Long Live the Queen!

We have been in England for two weeks now and really love it! Arriving into England, after driving off the train, which took us under the English Channel from France, we found it really nice to see road signs that we understood! Although, there are still several words that got lost in translation… Several times we all looked at each other and said, huh what did he say? We are all speaking English but that doesn’t necessarily mean all things are understood! There are many books out there to help us Americans as we travel through beautiful England.

We are staying in a lovely cottage in the heart of Kent, owned by a wonderful couple. The cottage is a refurbished barn and the main home is approximately 700 years old. It is so green here and coming from Southern California, green is a very nice change. My sister and her really good friend Karen came to visit us. It was so great to see some familiar faces! We spoke with the owners of the cottage about getting a cot for them to sleep on. They asked if we needed a high chair too and we went, uh oh, I think we got off track somewhere. As we found out, a cot in England means a baby crib and no my sister is not a baby sister…so we opted for a blow up mattress instead. We are getting quite use to the language differences now and of course, love the accents. Once, we pulled over to ask for directions, and this sweet girl said she loved our accents, I have to say I have never heard that one before!

We have seen some amazing places. The richness of the history is so striking from Dover Castle, Leeds Castle, the City of Canterbury to the British Museum. The City of London itself is a museum, with its amazing buildings and tradition, and the Royal Family, I am in awe.

It is incredible to experience a country that has had so much history and importance. Dover Castle’s history spans over 2,000 years from the Old Roman Lighthouse to the World War II tunnels it was fascinating to see.

The English love their sports and we enjoyed visiting Wimbledon and watching a football match (soccer…) at Wembley Stadium, such a treat! We heard lots of “outstanding” and “brilliant” as the English football team easily defeated Italy’s San Marino team. We heard a lot of other words too that we’re not “lost in translation” but I am trying to keep this a family friendly blog.

We are here for another 10 days and are planning to see Windsor Castle, the Tower of London and will also be visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour for my oldest daughter’s 11th birthday. What a life I am living, feeling very lucky!

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A Good Day

There is a lovely place in Malibu called Solstice Canyon where one can take a leisurely 3 mile hike.  Last week I went on this hike with a dear friend and our very happy dogs. The canyon was all a bloom, as this warm winter has tricked Mother Nature into an eternal spring. Many wild flowers were showing off their charm.  A few miles into the canyon we came across a skeleton of a once lovely house.  All that is left is beautiful stonework from the foundation and fireplace. You can see the framework of several pools outlined in stone.  Unfortunately, which happens all too often in this area, a wildfire destroyed this once incredible home in 1982. I have been here before with my husband and daughters and we wondered what it must have been like to live here.  To the side of the house is a waterfall and then the small creek wraps around in front of the house.  The house is tucked back in the canyon in a truly magical spot.  It must have been exceptionally private and incredibly peaceful to live here.  I wonder how this home was built so far back in the canyon and who would have built this incredible place.

When we returned back near the parking lot we stopped and spoke with a distinguished older man who was also walking his dog.  He told us that this whole area had belonged to his family before it was sold to the state.  I asked him about the house and he said he had grown up there.  Although they lived in Santa Monica, his father insisted that they come out to the home every weekend.  His family had cattle and they kept horses on their ranch.  He had what looked like tears in his eyes as he spoke about his memories on living in the house with his family.  I guess his mother was fearful of the Japanese attacking the coast of California (during WWII) which is why they had built a bomb shelter on the property, it doubled as a place to store food.  He still lives in the Los Angeles area and happened to be visiting his daughter and grandchild who live close by.  I felt so lucky to have run into him and it was obvious how much this place meant to him.  It is so important to be connected to the land and one’s past.  I enjoy nothing more than being in nature.  We are so fortunate to have this beautiful canyon open to the public due to this man and his family.

Once I returned home, I looked into the history of Solstice Canyon and found that his parents, Fred and Florence Roberts hired noted African-American architect Paul Williams to design the home in 1952.  Before that time the family had a small cabin on the property.  The home designed by Paul Williams was featured in Architectural Digest. They had cattle and various exotic animals on the land, including reportedly, camels, buffalos and giraffes, a miniature Hearst Castle.

If you ever find yourself in this area, I would highly recommend a hike through this beautiful canyon.  It is good for your heart and your head!

For more information here is a link to the Malibu Surfside News:

http://malibusurfsidenews-blog.blogspot.com/2010/11/nps-rangers-and-former-residents-share.html