Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The swimming pool

Our first home in the United States was located in Patterson, a town near Modesto in the Central Valley of California. That house came with a large in-ground swimming pool, containing a "shallow end" and a "deep end". The pool was brilliant because 1. the house's AC was faulty, 2. that part of the Central Valley gets 100+ degree Fahrenheit weather pretty much every day during the summer, and 3. swimming is fun in itself. Before we swam in the pool, Dad had to clean it, as it was clear the pool had not been cleaned for several months prior to us moving in.

During one of the early cleaning sessions of the pool, while Dad was walking around it doing the cleaning, I was following him and talking, and if I recall correctly, Dad stopped suddenly, and I kept going, avoided him, but then fell in at the deep end! Fortunately, Dad had got most of the dirt out of the pool at the time I had fallen in, and he was quick to get me out of the pool. My brother and I soon learned how to swim after this incident.

We swam on most sunny days during our time in that house; a few times we used the pool for our parties and occasionally for those of friends: being in the pool and then eating barbecued food was a wonderful thing to do (though we never ate then swam, of course). While we have not swam on a regular basis since we left that house in 1999 nor swam in a pool at all since 2003, swimming is still something that I am fond of, recommend to others, and would like to do again.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial

It's Memorial Day, and so we decided to visit the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial. We spent the morning there and viewed the memorial service that was being performed this year. The ceremony was quiet, as was to be expected, and there were numerous American military personnel in attendance, with many helping out with organizing the service, and others involved in the service itself.

The Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial is a place in the United Kingdom that commemorates the United States servicemen and women who died during World War II. It is one of the fourteen permanent American World War II cemetery memorials that have been built in foreign countries by the American Battle Monuments Commission. There are the remains of 3,812 military dead here, as well as 5127 names listed on the wall. The University of Cambridge donated the land in 1943.

This was actually the second time we have visited the cemetery. We visited it before a couple of months ago, and found it to be an interesting experience: we thought about the people who were buried there and their sacrifices. That was my first visit ever to a military cemetery, and also my first visit to a cemetery in general.

Here is a picture and a video that I took today. If you listen carefully in the video, you can hear music from the service playing in the background. Here they are:

The link for this memorial is located at http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/ca.php

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The three madrones

One thing my brother and I did a lot during our first five years in Oregon was climb a trio of madrone trees. We had two on our own land that we liked to climb, and another on a neighbor's (my brother and I were allowed to go on the lands of our nearest neighbors at this time). The first one on our own land we discovered when we were looking for climbable trees and found this particular madrone a little up the hill behind the garage. It actually couldn't be climbed very well at all, even though a tree we could climb well was what we wanted. Still, it became a good place to rest and we did use if often when we first found it.

With the second tree, it too was near the garage, but was actually closer than the first. It also was easier to climb, having a thick branch at the front which was easy to get to, easily strong enough to support us both or more if we wanted to, and had a great view of the valley we lived in. From it, we would just talk, take in the view of the valley; or, if something was troubling us, we'd just sit on the tree and keep calm there or just think about the problem.

The second tree meant a lot to us, so did the first, and they meant no less, despite our decline in climbing them when we discovered a third madrone tree, this one being the one on our neighbor's property. The third madrone was climbable like the second, but differed in the fact that pretty much every house in the valley and beyond could be seen from the highest accessible branch (I reckon it was twenty feet up or so). I remember us going to that tree every day at one point and spending hours there, with me going to that branch and looking over the valley while my brother preferred the middle section of the tree, which wasn't as high but still provided a great view.

In the second five of the ten years we spent in Oregon, we climbed the trees less, as we got busier with other things; in addition, the third tree became less of a great place to visit since our neighbor moved and sold their property to someone else. Still, we managed to make the occasional trip to it. It's now been a year since I last saw any of the trees, but they will always be significant to my brother and myself, and we won't forget them.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Holme Pierrepont (again)

This is a picture I took at the Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre. It was taken on a very nice summer day last year, and shows the main rowing lake, with some geese and swans swimming in it.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Holme Pierrepont

One of the first places we got to visit when we moved to the UK was the Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre in Nottinghamshire. As the name implies, it's a watersports park: there's a large lake, ponds for water skiing and ski jumps, and a white water course for canoes. There's some indoor facilities too, but I've never been to those parts of the park. Events are often held here, but there's no obligation to take part in them, nor does the park get closed when these events are on (well, it's never been closed due to events whenever I've been there).

It's also just a pretty place to visit: there are plenty of parts to walk, with the longest place being the path directly around the lake. The park is home to multiple birds, including ducks, swans, and geese (the photo I took of the goose in my avatar was taken there!), and there's plenty of grass and trees, as well as some footpaths leading out of the facility. It's nice to sit and watch the birds go about their life, or to view some rowing teams race each other then see a motorized boat overtake them. :)

Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre should not be confused with Holme Pierrepont: Holme Pierrepont is the name of the hamlet (in the UK, a hamlet is a rural community smaller than a village) the park is located near. However, from my experience a lot of people (myself included) refer to the park as just "Holme Pierrepont", forgetting that the hamlet had the name first.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Stargate Atlantis

One thing I didn't expect to do when coming to the UK was to watch the entirety of Stargate SG-1, its two films (the two made after SG-1 finished), and Stargate Atlantis. It's thanks to my grandfather that we even began watching it, as he showed us the program while we were staying at my Dad's parents' house. When we moved to where we are now, he let us borrow the discs, and today we just finished the last episode of Stargate Atlantis.

We often saw trailers for SG-1/Atlantis when we watched a couple of other science fiction shows on TV a few years ago, but we never watched either of the two programs. I'm glad my grandfather did get us to watch them...they've been good shows, and now that we've finished them, he can have his discs back!

On music

I love music: the first songs I ever remember liking were "Orinoco Flow" and "Video Killed the Radio Star" back when I was a toddler. My parents have a huge collection of music, originally LPs and then CDs, and I have been lucky that they have a wide range of artists to listen to, such as the Pet Shop Boys, Air Supply, Zaine Griff, Robson & Jerome, Visage, David Bowie, Ralph McTell, The Moody Blues (who have performed near two places we've lived, both in the UK and the US!), and Belinda Carlisle. To this day they are adding to their collection, with both new and old songs alike.

I do have my own music collection: I received my first albums in Christmas 2003, and the artist was Albert Ketèlbey, a classical musician from the first half of the 20th century. Since then, I now have about 60 albums, and it includes artists like Avril Lavigne, André Rieu, Hilary Duff, Evanescence, Maroon 5, Carrie Underwood, Leona Lewis, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Kelly Clarkson. In all, I'm happy with my collection, and I don't mind discussing it if there's interest.

Music plays a variety of roles: it can make people happy or sad, get them dancing, motivate them, get them thinking, relaxes people, gives a message/tells a story; and at the very least, it's just nice to listen to. I like to talk to people about music and share thoughts over it. It's often said that music is something that pretty much everyone can somehow relate to (in a positive way): over the years I have come to agree more and more with that view.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


One thing I have noticed about the UK is that there seem to be a lot of designated public footpaths, often connecting neighborhoods with parks, the outskirts of the town, or even each other. The town we live in has quite a few of these and they are fun to explore: one could easily spend an afternoon or two walking the paths in the town. There's even a footpath by the side of the river. I always liked exploring paths at our property in Oregon (one of the states where we used to live), and having footpaths here lets us continue the exploring element. At my grandparents'/Dad's parents' home several footpaths are located there, which is a good thing because it appears that the footpaths are in the heavily populated areas (they live near a big city) too, rather than just confined to the rural places as I initially thought they would be.

Blog name and handle

So what are the origins of the blog name Air Nice-to-Livelands, and of my signing handle Andrew-L'autre? Well, "Air Nice-to-Livelands" was the name of a city I built in SimCity 3000 ages ago, and I thought it would be a good name to recycle. L'autre is both French for "the other", and also the name of an album by Mylène Farmer. Of course, the other reason for wanting to use these as names is because to me they look and sound good, and I'm a fan of words and names that merely look and sound good.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

First post

For several years I've thought about creating a blog, but my interest did fade during 2007 onwards with other events taking place. It's now nearly June 2011, some five years after I first thought about creating a blog, and even though I will be getting busier in life, my interest in blogging has been renewing, and with a little encouragement, I decided to start one (thanks Kimberly!). I may not be the most active of bloggers, but I'll try to post at least once a week. Feel free to prod me if I haven't posted anything in over a week. :)

That's the introduction out of the way, now to start blogging!