Monday, September 24, 2007

My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

Yesterday marked the anniversary of our moving to the UK. Appropriately, it also happened to be a service of thanksgiving at our church. God has provided for us in innumerable ways this past year. So many worries and fears have materialized into nothing and floated away. How much I need to think on this, as this year is just as unknown as last. But I know my God, and there as never been a trial or trouble that He hasn't seen me through, though the journey hasn't been pain free. So today I will rejoice in the unknown. All that the future will bring me is a deeper and better knowledge of my Savior.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

When was the last time you were awakened at 3am . . .

. . . by badgers??? That has just happened to me.

When I emptied the garbage several hours ago, I didn't have any shoes on and consequently didn't take the bag to the dumpster. I intended to do so before going to bed, but I (of course, being Brian) forgot. Then about 20 minutes ago, even as I was half asleep, I heard some heavy rustling outside the door. I remembered the rubbish bag and knew instantly that it was either a fox or a badger as they regularly get into the rubbish here on campus.

I got up, put on my bathrobe and a pair of shoes, and went to the door. I heard the rustling noise still. I picked up a stick and hit the door a couple times, then heard some scampering. I slowly opened the door, and my rubbish bag had indeed been torn up by some creature. As I stepped out, I saw a medium-sized badger scampering away to my left. I kept the stick close by as I began to clean up as badgers are not the friendliest of animals if they feel threatened. I've been told that a student or two here on campus thought cornering a badger would be fun, only to get cut up when the badger fought back. One student supposedly had to go to the hospital he was cut so badly.

I gathered the first bit of rubbish and headed toward the dumpster. As I came out of our building, I heard a rustle to my left as a rather large badger took off, running as fast as he could, which turned out to be faster than I had expected a badger to run. I was just happy that he chose to run rather than fight.

As I continued cleaning up the rubbish, I heard some very unusual noises about 50 feet up the road: heavy rustling in the bushes, then a series of chirps and yips. As I watched, the two badgers tumbled out of the bushes into the road, rolling and fighting each other. The larger one certainly had the upper hand, but I could not tell whether it was the wrestling typical of adolescent animals or if it was an actual fight. Deciding to break up the badger brawl, I announced my presence by whacking my brush and dustpan together. The sound echoed off the buildings and down the road, and the badgers stopped fighting. The smaller one hurried away, but the larger one stared at me a while, almost daring me to come toward him, or at very least watching me closely to see what I would do, before slowly heading off down the road. I went back to our building, finished cleaning, and came back inside.

A very light rain was falling all this time, almost more of a mist. The weather has definitely turned toward autumn here. Last year Brighton had an extended summer, with warmer weather well into October and even November. I think we're going to have a much earlier autumn this year, though, as the leaves have just begun to change color and fall.

And now that my badger interlude is over, it's back to bed for me.

HOORAY! First steps! HOORAY!

For a couple months now, Iain has been walking a little bit with assistance. He loves it when two people hold his hands and let them walk between them, though he gets tired fairly quickly. Every now and then he'd take just one step without any support, but otherwise he hasn't shown very much interest in walking.

But tonight - only about 10 minutes ago - he walked across the room - about five steps - without any help at all! Papa got him started and Mama was on the receiving end. We were very proud of him! After the first time, in which he took the most steps, all he wanted to do was walk to Mama and Papa. He did it nearly a dozen times, back and forth, sometimes a bit better than others, but each time taking steps without any assistance at all. Our boy is growing up! As Mama said, he's not a baby anymore. And of course we're very proud of him.

The funniest thing about it is that he started crawling only a day or two after Jordan's family left from their visit in April, and now he's officially started walking just a day after my family left from their visit. Sorry, grandmas! We'll try to post some videos soon.

Battle of Britain Airshow

Brian here again: My family left yesterday after two weeks of visiting us here in the UK - more details on that later.

Yesterday Iain and I went to the RAFA Battle of Britain Airshow in Shoreham. It was incredible! I've never seen that many vintage aircraft all flying in the same show before. Here are some Spitfires & Hurricanes:

Here is the 'Battle of Britain Memorial Flight', consisting of one Spitfire, one Hurricane, and one Lancaster.

The aerial acrobatics were great as well.

The Royal Navy Black Cats demonstration team was marvellous.

The Royal Army Chinook was even better. Even Laurel and Hardy were there.

By the way, don't try to outrun the Sussex police!

Iain loved the airshow, he loved being outside, and he loved being with Papa.

Notice his new tricycle, his pride and joy. Jordan & I got it for him at a charity shop in Arundel just the day before. He loves it! He rode around the airshow all day on it. Here he is in front of a B-25, the same kind of airplane my grandfather flew in WWII.

It was a wonderful day out together; it would have been a perfect day if this had not been its end.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

South of France Days 9 & 10

The next morning Lizzie, Sophie, and Darren left for merry olde England, and Anthony, Brian, Iain and I headed off to Avignon and Marseille. The papacy was in Avignon for 70 years back in the middle ages and we spent some time touring the papal palace (Palais des Papes).

There were a lot of terrible street performers in the square. This lady played the accordian pretty well.

Then we had some lunch and headed over to see the famous bridge. (You may have heard the song "On the Bridge at Avignon".) It used to be much longer, but there was a flood in the 13th century that washed away most of the bridge.

Behind us you can see the old center of Avignon. It still has its city walls.

Dancing on the bridge...

We got some ice cream and walked around the city a bit more, then it was back in the car and off to Marseille! Marseille is very interesting because it is a mix of industry and history. It is the largest port in France. But the old section of town is really lovely.

Here is the cathedral...
This is the old port. We parked near here and took a bus up to the top of a very high hill with narrow, twisty roads.
The view of the city and harbor were beautiful.

There was a church at the top of the hill.

We could also see the Chateau D'if, which is the horrible prision that Edmund Dantes suffers in in the Count of Monte Cristo. We really wanted to go out to see it, but it was too windy for the ferry to run.

We took the bus back down to old port and had some dinner. There were tons of restaurants there on the water, but a lot of them were too expensive for us. We did finally find a nice little restaurant with an inexpensive and delicious set menu.

Here is the old port as night is falling. I took these photos from my seat in the restaurant.

While we were waiting for the check, we played "Beep Your Nose" with Iain. Here he is trying to beed his nose!

We drove home and got in very late. The next day was our last full day in France and we were off to the tallest bridge in the world, the Millau Viaduct. If anyone has seen the new Mr. Bean movie, he drives over this bridge in the film.

Here is Iain reading up on local attractions.

The road to the bridge was through some gorges and it was so beautiful that I realized where we get the word gorgeous from.

Here is the valley that the bridge spans.

And here is the Viaduct from a distance.

The Viaduct was just amazing to see in person.

On our last day in France we had to make a quick pit stop back at Toys R Us so I could use my 16.00 euro credit. We decide to get a present for Iain and he picked out a very soft cuddly animal that we think may be a donkey. We're not sure, but that is what we're going with for now. :) His name is Henri and is definitely Iain's Special Buddy. He wasn't terribly interested in soft toys before Henri. Here are Papa, Iain, and Henri on the flight home all tuckered out.