Thursday, June 10, 2010

Karate kids ;)

Chad's got some old friends in Bar Harbor who got into karate quite a few years ago and do it as a family activity (the couple has two sons).  We've talked about how fun it would be to do something like that, and when we arrived in the UK, I looked around at karate classes that were in the area.  There is a dojo in Keynsham, but since we didn't have a car then and were beholden to the train schedule, I was never back in town early enough to attend.  When we moved closer to town, I thought I'd check to see if there was a dojo around here, and lo and behold, there is!  We got in touch and attended our first class a little over a month ago.  They were really awesome allowing us to come for a whole month to see if we liked it, and like it we do!  This past Tuesday, we finally got our gis (pronounced gees with a hard "g") and our white belts!  There's something very satisfying about doing something so physical and regimented together; it's nice to have something like this to share.  When we got home on Tuesday night, we were the weirdos out in the street practising our katas, but it was really fun!  We also got to see our instructors pass out belts to two members of the dojo, which was pretty awesome.  There was a real sense of giddy pride in the room, and it was great to see them rewarded for all their hard work!
The type of karate we're doing is shotokai, which is a  lot less aggressive than the traditional shotokan karate that most people are familiar with.  It just so happened that this is the one that's available to us, but it's also by far my preference - it's really beautiful and graceful, but also full of strength without being so combative.  It's very similar to yoga in a lot of ways, and works with lots of the same principles, particularly work with energy and a sort of sixth sense.
As you can see from our sweaty selves in the photo, it's a heck of a workout, but also really social as well.  We all went out for curry after practise on Tuesday since it was the anniversary of the Bath club.  There are about five other classes that we can go to during the week as well, which is super, and we might go to another one on Sunday.  Will post more photos when we have them over the coming months, hopefully with new belts of our own!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Recent events...

Hello!  We've had quite a busy last few days...well, really last few weeks, but these photos were taken over the course of a visit with our friend, Luise.  

I went to massage school with Luise at Kripalu, and we've stayed in touch since.  She's on a wild European adventure, traveling around Switzerland, Germany, and Italy with her boyfriend, Dean, and she made a bit of a detour to come and stay with us for a few days. Those were some full days, and they flew by.  On Tuesday, we went to Lacock Abbey (pictured above), where parts of the first two Harry Potter films were shot.  

The abbey was in excellent shape, and the grounds were stunning.  I loved the way the light bounced off the golden stone.  It was a perfect rainy day outing; most of the crowds were held at bay, and by the time we were ready to walk around the town of Lacock, the rain had tapered off.  


There wasn't much to the town, really just four streets that formed 
a square beginning and ending at the National Trust parking lot, but it was full of little nooks and crannies, including a small church and graveyard, a gorgeous old barn that is let out for events - yes, I'll have my wedding here, please!...oh wait...

This was the inaugural trip with our new GPS, who we've tentatively named Jeeves.  We were less than thrilled with the route he took us on to get the Lacock, so we asked him for some alternative routes for the way back.  We had planned to stop for some cream tea at the Bridge Tea Rooms in Bradford-on-Avon, but we didn't have the time.  Luckily, via some little farm roads, Jeeves took us to a lovely little farm shop where we indulged in scones, clotted cream, jam, and pots of tea....mmmm.

The next day, Luise and Chad headed down to Glastonbury to the Tor while I slaved away at work ;)  When I got home, much to my delight, another one of our massage classmates had arrived.  Georgina lives about two hours away, but we hadn't seen each other in almost two years.  Thanks to Luise, we were all reunited.  Later, we found ourselves at an Indian restaurant on Elvis night with a number of intoxicated students from Chad's programme.  It was quite surreal, but endlessly entertaining.

Yesterday, Thursday, Georgina, Luise, Chad, and I drove down to Stonehenge.
I mean, really...what is there to say?  It was totally amazing.
We spent a few hours just hanging out with the stones, talking about all sorts of awesome new age hippy stuff - energy and grounding and ceremony...we took a mini doze in the sun and wished we'd brought a picnic.  It was such a lovely afternoon, and even though there were lots of tourists, we felt really comfortable and like we had our own space.  I know lots of people out there aren't really into energy, so suffice it to say that there was definitely a very nice vibe going on. 

A swashbuckling Georgina:
Chad, being eaten by a large stump:

Do stay tuned for upcoming karate photos!  We're really loving it and are getting our Gis on Tuesday!