Thursday, December 31, 2015

Lost and Found

I've been feeling kind of lost since we moved to London. While our experiences have been amazing and I have so much more to blog about, I just couldn't make it work as the old Monkey Grass Hill.  We weren't living in MGH anymore.  So, as we look forward to a new year I'm going to make a new start.

Check out my new blog  Home Thrown  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Oh, Hi Dubai!

I think the trip that shocked me the most was going to Dubai. 
Never in a million years did I think I would go to the middle east. 

But around these parts it's a common destination for holiday. 
So we jumped on the bandwagon in February.  

Here's a little recap
We stayed at the Atlantis which had a water park on site. 
Perfect if you're traveling with children. 
view from our room

We did the Sunset Safari excursion which was a four-wheeling drive through the desert.

 We stopped at a few places to take some pictures and climb dunes.

We saw a falconry show and learned a little history about how they were used for hunting. 


Driving through the dunes in the desert took it's toll on us older folks. Matt was hanging on for dear life. Many of the other cars had to pull over for car-sick passengers. 
It was hysterical and nauseating all at the same time.

We ate an authentic meal sitting on rugs in the sand in a desert campsite. It was very very cool! There were tents with henna artist, shisha, arabian coffee and a dancer.  And we got to ride a camel. 

The clean up crew. 
As I was leaving I peeked into a dish and saw this massive beetle enjoying some leftovers.

Within the hotel there was an enormous (probably 3-4 story high) aquarium. The fish were amazing. We had to stop every time we passed it to watch for a few minutes. 
Photos can't do it justice and it never got old. 

 I thought the jelly fish were really interesting.

We took a bus tour.
which included a boat tour. The little boat shown here is a water taxi called an abra they take you from one side of the river to the other where the old souks are.

 The textile souk was fun but exhausting. The stalls all have a lot of the same stuff and the staff/owners are incredibly aggressive. At first it was fun talking to them and laughing at how hard core their sales approach was. "You are a my good friend, I'll give you a good price."  
Then when you couldn't get away from them it got old. One guy literally chased me down the alley when I got fed up and walked away.

Dubai felt old and new at the same time.  It's a city under construction and well on it's way to being the Las Vegas to the rest of the world.  
Our flight home was at 3:00 am. So we had some time to kill after checking out of our hotel.

So Matt and Drew went snow skiing. 
Yes, you read that right. There is a mall in Dubai that has an indoor skiing park complete with a penguin "experience". 

Where else in the world can you go to a water park and then snow skiing in one day? 
It was the trip of a lifetime. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Trouble with Toast Racks

I've long loved the idea of elevating toast to a main event by displaying it in a pretty little stand designed and created for nothing other than carrying and holding toasted bread.

I've been wanting and searching for one to call my own for a long time now. But, for some reason they are very expensive (by my standards) even when they're just silver plated.

At long last, I found an old silver plated and seriously tarnished toast rack priced just right for me - "a quid".

On it's maiden voyage to our Sunday breakfast table it became the main topic of discussion.

Both Drew and Matt were thrilled when they saw the set-up. They'd never seen or heard of a toast rack before, but thought it a genius concept.

However, in mere seconds we all discovered a few flaws in the toast rack design. First off, our "medium sliced" bread was a tad wide for the rack. It took some effort to get it out.

Matt began questioning the true purpose of the stand. He thought it better suited for mail. And while I knew they are sometimes used to hold letters these days, their intended purpose is for toast.

Then I noticed something else, which was more important to me.  It left a lot of crumbs scattered about.

This got me to thinking an I too had questions formulating about this "toast rack. Why was it invented? Are there toast rack standards?Are all toast racks created equal? So I Googled it--as you do.

I learned that these racks serve a very important purpose--by standing the toast up air circulates between the pieces preventing condensation which can make your toast soggy. And, obviously the little handle makes it easy to pass around the table.
the Cadillac of toast racks
They are still being produced out of all types of materials and you see them in all the shops over here. AND some of them come with a little tray to catch a crumbs.

So now with a little experience and a few conversations under my belt I have some advice for you.

  1. If you're shopping for a toast rack, get one with an accompanying tray. 
  2. If you prefer your toasted bread with melted butter be sure to butter it before cooling in the rack. 
  3. Buy a thinner sliced bread when using a toast rack. 
  4. When not in use, show your toast rack a little love by using it to organize mail. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What A Year!

That's a camel we're on people!

It was about this time last year that I was breaking down in tears about moving to London. I couldn’t imagine what life would be like without my garden. I now call The Regent’s Park my backyard and I think it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Today I discovered yet another secret little spot. 

Beautiful Regent's Park. I have a much bigger pond now

Matt is embracing the new life too. He learned how to wrap his scarf the European way

Before the move I didn’t know what could possibly replace Trader Joes and the thrift stores I loved to poke around in. Now I walk to Waitrose to shop for groceries just about every day. I’ve even discovered some new food items I’ll miss when we move back to VA.  I had no idea how much I would look forward to Fridays when I “junk” on Portobello Road—Oh the treasures I’ve found!
I didn't bring this home from the market, but we got very close to  it. 

It’s been an amazing year. I can’t believe what I’ve seen in the past 10 months. I’ve learned so much about England/London history, we’ve traveled to Barcelona, Dubai, Rome and Paris. 
We're in the Arabian dessert!

On our way to the vatican we passed this castle

These two need no introduction

We’ve made friends through Drew’s school and we’ve been entertaining a lot more. (e.g using my treasures). There’s so much good stuff I need to share and remember. So much more than “Loo Tours” and oddly placed door knobs. 

I’ve got the time and the stories to tell, so here goes - Let's meet back here a couple times a week for coffee (or wine depending on your time zone) and I'll tell you about our adventures. Cheers!
Enjoying a cup of coffee at an ancient fountain in Rome

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Door Knobs Optional

Apparently knobs on front doors are not mandatory in London.

Instead of a knob there is a little lip that you can grab with your index finger.

To further befuddle or amuse me, I've also noticed that if they DO have a knob it's placed dead center in the door and they don't attach to any mechanism and there is no standard height and no leverage.

So, if you are trying to enter through a door with a centered knob you basically just have to thrust your body at the door. Why?

I googled "door knob in center of door", to see if there is some reason way back in history that has just carried forth. All I found were other googlers wondering the same thing. I think they are purely decorative.

What do you think?

centered knob

No Knob

Centered knob (very high mount)
Centered knob

No knob (incredibly low mail slot)

Just barely qualifies as a knob 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Just never mind about the weather

One thing I figured out quickly about London is that the people just ignore the weather here. When I say, "weather" I mean rain. People will sit or stand outside drinking their pints even if it's raining. No umbrellas, just acting like they don't even notice it's raining. If there is an outdoor activity there is never a rain date. 

We go to the local farmer's market just about every Sunday. Today it was raining pretty hard and Matt said the market was probably closed. I said, "they don't cancel things because of rain here, they just ignore it". It was raining pretty hard around start time and I wondered if people would really set up/attend an outdoor market in the rain. 

 The answer to that question is Yes, yes they do.

I always head straight to the flower guy

and Drew always buys a croissant from this lady
 I watched this shopper walk around the market oblivious that her umbrella was inverted (I thought it was funny because it wasn't even windy)

 I think it's a great way to live. Just never mind about the weather and get out there!