England and Italy, Dec. 2007-Jan. 2008
   
Kathy and I planned to spend Dec. 9-Jan. 28 in Firenze this winter.
(We were in Freiburg, Germany, from Dec. 3-9.)  But then our duaghter Katie called from London and asked us to spend a week with them, celebrating an early Christmas (they were flying to the U.S. on Dec. 22 to spend Christmas with our other daughter, Christen, and her family). So on Dec. 17 we flew to London (returning to Firenze on Dec. 22). Somehow I picked up a bug in London, and was too sick to go anywhere on Christmas (we had been invited to two Christmas dinners, one hosted by the American consul). I stayed sick through New Years and finally, on Jan. 8, we decided to come home. But we have a  lot of pictures from London, and a few from Firenze.

Ond of the highlights of our trip to London was the Christmas concert at Nick and Zach's school, Tasis, in which Nick participated.
The stage was decorated with a Santa Claus riding in a sleigh:



The children participating were K-3. Here are some shots of them
performing in which you can pick out Nick, perhaps. (He's in the front row. in a striped shirt.)





In the picture below he's in the middle:



In this one he's playing the bells:



In this one he seems to be arguing with the boy to his
right:



Here is a pic of Tim enjoying the show:





Buddy wasn't allowed to come to the Christmas concert,
but he was at home waiting for us. Here he is with Kathy
and Nick:









Since then, the Clements have gotten another dog,
a mastiff puppy named Beauregard, so now Buddy
has a playmate:






Carol, the Nanny, was also at home waiting:





We had a huge ham for our (early) Christmas dinner:





The dining room was all ready:



As were Nick and Zach:



We opened presents the next day:









Nick got a Wii:



Tim got an amp for his electric guitar:



The stockings were hung by the chimney with care:





Zach got a Ravens' jersey:



And he and Nick got their favorite present, money!



And then, musing, tried to decide what it all meant:



There were some quiet times:







It was at tha airport, wating for the flight back to
Firenze that I began to feel sick. However, we still
had the opportunity to get together with some of our
old friends. Joan Yakkey came over to our apartment,
and we went to a nearby trattoria together:





So did Horace Gibson, who, incidentally, is celebrating
his 90th birthday on Feb. 28 of this year (2008):



The Frosalis also came over; we had planned to go
to see Madam Butterfly with them at Teatro Communale,
but we left to come home a week before the perfomance.





I also felt well enough to take Kathy to lunch on her
birthday at one of our favorite retaurants, Paoli which,
fortunately, was nearby (I was a little shaky on my feet):



The last day we spent in Firenze was a Sunday.
I finally felt well enough to go to church.
Kate was there with her singing group, the Merry
Maidens. She was the choir director at St. James
about ten years after I was, and I sang with her
for a few Sundays before I got sick and had to come
home early (2000). Deja' vu all over again! Here is
Kate with organist Riccardo who has been there ever since
I was the choir director in 1991:



The Maidens rehearsing:



And in the chancel:



Two views of the church (St. James):





That night thee Chaplins invited us for dinner. Tim was in my
choir back in 1991, and we have been friends with his family
(wife Diane, who teaches at the International School) and
daughter Livia, who just turned 11. Tim works at Burlgari,
but by avocation is a chef. He does all the cooking, and his
meals are fabulous. Here are his antipasti:



Here is Livia with Kathy, and, below, Diane:





On returning home, we were happy to see that our
new front porch had been finished in our absence: