Monday, March 24, 2008


We had a nice Easter weekend. We went to church on Good Friday and then out to lunch with our friends Anthony and Christina and we bought Iain some much needed new shoes (his old ones were 2 sizes too narrow-- the boy has wide feet!).

On Saturday we visited Jane Austen's house in Chawton which I was very excited to see. It was cool to walk through and imagine her looking at the same windows, serving tea, and trading secrets with her sister Cassandra.

No photos were allowed inside, but I did snap this one of Iain in the window. I figured they wouldn't mind since he was the subject of the photo.

After visiting her house, we drove to Winchester Cathedral where she is buried. At the time of her death, no one knew that she was the anonymous and highly popular author of Pride and Prejudice.

We've had crazy weather this weekend. On Saturday alone we had sun, rain, wind, hail and snow! It also snowed on Easter and today, but it didn't stick. Prior to this it has only snowed 4 times since we moved to Brighton.

On Easter Sunday we went to church and then enjoyed the church lunch in the back hall. Then we came back home to do an Easter egg hunt with Iain. It was less than a hit, as you will see in the video. It's pretty funny. I apologize for the quality of the video-- I was carrying the camera while trying to wrest eggs from Iain and directing him where to look.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Very French Birthday: Day 5

On our last day we visited the cathedral at Chartres. It is considered to be one of the finest Gothic cathedrals in the world. It was much smaller than I anticipated, but the craftsmanship was very fine and there were almost no tourists.

Brian and I were thrilled when Iain noticed a horse amongst the reliefs. It was so exciting to see him interacting with art for the first time.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Very French Birthday: Day 4

(I started to post this ages ago... please forgive my slowness!) The next morning we left Paris and headed to Versailles. I took this picture from the parking lot to try to give some perspective to the vastness of the palace.

Iain was none too impressed with the immensity and grandeur of Versailles, but he did admire the drainage system.

The Apollo Fountain.

I've enjoyed reading about Marie Antoinette recently, so I was very excited to see Versailles. Marie was an Austrian and she married the Dauphin at 14. Court life at Versailles was extremely formal and public, with courtiers competing for precedence. Marie had to adjust to life in front of an audience; getting dressed, undressed, waking up, eating--- even giving birth in front of the entire court.

For seven years the Dauphin refused to consummate their marriage and she was mocked as a foreigner and outsider in her own court. Marie took refuge in fashion and soon began outdoing her courtiers at their own game. She bore the brunt of French political frustration, whilst at the same time being reviled as "the Austrian". She was not flawless, but she did not deserve the treatment she received at the hands of the revolutionary mob. So it was with a sad curiosity that I wandered through the gardens and her private apartments.

After the birth of her first child, Louis XVI gave Marie her own private house in a distant corner of the gardens of Versailles. The Petit Trianon was Marie's retreat where she surrounded herself with friends and tried to escape the rigid formality of court life. There she created a small village and allowed her children to milk cows and collect eggs. She excluded courtiers and acted in plays, and tried to create what she imagined a normal life would be like.

Here is the private garden of Marie Antoinette. She held parties and suppers in the building you see in the pictures.

After exploring the gardens we headed back towards the palace-- a fair hike. Iain entertained himself with Papa's hat.
Here is the exterior of the chapel and some of the bedrooms. In it's heyday 10,000 people lived at Versailles.

Chapel interior.

Coming from the dark dining apartments into the Hall of Mirrors.

Marie Antoinette's private apartments, and the door through which she narrowly escaped the murderous mob that broke into the palace.

A portrait of Marie with her three children. Her daughter was the only member of the family to survive the Revolution.

A Very French Birthday: Day 3

On the next morning, we decided to take a more low-key approach to gay Paris. We started off just across the street from the hotel in the Paris Zoo. Iain was transfixed by the animals.

We saw some animals I had never seen before, including these red pandas. They were incredibly cute and fun to watch.

These mountain goats are nuts! They are just born to climb. This goat could easily get his food from the ground, but apparently it tastes better up there.

After hanging out at the zoo for awhile, we were to the Latin Quarter to see the cafe life of Paris. This part of Paris felt a lot more interesting and less impersonal, with lots of shopping and eating on the pavement.

We heard that the Ile-Saint-Louis was a taste of medieval Paris, so we headed there after lunch. It was more expensive boutiques and long quiet residential streets. It wasn't what we were expecting, but it fit in with the theme of the of our less touristy day.

The Seine.

Brian in front of the Pantheon, where France's most honored heroes are buried.

Then we wandered over to the Jardin du Luxemburg to sit in the sun, people-watch, and let Iain run around.

Here is Iain's first attempt at photography:

After that, we were very tired so we went back to the hotel and rested a bit and then had dinner at a lovely little restaurant down the street from the hotel. We toasted Boise and thanked God for having a new exciting direction in our lives.