Saturday, 31 December 2016

New Year, same old me

Many people seem to be happy to say goodbye to 2016, although the BBC did work hard and manage to list four good things that have happened this year.  Regardless of quality, it's always nice to have a party so we invited the Muckers up for a traditional knees up.  "Traditional" means celebrating British New Year at 7pm EST and then all being home and in bed by 10pm at the latest.  Every New Year means you're a little bit older as well, it seems.

Girls gone wild.

JJ's always wild.

Vince, whose Commander-in-Chief will soon be you-know-who, decided to leave his sanity/sobriety in 2016.

Meg set up an extremely popular tattoo parlour in the living room.

Chaos at the chimes of Big Ben.  If the world makes it to 2018, next time we'll do this at the Muckers'.

You're as cold as ice

East Coast winters are freezing, but not cold enough for long enough to let you do amazing things like chisel chunks of ice from the Potomac and build stuff with them.  That used to happen, but I heard that global warming is a conspiracy by the Chinese so that can't be to blame.

Thankfully the owners of a local conference centre have decided to recreate the Victorian excesses of yesteryear by hosting "Ice", a celebration of...well, frozen water.  A troupe of artisans from China (irony!) visit each year to shape 35 truckloads of the clear stuff into shapes, figures, architecture, and various other forms that are then housed in a warehouse and kept at a constant 9F (-13C!)

You can pay to visit, of course, and so we took Meg and Ellen.  The weather's actually been quite nice recently, so we wanted to ease them into their return to England by dragging them into a giant fridge.  And it was certainly fridgey in there, although alleviated by the fashionable matching blue overcoats we were given.  You lost the feeling in your feet first.

The highlight of all the coloured and clear sculptures was undoubtedly the ice slide, where blocks had been arranged in an inclined manner for your entertainment and enjoyment.  Ice is slippery!  We exited through the nativity and made our way to a local bar for cocktails, or "antifreeze" as we call them.

The ice theme this year was "Christmas Around The World".  It's cold everywhere at this time of year.

Ice ornaments.  You need a bigger tree.

Take a chill pill Meg.

A clog filled with ice carrots for the Netherlands display because...?

Ah, Britain.  The two sweethearts in the sculpture display the usual British frostiness when it comes to romance.

Ice tunnel!

Ice slide!

Slip sliding away.

Everyone got in on the fun.

Ice race!

Traditional English dress.

Santa's frosty little helper.

Slowly freezing up.

Don't lick the ice.

The nativity, just as it was 2000 years ago in chilly Palestine.

Frozen shepherd's pie.

And then we went to Ben & Jerry's for ice cream, of course.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Season therefore jolly

Christmas might be over but the fun continues as we ping around DC taking in the holiday spirits etc. etc.  First up was Meg's wish to enjoy some history, specifically war history (a little dark for one so young, but I'm incapable of saying no to a Goddaughter).  So we found a new museum - The National Guard Memorial Museum, dedicated to the work of citizen soldiers.

The only thing I knew about the National Guard before this was that they're called up in times of emergency (i.e. Trump's inauguration) but the museum tracks their history in both peacetime and wartime back to before the so-called Revolutionary War.  The place is a treasure trove of artifacts, including a WWI soldier's diary open on Monday July 29, 1918, that reads "Got up 10am...looked around all day...nothing interesting...went to bed about 9pm."

We admired the Christmas lights at the local Mormon Temple, because they have millions of them and it's free.  Hannah is always impressed by the young Mormon missionaries manning everything, commending them on being polite and neat.  Our English guests, coming from a country somewhat light on Mormonism, found it all a bit foreign.

Then we visited our nearby nature centre where, by chance, they were having an early New Year celebration that included toasting marshmallows over a fire and a six-foot owl!  The owl wasn't being toasted, I mean, he was just there.  A snow blizzard blew through for ten minutes, settling everywhere but then melting again when the sun came back out - the perfect way for our visitors to experience an East Coast winter.

Megan, a ballerina interested in war.  A heady combination.

Oh yes, we also popped into the National Gallery of Art, which has a funky tunnel connecting its two huge buildings.

Down at the temple.

A life-size nativity, although the neat and polite attendant told us we weren't allowed to sit on the camel.


American family.

Up the creek at Meadowside Nature Centre.

Snow!  Get outside quick!!

Meg in Eskimo gear.

Toasting marshmallows (it was freezing).

Wild animal.

Here's that owl I was talking about.

(Tiny) snowball fight!

And in the middle of all that, Claire and Eavan drove down from Rhode Island for a couple of days in DC.  We weren't cool enough for them to spend New Year's Eve with but we did get them the night before.  And forced them to play board games.  Who's cool now?

And some more board games.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Traditional Christmas

Eggnog-fueled tearful family arguments, washing Brussels sprouts down with a gin and tonic, attempting to teach children that giving is better than receiving (ha!).  We love our traditions in the Davies household, and the most important one is Meg and Ellen coming for Christmas!  We picked them up from Dulles and immediately joined another important ceremony: sitting for two hours on the Beltway attempting to get home.

After that, things really got into the festive mood with a trip to the White House and the National Christmas Tree, the annual pilgrimage to Which Wich, and the church nativity pageant that (once again) included a lady dressed as a flamingo.  Megan has had her fingers worked to the bone helping Hannah in the kitchen, from where roulades, white Christmas cakes, gingerbread houses, etc. have been appearing with pleasing regularity.  Ellen has been working hard too, consuming cappuccinos as quickly as I can make them.

But before all that: Peet's Coffee.

For sale by owner.

The reflecting pool was frozen!  But no snow yet.

This is the main reason Meg comes to visit.

What does $3 buy you from a thrift store?  An Olaf snowman waffle maker!  It only smells slightly of burning plastic when switched on.

Lovingly constructed, quickly eaten.



Aunty Katharine thought it would be a great idea to buy Pete an inflatable remote controlled talking Peppa Pig.  Thanks.

A quick trip to the National Botanic Garden.  Once we established that the outside was still there we retreated back inside.

The only thing children crave at Christmas is a little adult attention...

...unless there's a new tablet around.  Then parents should stop being needy and annoying.

What Christmas looks like from where I am.