Friday, June 30, 2006

The leftovers of travel

I was straightening up my living room, and under one pile of stuff, I found this:

It makes me feel like such a jetsetter.

Or maybe a poor planner.

Or maybe just like I need to straighten up more often.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Nothing has been happening lately. Time for another few shots from my vacation:

One of our stops in France was Rocamadour, a medieval city built into the side of a cliff overlooking the Alzou river, and one of the most popular sacred sites in France.

It has been a site for pilgrimmage for centuries, since, in legend at least, it’s associated with St. Amadour. One of the brochures we picked up in the tourist office said that, in the Middle Ages, pilgrims would crawl up the side wrapped in chains and on hands and knees to visit the stations of the cross.

Carter, Debbie, and I just walked up.

The city is lit quite nicely at night:

(Thank you, Debbie, for letting me use your tripod).

And here’s a view of the street from our hotel window:

Just so you know, I took over 200 pictures on vacation, so I could go for months with nothing exciting to report and still post pictures. But I’ll try to keep things a little more current.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Doesn’t this seem like a weird name for a movie to you?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rock ballads are awesome

This weekend, the people in my department from the Paris office came to London. We had several educational sessions and had a chance to talk face-to-face. We also had a very nice dinner and went to see this play. Which is all fine and dandy, and if you have to work over the weekend, it’s not a bad way to do it.

But what was more fun was Orla’s birthday party Saturday evening, for which she reserved a room for karaoke at a Japanese restaurant. There were some surprising displays of talent and, as you can see here, some very heartfelt renditions of timeless classics.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The living is easy

Yesterday was the summer solstice. In fact, it was yesterday at 12:26 pm. That means that yesterday, if you happen to live on the Tropic of Cancer (and you know who you are), the sun appeared to be directly overhead at midday.

It also means that if you happen to live in London, the sun came up at 4:43 am and went down at 9:21 pm.

If you do happen to live in London, the likelihood that you were sitting in a pub at 9:21 pm watching the end of a soccer game is pretty high. Even if you’re not a sports fan.

A little after 10:00, however, I was walking home, when I took this picture. And there was light in the sky until after 11:00.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Weekend in the park

This weekend the weather was beautiful, and I went to Hyde Park with some people from the office to play soccer (or to have a “kick-about,” as it was called). I was originally worried about my lack of skill. But sometimes there are subtle clues that a game isn’t going to be that serious:

Friday, June 16, 2006

Scary picture inside Beynac Castle

I like this picture a lot. Beynac Castle is lit almost entirely without electricity:

The castle was built (again, I believe) in the 12th century. The barons of Beynac Castle were known for their cruelty.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Saint Emilion

Back to the vacation:
One of our stops was Saint Emilion, a medieval city near Bordeaux. The city was a walled city, with 7 guarded gates leading in. Here’s a picture of Porte Brunet, the eastern gate (and the one closest to where we stayed—although I thought a picture that included our car parked nearby might take away from the atmosphere). The gate dates from, I believe, the 12th century.

Just inside the gate, we met this little guy, who trotted right up and was very eager to be pet through the iron gate:

The city has a very definite medieval look:

And of course, it’s surrounded by its main industry (well, I imagine tourism is a biggie, too). The steeple of the church is in the distance over the grapevines:

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


This past weekend we had our annual outing for the European offices for work. Friday was filled with educational sessions, and then Saturday we could participate in various activities. I did archery (I did poorly), clay pigeon shooting (I did poorly, although I got one—one better than the last time I tried, which was in 8th grade P.E. for our unit on gun safety), and dune buggy racing (I did pretty well, but still not well enough to get a prize). The place was in the country, about an hour’s train ride from London. It was really lovely, lots of flowers, trees, and all that good stuff. And I got almost no pictures at all. But here’s one of the grounds right outside the lounge area of the hotel. You can see the croquet set on the side (I did poorly).

Monday, June 12, 2006

What is this thing?

As I was fixing myself a bowl of cereal for lunch yesterday, this fell into the bowl. Based on the packaging, this is some creature from King Kong. But I can’t figure out what the toy itself is supposed to do (there’s a spring and a catch on it).

I’m sure this will keep me occupied for days.

Friday, June 09, 2006

I’ve always wanted to do this

This is what we did on the last full day we had in Sarlat. Although the weather had been a little rainy and nasty the day before, the weather that morning was beautiful. And we got to watch (and help) the inflation of the balloon. The early morning—the very early morning—was well worth it.

This is the site where we took off.

And then we could see this

And this

The wind was fast and a little unpredictable that day, and Patrick, the pilot, said we went much further than usual. After about an hour in the air, he attempted a number of landings, but each time we got closer to the ground, he had to go back up. On the third or fourth try, we started toward a small but mostly-empty field. A tree was heading for us, and Patrick calmly pointed and said, “No problem, this tree.” We smoothly sailed right past it. He pointed to another tree. “No problem, this tree.” We grazed the top of that one, but there was nothing more than a little jolt. He looked down. “No problem, this.”

In case you’ve been wondering about this, when a hot air balloon hits a pile of bricks on the way down, there is a much bigger bump than when it grazes the top of a pine tree.

But the rough landing turned out fine. After a bit of scrambling to get the balloon under control, the only things that wound up damaged were two of the bricks. Richard, Patrick’s assistant, showed up and helped wrangle the balloon (we helped with that, too), and then produced the surprise that Patrick’s website promised. I won’t spoil the surprise—I’ll just tell you that it was awesome.

This is the field where we landed. (The bricks in question are actually stacked in front of the little shed).
And this is a picture of Patrick—who may be one of the coolest people on earth—and Richard.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Back to work

The inevitable has happened, and I have to go back to work today. I went out last night with Jaynna (who joined us for the latter part of the trip, incidentally) to a pub in her neighborhood. The weather here has actually been very nice the past few days, and we picked a pub where we could sit outside. Perfect for contemplating the coming day.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Vacation’s over

And now the vacation has come to an end—I have to go back to work tomorrow, and I need to spend the rest of today running errands, cleaning up, unpacking, doing laundry, and doing all sorts of other fun post-vacation tasks. I won’t run through the whole vacation here, but I’ll post a few more scattered photos. So... here’s a picture of me in a Paris cafe.

I’m attempting to be the most typical American living abroad in all the land.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Beynac Castle

As promised, here’s a picture of Beynac Castle, in the Dordogne valley in France. In fact, this is a picture of Debbie and me enjoying the sun in front Beynac Castle.

Monday, June 05, 2006

And I’m back!

I’m still on vacation, at least until Thursday. But I am back in London. I’ll give more accounts of the vacation later on. I tried to post a picture of one of the castles (I do read my mother’s comments to the blog), but Blogger was apparently having troubles, so it’ll have to wait.