Oh how I love having clothes drying on the line outside again. It’s been at least four long months since I’ve been able to dry clothes outside and I am sick of hanging things over the radiators inside our house. By the middle of March, the weather is nice (sometimes anyway) and the days are long enough once again to let Mother Nature dry our clothing. A gently breeze, sunshine and a temperature hovering around 50 degrees F is all it takes. This is the perfect day for drying clothes.
March 18 - birthday night. Eric turned the big 4-2 today. He’s like a fine bottle of wine – gets better with age. The girls were so excited to celebrate his birthday.
Leah made gift certificates for him (how he actually redeems them and for what I haven’t figured out yet), and Ellie presented him with a big bar of Cadbury chocolate that she bought for him on her recent school field trip to the chocolate factory. Somehow our sugar girl managed to save that bar for her daddy for over three weeks. Truly a display of love.
Eric got himself a birthday present – a big box of good Belgium beer. He has nearly gone through his beer collection from our trip to Belgium last October. He enjoys Belgium beer a lot. Can you tell? Luckily for me, he ordered a box of Belgium fruit beer as well, which is my new favorite.
Along with the flavors we have already tried, the box contained a few new interesting varieties – mango (which I can’t wait to try), ninkeberry (what the heck is a nickeberry?), coconut (interesting), and banana (whaaaaat?). I’m not sure about banana flavored beer. I will keep you posted.
One rainy Saturday in the beginning of March we decided to visit the botanical gardens in Birmingham. Before we headed to the gardens, we grabbed some lunch in Birmingham. We've been hungry for some good old American food and look what we found! Perfect.
There are some glasshouses at the botanical garden and being inside a hot, steamy room full of lush, green tropical plants sounded great as winter wasn’t ready to leave England yet. We brought umbrellas and did walk around outside as well.
We had the place to ourselves – go figure. There was an aviary full of colorful birds. Leah became fast friends with this beautiful white parakeet.
When we approached his cage, he was sitting high up on a branch but as soon as he saw Leah, using his beak and claws he climbed his way down to her level to look her right in the eyes. She loved it! She loves animals and didn’t want to leave him. As we walked away, he started squawking. I think he sensed something about her too.
Life isn’t all relaxation and travel for us however. Leah spent one Saturday afternoon working on a big school project that was due that following week. She had to write a story about a dragon, complete with a rough draft that she needed to neatly copy onto lined paper, as well as doing three illustrations of the story. She worked on it almost everyday after school for two weeks, plus this Saturday afternoon.
Friday, March 20. It’s 9:30 in the morning. When we walked to school this morning it was a bright sunny day. The sun is still out, the sky clear of clouds, but the day is getting dimmer and dimmer. We are experiencing around a 90% eclipse of the sun. My normally sun filled dining room where I sit and type this feels more like the evening as the sun is about to dip below the horizon. I join my neighbors outside with a couple sheets of paper, one with a tiny pinhole in it. When I hold the two sheets up together, the sun shines through the pinhole to the second sheet, but instead of a perfectly round circle of light, I see a sliver that looks more like a quarter moon. The dog across the street is staring up at the sun. Does he sense something happening? We are lucky to be experiencing this. We are living in England after all and England isn’t exactly known for it’s bright sunny weather so to get a perfect morning to view an eclipse is a rare treat indeed.
I was walking back home from dropping the girls off at school the other morning with my neighbor and she starts to tell me about taking her daughter, who goes to school with Ellie and Leah, to see Richard III that past weekend. As she went on and on about having to stand in line and worrying that her daughter would get bored and antsy but how important she felt it was to see this, I was wracking my brain to try and figure out what the heck she was talking about. She was relaying this weekend outing to me in such a casual manner that I felt I should really know what she’s talking about but frankly, I had no idea. They went to see Richard III??? Did she mean the Shakespeare play? No, her daughter seems too young for that. There isn’t any present royalty named Richard, is there? There’s Phillip, and Charles, and William and Harry of course. And little George. But I really don’t think there is a Richard III right now.
Finally, I decided I had to ask, even if I sounded like a big idiot.
“What do you mean you went to see Richard III this weekend?”
“Didn’t you know? They found him buried under a parking lot of a grocery store in Leicester,” she said. "No one knew where he was buried for the past 500 years but they finally found him."
I stifled the laugh that almost involuntarily sprang from my mouth. Was I really walking home from dropping my kids off at school having a conversation about a King whose body has been missing for over 5 centuries recently being found under a parking lot not far from where we currently live? Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore.
It's not that I really found this funny. It's just that to my American brain this all just sounded a bit, well, to be honest, absurd. I mean, when was the last time the remains of a 500 year old King were found under a parking lot in Indiana? Uhhhh, let me see - never! After I regained my composure, I headed home and immediately got on the computer. I typed in Richard III and there it was, the entire store, and let me tell you - Richard III's history reads like a good Ken Follett novel. His brother, King Edward IV, died in 1483. The King’s 12-year-old son Edward V was first in line to succeed him. Being that he was so young, Richard III, his uncle, was declared Lord Protector of the realm putting him in charge of protecting and escorting the young future King in his travels. Edward V’s coronation day was set, but before it happened, his father’s marriage to his mother was declared invalid and suddenly, he found himself no longer in the running for King. But guess who was next in line? Richard III became King and interestingly enough, his brother’s sons were never seen again. It was suspected that they were murdered at Richard III’s instructions.
Richard III’s reign didn’t last long however as there were two rebellions against him over the next two years. The first he survived, but the second he didn’t. He died at the Battle of Bosworth field in Leicestershire having only reigned as King for two short years. He was buried without much ceremony and somehow over the course of the past 500 years the exact location of his burial was lost, only to be rediscovered again in 2013 under a car park in Leicester. There was some debate as to where Richard III's final resting place should be as he died in Leicestershire but was from Yorkshire, but finally it was decided that he would be forever interned in Leicester Cathedral. On March 22, my neighbor took her daughter to see his procession through Leicestershire to Leicester Cathedral and that is what she meant by going to see Richard III. Leicestershire is what we Americans would consider the county that we live in here in England so this all happened very close to home. And that is just another typical day in England.