|FAMILY STUFF||HIKING TRIPS||MISC MUSINGS||ARCHIVES|
|Europe 1997||New Hampshire 1998||On Kittens and Cuckoos||2003|
|Disney 2000||New Hampshire 1999||On the Theater||2004|
|Europe 2000||New Hampshire 2000||My Uncle Edward||2005|
|Southwest 2001||Seattle 2000||My War Journal||2006|
|Cape Cod 2002||New Hampshire 2001||The Current Unpleasantness||2007|
|Opila reunion 2002||Seattle 2002||2008|
|Christmas 2002||New Hampshire 2003||2009|
|Honk! - February 2003||Toni in Alaska, July 2008||2010|
|Memorial Day 2003||The Geezers ride again, 2009||2011|
|July 4 2003||2012|
|Maine, August 2003|
|Lake Winnipesauke, 2004|
|Russell is 90, Sept 2004|
|Europe, August 2005|
|A mighty wind, 2006|
|Xmas 2007 pictures|
|Mike's graduation, June 2008|
|Puerto Rico, January 2011|
|In and around Austin, 2011|
|Romping with the dinosaurs, 2012|
|Trip to Southeast Asia, 2012|
|Views of the Monkeynut presents a vivid multimedia adventure unfolding the splendor of the Lloyd-Davies and Lynch atomic family, featuring, as the nucleus, Peter and Louise; as the electrons, Madeleine and Toni. Discover the agonies and ecstacies of their latest travels, or study the history of their adventures from conception to the present through a vast archive of photographs, scientific facts, questionable rumor, text, graphics and videos.|
New from the Monkeynut, May 2013 - Toni graduates. Three cheers for Toni's graduation! Two of those cheers go to Toni, who has slaved under the hot Texas sun for four long years. The other one goes to my bank account, which has been spilling its life force to make tuition payments all that time.
So what is next for Toni, I hear you ask? Well, she is living and working in Austin over the summer. Then in September, it's off to Cameroon for two years in the Peace Corps! Three more cheers for her!
New from the Monkeynut, April 2013 - rain. I have noted before that the good people of Austin have a very different attitude towards rain from the one I grew up with in London. The weather since the beginning of the year has been what I am accustomed to calling wonderful - warm, sunny and dry. But Austin is opposite-town and this good fortune for me has been a source of anxiety and pain for the other residents.
Well, the tables have been turned. At the beginning of this month, a mega storm system arrived and has been soaking us for two days straight. Not only that, but gale-force winds, hail and warnings on the radio to stay indoors until it is over. Our local bulletin board has been ecstatic; here is a sampling of some of the posts as the storm progressed.
New from the Monkeynut, October 2012 - ACL. Expensive. Crowded. Not planning to go again.
New from the Monkeynut, July 2012 - our trip to southeast Asia. In February 2012, Toni went to Taiwan to study for a semester at National Chengchi University. (You can delight in her blog at Taiwan Toni Trip.) When it came time for her to return to the US, we thought that it would be only prudent to fly out there to make sure that she found her way home without incident, so Louise and I hopped on a plane on June 22 in Austin and arrived in Taipei two days later. (Of course, one of those days was lost when we flew over the international date line; the actual flying time was a slightly more reasonable 25 hours.) Then, once in Southeast Asia, it seemed wrong to come home without having a little look around. It also seemed wrong for Madeleine not to have that opportunity, too, so she joined us a week later in Hanoi.
While we were in Taiwan, we made full use of Toni the Tourguide. She guided us around Taipei, using public transportation with great skill. We visited the important monuments, museums and, most important of all, places to eat. We ate exotic items purchased at night markets, which were sometimes breathtakingly lovely and other times breathtakingly not.
After a few days in Taipei, we hopped on the bus and headed for SunMoon Lake, a large lake in the middle of the island, about 4 1/2 hours away. Toni had reserved a room for us by the lake with breathtakingly fine views, although the weather was damp and unattractive. After a while, it began to pour, effectively shutting us up in the hotel. The next day, however, was beautiful and we spent it enjoying some of the activities around the lake. Then back to the bus to return to Taipei.
On June 29, we headed back to the airport and flew to Hanoi. When we got off the plane, the air was hot, damp and smelled of fish. We passed paddy fields on the way to the city which probably looked mostly how they looked hundreds of years ago, with Vietnamese farmers wading through flooded fields wearing those cone-shaped hats. We also noticed early on that traffic conventions were a little different from the ones we were used to - we saw a single motor scooter ridden by three men in some sort of green uniform, heading directly for the taxi on our side of a divided highway. A hideous and potentially fatal error, I assumed - perhaps I should sound the alarm? But no-one even bothered to honk and our traffic just flowed around the scooter until it finally found a way through the median.
We stayed first at the Metropole Hotel, which is a magnificent edifice from the colonial era. The staff all greet you with "Bonjour", which is an odd holdover from olden times - the French no longer have much of a presence in the city. It is a block from Lake Hoan, on the other side of which is the old quarter of the city. The old quarter was fascinating and we spent a lot of our timing wandering around it. The level of affluence was clearly a big step down from Taipei, but many of the houses were painted in bright colors and were highly decorated. Everyone rode motor scooters and parked them on the sidewalk, so the only way for pedestrians to get around is in the street. Crossing the street was initially a nightmare - the traffic never stops, so the only thing you can do is to venture out slowly, a few steps at a time, into what looks like certain death. Miraculously, the stream of traffic would part and start flowing around you. A few more steps, stopping for large or excessively fast vehicles, then a few more until to your astonishment you find yourself on the other side. Life never tasted so good!
After a few days at the Metropole, we packed our bags and headed for the Kangaroo Cafe in the old quarter. The Cafe also runs a tour business and we had arranged to join a trip to Halong Bay, which is so amazing that the UN has declared it a World Heritage Site. At the last minute, the 'Roo decided to hand us off to another operator, which made us quite nervous but actually worked out just fine. We left most of our bags and boarded the bus for a four-hour ride to the coast, stopping on the way at a large place where they make and sell many tourist trinkets. (I wonder what they are paid to make that stop.) Then, at the harbor, we boarded a small tender that took us out to our boat, where we ate and slept for the next day and a half. The rooms were quite nice, with private bath and some a/c, and Louise and I were right next door to the girls.
Halong Bay is indeed amazing and it was also nice to spend hours puttering around on a boat rather than fighting other tourists for a glimpse of the desk Ho Chi Min used when he was a boy. We had a guide to herd us around when necessary, comfortable chairs to sit on and a bed to lie on. Life was good.
When our two-day boat ride was over, we returned to Hanoi. We stayed in a cheaper and less luxurious hotel, but it was just fine and we enjoyed our last few days before boarding the plane again for the gruelling trip back to Austin.
New from the Monkeynut, June 2012 - some second thoughts about Texas. Last year was the drought, which caused great angst and gnashing of teeth. Whenever it rains, the local neighborhood association bulletin board is filled with expressions of joy . However, I have since come to see that a drought has many advantages. Washed-out picnics: none. Expenditures on umbrellas: none. Difficulty in fording Barton Creek: none. This spring has been extremely wet and these advantages have all been lacking. Most important of all, though, are the difficulties of dealing with the mosquitos, which have been hatching by the billion in the creek. Born and bred in Texas, these mosquitos share all the finest qualities of the state - they are large, they like to get their own way, and they can smell a Yankee a mile away. I asked Don Tenney, our contractor, how he puts up with them and he replied that they don't bother him. I think those stories in the popular press about how great Texas is and how you Yankees should head on down are actually planted by the mosquitos' own Ministry of Fine Dining.
New from the Monkeynut, May 13 2012 - Toni turns 21.
Happy birthday Toni!!!!! Love you lots and looking forward to seeing you shortly in Taiwan!
New from the Monkeynut - Chapter 99 of the continuing saga of Peter's nose. I will not bore you with the history of my nose, of how it went bad on me, how I was unable to distinguish an avocado from an anchovy, how my CT scan showed a blocked right sphenoid, how I had surgery in New York just before our departure for Texas and how the long-awaited improvement failed to materialize - although, if you insist, you can read about all these delights in last year's archive. No, suffice it to say that my nose has failed to regain its former splendor, so I went to see Dr Winegar, an ENT guy in Austin, in March. He gave me a CT scan, which, like the one I had a year earlier, showed a completely blocked right sphenoid; also a grape-sized bony growth in my left frontal. My guy sniffed at the other guy's use of a balloon to try to open up the sphenoid - his plan is to take a demolition crew up there with chainsaws and really open it up. Also, he thought the bony growth could be causing problems too, so he would try to winkle it down and out through my nose. Why the hell not, I thought. So on April 23, I went into the hospital, they fitted me with an IV, the anasthesiologist said something about helping me relax and I woke up about four hours later. Dr Winegar was particularly proud of his prowess in removing the bony growth, which, he said, was well and truly jammed into the sinus and needed some very delicate care to extricate it. He showed it to Louise, who thought it looked kind of like a large molar. He also described with relish the contents of my right sphenoid, which turned out to be a fungus ball resembling some kind of kitchen scrubber. Louise drove me home and I snoozed for the rest of the day at home. Apart from a sore nose and some post-op bleeding, though, I felt pretty good.
Since then, I have been waiting for the moment in which my sense of smell returns, all odious emanations from my sinuses cease and tranquility returns to my nasal passages. And waiting... And...
New from the Monkeynut, April 13, 2012 Volt is gone. After a lifetime of being a vital part of our family, Volt succumbed to chronic kidney disease and related ailments. Tillie has always been more of a picky cat, focussing her love on a few and threatening to rip everyone else into tiny pieces. Volt on the other hand always accepted everyone. He would hop onto any available lap and purr contentedly. At night, he would visit all of our beds, spending an hour here and an hour there, because he loved us all. He had a regal appearance, including a magnificent display of chest fur, which might lead you expect a certain arrogance and disdain. In actuality, his personality was quite the opposite - decent, loving and accepting. He would put up with all kinds of abuse from toddlers who wanted to show their affection but were inexpert in doing so. When his kidneys started to go, he spent a lot of time at the Town Lake Animal Hospital, where he soon became everyone's favorite; after he died, we got a very touching card from the staff. Dr. Spitz, the vet who provided most of his care, was one of his biggest fans and was clearly affected by his death.
Volt was cremated and his ashes buried in our yard under a big tree.
Volt, the best cat in the world, now the finest cat in the sky.
New from the Monkeynut, Winter 2012 On Saturday January 14, Louise, Toni and I headed south to try one of the hikes in the guide-book Toni gave me for Christmas. The park is called Government Canyon Natural Area - not the most imaginative of names - and is actually within the city of San Antonio. The hike was a 7 mile round trip along mostly flat terrain. The day was gorgeous - it was in the high 20ies when we got out of bed, 50ies when we arrived at the park, going up to the high 60ies by the end of the day, and the sky was an amazing deep blue. The high point of the hike was when we came to an area that must have been very squishy 75 million years ago - there were bunches of dinosaur footprints in the rock. Toni suggested that it might have been the dinosaur equivalent of Grauman's chinese theater in Hollywood, where you can see the hand and footprints of the stars. See more here.
After the hike, we headed into San Antonio to check out the Alamo and the Riverwalk and grab some dinner before driving back to Austin. I remember taking my Mum to see the Alamo back in 1968 and seemed to remember that it was out in the country. No more! Either they took it apart stone by stone, smuggled it into the middle of the city and reassembled it, or they took the city apart stone by stone, transported it to the Alamo and reassembled it there. How and when did they do it? (Of course, there's also the possibility that I am confusing the Alamo with the Pyramid of Geezer, which is located somewhere near Seattle.) We parked nearby and did a quick circuit of the Alamo shortly before it closed. We then went on a little stroll on the Riverwalk, but it was getting chilly by then and I was not very well dressed for it so we headed for a restaurant. The restaurant had a nice-looking outdoor section by the river, but I insisted on sitting inside, which was much less appealing and did little to mask the rather ordinary food.
Finally, we staggered back to the car. It was only 7:30, but we were tired from our exertions and arguments were made for heading to the nearest Motel 6. However, we were not that far from home, so we set the compass for Austin and pulled into our driveway by 9, bed by 9:01.
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