stopped first in the town of Cheddar and took a hike up a trail to view Cheddar Gorge. Yes, this is where the cheese comes from and every other shop sells cheese. There is a town called Beer nearby that I had to resist visiting :-)

We had our first Cornish pasties and a local tea shop. The owner complained about the new American visa requirements and how it meant his grandaughter wouldn't be able to visit him now due to huge delays in processing. But overall a very helpful guy, he told us which path to take to avoid the tourist toll up to the trails, and to watch out for the rare bread of shaggy goats we would find at the top of the hill.

After hiking a while and witnessing some lovely views, we carried on to our next destination...Glastonbury. This town is your atypical granola atmosphere (plenty of nuts and flakes). We toured the Abbey ruins, which just happened to have a church service on...the kids really admired that these people still went to church with half the walls fallen down and no roof!

Eventually, we made our way towards St Just, which is near Land's End. We stayed at the youth hostel, which we know from experience these are not always easy to find. In this case that would be an understatement... I had the GPS coordinates and general directions from the YHA website. However, this road just got smaller and smaller, until I'm driving down a farm lane with walls on either side and overgrowth scraping the sides of the car. There was no where to turn around so I just kept driving, but we lost daylight and it started raining...and felt the situation could only get worse. I started backing out of the lane until a car came up behind me... ok. So onward forward, and the path splits 3 ways with no markings as to which one I should follow. I chose the widest one which turned out to be wrong. I followed this for a while till I found a comfortable place to park and call the hostel. They straightened me out and I went back to the split and took the correct path. Eventually we found it and checked into our family room. In the morning we found out what a special place this is when we saw the view.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Steve on my mind

I've been thinking a lot lately about a colleague Steve Ruane and his bicycle accident in Sylvania. Such a tradgedy. He is a very intelligent man who lives life on his own terms. He and his family have a long road of recovery ahead.

Live every day to its fullest.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wednesday nights in Liverpool

Megan's been taking a dance class on Wednesday evenings in I've been taking her and then exploring parts of the city. Tonight we went to this old manor house called Allerton Hall. Its been converted to a pub with nicely sized beer garden and playground. Also its surrounded by a public park, very scenic. The kids made friends with some locals and the boy has been asking me if we could move to Liverpool.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Manchester Museum

Today Megan went to the Indian Dance Days workshop at the Lowry. We dropped her off and then went exploring Manchester. I wanted to check out Platt Fields park because there are some events we'd like to see later this summer.

There was some serious model sailboat racing going on...interesting to watch these guys pacing back and forth at the pond's edge nearly jousting each other with the radio control antennas.

When the weather took a turn for the worse we sought out the Manchester Museum. It is sort of an anthropology and biology musuem. Dinosaur bones and insect displays, all kinds of animal displays...samurai armor, ancient coin collection, etc. It was a great day out and well worth the admission price (free!)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Liverpool China Town

While Megan danced tonight I took the kids to China town. The boy was sticking his nose into each resteraunt and begging me to go in and buy something.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

signs of spring

Took a walk down to the Birchfield park today, gave some bread crumbs to the ducklings. How cute!

Most of the English really take pride in their gardens, and there are blooms of ornamental trees everywhere (wreaking havoc on my allergies...but its worth it).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Wales camping expedition

This weekend we packed our thermals set off for the beaches of Anglesey for 2 nights of cold weather camping.

I'm surprised but the kids didn't complain about the cold one time. They were a little unsure about the wind considering it uprooted the tent stakes and blew the tent upside down with our stuff inside it...but slept like rocks after hiking around beaches and dunes all day. Some friends of ours have a static caravan nearby where we went to hang out and play games for a while. We introduced them to some of our favorites like Apples to Apples, hiss, and slamwhich.

Here is a picture of the "old bridge" at Aberffraw... its over 300 years old.

On Saturday night there was not a cloud in the sky which made the moon and stars very beautiful, but also made the temperature drop. It was just 4 celcius (39 or so F) and don't know what that made it with the wind.

On Sunday we made our way to Carnerferon Castle, this is where prince Charles was ... installed? There is a nice museum there and they keep the place in nice shape. The view from the towers is pretty impressive.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

weekend update

This weekend were working around the house mainly but took a break on Saturday afternoon to see a show at the Citadel theatre in St Helens: The Elves and the Shoemaker. The boy was pretty sure he wouldn't enjoy it since he had seen and heard this story "a hundred times already". From the first song both kids were taken. The songs were bright and cheerful and the actors did a nice job. My only criticism would be the costumes... might have been less distracting to have some "period" clothing?

Sunday was mothers day in UK and the kids delighted in giving Megan their hand made cards and bringing breakfast in bed.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Top movies...

Lisa tagged me about 2 months ago to post my 5 top movies... this is probably more difficult than top music.

Having trouble putting them in order, but here are 5 mainstream movies and 5 dark movies, because I couldn't possibly recommend watching the dark films to normal people!

Forrest Gump (1994)
The Princess Bride (1987)
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Dark / alternative:
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Natural Born Killers (1994)
Titus (1999)
Gattaca (1997)

And thats all I have to say about that...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Top 20 Albums

A colleague challenged me to name my favorite 10 albums. This is so difficult! Here is my 10, plus another 10 honorable mentions. There are certain songs on some albums that annoy me, but overall they are all excellent. I plan on reviewing all of these on Amazon if I haven't done so already.

Top 10

1) Kings of Convenience - Riot on an Empty Street
2) Ben Folds - Unauthorized Biography of Rienhold Messner
3) Craig Armstrong - As if to Nothing
4) Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
5) Death Cab for Cutie - Plans

6) DJ Tiesto - Just Be
7) Nelly Furtado - Folklore
8) William Orbit - Pieces in a Modern Style
9) Beth Orton - Daybreaker
10) Joan Osbourne - Relish

Next 10 - heavier and older

11) Soundgarden - Badmotorfinger
12) Days of the New - II
13) Stone Roses - Second Coming
14) Trail of Dead - Source Tags and Codes
15) Meat Puppets - Too High to Die

16) Alice in Chains - Jar of Flies
17) Phish - Billy Breathes
18) Dave Matthews - Crash
19) Charlatans - Some Friendly
20) Tears for Fears - Tears Roll Down

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Firenze / Florence

Had an unforgettable time with Megan and the kids in Italy for the past 6 days. We spent some time in Pisa and the rest in Florence. I have so many photos and so many things to glow about, but nary the time to blog about it. Here is my highlight... my 4 year old girl trooping to the top of Brunelleschi's dome with dear old dad. 295 feet and something like 450 steps to the top. You climb up narrow steep stairs between the two layers of the dome.

By the way, the images painted on the inside of that dome are scary!!! I'm talking people getting eaten alive and the condemned being sodomized by torches...not exactly what I'd want to daydream about on Sunday morning!

We visited many churches seeing all kinds of fresco / alter / grave / relics / gardens. We saw the art of Uffizi, Bargello, Acedamia, Piatti Palace, Boboli Gardens.

We toured the science center where you can see these excellent old contraptions like one an original Pascal calculator (and one even older), astroblades, lode stones, telescopes, etc.

Walking around town we saw lots of old town ruins and little statuary tucked here and there within the city. We sampled lots of wine and local food (gelato...mmmm), ate at streetside cafes under canopies, listened to musicians and watched street performers, bartered at open air markets, ugh... I am so tired just thinking of it all again! But it was a once in a lifetime experience that I'll always cherish.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Stoke on Trent

Today we went to a place called Stoke on Trent, its like the pottery capital of UK.

There are various museums in the town, we chose the Gladstone. It is obsolete as far as pottery production goes, but they've kept the old factory nicely in tact. You can look inside the old ovens, wander around and see what it was like for the workers, and best of all, you can get your hands dirty!

The boy took a shot at spinning a bowl. The girls made bone china flowers.

Its a great experience, highly recommended. I will fix up this stiched photo someday...not great exposure controls on my mobile phone ;-)

There is a nice exhibit on ceramic tiles. You can see arabic designs from 13th century, large mosaics, see presses and how making tiles has changed over the centuries. They also have a very strange exhibit on toilets through history...toilets as functional art? Never gave it much that much thought!