At the bottom on the left is an alphabetical list of the pages in this web site, to help you navigate if you feel so inclined.
A guide to our family photo album covering 1994-2010, showing the principal themes, is here.
A year by year guide to our family time-line from 1994 through 2007 is here.
A photo journal beginning in 2008 is here.
The most recent pages of the album, copies of posts from my WordPress family blog, http://ianstock.wordpress.com/, are linked here:
"To all who come to this Happy Place, welcome!" Walt Disney used those words when he opened the original Disneyland in Anaheim California in 1955.
He could have been talking to us.
We started going to Eurodisney almost as soon as we got together, and it has always been such a happy place for us. Look at the expressions on those faces!
Daphné, Marie-Hélène and Alban were on the "train fou." which is what we called the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, early in 1995 (others of the same ride here and here) during the visit with Grandma. As you can feel from the photo, it was our favorite ride for years. We would wait until a rainy day or late in the day so that the children could go on it again and again without lining up. There is a picture of this ride, along with its full size Western American cousins, here.
This is a family that came of age, so to speak, in Disneyland in Paris, thanks to Grandma Stock. When Marie-Hélène and Ian moved in together in a village in the Forest of Rambouillet, each bringing a pair of rather confused and unhappy children, all hell was breaking loose all around. The respective prior relationships (his and her exes) both went crazy, financial problems reared their heads, the kids expressed and emoted (duck!), and even the tax authorities seemed to embark on a vendetta.
Into this psycho-social chaos rolled Ian's mother, whose continuing ill-health obliged her to spend much of her time in a wheelchair, and off we went. She invited all of us (we were then six, Charles and Alexander having been barely imagined) to stay with her at Disneyland outside Paris. It was an oasis for us, and stayed that way for two years as we visited again and again, using the annual passports that she was kind enough to offer us all.
Grandma only managed to accompany us to Eurodisney a couple of times because of her terrible health. On the right was one of those occasions, for her birthday in 1995. She was 68.
So, logically enough, she received a birthday cake! It was in the California Grill at the Disneyland Hotel, and she was not expecting it. Hence the amazed look in the picture above.
N.B. her cigarettes, which were never far from her reach. She smoked a couple of packs a day of unfiltered cigarettes for her entire life after the army, and no ailment could convince her to quit. Her "fags" and the interminable cups of tea were fixtures for those who knew her.
So the beginnings of this family were cemented at Disneyland in more ways than one. The photo below shows Marie-Hélène, Daphné and Tom on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at the original Disneyland in Anaheim in April 1999.
Ian asked Marie-Hélène to marry him on Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland in Paris, the roller coaster that we all called the "train fou." He thought that she said "oui", but it could have been 'wheeeeeee"! None of us ever tired of the "train fou", and we did get married!
Sadly, when we tried to purchase a plaque in the park recounting this story, the managers turned it down, apparently finding it risqué. No way, guys! Just a little harmless fun!
Whatever was going on in that nasty world outside, the beautiful decor and painstaking attention to every detail, not forgetting the best rides that "imagineers" can come up with, were a little, easy-to-reach sea of gaiety and frolics. Here, at least, the children were able to be children, and how!
Listing of Pages in the Site
. . . with Alban