Friday, 19 December 2014

Merry Christmas from England

Merry Christmas everyone!  This is our final post of the year and because it would cost a small fortune for us to send Christmas cards to everyone, please let this post serve as our Christmas card to you.  The girls have a couple weeks off of school and Eric has some time off work, so I’m going to take some time off as well so we can concentrate on spending the holidays together as a family.  We’ll be doing some traveling, spending some time hanging out at home, and just general enjoying some rest and relaxation away from school, work and the normal household routine. 

Rest assured that our thoughts are with all of you this Christmas, even though we are thousands of miles away.  We will very much miss being with our family and friends, but this adventure already feels like it is passing by quickly and before we know it, we will find ourselves back at home in the good old USA.  So despite the fact that our hearts long to be in Wisconsin, we are going to do our best to make the most of this opportunity and enjoy every minute of it, and we will continue sharing our adventure with you in the new year.

Until then...

Happy Christmas family and friends.  I am sad I won't see you this Christmas.  Hope you all have a lovely Christmas.  Love, Ellie

Merry Christmas family!  I wish that I could be with you this Christmas.  Hugs and kisses.  Love, Leah

We wish you all a happy, relaxing and safe Christmas and a very Happy New Year.  See you all in 2015!  Love & miss you, the Engebretsen Family

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Christmas Jumper

We’ve had a real eye opening experience over here this Christmas and I can sum it up in three simple words – the Christmas jumper.  A jumper is what the English call a plain old ordinary sweater here.  So basically, I am talking about ugly Christmas sweaters which have become more popular in the US over the past few years, but let me tell you, we have got nothing on the British and their love for the Christmas jumper!

If you’ve ever seen the movie Bridget Jones Diary, you may recall the scene where she meets up with the man who eventually wins her affection, Mark Darcy, at a family Christmas party and he is wearing a Rudolph Christmas jumper.  Well, my friends, they are for real here in England and they aren’t just reserved for Ugly Christmas Sweater parties.  They are everywhere!  I see them at the grocery store, in window displays all over town, on shoppers at the mall in Derby, and Eric and his coworkers were even encouraged to wear them to work.  The girls have Christmas jumper day at school today, but we had to substitute elf headbands instead as we were unprepared for the popularity of Christmas jumpers in the UK and don’t have any.  At the Christmas market a couple weekends ago, we saw loads of people sporting these jumpers, including a group of young 20-something men who were obviously out for the evening enjoying the beer gardens at the Market.  One young man’s Christmas jumper even lit up like a Christmas tree.
Once December hit, I started seeing so many of them that at first, I thought people were wearing them because they just really like their Christmas jumpers here.  It makes you wonder when you see a grown man strolling through a Christmas market with his family in tow, none of whom are wearing jumpers, but he is wearing a sweater with a snowman on it that has a carrot nose protruding out a few inches from his chest.  Could it be he’s just in a really festive mood and wants to enjoy it with his kids?  Maybe.  But that carrot nose – seriously?  And then you walk by an older lady who is wandering the market alone with a squirrel dressed up for Christmas in a scarf and Santa hat on her jumper.  She’s all by herself, probably has grandkids so again, maybe she’s just really feeling the spirit of Christmas.  But that is a SQUIRREL on her sweater!  She can’t be serious. 

In doing a little research, I found out that the popularity of the Christmas jumper has seen a resurgence in the past few years here in England.  They first became popular here in the 1980s when TV hosts started wearing them during the holiday season.  They fell out of favor in the 1990s and turned into more of a gag gift item.  But they're back now.  In 2012, The Daily Telegraph described the Christmas jumper as “this season’s must have.” Even higher end fashion labels like Burberry are producing Christmas jumpers.  Eric finally asked someone at work if these Christmas jumpers are for real or not.  Turns out it is a joke, to some extent.  From what we could gather, the British do think these Christmas jumpers are funny, but wearing them throughout the Christmas season has also become a huge tradition here in England.  They like wearing them.  So I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, the British find humor in them, but they aren’t going to stop wearing their beloved Christmas jumpers. 

I hope I haven’t offended any of my English friends with this post about Christmas jumpers because quite honestly, I don’t care if they are a joke or for real or any combination in between.  When I walk into the local coffee shop and the first thing I see is a grown man sitting by himself quietly sipping his cappuccino and reading the local paper with a bright red pom-pom Rudolph nose dangling from the front of his Christmas jumper, it makes me smile.  It makes me feel good.  It makes me giggle a bit, but in general, it fills me with Christmas cheer, and I’ll just bet that is exactly what he intended.  

Now that we know we need to shop early, maybe we'll invest in some Christmas jumpers next year.  Elf headbands are cute too though!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Beer and Brats in Birmingham

Hi all.  Sorry for the lack of posts this week, but I seem to have caught a British bug.  Since I’m not feeling very well and because I have a bunch of beautiful photos that do a great job capturing our trip to another Christmas market here in England last weekend, this post will be more of a photo essay.  But first, a bit of history on the Birmingham Christmas Market.

Birmingham is the largest city in England outside of London with a population of over a million people.  It’s about a 45 minute drive from where we live.  We hadn’t been there yet, but I’m so glad we decided to check out their Christmas Market because not only was the Market wonderful, the city was amazing and I can’t wait to go back and explore it without the distraction of the Christmas Market.  The Market is actually called the Frankfurt Christmas Market and is the largest authentic German market in the world outside of Germany and Austria.  Many of the vendors are from Germany, as we could clearly tell by their accents.  In fact many of the signs for the food vendors were only in German, but since they were mainly selling sausages, pretzels and good German beer, it wasn’t too hard to figure out what to order.  It’s estimated that nearly three million people visit the Market in Birmingham each year.  It was a last minute decision for us to go to the Christmas Market, but I’m so happy we did.  After visiting the crowded Market in Bath a couple weekends ago, we weren’t sure we were up for it again, but hey – it’s Christmas, we are in England, and this is what they do here.  So off we went. 

Take an authentic German market with the beautifully decorated wooden Christmas stalls selling German food and drink, sweet treats and a plethora of trinkets, plunk it down in the heart of a metropolitan city with it’s amazing combination of old and new architecture decked out in Christmas lights and holly galore, and add a Ferris wheel and ice skating rink and you have a magical Christmas wonderland.  So come along and join us on our trip through the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham.

First stop, the ice skating rink sitting at the base of the Ferris wheel.  Notice the penguins on the rink.  That’s what people who don’t know how to skate get to keep them on their feet and they were working quite well.  The building in the background with the funky architecture is the Birmingham Public Library which is where we stopped next.

Next stop - the loo.  Mom had to go (yes, yes, worse than the kids).  Lucky for me, we were standing right in front of the public library and what better place to find a public toilet that is warm (so much more enticing than the porta-potties sprinkled throughout the festive Market).  So we popped inside and stumbled upon the most magnificent library I’ve ever seen.  Now, I really haven’t visited very many metropolitan public libraries so I’m sure there are plenty that are equally as amazing - but wow!  This library is quite something.  Once in the lobby, we had to take a very long escalator up a floor to get to the restroom and as we went up, this is what we saw.   There were lots of ohs and ahs all around.

The library is 10 floors tall, and the center of the first several levels are open to the top of the building, with bookshelves encircling the opening on each floor, and above that, a glass elevator that takes you to the very top of the building.  Beautiful, simply beautiful!  I will from now on be seeking out public libraries in the large metropolitan cities we visit.

Once we were back outside at the Christmas Market, we didn't get very far before we passed a Belgium Hot Chocolate stand.  Honestly, how could we say no when the girls asked for a cup.  For an extra pound or two, you can have a shot of Bailey's added and trust you me, I will be trying that next time.

Enjoying some hot chocolate with their new friend what's his name.  Honestly, I don't know who this is but I feel like I should, so if anyone can enlighten me, please feel free.
Welcome to the Christmas Market!  It stretches for several blocks right through the heart of the shopping district in Birmingham.  This is the largest food and beverage area at the top of the street.  The Market was crowded but, as was the case in Bath as well, this is the nicest crowd you will ever meet.  I don't know if it's the Christmas spirit that's gotten into everyone or simply the kind, mild mannered nature of the British, but even though it was slow going through the streets, there was no pushing, no impatience, no bad language, no sign of rude behavior of any kind.  Everyone was polite and gracious.  There were several police officers and security people patrolling the streets, but they could have fallen asleep with how boring their job was. 

We had to stop at the candy stall, with these beautiful jars full of every flavor you can imagine.

Further down the street, we ran into this gigantic Santa merry-go-round sitting in the middle of a beer garden.

It was impossible to walk by this colorful display of donuts without stopping.  We grabbed four to take with us for Sunday breakfast, and later, the girls each got one for lunch.  You just can't say no to donuts for lunch when they look like this.

I'll take that one!

Next stop - the brat stand.  As you may have figured out, we basically ate our way down one side of the street and right back up the other side (I neglected to get pictures of the German pretzel and yummy pizza buns we had already consumed at this point - sorry).  We are at a German market, so of course we needed to try a brat.  These aren't like our US versions however.  They are long.  Very long.  I think the sign below speaks for itself.

I'm not really a brat fan (yes, I just heard the collective moan of disappointment coming from Wisconsin).  Eric, however, loves brats and he was so very gracious to share his with me.  And my was it tasty!  And the bun - oh my goodness the delicious bun (seriously good old U S of A, why can we not figure out how to make good bread).  How do you eat a 1/2 meter long brat?  You break it in half and pile it all between the bun.  I will spare you the photos of me actually eating the brat, so here is a picture before we dug in.  I think someone else wants to share it with us too!

Apparently we were more into the food than the trinkets at this Christmas Market because here is yet another picture of a food stall.  The food stalls were just so beautiful though.

By the middle of the afternoon, our bellies were full and we had been walking around the Christmas Market for a few hours.  The girls were cold and tired and wanted a break.  They probably would have been happy to go home by that point, but I was determined to stay to see the lights.  This Market is beautiful in the daytime, so imagine what it would be like when it gets dark and all the lights come on.  Sorry kids - buck up.  We are staying.  Momma wants to see some lights.  We decided to take a break to give them some time to recover, so we headed back into the library, found the kids sections, the girls each found a book and a comfy chair, and they settled down to recharge their batteries with some quiet reading.  

Warm and rested, we headed back out to the Christmas Market.  The wonderful thing about the short days at this time of the year here in England is that you don't have to wait long for the sun to set.  By the time we headed back outside, the sun was down and the lights were sparkling.  

The girls enjoyed a German frankfurter.

Eric and I enjoyed a drink.  I had a warm mug of mulled wine and Eric enjoyed a German beer.

After enjoying our beverages, we walked back down through the streets of the Christmas Market to take in the lights. It was crowded, very crowded on a Saturday night, but with the lights, the smells and the atmosphere, we just didn't mind.  We made one last stop and got some chocolate covered marshmallows on a stick to enjoy (sorry, we forgot to take a pic) and then headed for home.  We'll be back Birmingham!  We'll be back.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

School Uniforms

I have to be honest – I am sick of school uniforms.  The cuteness of seeing the girls in their red, white and black or grey each day wore off after about the second week.  Now, some of you may think it would be nice if your kids had to wear uniforms.  No fighting in the morning over what they’ll wear to school.  Not true!  “These tights don’t feel right.  I don’t want to wear them.”  Or, “I don’t want to wear skirts anymore.  I just want to wear pants.”  Sorry honey, but you only have two pairs of black pants and you get them dirty each and every time you wear them, so the skirts are staying in the line up. 

You may also think uniforms keep it simple – you only have so many items to choose from.  True - but also boring.  Very, very boring.  I have girls.  I like to dress them up in cute clothes.  They won’t allow me to do that for much longer so I am running out of time.  I miss helping them pick out this shirt to go with that cute skirt, and then adding some colorful tights.  And the shoes – yikes!  I am over the black shoes.  I want to see them in a pair of fun boots, or Ellie’s beloved Toms – anything but BLACK MARYJANE SHOES please. 

And then there is the laundry.  Again, you are probably thinking, “What is the heck is she complaining about?  She just has to keep their school cloths clean.  How easy is that?”  I am constantly washing school clothing to make sure they have enough uniform pieces to wear each day.  While I could buy more school uniform apparel, here is the thing – we don’t know how long we will be in this particular village attending this particular school where the main uniform color is red.  While we plan and hope to stay in this house for the duration of our two years here in England, it is possible the people that own this house will decide to come back from India at a moments notice and we will be out the door.  Ok, that may have been a little dramatic.  While they may return and want their house back, I’m guessing they would give us a month or two to find a new place.  Why am I worried about this?  Because it has happened to other expats over here, on multiple occasions.  And the leases here just aren’t like those in the US.  They can be broken.  Our signed two-year lease really doesn’t mean that much. 

Because I’m not sure the girls will be attending this school for the full two years we are here, I am reluctant to spend money on too many red sweaters.  We have just enough pieces to get us through the week, and because my daughter, who will remain nameless, cannot get through one day of school without getting her pants dirty, and they have to wear white shirts under their cardigan sweaters, I am doing laundry a few times a week just to ensure there are enough clean pieces of clothing available each day.  By the way, I don’t entirely blame unnamed daughter for getting her pants dirty.  We live in England.  It rains here a lot and the ground is perpetually wet and soggy.  At school, they go outside to run around three times a day and  I love it!  They send them outside no matter the weather, so she can get her pants dirty if she wants. 

Pajama day!
They recently had a pajama day at school.  This was the first time since we’ve been here that they’ve been allowed to wear something other than the standard uniform.  I don’t know who was more excited – me or the girls!  I finally got to send them in something other than red, white and black to school.  I will take it, even if it’s just PJs. They both picked out the fun pajamas they wanted to wear to school and put them on that morning.  But here is the funny thing.  They have gotten so use to wearing the school uniforms that they both came downstairs wearing black socks AND their black shoes with their PJs.  When I saw this, I was like, “What are you two doing?  You finally have a chance to wear fun socks and shoes to school and you are wearing BLACK?”  It took several minutes to convince them they wouldn’t get into trouble at school if they wore fun socks and anything but black shoes to school with their PJs.  It was like they had been brainwashed.  

  I understand why they wear uniforms here and many of the schools in the US do as well – keeps everyone on an even footing, and that is fine.  But that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Stonehenge and the Midlands Better Halves Club

Amazing, mystical Stonehenge
 Happy Friday all!  We’ve been here for about 10 ½ weeks already and yesterday I finally had the chance to meet up with the Midlands Better Halves Club for lunch in Derby.  I'll share our visit to Stonehenge last weekend with you in a moment, but first, let me explain this club.  The name: 
·       Midlands because that is the area of England we live in.  England is split up into larger regional areas much like the US is with the south, northwest, midwest, east coast, etc. 
·       Better Halves because our spouses all work at Rolls-Royce and we put up with them.
·       Club because it’s for expats only. As far as I know, we are all from the US and mainly from Indiana, but I’m not completely sure about that. 
This group of expats gets together a couple times a month in different locations, usually for lunch, but sometimes to visit sites or events around the area as well.  The members of the group are in constant fluctuation because all of us are over here for varying amounts of time.  None of us are on the same schedule.  We just got here a couple of months ago and won’t be leaving for awhile, while other families have been here for a year or longer and will be heading back to the states in the next 6 months or so.  Rolls-Royce is a big company and usually no one knows each other when they move to Derby even though we are all from Indianapolis. 

Since I finally have a car, I was able to meet up with some of the group yesterday for lunch in Derby City Center at a tea room in a department store called Bennett’s.  Normally, meeting up with a group of people I don’t know for lunch would have made me VERY nervous.  Maybe some of you don’t know this about me, but I am a little stranger phobic (not sure that is really a word, but you get the idea).  I love hanging out with friends and family, but send me to a party where I don’t know anyone besides my husband and I worry about it for days in advance.  So you think I would have been all out of sorts at the prospect of going to this luncheon with strangers completely on my own.  

Oh contraire – I was as cool as a cucumber, even excited to meet up with this group.  You see, things are just different when you move to a foreign country, especially one that is across an ocean and on a different continent.  You almost crave seeing people who are from the same place you are from, even if they are complete strangers.  Though we speak the same language as the British, so much is different here compared to the US that you are constantly reminded you are in a foreign country, and I often find myself yearning for something familar.  The accent, the cars, the roads, the food, the buildings – they are all just different.  You can travel anywhere in the US and even though the area you visit may be quite different from your hometown, there is still a sense of familiarity to the place.  You know you can find a Target if you need something.  You know exactly what you are paying for a gallon of gas and how far that will get you (I still haven’t figured out the liter thing here).  You can tell someone you like their pants and not get slapped in the face because in England they would think you were telling them you like their underwear (here, pants are called trousers and underwear is called pants).  You can walk into any bar on Sunday afternoon and everyone will know who Aaron Rodgers is. 

Yesterday, I walked into the tea room and sat down at the table with this group of strangers and instantly felt like I had known them for years.  We have a common bond, a strong one and that made the conversation flow like the Mississippi.  We commiserated about the washing machines and bedrooms with no closets, shared travel advice, and made plans to try and get together with the kids over the Christmas break from school because our extended families are all thousands of miles away.  I now know to look for black beans in a box and not in a can and that I can get a Vitamin D spray at the local health food store to help deal with the winter blues.  I wouldn’t trade this experience of living in Europe for anything and am thoroughly enjoying it, but for a short 2 ½ hours yesterday, I felt like I was back home in the US, back on familiar grounds, and it felt great!  It’s hard to explain this connection you feel to other Americans when you are living abroad, whether they are complete strangers you meet in a cheese shop (that happened in Bath where we met a woman who has lived here for 20 years) or a group of ladies whose husbands all work at Rolls-Royce.  I’ve never experienced anything quite like it before and it is amazing. 

Now, for your viewing pleasure, I have some photos from our visit to Stonehenge.  It is believed that Stonehenge was built between 4000-5000 years ago but why and how it was built remains a mystery.  The northeastern entrance precisely lines up with the midsummer sunrise and the midwinter sunset, so it could have been a gigantic calendar.  There were many human remains found around Stonehenge and there are several hundred burial mounds in the area, so maybe it was a gigantic cemetery.  Many of the human remains found immediately around Stonehenge show signs of severe diseases and injuries, so maybe it was a place of healing.  Unless someone discovers how to travel back in time, we’ll never know for sure. 

The other great mystery is how the stones were transported to this location and set into their configuration.  The largest stones, called Sarsen stones, weigh around 25 tons each and came from an area 20 miles away.  It is estimated that it would have taken 500 men using leather ropes to pull just one of these stones that distance on some type of roller system.  Some of the smaller stones, called bluestones, came from Wales.  They weigh around 4 tons each, and it would have been possible to travel some of the way via the river, but still, the entire journey would have been an amazing 155 miles.    

While the ancient standing stones that make up Stonehenge are the focal point, the fields and hills surrounding Stonehenge are rich in ancient history as well and open for exploration.  We hiked the fields around Stonehenge first to see some of the ancient burial mounds, called barrows.  We then followed The Avenue, believed to be the main ceremonial route and entrance to the stone circle, across the field and up to Stonehenge itself.  Eric did a fantastic job photographing our journey.  So without further ado, I invite you to come along with us on our hike to Stonehenge.  

First stop - Cursus Barrows (burial mounds)

Some sisterly love during our hike.

Stonehenge off in the distance

Second stop - King Barrow Ridge (more burial mounds)

The broccoli bush as Leah put it.  The beautiful green bushy top is actually vines growing around an old tree stump.

Heading to Stonehenge

Following The Avenue to the big stones

The approach

They have Stonehenge as their backdrop but could really care less.  Just show me some grass.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Our First Christmas Market

There is a wonderful tradition they have over here in Europe and it is called the Christmas market.  Why we don’t have these in the US, I don’t know.  Well, maybe we do but I’ve never heard of one.  What is a Christmas Market exactly, you ask?  Well, now I can tell you because we went to one of these lovely markets this past weekend in the beautiful city of Bath.  Bath is an amazing city by itself, with its architecture and Roman history (there’s a reason it’s called Bath as you will see later in my story, if you haven’t guessed already).  Eric and I had stopped in Bath briefly many years ago when he was living over here for three months and I came over to visit him.   We didn’t have a lot of time, so we didn’t see much on that trip, but it’s always been on my list of places to return to.  So when I discovered they hold one of these Christmas markets in Bath, I started planning our trip.  It’s about a 2 ½ hour drive from our house to Bath and there are some other interesting places to visit in the area, like a little place called Stonehenge, so we decided to pull the girls out of school on Friday and make it a three day weekend.

The Bath Christmas Market
To start, a bit of a history lesson.  Christmas markets have been taking place here in Europe for several hundred years and are basically a street market celebration of Christmas that traditionally takes place during the four weeks of Advent.  They started in the area of German, Austria and France and have spread across the rest of Europe.  The market general takes place in the center of town and is a beautiful collection of open-air stalls (mainly wood chalet type of stalls) selling all sorts of food, drink and seasonal items.  There’s hot mulled wine, ice-skating rinks, carousels, roasted chestnuts, carolers, and of course, as the sunsets, beautiful glowing Christmas lights.  Basically, it’s a magical Christmas wonderland. 

We set off Friday morning and headed straight to Bath.  Our plan was to spend Friday at the Christmas market and see some other sites in the city, but apparently we weren’t the only people who wanted to visit the Bath Christmas market that day.  We drove around and around and around looking for an open parking lot and could not find a single one. After stumbling around in the traffic for awhile and heading out of town to check out a park and ride lot which was, you guessed it, full, we decided to change or plans and come back to Bath bright and early the next morning instead.  Deflated and hungry, we drove up the road a bit and stumbled into a pub to regroup and eat some lunch.  Luckily for us, the lunch was delicious (yet another kids meal that rocked – Ellie’s mac and cheese was the best I’ve ever tasted) and we came up with a new plan.  We would head to a place called Cheddar Gorge and do a little hiking instead.

So off we went to Cheddar Gorge, the largest gorge in the UK, full of caves, and at the end of it sits the village of Cheddar of course.  Cheddar Gorge is considered by some to be the second greatest natural wonder in Britain (what’s the first – Dan yr Ogof caves – no idea what that is but will let you know when we visit it). The oldest complete human skeleton ever found in the UK (estimated to be 9,000 years old) came from a cave in this gorge and is called – can you guess - Cheddar Man.  And yes, they make and sell cheddar cheese here as well. 

At the top of Cheddar Gorge with some of our sheep friends.

We drove down the entire length of the impressive gorge and parked in the town of Cheddar.  At this time of year, Cheddar is a sleepy little town, but with the shops and restaurants, some of which were still open, you can tell it’s full of tourists during the warmer months.  We put on our hiking shoes and off we went for a quick jaunt up to the top of the gorge because we were losing daylight fast (sunset is at 4:03).  Hold it – did I say quick.  Let me rephrase – we took off on a very strenuous hike to the top of the gorge.  This is a BIG gorge and basically, you just hike up and up and up until you get to the top.  It was worth it.  When we finally made it to the top, we were greeted with a spectacular view of the countryside stretching out for miles and miles.  And we weren’t alone.  We ran into some sheep and goats to keep us company.

The next day, we were up and ready to go early, our bellies full from our hotel breakfast, and heading back to Bath because we were going to find a parking spot this time, darn it.  Failure is not an option.  I want to see the Christmas market!  And it worked.  Big difference arriving in Bath at 9:30 in the morning.  We had our choice of parking spots.  We parked the car and spend the entire day in Bath.

First stop, why a Roman Bath of course.  Around 2000 years ago, the Romans built baths and a temple in the city because of the natural hot springs located here that still flow today.  The site of the main bath and temple has seen major excavation over the past couple hundred years and the history of the bath and temple have been pieced back together as best they can from the finds in this area.  The Roman Bath museum takes you through just what your average Roman citizen would have experienced when visiting the bath.  A trip to the bath was actually a social outing for their society.  People went to the bath to gossip, conduct business, catch up with friends, and yes, they were usually naked.  The facilities are much more than just the main bath – there were rooms for massages, sauna type rooms, a cold plunge pool and a temple.  Learning about the Roman baths and religious history and seeing them in person was extremely interesting, but I think I prefer to socialize in a cozy, warm pub – with my clothes on thank you very much. 

The Roman Bath
After exploring the bath and museum, we were hungry.  I did my research before coming to Bath.  Bath is full of great restaurants and I wanted to find the perfect place for us to enjoy a good meal.  After consulting with tripadvisor, I decided on a little place called Bistro La Barrique, a French style restaurant serving ‘petits plats’ or small plates, in the style of Spanish tapas.  I’ve never eaten at a French restaurant before so what better way to try French cuisine than by sampling lots of different dishes.   And it was delicious!  The photos are stuck on my other camera which doesn’t like our Mac for some reason, so after Eric does some magic to get them uploaded, I will share them with you. 
Time for lunch!
We spent the rest of the day wandering around Bath, admiring the architecture, popping into different shops here and there, had a late afternoon coffee and some dessert in a little coffee shop the waiter at the French Bistro sent us to, which just happened to be connected to a delightful little cheese shop where we of course enjoyed sampling a variety of English cheeses.  And as the sun was setting, we wandered back towards the center of town to the Christmas market.  The Christmas lights were on by then, there was the smell of roasted nuts in the air, we stopped and listened to some carolers for a bit, and general just soaked up the Christmas atmosphere.  What a way to spend a day! 

On that note, I think I will save our trip to Stonehenge the next day for tomorrows post because I'm suddenly in the mood to make some Christmas cookies.  Below are more pictures from our day in the beautiful city of Bath.  Enjoy!

The beautifully carved wooden doors into Bath Abbey.

Looking down on the wooden stalls in the Christmas market from the balcony of the Roman Bath

The balcony above the Roman Bath.

The Sacred Spring, where 240,000 gallons of naturally hot water rises daily to the surface.  From here, it is directed to the other pools in the Roman Bath.

A live statute.  The girls loved this.  He/she didn't move a muscle the entire time we were watching, except to blink.

The moon peeking out over the city of Bath.

One of many beautiful shops in Bath.