Thursday, January 15, 2009

more stories from across the pond

Last week I managed a rambling post about what we did on our England trip, but it was completely devoid of the fun little stories that make a trip memorable. Here are a few of those that I don't want to forget.

Me in all my touristy glory on the Tube.

The Uber-Tourist. In the middle of the trip a few of us rode bikes to the street market in Cambridge to buy souvenirs and gifts. The first stand we came to had bins and bins of candy - and not just candy, but cool British candy that we don't have in the States. Glorious. I started plucking out pieces that looked interesting, toffee and mint fudge and some type of brightly colored chewy rope candy, such fun. I'm sure the stand owner knew I was a tourist anyway from my ski jacket, blue jeans, and running shoes, but then I opened my mouth and left no doubt: "Are all of these ones 3 for a dollar?" (Um, yes 3 for a pound, ma'am.) Rrrrright. Then I hand him my loot, he rings me up for a total of 3 pounds, and I proceed to give him a 50 pound note. For 3 pounds of candy. It was all I had. Could I be any more obnoxious?

The boys and their toys. Fifi is actually visible in this picture if you know what you're looking for.

It's FiFi's World. Jon's sister Kelly was kind enough to buy a bunch of toys for our kids to play with while we were there so that we didn't have to bring toys with us. She bought most of them used from GumTree, which is the British equivalent of Craig's List, and most of them were really great. However, if you have kids you know the Great Law of Toys: Whatever toy is the most obnoxious to adults, this is the toy that the kids will love the most. There was this toy, I don't even know how to describe it - it was the size of an etch-a-sketch but had a screen with pictures of a mythological flower creature named Fifi and her petal-headed Flower Tots. When you pushed a button the pictures moved across the screen and it played a song. And oh, that song. We all sang it for 10 days straight and I'd venture to guess that most of us are still singing it, while simultaneously banging our heads against a wall. If you want to make yourself crazy, but thoroughly entertain a 1-3 year old, click here.

Silly Dexter at his animated best.

OxiClean. Dexter took a few days to warm up to all his extended family, but once he got comfortable he was a complete hoot. He would walk around the apartment making silly faces at everyone and then screeching at the top of his lungs for no other reason than to hear his own voice. I love that kids his age have absolutely no inhibitions. Meanwhile, we are watching the Rosebowl game on, which has inexplicably chosen Billy Mays as their spokesperson. I'm sure you can see where this is going. No? Well, naturally my father-in-law decides that with Dexter's vocal strength he is destined for a career in informercials, so he teaches him to say "OxiClean!" For the rest of the trip, our 15 month old is tottering around yelling "OxiClean! OxiClean!" At least he's cuter than Billy Mays.

The grounds of Ely Cathedral

Future Plans. We took a day trip from Cambridge to the town of Ely, which is famous for its huge Norman cathedral. Since Mom, Dad, Kelly & Ryan had already been inside the cathedral on a previous trip they stayed outside and entertained the kids while Jon, Keri, CJ and I went in for a self-guided tour. Nate was full of questions as he walked around the grounds with his grandma. What kind of building is this? Why did they make it? Who lives here? Who built it? Mimi (that's what Nate calls her) did her best to answer all his questions and told him as much as she could about the church. When he ran out of questions, he was quiet for a minute and then looked up at her and said, "I wish I could build a church someday." Atta kid.


Travis Thompson said...

so is the brightly colored chewy rope candy not licorice?

Haley Ballast said...

no indeed, it was NOT licorice. it came in every color and it was kind of sour/tangy. good stuff. NOT licorice.

The Hyde Family said...

What a wonderful trip! the picture of the cathedral is amazing! I would definitely like to go there some day! I love reading your blog Haley. You are area really good writer, something I admire about you. I wish we could have had a chance to visit when we were in Seattle. Hopefully we can get together when we come in the summer!

tiffany said...

the twins have or maybe had (we could have gotten rid of it) a fifi doll!! i'm pretty sure it came from overseas, i guess it is really big over there.

Carissa said...

Love it! I love the whole thing - all of your stories and the corresponding pictures... But I ESPECIALLY love that the Fifi song is techno. Tech - NO. (Yes, I had to click the link. I'm sure I'm not alone.)