Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Hermitage Museum - winter Palace
We are having an amazing trip but finding an internet connection has been almost impossible so we have not done a diary this time.
Tell all when we get home
Hello its April Fool's Day and we (the over 60's lot) have already been caught!!
Have not written anything for a few days because we have been a bit under the weather with a bug we probably caught from the children.
Actually, you won't believe it but I am writing this up sitting in the O2 Lounge!! This is a place to go to get oxygen. Rob is currently attached to the oxygen tube!! I have decided that I will use their email facilities instead though if Rob finishes his session feeling loads better then I might try it!! I, rather ignorantly, thought there was only one type of oxygen but when we arrived we were presented with an oxygen menu!!
We have had some great ski-ing and super snow here in Breckenridge. James is now back at work and Eric went home last Wednesday. We are now a small party of two grandparents, two grandchildren and two mothers!
The little ones have been on skis for a short time and seem to have had fun - also quite a bit of sledging and general rolling in the snow has gone on too. There is lots to do with the children, which has been helpful for the babysitters: swimming, games room, a special play place in the town and all the above-mentioned snow related activities.
Rob's knee seems much better than the beginning of the holiday though is still somewhat temperamental. The new ski lift which goes to just short of 13 thousand feet has been great fun and much used by the braver members of the party (not me!). Rob wonders whether he spent too much time at this altitude and that is why he is suffering today. The other problem we have both encountered is that we took some NyQuil at night hoping for a better night's sleep but we both experienced the worst night of our lives - a feeling that ones whole body was on over drive and had to keep running - so absolutely no sleep and feeling extremely light headed on getting up. So we will not be taking the above product for cold bugs again.
One more day to do and then we head home on Monday.
ANNE - hope you got my message - basic planet ranger is the one we have
HARRY - hope you got my message - but WELL DONE
Well, James did arrive safely on the Friday evening (17th) having had a very good journey. Saturday, Sunday and Monday saw a split into the advanced skier group (Annie and James) - and the rest! Tony departed Saturday morning (for Anne's benefit,
Tony is local friend/golfing buddy) - he admitted to having been worn out by Annie's guided tour of Vail mountain on Friday! We were sorry to see Tony go, not least because he seemed to have mastered the art of fire making!
A high point of that weekend was getting Rachel on skis. This involved three adults! Annie, in her own skis, holding Rachel on the way down the slope, Uncle James providing distractions and transport services up the hill in the sledge and Grandpa putting on the skis to a little girl who was screaming loudly and kicking wildly with her heavy ski boots in protest! The end result after about thirty minutes of fun was that Rachel did not want to go home, wanted more ski-ing and great bellowing ensued when we reversed the whole process! We have some great video of the occasion.
Monday, 20th - Annie and Rachel left in the early afternoon and the hard core of Rosemary, Rob, James and Eric remained to ski the final two days at Vail leaving on Wednesday afternoon for Keystone, about 45 minutes down the road.
Today, we have had a wonderful day's ski-ing in this very beautiful ski area - it is not large but creates the impression of being in the wilderness. Continuing excellent snow and cold enough to ensure that conditions remain perfect. James has just experienced his first night ski-ing and the message is - it is very cold! Rob and James (and once Rosemary) have been making good use of hot tubs - with beer in hand.
Miranda and Thomas have now arrived in Denver and will be travelling up to Breckenridge tomorrow morning with Annie and Rachel where we will all get together.
Remind me to tell you a very amusing story concerning Thomas, Lollypops (called Suckers in the USA) and Thomas's inability to pronounce the letter S!!!!
JOEY - thanks for the message about the book club book - I will keep a look out for it. I just finished the Kite Runner which I liked very much though it was SO sad. Hope Micky is doing well. I can't believe that the pond is frozen at this stage of the winter?/Spring?
We have had more snow and some more excellent ski-ing. We went over to Beaver Creek, yesterday. Tony and Eric had not been there before so we felt it was a good idea to introduce them to a rather posh ski area. Our ski-ing experience was rather mixed - Tony and Eric did rather well, but Rob had problems with his knee and I just bottled out when it came to some rather challenging places. On one occasion, I simply could not face the slope so went off into the trees in the hopes of finding an easier track. This tactic did not pay off because there was no track and too many trees for someone like me to try making a turn. I decided to take my skis off and trudge back through the wood to rejoin the slope at an easier point. While doing this various (!) instructions were being shouted from the piste and Eric and Tony patiently waiting at the bottom of the piste were probably having a good laugh. I did get down eventually and I felt bad about holding everyone up. Later in the day (it wasn't my best day} I was crashed into from somebody behind me and sent flying down the slope. Fortunately, no damage done and a delightful man came along to haul me back on to my feet again! This was rather embarrasing because it took several attempts.
Annie took Tony ski-ing today and hopefully gave him a good work out! Sadly, the aforementioned Tony is currently packing his case. An aside here - Tony has been bargaining with some Arab in Morocco for camels - now apparently he may be getting 80 thousand - someone back home should ask him what he is giving away in return! Tony leaves on the bus tomorrow morning (sad, sad) but only after having shared a room with Eric.
James should be arriving here in about half an hour and then it will be a merry go round of beds all over again. Not sure whether he will be sleeping on the sofa or in with Annie and Rachel.
It has been a terrific day of ski-ing and babysitting.
More amusing stories to tell when we are home.
Now I must get on with the dinner.
Before leaving Denver we called on Willie and Sarah so that we could see baby Andrew who is all of a week old. He is adorable and an extremely good looking baby. Afterwards we drove up to Vail in convoy with Annie and Rachel.
Yesterday, it snowed more or less all day long. We took it in turns to babysit Rachel. Because our journey up here was so very slow we were unable to meet up with Tony on time. However, we moved into 601 Vail 21 condo. We gave Tony the job of doing the fire!! Beer and wine was soon on the go and we were a very happy party.
Today we have had a glorious day's ski-ing.
The last few days have produced a few incidents which will, possibly, make some amusing dinner party stories. The computeron which I am typing is very lame and therefore I am not going to relate any tales here. Suffice it to say that many of them concern our guests!!
We are on the move again - this time going from
Dallas to Denver.
We have had a wonderful stay with the Davies family and enjoyed looking around the area. We saw much which is not particularly attractive, much which is being developed and some which is more attractive in an urban way. In the areas where there have been houses for 5 years plus there are some mature trees, lakes and green grass.
Miranda and co have an excellent location and within the area there is a good playground, swimming pool and tennis courts all for the use of the residents in the Trails estate.
Thomas has been sooo much fun. He has come up with some priceless statements: "I have goose on my leg"!! (goose = juice). When asked "are you ready" the answer comes back "yes I are". When Thomas wants us to go with him he says "woo can come with me". We have played endless games of astronauts, truck drivers, garbage removal people, motorbike riders and monster truck drivers!!
The other day we took Thomas to play in the scottish place (MacDonalds). While I was sitting there and Thomas was busy playing within the tubes, I saw a man come in to order his food and noticed that around his belt were several holsters, and in one of them was this enormous knife! I was soon busy thinking out our escape route should this be a mad man about to murder us all. It turned out that he was fine and just came in for burger and fries. However, if this had been in the UK he would certainly have been arrested! Here it is OK to go around with dangerous weapons and ,as we know, at home it definitely is not.
In haste now off to the airport. Apologies for any repeats but we keep thinking we have lost things!!! The disadvantage of too much haste etc.
Miranda's birthday! A relaxing start at 6.45 a.m. when Scott came home with a tray of delicious donuts which we took up to Miranda with some freshly squeezed orange juice. She was relaxing in bed watching the TV with Thomas.
After getting up we all went out so that Miranda could get her Texas driving licence. This is a two hour procedure in which you take a number and wait!! Imagine doing this with a two year old around - this is where the grandparents became useful in taking the said two year old off to some indoor playground entertainment at the scottish place (Macdonalds). I was slightly alarmed whilst at Macdonalds when a cowboy-looking type came in with various holsters around his waist, one certainly containing a very large knife! I was planning my, and Thomas's, escape route just in case this individual went crazy. I need not have worried as, in the end, he was harmless. At home, of course, he would have been arrested for carrying weapons! We also went off to find an outdoor playground as the inside place became rather crowded after awhile.
Now back home again and the two year old is blissfully asleep for his afternoon nap and Miranda is taking a foam bath together with relaxing candles, chocolates, drink and People magazine all within reach. After this we plan to style her hair! Then we will be ready for party time!!
Quote from Thomas "I have goose on my leg" - looking to see what this was I realised that goose is juice!
Frisco, Texas, USA
Yes, here we are in the state of George Bush and the big hat. Actually, have only seen one of these so far. We had a good journey out here - Heathrow to Philadelphia, stay night in Holiday Inn and then on to Houston, change planes for last leg to Dallas. We were met by Scott and Thomas - such a wonderful welcome. Thomas rushed out and hugged us around the legs. He was so excited and talked at top speed. Miranda still not well and therefore stayed at home recuperating.
Their house here is lovely and I can see is a real oasis. The surrounding area lacks beauty, at least we have not seen anything particularly beautiful so far. However, we have seen some pretty good playgrounds, one of which is within easy walking distance. Miranda and Scott's house overlooks a pond which has ducks, geese and herons resident. The house is light and sunny.
Moving these days involves so much stress. Amazingly enough the stress seems to come from the amount of choice available. Everything you need comes with so much choice and everything you need about which you need to get information requires a telephone call which then has many non-human choices which the only selection is by pressing a number or uttering a word answer. Inevitably, the choice one needs is never mentioned. Each phone call is very frustrating. I am sure once all is up and running it will be fine.
Thomas is a delight.
Weather is warm and is short sleeve summer temperatures.
I seem to have forgotten to save the 8th March and 9th March. All I can say is that we have moved on with getting things organised here - we are now three issued telephone numbers later and would reasonably assume, at this point, that it was the final number to be issued - well it turns out that people have been having trouble phoning because there is an incorrect digit!
We have had a few sortis around the area and have discovered some more attractive places where the housing estates have been in place long enough to have some mature trees and grass.
We have visited Scott's office which is, indeed, quite impressive and in a very pleasant location.
It seems that Planet Ranger just runs and runs! So we are off again and this time to Dallas via Philadelphia and then on to Annie in Denver, swiftly followed by ski-ing in the Rockies.
In Dallas we are expecting to be helpful to Miranda and co who will be moving into their new house in Frisco. This will probably involve entertaining Thomas. He is very excited at the prospect of an 18 wheeler truck pulling up outside his home and helping us to find some fun things to do - such as, where is the nearest and best playgound?!
While ski=ing we will be joined, not only by Annie & co but also Eric, Tony and James. Miranda and Thomas may well come to join us to!
Not packed a thing yet but no doubt it will be our usual last minute scramble - Rob still has to go to Guernsey before we leave so not really adjusted to packing for ski-ing yet.
Hope to add to this as and when we get a computer to play on!!
Shelagh, Trevor, Harry
Got your message- thanks
We celebrated New Year in a quietish fashion - none of us feeling 100% - nothing to do with prior imbibing, just a wretched bug which is loathe to depart us. The day time was spent playing with Thomas who was delighted to see his Mummy and Daddy returned from their 'errands' in Dallas. In the evening Rob 'prepared' our dinner which was delicious and we did indeed celebrate during the rest of the evening until just after midnight in the usual way. Miranda actually fell asleep at about 10 to midnight so had to be awakened for the moment the ball fell in Times Square. The ball is quite spectacular in its way - made by Waterford glass no less!
Weather continues to be disappointingly dull and we have not had any snow in which to take Thomas out sledding.
I think we will be opening more Christmas presents today!! It is such fun watching Thomas's delight with everything he opens.
Tomorrow we pack and take the plane home!
ANNE AND JOHN
Thanks for your super message - so glad that you had such a lovely Christmas - too bad the down side was a six hour journey home. We have made the usual New Year resolutions but this year it is needed much more urgently than usual (more of that of the phone Anne!!).
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU BOTH
Lots of love - R & R
The weather, trust me to start with the weather topic - but really it has been very much like you would expect at home - damp, rain and reasonably mild. So far no snow here which has been a bit of a shame as we were hoping to take Thomas out in the sled. We have been enjoying Thomas enormously - he is very entertaining and talks almost constantly. He is extremely lively and has a great sense of humour. We have to be extremely accurate when reading to him because he seems to know his books almost by heart. The other day I was talking about stabilizers on the side of a digger we were looking at and he said "no Grummy, those are outriggers!'. We have been babysitting Thomas while Miranda and Scott are on a trip to Dallas. We have been quite anxious about this because Thomas has not been left overnight before. However, he has been extremely good but obviously misses Miranda and Scott. We had a tricky moment when it was time to get into bed - however, I remembered he could be bargained with and that seemed to work a treat and he snuggled down in bed as good as gold. However, we had the baby monitor in our room which meant that we spent all night listening for his breathing!!
We have all had some kind of a bug since we have been here and very much hope that it is on the way out now. Miranda and Scott will be home late tonight so we will all enjoy seeing the New Year in together tomorrow night.