Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Week 24

Don’t hate me because I travel to ridiculously beautiful storybook locations and I find it hard to take a bad photograph.  Truth be told, a year ago I really had no interest in uprooting my family and embracing my husband’s pipe dream.  I had already studied abroad in college, Keegan and I took a few trips here and there to Spain and Italy and such after we got married, I had ticked off Hawaii, Mexico, St. Barth’s, even Eureka, California, {a complete dump of a town that feels like the end of the world and don’t let anyone ever tell you differently}, but still, for me that was sufficient to consider myself a world traveller.  I was happy to leave it at that.  When Keegan proposed this move, I  thought after all of these years of work stress, he had gone mad.  Certifiably.  But alas, the arguments in favor of this adventure just kept stacking up (not the least of which was the ability to travel basically anywhere) and ultimately, outweighed any hesitation I felt altogether.  And thankfully so.  What else would I be doing with my camera this year?!  We are completely blessed and Europe is amazing, but I mean seriously, I am almost sort of bored by how easy it is to find beautiful things to take pictures of.  Wandering around the charming European city of Brugge this weekend, I actually caught myself thinking how I might like to venture outside of these stunning first class backdrops. Now don't get me wrong . . . I'm not saying traveling around Europe isn't just hands down spectacular and exhilarating, but at some point, it might be nice to experience some other type of adventure.  To truly grasp these blessings by having a counterpoint.  (Don't worry Mom) I’m not talking about moving to Africa or anything, but at least for one trip, force ourselves out of the comfort zone and try on something ugly and gritty for size.  Now, it’s just a matter of getting the hubs to embrace my pipe dream.  

At any rate, meet Brugge:
We started the day with a walk through town . . . 
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to get some Belgian waffles . . . 
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then we climbed 366 steps to the top of the Belfry.  Liam was one proud little 4 year old . . .
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and we showered him with rewards of Belgian chocolates.  I think that made him just a little happy . . . 
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{my chocolate brown eyed boy}
then we continued our little tour . . .
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and stopped for lunch at the De Halve Maan Brewery . . . 
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more walking through town . . . 
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by this time, we had walked too long . . . I'm not naming any names, but someone was getting very tired, cold, and grumpy . . . 
so we found additional refreshments . . . 
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Day 2 in Brugge brought snow.  Don't let the spring-like image on the left fool you.  That canal was frozen solid.
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Our walking on Day 2 led us out of the tourist center of town and out toward the more local neighborhood of St. Anna
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{you can run from my camera . . . but you cannot hide little boy . . . }
but ultimately, the snow and cold chased us back toward the good stuff . . . 
and we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying an elegant beer pairing lunch at Den Dyver . . .
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and then onto De Garre . . . 
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for one last Belgian Beer (an 11% house brew served on tap only at this pub). . .  IMG_4533
before purchasing Liam a Brugge flag {because frankly, we were all a bit enchanted by the many incredible things Belgium had to offer us} and catching the train home. Goodbye for now Belgium.  We are in detox, but we will be back soon!! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Week 23

After coming off such a high last week from my Wednesday morning adventure, this week was a bit of a let down.  Oh well, they can’t all be award winning.  Staying true to my “off the beaten path is a better path” motto, I headed down to Battersea Park to check out the dilapidated power station from the 1930’s.  It certainly is an intriguing landmark, if you want to call it that, elevated to iconic status by its use in album covers, music videos, and movies.  It is Europe’s largest brick building and according to Wikipedia, has lavish Art Deco interior fittings and decor . . . or did at some point, I’m not sure which.  Currently, it is in complete disrepair and I think there was some buzz about commercial redevelopment over the past years . . . perhaps still is some buzz by the looks of the massive billboard signs surrounding the site, but from what I've read, it is exchanging owners due to debt burden and such and perhaps now, sadly, most of the interest in the structure has to do with its demolition.  When I walked around the site, I was immediately drawn into the drama behind this thing with all of the advertisements and architect renderings of former glory being restored, but it quickly became apparent the building has sat untouched throughout all this hype.  I took a couple of quick photographs, not really being able to engage with the building as I had envisioned, and headed back over the river to Chelsea for some lunch.

My camera and I redeemed ourselves on Saturday though as I packed up the boys on the train, and we headed out to find some trails to blaze in Epping Forest.  In Northern California, my favorite Saturdays were spent hiking in Marin and hitting a microbrewery for a late lunch afterwards.  It is an outing that seems to fulfill all three of our needs and keeps everyone content.  When we spend time together as a family outside, laughing, exploring, having no other distraction, it fills my soul with happiness.  It is also clear that Liam completely soaks up this kind of attention from us.  So . . . we had lunch at a cheesy hotel pub at the foot of the forest (California Microbrewery it was not, but only I seemed to mind that one...) and we happily squelched through the mud for a couple of hours.  Liam kept asking where the forest was and I kept saying, look around you buddy . . . finally he lead us off the trail into the undergrowth as apparently darkness equals forest.  What a magical place for a child.  Trees to climb, sticks (a boy’s best friend) galore, wild fungus, “squirmy wormies,” vegetation . . . in a word, NATURE.  The only way we could drag him out of there and back on to the return trail was by uttering something about ice cream.  On the way back, we had some good family fun trying to capture a self-timed portrait, Liam has suddenly taken quite an interest in bossing us around setting these up, and then we hit the “Butler’s Retreat,” for some well-deserved treats.  I swear, I could almost see the California Coast in the distance. 

The week started with a light dusting of snow: 
Over Battersea Bridge:
Through Battersea Park:
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And back to Chelsea, a lovely neighborhood:
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Epping Forest Adventure:
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Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge:
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Let's roll:
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Somebody doesn't have wellies . . . 
I crack myself up with these series . . . 
Is it just me or is he like some kind of sexy werewolf our something?!?!
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I became mildly obsessed with the bark curling so beautifully away from this tree.  I tried to engage Liam, but he was too busy trying to smash something up behind me.  He can be such a boy sometimes . . .
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Liam took this photo of us.  I am impressed.
He stares straight into my soul sometimes . . . as if to say . . .  "Ice cream Mommy . . . you said ice cream.  Why are you still taking my photo?!"
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