Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Last of the Leftovers

Tonight was the night for the batch of homemade turkey noodle soup. All the other leftovers are gone, so I took the scraps and the leftover stock and built a masterpiece with noodles, and veggies and turkey... and added dumplings on top. YUM! Turns out I had more "stuff" than broth, so I'll have to make some more stock before reheating it tomorrow.

I had a hard time getting a picture of this because the camera lens kept fogging up.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving Feast

The turkey was plump and brown when it came out of the oven... and we were feeling pretty plump ourselves after the Thanksgiving feast at our house. J.R. came up from Yakima and Jeff came over from Renton, so I cooked a 12# turkey and all the trimmings. As always, I love having the leftovers so I don't have to do any real cooking for a few days. I'm looking forward to putting together a big pot of turkey noodle soup, and adding some dumplings on top!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Blessings

Max & I would both like to extend our warmest regards to everyone for a very Happy Thanksgiving.

We are so grateful for our many blessings, most of which derive from our love for each other and for our family and friends.

Carol & Max

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I Miss Nellie / Meet Maggie

Nellie is the name I gave to the GPS navigational system built in to Lana's mini-van. I loved listening to "Nellie-the navigator" guide us through the maze of round-a-bouts, in her British accent. I miss hearing: "Your route is being calculated" and "Prepare to turn left at the next exit". Imagine this in the British accent.

I miss Nellie so much I went shopping for a navigational system of my own when we returned home. As luck would have it, Costco was selling the Magellan 360 Roadmate, which is a portable GPS navigational system that you plug into your cigarette lighter and attach (with a suction cup) to the windshield. I just got it a couple of days ago, and am enjoying getting to know this new navigation system..."Maggie Magellan", a poor (but good looking and smart) cousin to Nellie. I particularly like the lighted panel feature, which makes it really easy to keep track of upcoming turns during night driving.

When we were in England, our son-in-law, Rob, and I spent part of an evening shopping online for a new Ford Five-hundred, which is the car I would like to get someday. It is all-wheel drive, has a large trunk for my real estate signs, and sits a little higher than most cars which would make getting in and out easier for Max (and me too, of course). If anyone is Christmas shopping for us, I do like the "silver birch" exterior color. :-)

Anyway, the built-in navigation systems are listed at $1995 as an add-on! I blinked hard at that... and am now appreciating the $599 portable system I bought at Costco. The other great thing about the portable system is that it can be moved from car to car... or, in our case, car-to-van. Sometimes we travel in the van and sometimes we take the car on trips. With the cost of fuel now, we're inclined to take the car (1999 Mitsubishi Galant) on trips these days. It gets just about twice the mileage as the van, and is quite comfortable. Of course, we can't take as much stuff with us or crawl in the back and take a real nap, like in the van. Oh well, compromises and sacrifices must be made in the name of being environmentally and financially responsible.

I've been testing Maggie around town and am looking forward to seeing how she performs on a real road trip. Stay tuned for that report in the future. Oh... and I programmed Maggie to speak in a British accent too. How cool is that?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Typical English Village

This excursion was taken on Saturday, October 22nd. I absolutely love all the villages throughout the country. It would be easy to spend all day just wandering around enjoying the ambiance.

Bourton-on-the-Water is a fairly typical English village. If you click here, you will be linked to a map of Bourton so you can get an idea of where it is in the country. You can zoom in and out from the left of the map screen. If you zoom out and locate Stratford, that's the proximity of where Solihull is (where Lana & Rob live).

Most of the homes that were on the main streets of these villages have been converted into hotels, restaurants or gift shops. Notice how narrow some of the streets are? It's not uncommon for side view mirrors to get damaged in traffic... and, of course, they drive on the wrong side of the street!

Remember, you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Thanks To Our Veterans

I'd like to take this moment to pay tribute to my Dad, Bruce Normond Klock (1913-1964), who was a veteran of World War II... and also to all the past and present soldiers, who risk their lives to preserve our freedoms.

God Bless America

The DeVere Belfry

The DeVere Belfry is a beautiful course, which has served as an International Ryder Cup Venue. Lana called earlier in the day to see if I could get on the course to play 9 holes this day (Friday November 4th). Before they would commit to allowing me to play they wanted to know my handicap. They agreed to let me play when we told them my handicap is "12". But, as it turned out, it was a cold day and I was suffering from some kind of cough and cold so we settled for taking pictures and buying some souvenirs.

Solihull Continued

Although we're back in the good 'ol U.S., I've still got digital photos and info to share about our trip. Here are several pictures taken right at the Solihull Mall area.

On our last day in England, Lana took us to the mall where they set up an open air market on Fridays. Here they sell anything from produce and cheeses, to jams, breads, pot pies and a variety of other things. Down the lane from this produce stand was a food stand selling ostrich burgers. Yes Ostrich burgers. Max, Lana and I all had one. They were quite good... not a strong flavor, but the meat was a bit dry. If I were to make them at home, more condiments would have made them even better.

The next picture is a shot of the buildings across the street from the Mall. If you enlarge the next photo, you will see the huge Starbucks coffee sign in the window. The next photo is of a line-up of taxis waiting to take on passengers... then a picture of the two-decker buses. All of these photos were taken in the same general vicinity. Notice the brick inlaid streets. Very nice.

After leaving the Mall area, we drove out to the Belfry golf course. See pictures of that in the next post.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

We're Back

We arrived home safely late Saturday evening, with our friends June and Roger Dorner waiting at Pangborn Airport for our arrival. Since I was so tired that everything was looking blurry, it's probably a good thing I didn't have to drive anywhere. A chauffeur was a welcome bonus.

I've posted a picture of Horizon Air here as a reward for being the only airline that could manage to depart or arrive on schedule. We flew United the rest of the trip and not one single leg of the trip departed or arrived on schedule. We are talking major delays, not just a few minutes here and there. On nearly every leg we feared for not making our connecting flight, or that our luggage would not have time to be transferred. I can't say that I would ever choose United Airlines again, if I had the choice. But, Lana & Rob took great care of us, we had a great trip and we ARE home safe and that's what's important. Lana was so diligent in taking us somewhere nearly every day. She has really studied English history since she's been there and we were quite impressed with her knowledge. She is also teaching a family history class at the library (through the college).

I still have a few pictures and comments to post about the last days of the trip, but my floppy disk drive isn't working for posting pictures... so they'll have to wait a little longer. They cover our trip to the Solihull market (for ostrich burgers) on Friday and our visit to the Belfry golf course... where I didn't play, but picked up a few souvenirs.

My major challenge during the trip was doing business, in spite of the 8 hour time difference. I was, quite literally, getting up in the middle of the night to make phone business calls to clients and other agents.

It would be difficult to pick a "highlight" of the trip... other than just being with Lana, Rob and the girls. We did so much, and it was all good!

It's fun to travel, but there's no place like home!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Royal Shakespeare Theatre Center

Before returning home from our tour Tuesday, we stopped in Stratford-Upon-Avon to pick Lara up from school. It's only about 20 miles from Solihull and she generally takes a combination of the train and bus to get to and from. But, she had a piano lesson scheduled for 4:30 and didn't have time to take the train. Anyway, while driving through the town, I took some pictures of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Unfortunately, we are here between seasons and there are no performances scheduled now.

Hatton Boat Locks

Driving through the countryside, we have often crossed over canals with long narrow boats parked along the canal banks. I asked where the canals go and Lana said she's not sure because there is a very comprehensive and complex canal system in England. My curiosity got the best of me, so I went searching for a Waterways Navigation Map. I did find one, which shows an overview of the entire countries canal system. WOW. You can, literally, go from just about anywhere in the country to anywhere else by canal. It may take a while, but you can get there by boat. For anyone who is interested, I will show you the map when we get back home. It's too big to scan in and display. The map shows the miles, number of locks and time needed to go between locations. For example the map shows: 8-23-7 between Warwick and Kingswood. This means it is 8 miles, utilizing 23 locks, and should take about 7 hours to navigate. So, as you can see, this is not a fast mode of travel.

According to a brochure I picked up, canal mania was sweeping the country in the 1790's. In 1793, an act of Parliament authorized the construction of a canal from Warwick to Birmingham. This canal provided a link in the chain of canals joining the industrialising inlands to London. Raw materials came from all over the world, where they were used to produce many things... like spices, tea, sugar, etc. Locally, the canal meant cheap transport of coal helping to power local industry, such as the cotton mills... and keeping the home fires burning, literally. Major improvements were made to the canal system in the 1930's.

The canal locks near where Lana & Rob live are the Hatton Locks, near the historic town of Warwick (where the Warwick Castle is). I have inserted some pictures above, but here is a link to some more pictures of the Hatton Locks, and some additional information.

The first picture above is how the boats look along the canal. If you enlarge the photo, and look closely, you can see me standing in the right foreground. The second picture is a close-up of one of the locks. The third a look up the ladder of locks, and the fourth a look down the ladder of locks. I believe there are 21 locks at this particular lock station.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

More From Warwick Castle

Here are a couple of pictures I took outside the Warwick Castle. The second picture is of Max and Lana sitting in the garden outside the castle. The first picture is their view from this spot. This is the back of the main section of the castle. Be sure to click on the images to enlarge them.

Warwick Castle

After leaving the car museum, we took the short drive over to the Warwick Castle (pronounced War-ick). Of all the castles we've ever visited in our travel, I found this to be one of the most interesting. The way they had the displays set up, you could get a feel, walking through the castle, what it was really like in those days, dating back to medieval times. Taking pictures is no simple task, due to the massive size of the castle. Rob and I walked the 536 steep steps to the top of the watch tower to get a bird's eye view of the castle and grounds. I've posted a few pictures, with less than ideal lighting, but to get a better tour of the castle, click here, to visit their official website. If you click on "The Castle", you will have several link options. Or, here is another website, with great pictures.

The first picture above was taken from the tower, overlooking the main living section of the castle, but this is a small portion of the castle and grounds. The second picture has even poorer lighting, but if you click on the image to enlarge it, you will see my face (catching my breath from the climb). It was not only long and steep, but dark inside the tower during the climb up. From this vantage point we had a fabulous view of the Warwick Cathedral, in the distance, the town of Warwick... and far off into the distance.

The Mystery Man

Many of you have never seen a picture of our son-in-law (Rob), who I have referred to but never posted a picture of. That is because he works alot and hasn't been able to go with us on our journeys... until yesterday. Rob took the day off from work and drove us to the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, England (near Warwick) and then on to the Warwick Castle. Here is a picture of Rob and Max in front of a 1931(?) Model A, the same kind of car Max learned to drive in.

The Heritage Motor Centre is a huge collection of British Motor cars, dating back to 1896. The Trust owns about 300 cars, of which about 180 are on display at any given time. Most of these cars are on the Austin Healey, Jaquar and Land Rover family tree. The Centre is set on 65 acres of ground and includes not only the museum but also a 4-wheel drive off-road demonstration track, a quad bike track, and a childrens driving area (Go-Karts).