S: Zacks Family 2011
FC: Adventures on a Soggy Little Isand
1: December, 2010-June, 2011
2: The Beginning... (Deep breath..)
3: On December 20th, 2010 the four of us boarded a Delta Airlines flight from St. Louis to London Gatwick, via Atlanta. We were off on the biggest family adventure we could imagine: six months and two weeks living in Cambridge, England. The Plan: Jeff would take his sabbatical at the University, while Leslie continued her job with Elsevier, and Jonah and Delia attended school. After much planning, anticipation, and saying "see you soon!" to friends and family, we were finally off. We were immediately rewarded for our adventuous spirits with the best gift we could imagine at that moment: four business class upgrades while most of the world was stranded due to blizzard on two continents.
4: Cambridge was covered in snow when we arrived, and most of the town was very quiet for the holidays, so we had to make our own fun for the first few weeks. Dialy trips into the market square gave us opportunities to explore the town along slippery sidewalks. We learned that the ministry of magic was not, in fact, accessible via the phone booths. After our intial arrival, it never snowed again during our time in Cambridge, but it was cold and damp for a very long time.
5: We spent much of the holiday buying bikes and wandering the countryside. While it was quiet, it was a welcome rest after the move. We had no idea what kind of every-day life was waiting at the end of the holiday season.
6: ...and performed our first of several climbs to the top of the Great Saint Mary's Church in Cambridge. | Let's face it, the first few weeks were a pretty lazy time, what with a prolonged case of jet lag and the sun setting at 3:45 PM every afternoon. So we discovered our inner carnivore and quickly embraced the joys of the traditional British sausage in the market square...
7: It wasn't until January that we settled into a normal life, but once we did, we were right at home.
9: The mantra "Mommy Always Has a Plan" was invented for times like this. In this case, it involved uniforms, PE kits, a TIE??, long socks, short socks, smart shoes, tidy hair, and tuck bags. When in Rome, kids! If we'd never left Cambridge in six months, St. John's alone would have been the adventure of a lifetime.
10: St. John's had many classes and clubs we'd never heard of before, including DT: Design Technology. Jonah designed and built a Roman-style catapult (complete with little Romans) with his friend, Freddy. And Delia learned that art was simply waiting to be created in the recycling bin.
11: During a weekly school assembly, Delia's class focused on the theme of diversity, with her featured prominently as the Banana Bug. She also lead the school in the closing prayer. | Jonah's school assembly was about "My Favorite Place," which Jonah was told to describe as "my family's lakehouse" rather than Spread Eagle, which, Mr. Wardle told Jonah, "Sounds like a pub..." (or something...)
12: The Sovereign Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II (and her lovely hat)
13: HRH Queen Elizabeth II came to St. John's College two days before the royal wedding to dedicate a new building. The children of the college school (including Jewish-American interlopers) were invited to smile, remain quiet, line the driveway and greet her with polite clapping and Union Jacks. This was a major highlight, however; both children were rather surprised to see that Her Magesty was simply a nice little old lady in a hat.
14: Jonah ran his fastest 5k ever, and Delia won the honor of having her nametag sewn onto the school flag for being the youngest 5k finisher (which required the purchase of nametags...) | Springtime at St. John's brought a change of uniform, short P.E kits, book day and race days. Walks to and from school in daylight after months of wet darkness were a joy.
15: If you want Delia to get behind your religious holiday, be sure it comes with a new hat and botany. Easter bonnets and sprouting plants in anticipation of Easter. | On Book Day, Delia and Daddy invented a Rapunzel wig while Jonah dressed as a Beast Quest hero.
16: Daytrips in England
17: Ely Fifteen minutes from Cambridge by train, Ely was an easy daytrip for us. We visited the Ely Cathedral, Oliver Cromwell'''s House, and the famous Peacock Tearoom
18: London | We seemed to attract street performers wherever we went. No idea who the guy in gold is, but the black one is Guy Fawkes at the London Eye boat terminal. | On an evening dash to London to meet Cousin Susie for dinner, we were kicked out of our train carriage by Prince Andrew, who was unwilling to share. Boo, Prince Andrew. Bad show old boy!
19: Delia telling a dog-man her lilfe story in Covant Garden | Jonah activates gold-finger guy with a 20p | Jeff and Leslie at the reconstructed Old Globe Theater | Jonah and Delia at the Dr. Who experience at Olympia Place entering The Tardis
20: Grandpa Jim and Grandma Rose (A story about Half-Term Break)
21: In February, Grandpa Jim and Grandma Rose came to visit. On our visit to Windsor Castle, Delia bought a crown and joined the family.
22: Windsor Castle
24: Visit to the Stud Farm in Newstead
25: Trip to York to visit the Grand Old Duke...
27: York Minster Cathedral
28: Up top York Minster
29: During our weekend in York, we explored the amazing York Minster for a few hours, but could have spent days. There was so much to see from top to bottom. We also walked the ancient city walls for beautiful views of the city, and learned about the history or Romans and Vikings who had made their home in this place over 2,000 years. We came across many of the past inhabitants, and went a little natice ourselves. Poor little Delia was sick and needed to rest in the hotel, but Grandma Rose and Leslie took Jonah on another highlight- the Ghost Walk of York, where Jonah and guide exchanged some interesting past sightings.. The guide was only too happy for Jonah's imagenation to hijack his nightly tour.
31: Walking the wall in York, we came across the old St. Mary's Monestary, which was destroyed during the Reformation in the 1500's.
32: Springtime in Cambridge
33: Finally... sunshine
34: Slowly, and certainly without undue fanfare, Spring started to creep into Cambridge.
36: The intreped explorers go out in search of Darwin in thte Natural History Museum, London
37: The River Cam where we punted, watched the May Bumps races and made friends with one stalwart northern pike, who was spotted daily.
38: Papa and Grandma Marion (A Story of Easter Break)
39: In April, Papa and Grandma Marion made the trip over for Springtime in England. And England let the sun shine for the most glorious April ever.
40: During a daytrip to Greenwhich, we learned about the international date line, Greenwhich meantime, and listened to many explanations from Papa about why this was more than just another pretty British place. He called it "Hallowed Ground." Mom and Grandma Marion went to Harrods.
41: Maritime Museum
42: We spent a day in London at the London Tower. Grandma Marion was not feeling well, so we took Papa on a tour of the crown jewels, dungeons and weaponry.
44: Springtime in Paris (It really is all that)
45: Grandma Marion treated us with a big adventure to Paris in April. For four days, we learned why people have fallen in love with Paris. We fell in love with ice cream.
46: We visited the catacombs, where photography wasn't allowed. But the rest of the trip was in the brilliant sunshine of a perfect Paris Spring. Delia was first to spot Rodin's Thinker, we dined and cruised on the Seine, we picnicked in the Champs du Mars in the evening shade of La Tour Eiffel and scrubbed up our table manners with Grandma Marion.
47: Carosels were a big hit, as were the trampolines in Des Tuilleries. We did make it inside the Louvre to see the Egyptians, and enjoyed being Shark Boy and Lava Girl outside under the watchful gaze of the French Philosophers.
48: Lyme Regis "The Seaside" (The one about Aunt T and Liam)
50: With relentlessly beautiful weather dropped on our laps, we made way for the usually quiet seaside town, Lyme Regis for a week with Aunt Tamara and Cousin Liam. There, we discovered that all of Britain was taken by similar surprise by their sudden beach-vacation status, as evidence by the lack of even one UGLY ladies' bathing suit to purchase locally.
51: Bury-Your-Cousin-In-Sand Day in Lyme Regis
52: Fishing Trip for the boys
53: We visited the Cobb, which is a large seawall built out into the bay in the 1800's to protect the boats.
54: Lyme Regis is located on the Jurrasic Coast, a World Heratige Site.. Famous for the rhyme "She sells sea shells by the sea shore..." after paleontologist Mary Anning. She discovered some of the first complete dinosaur skeletons in the mid-1800's on these exact beaches. We spent several mornings combing for our own discoveries. Ammonites were an exciting find, some fixed in hard granite, others in flaky packed clay that were dust by the end of the day. Tidal pools and more sunshine kept us exploring as long as the tide would allow.
55: Fishy Kisses!! This was definitely the major highlight at the Lyme Regis Aquarium. We were allowed to feed a tank of fish with our bare hands, which Delia quickly dubbed "Fishy Kisses," requiring a repeat visit the next day. We all loved it.
56: Teatime and Shopping
57: Hiking the Coast Trail in Dorset for some beautiful views of the ocean and lots of fresh air and sunshine.
58: While hiking the trail we came across a rope swing that a man on the trail told us had been there for 40 years, since he was a boy.
59: Except for the nettles, it was a perfect day!
60: The Royal Wedding
61: While we did not attend personally, we celebrated the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton. To pass up the opportunity to wear a fascinator seemed impolite.
62: The Cruise
64: For 10 days in June, we crossed the same distance it took Odysseus 20 years to cover. We didn't see gods, goddesses, sirens or sea monsters, but we got a taste of a world that once belived very strongly in them. | ROMA
65: During our first day in Rome, we visited the coloseum, the forum, and got a good shaking down from the local gladiators. We saw a tempting pair of underpants for sale, but took a pass.
66: Rome was full of endless treasures, and we could have filled 10 days there alone. Jonah found the potty of the ancient world a hoot, and Delia spent a good hour tracking a local lizard. On the return trip, we found ourselves with four hours to kill, but unable to ditch our luggage. In the Villa Borghese, I turned my head and when I looked back, Jeff was pulling up in the perfect solution. RICKSHAW, BABY! ALL ABOARD!
68: Life On The Cuise Ship The Royal Carribian Navigator of the Seas Departed Civitaveccia, Italy
69: Life on the cuise ship was big noisy fun. When we first boraded, the ship seemed so huge that Delia asked "When are we getting on the boat?" The kids immediately made "Kids Club" their favorite destination and we would meet up for dinner and excursions, leaving the grown-ups with plenty of deck-chair time.
70: Sicily In Sicily, we visited the active Mount Etna, where the weather is quite chilly. A four hour bus ride up and down had me a little nervous for Jonah's breakfast, but he made it through. Above the clouds, we could see lava flows from very recent eruptions.
71: From the beautiful port of Taormina we could see exactly how close the toe of Italy's boot and Sicily were to each other. We saw the first of many Winged Nikes, this one quite modern, and enjoyed a cool but beautiful Italian spring day.
72: Athens During a whirlwind half-day tour of Athens, we saw the highlights of the city, including the Parthenon and other temples. It was a hot day so we regularly dumped cold water on our heads while battling huge crowds up the Acropolis. We learned that the owl is the symbol of the city of Athens.
74: From the Acropolis, we looked down upon Zeus's temple and an ancient market.
76: Ephesus, Turkey 2,000 years ago, the city of Ephesus rose, and 1,000 years ago is was abandoned. The silting of the harbor led to a breakdown of its economy. We explored the small amount of it that had beenexcavated and found some of the most amazing ancient ruins of our trip.
81: Shopping in the town of Kusadasi resulted in three memorable purchase: A "Genuine Fake Watch" for Jeff, "Burberry" sunglasses for Leslie and a beautiful Turkish rug for our study. The lunch we had that day was the best meal we had the whole trip. | In Ephesus, our tour guide taught Delia how to feed the stray cats that followed us around from stop to stop. As usual, she didn't actually want to touch the, just manage them. That's my girl...
83: Aegean Sunsets
84: C R E T E
86: Clare Hall Who We Were At Home
87: Granchester Fair with Theo | Will and Kate Shrine | Mom's early morning clothes-dryer | Late afternoon movies in winter
89: Out and About in Cambridge
90: Clare Hall The May Event (Ironically, held in June...?) | Jeff, Leslie, Bruce, Pam, Steve, Kay, Ana and Jeff
91: The grown-ups of the "four families" were Bruce and Pam Christensen, Jeff and Ana Collins, Steve and Katy Abbott and...us! Each family had two children, an older boy and a younger girl (except the the Collins', who brewed a little baby boy, later named Alexander, the whole time we were there.) At the May Event (held in June,) we all dressed in our finest and had our last grown-up outing of the sabbatical. We went home three days later.
92: Kids in the Hall | The kids of the "four families" were along for the sabbatical ride. Babysitters and Buddies, the there was room for everyone in the Clare Hall human pyramid!
93: (From back to front) Nicholas Christensen Elliott Abbott Josey Abbott Sarah Christensen Theo Collins Natalia Collins Delia Zacks Jonah Zacks
94: Fun in the Courtyard
95: Saying Goodbye Our last night in England we had everyone to dinner and laughed and played one last time as the "four families.." Nobody wanted the evening to end, and we all cried a bit when it was time to say goodnight, well after dark. As sad as we were, we know England will always be there ready to welcome us home, and that our new friends are forever. Life will present new "Cambridges" to us around every corner, as long as we keep open hearts, wide eyes and eager minds.
98: What Next...?
99: It's a great big world out there, my little darlings, and we only want you to go out and find your place in it. Our journey this year meant different things to all of us, but having spent it together, we can't wait to see where the two of you go next., who you meet along and the way, and the people you become. We love you. Mom and Dad, 2011