Saturday, April 30, 2011

Paris: The Eiffel Tower

The only thing we planned in advance to do in Paris, other than the bus tour of the city, was spend some time at the Eiffel Tower.  The Eiffel Tower, named for its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, was built in 1889.  It is the tallest building in Paris, standing 1,063 feet tall, about the same height as an 81-story building.

We saw an advertisement with a small Eiffel Tower stuck on someone's head, so Cooper was pretty fascinated with taking pictures to look like the Tower was on Daddy's head.

A shot straight up the middle:

The footing of one of the towers:

You can walk (we did not) 300 stairs up to the first level, and another 300 up to the second level, or you can take an elevator, which can also take you to the very top.

We did:
I wasn't a huge fan of being up there, which is why we're all sort of crouched on the floor.  It took me a couple of minutes to actually stand up and walk around.

I held my camera over the edge and took a picture straight down.  The legs of the Tower seem much closer together from this angle:

Coop also enjoyed the nearby carousel ride:

And we picked up a souvenir "to remind me of this visit to the real Eiffel Tower."

He carried it with him the next day on our bus tour.

And held it up to show the real Eiffel Tower.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Paris: An Introduction

One item on my must-do list for the semester was a quick trip to Paris.  We booked tickets on the Eurostar, a high-speed train connecting London with Paris and Brussels.
The Eurostar crosses through the Channel Tunnel, also known as the Chunnel, which is a 31-mile rail tunnel connecting England and France under the English Channel.

We booked a room at Hotel Dieu.  Hotel Dieu ("hostel" or "house" of God) is the name given to hospitals in French towns, and Hotel Dieu is the oldest hospital in Paris.  It was founded by Saint Landry in 651 on the same site as it now stands, although it has been destroyed several times by fires. The architecture of the present building dates from 1877.
On the sixth floor of the hospital, there are about 15 hotel rooms for rent.  So we checked in, walked past doctors in scrubs and x-ray machines parked in the hallway to get to our room.  It was lovely and in a fabulous location -- just across the street from the Notre Dame Cathedral on a little island in the middle of the Seine River.

Since we were next to a major tourist attraction, there were lots of food stands and souvenir shops.  We tried the sidewalk crepe stand -- delicious!
Alan picked caramel; I got one loaded with Nutella!

We didn't figure Cooper would like to spend days in museums, despite the fabulous art in the city, so we opted instead for a bus tour:
Photos of the various attractions coming later.

We walked a little bit around our little neighborhood, and we quickly discovered the fastest way to move:
Solves a lot of problems, not the least of which is Cooper's seemingly unquenchable need to buy things "to remind me of this trip."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More misc photos

Cooper misses his musical instruments, I think.  Sticks frequently become guitars.  Or, as here, drumsticks to be used on the upside down trashcan.  

This is Ralph and Judith Poore.  Ralph used to work at Harlaxton and they've been involved as a "Meet-a-Family" (local British families assigned to students to welcome them to the area) for years.  Our Baker coordinator Martha suggested we introduce ourselves to them.  Turns out, we didn't need to.  Alan was out running one day, he said hello to some men working in the Grantham Canal, one of the men stopped to ask if Alan was from Harlaxton, and it was Ralph! 
They invited us over for tea one afternoon, and it was easy to see why they're so popular among our Baker students.  Perfectly lovely.

Cooper found his ice-cream-lover-soul-mate when Aunt Ellen came to visit.

This is the Refectory (dining hall).  It's such a light and airy room (even if the food is not).

One of the security guards found this Superman towel cape for Cooper.
 "So now people can tell I'm Superman from the front an from the back."  Indeed.

We took a special field trip with the Baker students (six of the ten of them anyway).

This is in the village of Sproxton, about fifteen minutes from Harlaxton.  And it's the place where the Baker chapel used to live before we moved it to Baldwin City.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Celebrating Spring

We had a flurry of activities one Wednesday scheduled to ring in spring (though note that we're still wearing our winter coats in most of the photos!).

First, we could take a tour of the Walled Garden (which Cooper calls the Walter Garden).  The Walled Garden sits along the manor's driveway, and is surrounded, as you might guess, by a twelve-ish-foot-high wall.  The manor's head gardener lives in a cottage inside the wall, so the garden isn't generally open to the public.

There's not much going on right now in the Walled Garden, but the gardening staff (all three of them) have done a tremendous amount of work in there.  About ten years ago, someone cleaned out the garden and prettied it up for a television program, and then no one touched it for about eight years.  Two years ago, the staff started working on it again, and had to hack through ten-foot-high brush and ivy and weeds that had completely overtaken the garden.

The Walled Garden was built at the same time as the manor (1830s), and was largely for fruits and vegetables for the manor.  Many of the tall walls were designed to support fruit trees.  You can see small brackets every so often along the top of this wall, which held the fruit tree branches in position.
The brick wall was hollow, and a boiler (fire pit) in one portion of the wall was used to heat the fruit trees in cold months.  (Note in the above photo the ivy and weeds still on the top of the wall and in the middle, and imagine that covering all six acres of the garden.  Oof.)

This is one of the original fruit trees, no longer bearing fruit, but still in the T-shape that the fruit trees would have been pruned to allow for easy harvesting.

To honor spring, local school children came to do several May pole dances:
They were quite good.  (Though I do find it amusing that the weather was so cold and wet that the "Spring is Here" event had to be moved into the gym!)

Another sign of spring -- baby lambs!
We got to see this one poop, which was a big hit with the under-five crowd.

Finally, we had a big Spring Equinox bonfire.  (It wasn't actually on the spring equinox; we just needed a catchy name to stay within the theme of the day.)
Alan looks sad (wearing his winter coat and stocking cap) thinking about all the heat being lost instead of being used to heat the manor.

Coop was just excited about the marshmellows!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Melton Mowbray Pork Pie

A pork pie is a traditional British meat pie made with pork and pork jelly (don't google that one) in a pastry crust.  The Melton Mowbray Pork Pie is named after the town we visited, and that name can only be applied to  "uncured pork-filled pies cooked without supporting hoops and made within a 1,800 square mile zone around the town. Permissible ingredients are fresh pork (pies must be at least 30% meat), shortening (usually lard), pork gelatine or stock, wheat flour, water, salt and spices (predominantly pepper). Artificial colours, flavours and preservatives are not allowed."

When we were in Melton, we visited Dickinson & Morris's Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe, the oldest pork pie bakery in town, operating since 1851.

We bought a couple of individual pies to try.  First up, a plain one:

Check out the nutritional information:
 542 calories in this thing.  It's dense.  (And just for reference, that's a small salad plate, not a regular dinner-sized plate.)

We learned that pork pies are always eaten cold.  Cold.  Everyone we talked to looked at us like we had a third eye when we suggested that it might be yummy heated up.  No.  Pork pies are never eaten warm.  Just cold.  (I think they were originally created to be lunch that men took to work with them.  No need to worry about heating it up.  Nice and hearty; very filling and compact.)
Alan and I liked it.  The crust is really quite buttery and flaky, and the pork is good, even cold.

Sometimes pork pies are eaten with mustard or with some kind of onion relish or chutney.  We bought one that was baked with stilton cheese (a type of bleu cheese) on it:
Also quite tasty!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The livestock part of the market

[Side note:  This is our last day at the castle!  We're headed to London tonight, and we leave for the States tomorrow morning.  I've still got about a month's worth of blogging to do, though, so here in blog-land, we'll just pretend like we're still in England!]

Recall the line-up for the Melton Mowbray market:

We saw the Farmers Market and Trade Stalls in the last post.  Everything else was an auction of some sort.  Let's start in the Fur & Feathers barn.

Cage by cage, chickens, ducks, geese, and pigeons are auctioned off:

Along with free-range eggs.  If you win the bid, you can pick however many dozen you'd like to buy at that price:

And the Game area of the barn, you could bid for (hopefully recently) dead animals including deer, pigeons, and rabbits.

There was a Pets section where you could bid for hamsters, ginea pigs, and canaries.

The Cattle barn was exactly what you'd expect.

This was the sheep auction. 
The folks in green on the ledge are the auction staff.  The people on the right bid for first choice of the sheep in each pen, and the guy standing in the sheep pen spray paints the ones each winner chooses so they can sort them out later. 

In this corner of the barn, you could buy planks of wood.  You bid per plank (20 cents, 50 cents, whatever), and then can choose however many you want at that price.

Again, every Tuesday this happens.  I couldn't believe the number of people and animals in these barns...  And it was a neat experience for Alan's kids to see the auctions and watch markets (in the econ sense of the word) working for things like a 20-cent piece of wood and a bundle of dead pigeons.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Melton Mowbray Market

Alan took his econ classes on a field trip to nearby Melton Mowbray to check out the town market, which is allegedly the third oldest market in England.  Melton Mowbray has been a market town for over 1000 years, and Tuesday has been the market day since royal approval was given in 1324.

Here's the line-up for Tuesdays:

Let's start with the Farmer's Market and Trade Stalls.  Vendor tables filled three giant butler buildings, in addition to about six blocks of street space outside.  The sheer quantity and variety of things available for sale was astonishing.


 Household appliances:




Greeting cards:

Cleaning products:

In addition, about twenty-five vendors had food for sale, including hot dogs, cheese, cookies, bread, and sausages.  This table had honest-to-goodness fruit pies, which warranted a special photo because most "pie" you find here includes meat and isn't intended to be dessert.  But these... now these are real pies!
More to come in the next post, but keep in mind -- this market takes place every Tuesday.  I can't fathom having enough junk or buyers to make it worth your time to set up a table!