Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Leeds Castle

I'd been wanting to visit Leeds Castle for the past few years and was nearly foiled by the weather this trip, but after many rained out plans, we finally woke to fair skies and a pleasant forecast, so off we went. It was absolutely beautiful and a full fun day for both Kellan and myself. There was not only the beautiful castle and grounds to enjoy, but a train ride, a (rather difficult!) maze, an absolutely out of this world castle-themed playground, a bird show, a (scary, according to Kel) grotto, gardens, and lots of interactive activities for the kids. Here are some photos from the day.

Kel and I on the train. No wonder the girl who took the photos was laughing!

How cute are these baby geese?

The castle was in a most gorgeous setting, moat and everything.

Here is Kel leading the way through the maze. Luckily, there is a man standing on the the stone mound in the middle (the goal) who helps to guide you when completely lost. This may have happened to us once or twice. It was good exercise hiking around in circles, anyway!

We made it! Kel standing on the stone "mountain" at the middle of the maze. You exited the maze from this point through the underground grotto.

It was so hot by this point of day (what a difference from the rest of the week!) that I was nearly melting and regret not getting many photos of the amazing playground. I was hunting for shade in which to hide. Took a few shots of Kel on his favourite bit of equipment, a zip line seat. It was really fun. I may or may not have taken a few rides on it myself.

Later, we attended a wonderful bird show. At this point, the children were asked to come forward and to sit in a little group while they learned about the beautiful owl.

At the end of the talk, the owl flew right over the tops of their heads! Some smiled. Some took photos. Some (ahem) cringed in fear. Poor spatial awareness means that you don't welcome things flying straight at you.

Beautiful falcon.

It got hot. Ice cream was necessary. Kel, a hot day, and a large ice cream cone are not a great mix.

Later in the day, Kel got to be wildlife warden to the waterfowl. He did all of the afternoon feeding and especially enjoyed the lovely black swans.

Few final shots of the castle at the end of the day as we waited for the train to take us back to the parking lot.

Monday, July 09, 2012


One day in Paris wasn't nearly long enough, but we certainly made the most of it. Taking the Eurostar was one of Kellan's big dreams and this year we were finally able to make that dream come true.

This photo is a wee bit misleading, as we actually left home in the dark and in the car. The in laws drove us to St Pancras International because our Eurostar train left earlier than we could get into town on the train. However, Kel loves this sign at Clapham Junction, a station that we traveled through nearly every day of our trip, so I stuck it here. Hey, if we had taken the train into St Pancras, we would have passed through Clapham Junction! And we did pass through on our way home late that night.

Upon arrival in Paris, we had to get a couple of quick shots with the Eurostar train that brought us there. How cool is this kid?

Couple of favourite shots of Kel at the Eiffel Tower and out front of the Louvre. Can you tell that he was really enjoying his Paris experience?

We started our day (after some gratuitous Metro riding) at Le Jardin des Tuileries. Trying to beat the rain for a bit of outdoor fun.

After a super play in the garden, we walked down to Place de la Concorde. Here Kel had his first taste (and rejection) of street crepes. I didn't cry about having to eat it myself.

We left Place de la Concorde via the river and had a lovely long walk along an overcast Seine.

After another side trip for a journey on the RER (Kel and his transport!), we made it to la Tour Eiffel.

Only one elevator was working on this day because of some technical issues and so the line to ascend the tower was many hours long. We were so sad and discouraged, when we noticed that the south stairs were open, and there was no line! So, up we went. All the way. On the stairs. We are awesome.

Some views from the first floor. It was a very overcast day, and yet we were up the tower at noontime, so all in all the light could not have been worse.

You can see the Sacre Coeur and Montmartre in the middle distance.

Now on the second floor. Kel up above me.

View of the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysee.

And then we arrived at the top floor. Kel didn't understand that he needed to stand off to the side of this so that we could see how high we were. It was freezing cold up there and crowded, so I just took the shot and moved on.

Beautiful Paris. A bird's eye view. See the Arc de Triomphe down there to the middle left?

Later we toured the river by boat taxi. It was nice to relax for a couple of hours and sit inside the warm cabin. I got some nice shots of Notre Dame from the taxi.

Wandering around the Rue de Rivoli area (where Kel finally ate -- at McDonald's!) and over to the Louvre.

Love these old Metro station entrances so much. There was a demonstration going on outside of this one, thus the people milling about. Something about nuclear arms.

Near the end of our day, the rain started coming down in buckets. I managed to get this quick shot of the Sacre Coeur from underneath the umbrella in the pouring rain. As I went back through the photos, I realized that there was so much of the day that I didn't photograph. Probably because my hands were full of street crepe! It was a great experience for Kellan and a really special day out for us both. We will definitely be back -- hopefully on a nicer day.