Well it sure feels as though I have been away for a long time though it was just the two weeks of my holiday. So what better way to start than with this smiley photo of my family - well most of them anyway.
To put that in context, I have just spent one week in UK, visiting my four sons who live around the Midlands. I then spent the second week visiting our fifth son who now lives in Denmark, and my husband Chris joined me there. So those two are actually missing from this photo, as is my grand-daughter with her family, plus Mike and Ben´s partners.
It has been a very busy two weeks so for this post I will do a quick photo diary of the main events and link to separate posts with more detail for anyone who is interested.
I started out at my youngest son Ben´s home in Birmingham, and took the opportunity to browse the sales in the big stores and buy some clothes. I spotted these lovely red geraniums around the war memorial.
I went to my home town of Oswestry and had a lovely visit with my newest great-grandson Alfie and his big brother Isaac. Isaac is not four until the end of August, but by just two days he is in the group that start full time school this September. It only seems two minutes since he was born.
When my son Mike came in after work with his two little boys, and his older lad Mikey also dropped by, I managed to update our "Four generations" photo.
The next day Ben and I drove over to Manchester to visit my son Jonathan and his partner Ella. He was very pleased to be able to show us around his new studio that he is setting up with a friend.
The recording rooms still has a lot of work to be done, but the practice room is up and running and he was happy to demonstrate his drumming skills. He is a very good heavy-metal style drummer. He has two kits set up in the practice room so he and Ben did a little bit together as well.
You can read more about this in my other post HERE.
On the Saturday we had our big family day at our oldest son Jim´s house in Wolverhampton. This is when the big group photo at the head of this post was taken. I have written all about this lovely day in a separate post, HERE.
I was so glad that there was a spare afternoon in my last few days when Ben drove me over to Market Drayton to visit Brian Hatton, who runs the charity Greenfields Africa, that I support with my knitting friends. I have been in contact with him for several years via e-mails and Facebook, but it was so nice to meet him in person, and find out more about the work he does over there.
Ben is great company, and we get on so well together so it was nice to be able to spend my last morning with him, wandering around the beautiful Birmingham Botanical gardens.
I especially enjoyed the butterfly house, where first one, and then another butterfly decided to become a living brooch. I happened to be wearing a dress with a butterfly design and they blended in with it.
My week ended with a quick drive to Wolverhampton to watch my grandson Amias in his school play, and then we grabbed a few hours sleep. Ben, bless him, then got me to New Street station in time for my 5.00am train to Stansted, where I got on my flight to Denmark.
Week two started with the bumpiest flight I have ever had, and an even worse landing as fierce winds buffeted the plane. There were a few screams as we hit the ground and bounced a bit, so I was glad to get off and even more glad to see my son Tom and husband Chris waiting there for me.
We drove to his flat in the centre of Aarhus, and celebrated with a toast up on the roof terrace.
Although Aahus is the second city in Denmark it is relatively small, and fairly quiet. There is only light traffic as cars are so expensive that not many people bother with them. Public transport is excellent and many folk travel around by bike.This is the bike park at the railway station!
The architecture is similar to what I would expect to see in Holland though I have never been there. It is different from UK anyway with tall straight buildings, and steep roofs (to stop the snow settling apparently).
There were also lots of cobbled streets and rows of pretty coloured houses.
On our first day we visited the old town, a working museum, where there are preserved houses from as early as 1500, many old shops and a working water mill.
Another day we took a short bus ride to the coast and walked through the forest, so cool and green on a hot day.
When we came out the other side we were at a stretch of wild, deserted beach, where I can confirm that the sea was very cold! Apparently the Danes will swim in it all the year round, even when there is a touch of sea-ice.
Probably my favourite place that we visited was the Atos museum of Modern Art. Its two main features are the statue of The Boy down in the basement, and the Rainbow walk up on the roof.
The boy is huge, and his face is just like my grandson Mikey when he was about ten! He is incredibly life-like from his toe-nails and the veins under his skin, to the expression in his eyes.
This is a distorted photo of the Rainbow walk because I couldn´t get it all in one photo, so I took two and stitched them together, but I wasn´t using a tripod so they didn´t match perfectly and I have too many to sort out to spend a lot of time editing it. But it will give you an idea of what it was like.
It was strange walking through it, passing through each colour and seeing how the views changed.
On the floors between the boy and the rainbow, there were a variety of rooms such as the sensory room filled with fog that constantly changed colour, and visibility was one metre, so you never knew when you would walk into a post, a wall or another person. It was very disorientating.
Another room was completely black, and others had interesting sculptures that used light and shape. It was much more interesting than any other art gallery I have been to.
On Monday we caught an early bus to the capital city of Copenhagen. After the first few minutes we drove onto a big ferry, so we went up on deck and watched as we left the harbour giving us a good view of the equivalent of London Docklands in Denmark - a modern developement of exclusive flats and offices.
I liked Copenhagen. It was a lively city with plenty to see, but again there was not too much traffic so walking around was quite easy. We decided to take a boat tour on the canals that weave around the city and it was a good way to see a lot without tiring ourselves out. The tour´s furthest point was where the famous Little Mermaid statue is. Everyone is amazed at how small she is. There is really nothing special about her but she is still the icon that people think of when they hear the name Copenhagen, and they flock in droves to see her.
It is a city with a skyline dominated by towers. Every important building seemed to have a spire and they were all different. Many can be seen in this landscape of the city.
I took that photo from the top of the Round Tower, an old observatory attached to a big church. Dad had had enough walking for a while so he rested under a big tree while and Tom and I made our way up to the top. To start with it was a wide spiral ramp. According to the guide book it was 209 metres of ramp with seven and a half circuits around the hollow centre of the tower. (This was actually easier for me than stairs would have been). Then there were two small, tight sp¡ral stair cases and we were out on top. The view was amazing all across the city.
Later we walked to Nyhavn (I think I have spelled that right), which is also a top visitors spot. It is an inlet of the canal which is busy with tourist boats coming and going, and on both sides of it are rows of houses, shops and mainly cafés and restaurants, all painted in different colours.
We needed to sit down and have a drink here, so I had an iced tea, but the men shared a litre can of Carlesberg. I´ve never seen such a huge can of beer before.
Like Aahus, Copenhagen is a city of bike riders. Now I often have trouble locating my car in a big car park, but imagine trying to find your bike in among this lot!
We decided to take the easier way home by train. We were three weary bunnies by then, but the train was comfortable and it was pleasant to sit and watch the sun sinking down. I took one photo as we passed a bridge. It looked nice against the sky.
We spent our last day doing some shopping, and taking a few more pictures around the town, and then it was time to pack again. Tom hired a car to drive us to the airport and I am glad to say that this time our flight was smooth and comfortable!
Spain has been wilting under the longest heat-wave in recorded history - I don´t know how hot it has to get to be considered a heat wave out here, but temperatures were hitting 40º most days, so I am glad we missed some of it. It hit us hard when we first got back, but we are getting into our usual summer mode now, with lazy days, essential tasks finished before midday, and late night swims before bed. While it is so hot, the cats have all decided that our glass table top is the coolest place to lay. They never go on the tables normally but I have seen them all up there this week. So I think my lovely piece of Danish glass needs to find a safer home until the heat has passed, or it will have a very short life.
We also managed to arrive home on the first day of our village fiesta! This is kind of bad timing, and I would have been happy to stay away until it was over, but it would have been unfair on the dog-sitter to ask her to survive it. I am not posting lots of photos of it, because I have done so for the last few years and it is always exactly the same. But here is one I took last night, sitting on the plaza, enjoying a drink and my favourite pass-time of people-watching.
We didn´t stay late and were home by midnight, but the music continued at top volume until around 7.00 this morning. It will be the same tonight and on Saturday and Sunday, and then peace will reign once more. We think it is even louder than usual this year, and some of the Spanish village folk said the same today. Certainly, with the windows closed and the aircon on, we can usually ignore it, but we couldn´t shut it out last night. We even let the dogs sleep in the sitting room for the first time ever, because they were so disturbed by the noise. But it is an important tradition for the local people and if we chose to live among them, then we have to accept their ways, and it is only for four days so I am sure we will survive.
Thank you if you are still with me after this mile-long essay. I hope at least some of it was interesting for you. Feel free to browse my other posts giving more details of my family visits and my time in UK. I have lots more photos of Denmark to share so I will write a separate post for them next week.
Meanwhile I will leave you with a couple of sky photos taken from Tom´s roof terrace. The first one shows the sun setting behind the Rainbow walk, so you can see how close to his flat it is.
Now all that is left is for me to link up with Virginia´s blog for her Rocking your world challenge, and with Annie´s Friday Smiles.
I have so much to be grateful for this week, and I didn´t want to leave anything out. I can promise you that if this heat continues all week, next week´s post will be very short indeed!