Every destination around the world offers something unique and special for families to explore. Come take a peak at a few destinations our Children’s Concierge families have explored and discover some of theinteresting ways they have explored these destinations.
London • Turkey • Thailand • India • Rome • Egypt • Panama • Washington, DC
We bet you think the British Parliament is confusing or maybe boring, at best. Right? Wrong!
With the correct attention and focus, it can be amazing! Hysterical! Mesmerizing! Lots and lots
of fun! To get you in the right mood and prepare you for what you will encounter if you decide
to pay a visit, here is a little background information for you:
In a nutshell—
The word Parliament comes from parler, Norman French for talk.
The House of Commons is publicly elected. The party with the largest number of members in the House of Commons forms the government. British citizens have no direct say in who becomes Prime Minister. The best they can do is vote for their party’s Members of Parliament (MP—stands for Member of Parliament.). After the results of the general election have been announced, the leader of the party with an overall majority (ie. The party with more MPs than all of the other parties put together) goes to Buckingham Palace and asks the Queen for permission to form a government. Luckily for them, there is sort of an unwritten agreement that the Queen will never say "No" to the leader of the biggest party.
Members of the House of Commons debate the big political issues of the day and make proposals for new laws. The House of Commons alone is responsible for making decisions on financial Bills, such as proposed new taxes. The House of Lords can consider these Bills but cannot block or amend them.
The House of Lords is the second, upper chamber, of Parliament. It complements the work of the House of Commons. It debates and ratifies all bills successfully passed through the House of Commons before they become law. The Lords can and do reject bills!! The membership of The House of Lords is mostly appointed by the Queen on recommendation from the current government and from the 26 prominent Bishops of the Anglican Church. It includes experts in many fields.
The formal title of the House of Lords is The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament Assembled
Got it? Or maybe you would like a teacher/guide to join you on your visit to help make sense of it all! We know of some really good ones!!
Now, when you visit—
Listen for these words/sounds
"I spy strangers",
a door being slammed shut
"Mr Deputy Speaker,"
"Madam Deputy Speaker,
“aye” or “no,”
“content” or “not content,”
Look for these—
a long gown,
a white wig,
a red line on the carpet
collapsible top hats
the red woolsack
a golden mace
people half out of their seats
True or False—The British monarch may not set foot in the House of Commons. Hmmm!
And also, when you visit—definitely expect the unexpected!
Say! Does any other country have a ruling body called Parliament? Are you sure?
May we introduce you to Eyup. He’s one of our most favorite people in Turkey!! We all think he knows absolutely everything about everything in Turkey! So we frequently give him some weird challenges.
One especially fun challenge for Eyup was to introduce Turkey’s minarets to an inquiring family with three young children. Yes, minarets! You can find them in almost any country around the world. And they’re all pretty cool but they are not all the same!
Minarets can be—
tall with finials, two-tiered, three- tiered, wooden, made of stone, thin, squatty, four in number, six in number, only one in number, ten in number, with a balcony, with no balcony, beautifully tiled, elaborately carved, with spiral stairs, with windows , square, round, or octagonal
Oh! My! What does it all mean? What in the world does a minaret do, actually? Why does it exist? Hmmm!
Turkey is a great place to begin researching the answer to these questions! When you visit be sure and bring along your camera and some sketching materials, maybe even a measuring tape. We don’t want you to forget any of the minarets!!
Thailand is an incredibly wonderful place to check out the answers to some of your questions about the world of plants and animals. Come for a visit, take on the role of a budding scientist and try your hand at using the scientific method -
Make Beginning Observations—Do Some Research—Form a Hypothesis—Test Your Hypothesis -Draw Conclusions—Explain your findings to others
How about using the scientific method to study bats or elephants or dolphins or gibbons or maybe mangrove trees in Thailand? Our families that try their hand at using the scientific method are always surprised at the results!!
Think about it—If you were to collect data and do a study about elephants you could learn about elephant communication and elephant friendships. You might get a look at the care of sick elephants and learn about the diseases they commonly catch. You could certainly get a better understanding of the relationship between elephants and humans and about problems facing elephants in Thailand today. Along the way you might even have the opportunity to help elephant keepers bathe and feed the elephants. You do realize that elephants bathe in rivers, don’t you? We want photos!
India is the supreme place to think about colors, magnificent colors! At first blush the idea may seem silly and not so important; kind of fluffy. But, with a little bit of focusing you’ll come to realize the important things you can discover about life in India from looking at its different colors.
Color plays an important role in India’s religion, in its government, in its festivals and in its celebrations. It doesn’t make any difference whether you’re in the north, south, east or west of the country, you must learn about their colors—about their culture!!
We love to send families off with a teacher guide and challenge them to crack the code of India’s colors. For instance, in India—
Black connotes lack of desirability, evil, negativity and inertia. It represents anger and darkness and is associated with the absence of energy, barrenness and death. Black is used as a representation of evil and is often used to ward off evil.
White is the absence of color and is the only color widows are allowed to wear. It is the acceptable color at funerals and ceremonies that mark death in the family
Red is dynamic! It incites fear and is the color associated with Durga, one of the most revered goddesses in Hindu mythology. Red also stands for purity and is the preferred color for a bride's garment. It symbolizes fertility and prosperity. It symbolizse wealth and grandeur—sort of the way purple represents royalty in the west.
Yellow symbolizes sanctity and is an essential herbal ingredient applied on the body and face by women all over the subcontinent.
There is Jaipur the Pink City and there is Jodhpur the Blue City!
A family must explore hard to crack the color code!! But when they get it, they really get IT!
One of our favorite teacher guides in Rome is also an art historian. He’s very clever and has created a really wild scavenger hunt of the Vatican Museum for us. It has all sorts of different challenges on it—rhymes, hidden objects to find, riddles to solve, drawings to complete—all perfect for a different kind of family adventure. And our families love it!
Here are some tools for exploring a part of this museum. They don't make much sense unless you are actually in the museum. But, we thought they might start your creative juices flowing:
Look front, look back, look all around
Find a man, not in yellow, green or blue
But one all dressed in shades of brown!
Walk to the end of the hall, turn half way around, look to your immediate left, and tell us the first thing you see that is at your eyelevel. Think about what you are observing. Study it very carefully. Now tell us how you think it was created—
By chiseling away at a solid block of stone?
By pulling, pushing and shaping a block of wet clay?
By adding more stone to a small block of stone?
Quick! Count all the naked statues/sculpture in this room.
Now design/describe how you would dress each of them!
See! We told you theVatican Museum could be VERY interesting and different!
Have you ever thought about water around the world? It's really quite fascinating and interesting—and necessary!! Have you ever considered the many different ways humans are dependent on water? Have you ever thought about life on planet earth without water? Hmmm!
What would you say to beginning a study about water in Egypt? You would probably say somehting like— OOOh!Boring! But you would be oh, so wrong! Think about it—
How many major cities around the world are built on rivers?
How does not having accessible water affect a family’s lifestyle?
Do children play different games when they live near the water?
Is there such a thing as too much water? How about too little water?
How does a family’s food change when they live along a river as compared to
living in a desert?
What happens when a river begins to dry up? Where do the people and the
animals go? What happens to the plant life?
Is it possible to farm and grow crops without any water. amy water at all?
Get the picture?
Egypt has the Nile River—and the Sahara Desert—and nearby oceans/seas. This makes it a really perfect place for families to explore and actually experience, first-hand, the answers to some of these questions.
Bring a bucket, come along and find out for yourself!
The country of Panama lends itself perfectly to exploring some of the world’s interesting physical geographical features such as an isthmus, an archipelago, a canal (man-made but a canal, none-the-less), oceans, a spine of mountains and—very interesting weather—all in a big way!! It’s located in the southern most region of Central America. It runs 1,065 miles horizontally between Colombia to the south and Costa Rica to the north and its land mass is only 445miles wide between the Caribbean Sea (Atlantic Ocean side) and the Pacific Ocean. Generally speaking, the Caribbean or Atlantic coast tends to get more rain, more frequently and for longer periods of time, while the Pacific coast tends to have less rainy weather altogether.
So, what does this mean? It means we like to send our families off to experience life on the San Blas Islands that form the archipelagoon the Caribbean/Atlantic Ocean side of the Isthmus of Panama. It means experiencing real island life, not vacation island life, but REAL island life!! Our families have had to be very creative! Can you imagine life without your smart phone? What would you do without your Ipad? Oh, my! Imagine life when it rains and rains and rains some more – for days? Some of our families have thought we were crazy when we suggested such!! But when they got the island mind-set, things changed!
There is much to explore here! There is much to learn here!
The San Blas islands transport you back many centuries into the past. The Kuna Indians, who run the islands (there are 378 islands of which only 49 are inhabited) have their own economic system, language, customs and culture; their own distinctive dress, legends, music and dance. The economy of the islands is based on coconut sales and fishing. They still climb coconut palm trees for something fresh and cool to drink each morning.
Another interesting geographical note—In Panama the sun rises over the Pacific and sets over the Atlantic.
Can you see the possibilities?
Exploring Washington, DC
Then and Now!
Life in early Washington, DC was pretty rustic! When building began on the new Capital City, the surrounding land consisted of dense forests, farmland and many wide fields. There were only Native Americans and a few tobacco farmers living nearby. The city had no paved roads, only dirt ones at best, open sewers and much of it flooded periodically when the Tiber Creek overflowed its boundaries. How very messy!
Jenkins Hill (today known as Capitol Hill) was the chosen site for the new Capitol Building and around it a city soon began to grow—pubs, boarding houses and markets began to spring up. How promising!
You probably would not have enjoyed living in Washington, DC in 1800, the year President John Adams (our 2nd president) and Mrs. Adams moved into the just built (and still unfinished) President’s House. Mrs. Adams certainly did not enjoy it! Besides the general inconveniences of the new city itself, the roof of the President’s House had not been fully completed. There was no glass in many of the windows on the House. Water for President and Mrs. Adams had to be hauled from a half-mile away and there was not a single bathroom in the President's House! But, not to worry—there was a 3-seater outhouse in the back yard. Good thing!!
And what about the rest of the city in the early 19th Century—
Our trendy Georgetown (then called the town of George) was still part of the state of Maryland and it was a booming harbor. But despite it’s prosperity, I’m afraid it had no J Crew store, no Banana Republic store and no antique stores; not even an ice cream parlor or a cupcake shop!
The U.S. Capitol was still under construction and had no dome on it yet.
There were no monuments and memorials on the National Mall. In fact, there was no National Mall!
The land on which Arlington National Cemetery is situated today was vacant but was about to become the home of George Washington Parke Custis, a step-grandson and adopted son of George Washington. Later it would become the home of Robert E. Lee and his wife. During the Civil War it was taken by the North to become the final resting place for soldiers who died fighting for the North. A very interesting fate for the former estate of the Confederate General Robert E Lee, don't you think!
And where were all DC’s neatly laid out streets and frustrating circles in 1800? Still only in Monsieur L’Enfant’s design!
Now, take a look at life in Washington, DC in the early 21st Century
Come with us and we’ll give you a set of photos/drawings of the way the Capital City looked in earlier times. And then we will CHALLENGE you to find the very same sites today!
Are you up for the CHALLENGE?
But wait! It’s not over yet! We’re not through!! We CHALLENGE you to go one step further—can you sketch/write a description of these sites as you imagine they will look in the future?!?
Are you up for theCHALLENGE?
If you really need some help, perhaps we can introduce you to Sally Purdey. She was a tutor in the employ of General and Mrs. Washington at their Mount Vernon estate. So she knows all about life around Washington, DC when it was our new Federal City. Perhaps she can give you some perspective on the past and help you project to the future.
But, no matter what the year and how things change, nothing in Washington, DC will ever be taller than the dome of the U.S. Capitol building.
Do you know why? No? Ah! You definitely must visit DC and accept our Challenge!!
Where DOES PICKLEs & PEAs Come From?
Here’s what our founder had to say:
“When my husband and I were dating he use to write songs for me, all quite clever. The one I liked the most was called “Pickles and Peas.” Later it became our saying for cheering each other on to good things. So it just stuck, through life events and business.”