Have you ever heard of glamping? I hadn't, until I stumbled across Canopy and Stars, a British site that hooks you up with gorgeous places to stay in the wild -- glamping means "glamourous camping." I love the idea of staying someplace rustic but also luxurious. Yurts seem to be big in the British Isles.
This is in Alicante.
This is in the Dordogne, France. Those are the bottoms of glass bottles in the walls.
You can stay in one of three gypsy caravans at this spot in Scotland.
This hobbit house is in Cornwall.
If you're not feeling the hobbit thing, how about an Iron-Age roundhouse in Cornwall?
This treehouse is near Bordeaux, France.
I am happy to be able to say I have visited the actual Versailles -- now I want to take the kids to the "Versailles of the North," an amazing modern garden built by the Duchess of Northumberland on her estate, which is also the home of the castle used in the Harry Potter movies. The place sounds ridiculously over-the-top and apparently kids love it. I'll just have to watch them like a hawk around the Poison Garden because if there's a way to ingest something there, I'm sure one of them would.(Via the always fabulous Lux Lotus.)
We were very busy on Friday because the children had a pirate convention in Mahone Bay. They have been official pirates for over a year now -- membership is a complicated process involving a treasure hunt and a special vocabulary test among other things, which they completed at the Victoria, British Columbia branch. Of course when they heard pirates were invading nearby Mahone Bay, long a haunt of pirates, for the weekend, they knew they would be expected to be there. This is a photo of them on their way. (Modern pirates sometimes go by car. And they use the carseats with the very highest safety ratings, just in case they have to run someone off the road.)
Actually, modern pirates use a variety of modes of transportation. This one hijacks her own father and demands to be carried. She has to almost put out his eyes several times with her plastic sword in order to make him comply.
The pirates, along with their grandfather, survey the government wharf before the other pirates show up.
In the pub, Luke meets up with another pirate (a local politician, which makes perfect sense) who shares some of his booty with him. The pirate/politician relishes saying the word "booty" and also asks Luke if his sister is for sale. Um, perhaps he should stick to kissing babies. Only not mine.
After a nice pub dinner, we go down to the wharf to watch more pirates sail in.
I'm thinking this one is a ghost pirate.
These pirates arrive by SUV, which they park in front of Grandpa's house.
Luke checks out the pirate treasure beside another young pirate in a fetching red and white polka-dotted kerchief.
Two pirates checking out the menu at the Mug and Anchor Pub. Hey, pirates have to eat, too, and some are even allergic to shellfish.
One can always fall back on the official pirate chip truck.
This is a possible William Gilkerson sighting. He is the renowned Maritime artist and pirate expert who wrote the excellent (and Governor General's award-winning) Pirate's Passage, a book that belongs in the library of every child who loves pirates. It has a special place in my heart because it is set in Mahone Bay. (Gilkerson lives nearby.) There was a tribute to him and talks by experts who advised on movies like Pirates of the Caribbean in the official Pirate Festival yurt*, but my pirates wouldn't have been able to sit still long enough for those.
I highly recommend this festival, which is still in its infancy (its second year) precisely because of that fact. The town isn't as crowded as it gets for say, the Scarecrow Festival held in October -- lately the streets have been as crowded as New York's for that. And because Mahone Bay has a rich history of pirates (including the renowned Oak Island mystery), it's the perfect place to take kids interested in this stuff.
*What, you didn't know yurts had anything to do with pirates? Well you learn something new every day.
This will blow your mind. I am going to download the free sample of the Word Lens app right now. (Note: only the English/Spanish version is available right now. Can't wait for the French.) I've recently downloaded two other really fun apps: the Hipstamatic and Talking Carl. The Hipstamatic takes vintage-looking photos and some people can get really cool results with it. I've been playing with it for a couple of days and will share soon. Talking Carl, who repeats whatever the children say to him in a funny voice, keeps them occupied for ages.
I wish everyone could afford to have an iPhone. Apps like these would make fantastic stocking stuffers.
The Guardian has an absolutely heartrending and fascinating article about the scraps of material left with abandoned babies at London's Foundling Hospital:
In the mid-18th century thousands of poor women, similarly at the end of their tethers, deposited their newborn babies at the hospital. A sign instructed them to leave some kind of identifying token pinned to the child in the event they were one day in a position to take it home. Neither the name of the mother nor the baby would be recorded, so this token needed to be memorable and distinctive.
The hospital's thinking was not as punitive as it sounds. To give the child the best shot at a new life, the governors thought it best to erase its old identity. In that single liminal moment, one history would be wiped out and another begun – a new name, some basic schooling and, in time, apprenticeship to a useful trade. Just in case the mother's circumstances changed, though, she was advised to leave some piece of material evidence to prove the child was hers. The hospital promised that "great care will be taken for the preservation" of the item. In years to come the mother's description of that token would be her only way of proving she was the mother of the baby she had given up all those years ago.
Cool: the Scratch Map. Just scratch off the countries you've visited. David's birthday is on Sunday. This is going to be one of his presents. Scratch that. The shipping and duties to Canada are more than the price of the map itself.
This weekend I got to indulge in two of my questionable obsessions. I got to put amusing things on my children's heads and I got to visit the Anne of Green Gables/L. M. Montgomery headquarters of the world, Cavendish, P.E.I. where there are at least three sites featuring historical re-enactors. My favourite moment was when the teenager playing Diana Barry at Avonlea staggered drunkenly out of a house and up the empty street in front of Sylvie and I. Obviously she'd just ingested some "raspberry cordial" at Anne's urging but if I hadn't been familiar with the story I'd probably have rushed to help her. It was surreal and camp and lots of fun.
I have more to say, particularly about our dear friends' gorgeous wedding, but Sylvie is trying to commandeer my computer. Either she wants to rip off the keys and eat them or she's desperate to update her facebook status.