I'll start this week out with my Carol Seppanen book update. I've started The Castle by Franz Kafka, 280 pages. I read The Trial by Kafka a few years ago and it was very interesting. His extremely paranoid fear of The Bureaucratic Man who constantly (and usually invisibly) "kept" him down was a new type of book read for me so I enjoyed it immensely. I picked up The Castle as my latest read based upon The Trial and the fact I had seen it on a few Top 100 Books reading lists. Sometimes I like to mix up my reading choices - when I am busy or want to intellectually "relax" I will pick up a breezy read, when I feel like I need to better myself I will peruse the Must Read or Top 100 Lists, or occasionally I will go off of a friend/relatives recommendation. The latest Kafka read falls into the "time to better myself" category. One interesting note of both Kafka books is they were never finished by him, he was an insecure writer so never had his books published in his lifetime. He left instructions for a friend to burn all of his works after his death but the friend instead had them published. The Trial ended with a somewhat unresolved conclusion while The Castle itself ends in midsentence which amazes me that a couple of unfinished books can make many Top 100 lists. As for the book itself I have just started it so maybe I will have an update for you in the next few weeks. I've been busy with trip planning so my reading time has been sparse lately.
For the teachers and grandparents in the audience here's the kids school update:
Karl is in Year 9 this year (8th Grade at home) and his Form is 9E. His schedule is as follows:
Monday: English, German, Break, Maths, Lunch, PRE, Music.
Tuesday: German, Maths, Break, English, Lunch, Science (Physics and Chemistry), PE.
Wednesday: Food Tech, German, Break, Science (Biology), Lunch, English, TechnologyDesign.
Thursday: German, Geography, Break, Art, Lunch, IT, Science (Physics and Chemistry).
Friday: IT, Drama, Break, English, Lunch, History, Maths.
I don't have Karl's yearly curriculum targets so I'll cover what he is working on now. In English they are reading The Edge, in German and Maths they are going over what they learned last year, in PhilosophyReligionEthics they are studying optical illusions to see if you can believe what your eyes see, in Music they are making their own short song, in Science they are covering healthy diets and body weights in Biology class and forces in the Physics and Chemistry class. In PE they are playing tennis and cricket, in Food Tech they are cooking, in TD they are designing and eventually making a lamp, in Geography they are covering crime in general, in Art they are covering Day of the Dead, in IT they are lip synching to a Bob Marley song called Three Little Birds, in Drama they are working on a performance about racism, and in History they are covering slavery.
Kalle is in Year 6 this year (5th Grade at home) and does not have a Form since she is still in Primary School. (Karl is in Secondary School so they use forms to break the larger grade sizes into manageable sections which is similar to his Brownsburg middle school.) Her daily schedule is as follows:
Monday: Registration DPA, Maths, Phonics, Break, Whole School Values Assembly, Guided Reading/Writing, Theme/Literacy, Lunch, DPA, Registration, Theme, Theme.
Tuesday: Registration DPA (attendance), Maths (don't get me started on math over here), Phonics, Break, Junior Assembly, Guided Reading/Writing, Theme/Literacy, Lunch, DPA (attendance), Registration, Theme/Joint ICT Years 5 &6's, Theme.
Wednesday: Registration DPA, Maths, Phonics (spelling), Break, Whole School Visitor Assembly, Guided Reading/Writing, Theme/Literacy, Lunch, DPA, Registration, Theme/Science, PHSE/Circle Time (group discussion on school current issues).
Thursday: Registration DPA, Maths, Phonics, Break, Whole School Signing Assembly, Guided Reading/Writing, Theme/Literacy, Lunch, DPA, Registration, PE, Golden Time (good behaviour free time).
Friday: Registration DPA, Maths, Feedback, Break, Whole School Golden Assembly, Guided Reading/Writing, Theme/Literacy, Lunch, DPA, Registration, PE, ICT.
For her yearly curriculum subjects - in Theme this year they will cover how did Britain change during WWII, what is it like to be Jewish (she's been to Jerusalem, Israel Holocaust Museum and Anne Frank House which should help), how to build a fairground, read and analyse The Street Child by Berlie Doherty, can we save the planet, and free choice. In PE this year they will play/do dance and tag rugby, gymnastics (both boys and girls) and tag rugby, tennis and gymnastics, multiskills and dance, orienteering and rounders (like softball), athletics and kwik cricket. In ICT they will cover word processing, electronic communication, control technology, creating PowerPoint presentations, animations, and spreadsheets. Her English topics (Guided Reading/Writing and Theme/Literacy) this year will be non-fiction biography and auto biography, poetry, exploring fiction genres, formal and impersonal writing, journalistic writing, argument (should be her best topic), extending narratives fiction, authors and texts/revision narratives, revisions, short stories with flashbacks, and finding a voice. In Maths they are doing second grade math now but the teacher is supposed to be testing a few students (Kalle included) with more challenging material so they can find coursework to challenge those few students which brings me to this week's "Dan Stine extreme self restraint in the face of surmounting adversity moment of the week" #1. We spent months last year trying to convey our math curriculum concerns to both schools and they finally acknowledged them with small efforts by both schools to accommodate our kid's advanced maths knowledge. (FYI - They don't differentiate algebra, geometry, trig, etc. here and instead just lump everything into maths with an s so that is not a typo by me.) So now a new school year starts with new teachers and each child is starting this year off BEHIND where they ended last year. Really Brits? Karl spent last week "learning" his 7's multiplication table and Kalle is adding and subtracting three and four digit numbers. Seriously. Sooooooo frustrating. Lori and I are working with them on their math books from America again so we'll polish them off and find more to work on with them at home. It is so frustrating dealing with the schools over here but we keep telling ourselves the cultural education they will receive these two years will make up for the schooling.
The Better Halves Club met this week at Michael Frith at Bennets (link) in Derby. There were five of us and the food was better than I expected. A couple had lamb dishes they really liked and the other two had omelettes that they liked as well. I had a Croque Monsieur but it wasn't nearly as good as I had in Paris so I want to go back and try the lamb. The cafe was a charming little place tucked into the back of the Bennets Department Store that I found on Trip Advisor. Success!
On Saturday we went to Chester for back to back Roman towns weekends. We went with our fellow family travellers the Freys, you can read Steve's excellent blog post here. It was another decent weather day with temps in the low 60's and mostly sunny skies so we decided on visiting Chester and its "...glorious two-mile ring of medieval and Roman walls that encircles a kernel of Tudor and Victorian buildings, all overhanging eaves, mini-courtyards, and narrow cobbled lanes, which culminate in the unique raised arcades called the "Rows"..." per the accompanying Yahoo travel link. Our other choice was the local Derby Feste (link) so I asked a couple of local parents at Kalle's school about the Feste but they didn't know what I was talking about - strike one. They in turn asked two other locals and neither of those two had been to the Feste either - strike two - but had been to the Feste closing fireworks at the park and recommended them except for the numerous drunks that would be there - strike three. We're outta here! Bring on Chester!
The Three Old Arches from 1274 AD, Medievel times. Nice start to the sightseeing day.
Another attraction was The Eastgate Clock (link), the second most photographed clock in the world per the Chester travel site. It was made for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee of 1897. It is called the Eastgate Clock because the arch is the site of the eastern gateway to the old Roman fortress.
Clock and arch close up. The clock was actually built and erected in 1899 due to funding issues which was common of some of the clock towers erected for Queen Vic's Diamond Jubilee. Skegness clock tower comes to mind as another example.
In the centre of the town was "The Rows", streets dating to between 1200 and 1350. Very picturesque.
Looking down The Rows from the Eastgate Clock.
More of The Rows buildings.
My buddies St. George & The Dragon following us around on our adventures. I'd never heard of them before I came across the pond and now I see them everywhere.
Next up was The Roman Amphitheatre (English Heritage link). This is the largest Roman amphitheatre in Britain, the picture shows half of the remains. The remains were found by accident when they were digging to build a basement for the building on the left (out of the picture).
Info board. This would have sat 7,000 spectators.
Kalle and Nicole found the history fascinating. They were so excited they couldn't stop themselves from racing across the stone foundations. Again, and again, and again...
Next up was the Chester Heritage Tour in a refurbished bus modified to be a replica London General Omnibus, the earliest double-decker bus in the world. It even had a bleating "uh-oooo-ga" horn that tiredly moaned as we took off. Lucky it wasn't duck season as someone would have shot at us.
The tour was short and sweet, we even had the pleasure of an "experienced" tour guide. Not that I am against old people, I was just afraid that she would fall asleep if the tour went to far into the afternoon. (Cue the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza starts scheduling afternoon work meetings to get his dad fired knowing that old people nap every afternoon.)
In this cemetery somewhere is the Guinness World Record Holder for most natural twin births per our guide. The lady had fifteen sets of twins and three single births for a total of thirty-three children. Yikes.
Blue Coat Hospital, founded in 1700 AD, Stuart times.
The outside of the city walls. The man is standing at the bottom of the impressively deep moat.
After the bus tour we walked past The Church of Saint John the Baptist. We didn't tour it but it is the oldest church in Chester dating back 900 years per a plaque. The site itself has been a site of Christian worship for over thirteen centuries per the same plaque.
Ruins section of the church. Some of it was destroyed during the English Civil War.
The Dana Johnson pic - lunch was at an American barbecue place called Hickory's Smokehouse (link). Laverne from the BHC recommended it and it was pretty good. I had pulled pork with beans on top, french fries, and coleslaw. I had to try the jalapeno and bacon mac and cheese on the upper left and we also tried some hushpuppies on the upper right. Not quite as good as BBQ at home but no complaints from me.
City walls construction pic. Smart blend of natural rock and block construction to built the towering walls.
The Walls plaque. If my memory is correct the Princess from 907 AD on the plaque also built the original fortifications at Warwick Castle and other fortifications at York.
Tammy Foster pic - The Old Dee Bridge which goes over the River Dee. We'll see it from the other side later.
Pub from 1664, Stuart times.
Pub from 1622, Stuart times.
Next on the agenda was Grosvenor Museum (link), a museum that told the story of Chester and its inhabitants over time. The museum was interesting and free so what's not to like here? The museum had Roman artifacts and history, Victorian rooms on display, stuffed animals and skeletons, a Chester through time video, room full of silver dinnerware, and some artwork. A small museum but jam packed with informative and interesting displays.
Samiam pottery info and examples.
Map of the impressive Roman Empire at its peak. The smaller map shows modern countries (looks to be in the 1990's) with the Roman Empire overlayed which is even more impressive when you consider that the empire encompasses all or parts of twenty-five modern countries.
Sequence of Roman conquest map.
Roman locks - another example of the amazing Roman engineering.
Roman floor tiles examples, from back to front. #1 - small tiles laid flat. #2 - small tiles laid on edge in a herringbone pattern. #3 - cement containing fragment of droken tiles. #4 - mosaic made with small cubes of coloured stone.
See the description below.
For the picture above.
Lead pipe from 79 AD. Lead was a very popular material here as the source was close.
Lead pig (ingot) from 74 AD.
Read the colourful explanation below.
For the picture above.
Roman sculpture fragment of a man being trampled by a horse and rider.
For the picture below.
See the explanation above.
A hair dresser in a Victorian bedroom circa 1870.
A day nursery circa 1925. In Victorian times boys wore gowns until seven years old then they were able to wear trousers.
Attitudes were changing after WWI - read how.
Teresa Robinett pic - Manifesto the Race Horse from early 1900's. Just a tad creepy.
A Raven celebrating the victory over the Patriots Sunday night.
Everyone should know more about Ravens.
Shout out to me US mates.
Part of Silver display from 1600 & 1700's.
Feeding the Ducks by John Frederick Herring Senior (1795-1865). Oil on canvas painting with a frame of gilded composition on wood in the Roccoc Revival style, probably original to the painting per the info card. Inside joke here that a few of my high school mates (like Brandon) might get.
They had a couple of Rembrandt Workshop paintings that were originally credited to him but now experts think were done by Rembrandt's students and signed by him. See below.
For the picture above.
Portrait of Alan Garnier by Andrew Tift, born 1968. I liked this because it looked more like a photograph than a painting.
Next up was a short walk to the Cathedral. As we leisurely walked and shopped we passed a budding W. Axl Rose welcoming us to the jungle. He sang a few 80's hair bands songs accompanied by his trusty amp and a hidden music player. He also a mate lending silent moral support. Kind of humerous seeing this small kid with a little kid's voice singing Motley Crue and GNR.
After ice cream and a short stroll we were at the Chester Cathedral (link). You can also read about it on Wiki here. Since we were in the town and there was a lot of history associated with the cathedral/site we decided to check it out. They had a Wi-Fi headset that toured you around the cathedral and I splurged two pounds for a short tour booklet on the cathedral so most of the info included with the pictures came from those two sources. A few bits and bobs from the website before we check out the cathedral: according to legend a prehistoric Druid temple and then a Roman temple for Apollo was built on the site. In 660 a church was built there and in 907 Queen Ethelfelda built a church here to house St. Werburgh's remains. (More on St. Werburgh later.) In 1092 the existing cathedral construction started and in 1540 construction ceased.
Chester Cathedral outside pic.
St. Denis losing his head but keeping his cool.
The Baptistry area which dates to 1140.
The Great West Window is from 1961 and shows northern British saints flanking the Holy Family. The stained glass here was one of my favourite cathedral/church window displays.
Looking down the Nave. The Nave construction started in 1360 and ended in 1490.
The Consistory Court, supposedly the only remaining old church court in England. The Chancellor's Chair dates to 1635 and woodwork dates to the late 1500's. This would have been where the church heard cases such as absentee church members, infidelity claims, wills, libel, slander, etc.
Pre-Raphaelite mosaic of King David majestically holding his harp.
Altar close up with the wooden Quire screen in the distance. The Quire had woodwork dating from 1380 but their was quire practice so we couldn't see inside. Bummer.
Interesting Chester influenced stained glass window. St. Werburgh is on the bottom right, the Chester Cathedral is in front of her, Jesus is on his throne waiting for the angels to crown him, and what looks to be the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the upper right.
Another of my favourite windows.
Now that's an organ. You can see the person with the red shirt sitting in front of the organ.
The famous Cobweb Picture. From the cathedral website: "A picture of the Virgin and Child, painted on the web of a caterpillar. This famous painting is about 200 years old. A Tyrolean art form, there are apparently only 64 remaining in the world, and this is the only one in the UK."
The North Transept which dates to 1100. Interesting memorial with the heads around the bottom and two angels at his feet.
The Gothic Chapter House which was built between 12200 and 1250. Monks met daily here to hear a chapter from the Rule of St. Benedict (Wiki link).
Another beautiful stained glass close up.
Close up of Henry VIII. I forget the exact history but during The Reformation (when The Church of England broke away from The Pope and The Roman Catholic Church) he demolished a lot of cathedrals with ties to Rome but ended up sparing this cathedral so they were grateful to him and enshrined him in the stained glass windows.
The High Altar.
The Chapel of St. Werburgh from 1330.
Madonna and Child, supposedly famous since there are not many artwork sculptures showing Jesus as a baby with his mother.
The Lady Chapel from 1260-1275. The colour scheme is based off of 13th century original chapels.
Another stained glass window close up. Not sure what books they are burning or why.
14th century shrine of St. Werburgh. St. Werburgh was a 7th century daughter of a Mercian King who became a nun and later an abbess who was famous for performing healing miracles. She is also the Patron Saint of Chester.
A final stained glass picture, this one looks like a more modern abstract style.
Our final sight seeing stop was the City Walls which was more of a walk than a stop. Earlier I posted a pic on the walls history so here are a few pics on our walk. Obviously similar to the York walls, they are equally impressive considering how old they are.
Typical walking path on top the walls.
Tammy Foster pic - The Bridge of Sighs. The small bridge running left to right in the middle of the picture was so named because the condemned people would walk under this bridge as they neared the waiting gallows.
The Roodee Racecourse, the oldest racecourse in Britain. According to the website (link), the first recorded race was in 1539, the site was under water in Roman times, and became a racecourse when activities such as mass fist fighting and Shrovetide football matches were deemed to violent.
Turns three and four of the race course.
Chester Castle (Wiki link). It was built in 1070 by the direction of William the Conqueror and had various rebuilding projects as the area went through the various wars. The final rebuilding effort was completed in 1822.
Tammy Foster pic - The Old Dee Bridge, built in 1387 to replace a wooden bridge swept away in a flood.
Another wall construction pic.
The Roman Gardens from the City Walls.
The Roman Amphitheatre from the City Walls.
The Chester day ended with the "Dan Stine extreme self restraint in the face of surmounting adversity moment of the week" #2 which I am giving to Steve this week - his evening meal. During our Heritage Tour we spied a Brazilain Steakhouse so we tried making reservations but they were booked so we ended up trying our luck at a few other places. Finding a table for eight at 6 PM on a Saturday in Chester turns out being an exercise in near futility so after being turned away from many places we finally found Zizzi's, an Italian chain. We have eaten at the Derby chain and it was good so we tried there and it was almost empty. Good for a hungry group of explorers, a little "uh-oh" feeling since everywhere else was full but it was a little away from the city centre so we tested our luck. Everything was going okay (counting the slow UK service as normal of course) until we started receiving our food. First my meal was brought to Kalle which was okay since we straightened it out before she ate any of it. We were not so lucky with Steve's meal however. The waitress brought it to Karl who proceeded to start eating it without realizing it wasn't what he ordered. A few long minutes later she brought Karl's meal out and gave it to him and then realised her mistake. Since Steve's calzone was partially eaten they made him a new one so he had to wait another ten minutes for it. She said the manager would be over to the table to rectify the problem but he/she never did, I guess they were busy rectifying other problems. When she did bring it out it was the wrong calzone but by now he had enough of the waitress so he just ate it in disgust and didn't speak to her for the rest of the night. Not a great end of the day for him.
Jeff Seppanen sports update - more football baby! Steve had the pleasure of watching 59 minutes of decent Colts football followed by a deflating eight second long, 80 yard TD pass by the Jags to win the game and dampen his night. I wore my Skins football jersey so they could lose to the stupid Bungles so that jersey goes back into the closet. Todd's Seahawks play Monday night so he was fine with the early games. I stayed up for the second game and watched the incredibly human Manning lead the Broncos but fell asleep in the fourth quarter. I did wake up to discover that channel 4 broadcasts the Sunday night football game live. It was after 1:30 AM so I was semi-comatose and only able to watch a few minutes of the game in spite of my best efforts. This may require some further research to see if this is a weekly occurance and if they do it for the Monday night game also. Stay tuned.
And my "Dan Stine extreme self restraint in the face of surmounting adversity moment of the week" #3 is that I had to break out my long trousers this week. Temps are dropping into the 50's and sometimes 40's so the shorts are on sabbatical. Another FYI for the Yanks, Brit pants = US underwear so I didn't break out my long pants this week.
With apologies to Porky Pig; th-th-th-th-that's all folks so enjoy your week.
Thanks for listening,