Sunday, 31 August 2008

More DIY

I think the parents felt a little guilty for helping us destroy the hall, as it has become apparent that pigs will fly before we manage to get it redecorated! So this weekend they came to help us sort it out. Except we hadn't managed to get it to a stage where it could be sorted out in a weekend!

But we did manage lots of really useful things! Mf made us wonderful curtains for Picard's room, and we all helped hem them - you wouldn't think it was a four person job....

Everyone has to help with curtain measuring!

Ian and FF did an amazing job on the ceiling of the hall and now at least there is no wallpaper left at all.

But most importantly, we bought a very complicated 10-position ladder which impersonates a stick insect before folding down to something eminently storable, and allows us to get into the loft properly!

Ian (blurry!) in the loft for the first time!

We put in some proper boards and suddenly, there was room to store all the boxes of rubbish that have been inhabiting the study for the last three years. Now we can put them up there, forget all about them, and only realise what a lot of junk we keep when either we move house or the loft is full! The only downside (or maybe an upside) of this new game, is that my very pregnant stomach won't fit through the rather narrow loft hatch!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Dangerous boardgames

A few weeks ago, police raided a climate camp in Kent and seized knives, chisels, bolt cutters...... and a board game! See: War on Terror boardgame branded criminal by police.

Aparently, the board game was confiscated becuase it contained a balaclava which "could be used to conceal someone's identity or could be used in the course of a criminal act". Yes, a very dangerous piece of equipment.

But when you start to look at the game, it is really rather good! Its a satire of Bush's War on Terror, based on a Risk format, but with all sorts of extra features which allow you, in addition to declaring war and conquering neighbouring countries, to train terrorist cells, launch strikes, and generally do all things terrorist. You can also bankrupt other conpetitors by playing the "Kyoto protocol" card, and at any time abandon the pursuit of of liberty and oil in favour of becoming a terror state . There is an "Axis of Evil spinner" intended to parody international diplomacy by randomly deciding which player is designated a terrorist state. That person then has to wear a balaclava (included in the box set) with the word "Evil" stitched on to it.

Its really most amusing. And the FAQs on the game's website are worth reading ( In response to the question, "Isn't it a bit tasteless?", the creators' simple answer is "That depends on your taste. Personally, we think the actual "War on Terror" is in pretty bad taste. This is just a board game". Can't argue with that!

So, having read the articles about the game in most major newspapers, Vicki decided that we needed to play the game and promptly ordered it. So that's what we did ALL Saturday night:

We discovered some useful things. Terrorism has many different cards to play, the distinction between a good move and a bad move is sometimes difficult to ascertain, and most importantly, the World Bank always wins.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Obsessive comparison shopping

It has become clear why it takes so long for me and Ian to buy anything – we have to comparison shop everything! We need to get a changing bag for Picard, and although the Mothercare catalogue has plenty in, I was kind of intrigued by the fancy Skip Hop bags which were not only rather fancy looking (fun materials and elegant shapes), but had some clever system for hooking properly onto the buggy handle rather than just draping over like most people do. I was rather shocked at the idea of spending £55 on a bag, and so have been scouring ebay for these bags and realising that they get snapped up for quite a lot! So we thought that, as I was getting cabin fever from being in York (work doesn’t count), we’d take a trip to Harrogate, try and have tea with Rosie and Pete and look at said bag in the wonderfully overpriced JoJo Maman Bebe.

I’m glad we did. I was right – spending £55 on something that keeps reminding you how chic and stylish it is is always a mistake. Yes, they were bags, but not bags that you’d want to use in the rain (no proper fastening at the top), and not bags that you could get much in. The second you stuffed them with a waterproof or two, the poppers wouldn’t do up and then the rain really would pour in. That would have been a serious waste of money.

So we had a wander around Harrogate and played in the park a bit, failed to see Pete and Rosie because they were going on holiday, and had a quick look at the rather pathetic offerings of Mothercare.

But we did need a changing bag, so we went home via Mama and Papas in York (I do detest the fact that they insist on having their stores in out of town shopping centres), and took apart all of their bags. There were a good many that again had no proper fastening (do chic mothers just not leave the house when it rains?), and a few that were pretty and really just a bag, but in the end we settled on one which has suitable numbers of pockets, a sensibly sized changing mat, wipe clean insides, expanded exponentially and still does up and looks about as waterproof as you are likely to get. I won’t say how much it cost, coz I was quite shocked (and the evil Mamas and Papas had put up their prices but not on the labels – got rather irritated with the shop assistant about that), but at least we have a sensible bag. Our thought is that the simpler it is to take Picard out of the house, the better.

The rest of the weekend was taken up with trying to sort out the study. I sorted some stuff and moved books around ineffectually, while Ian did a sterling job painting the last remaining wall and plastering bits of the hallway. Now all we have to do is work out how we are going to safely rig up the ladder so that the cracks near the ceiling at the top of the stairs can be reached.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Nimmy in Greensboro

I guess taking and uploading lots of pictures when you have just started an adventure that is going to last a year is probably not the most exciting use of time. Especially if you don't like being a tourist and constantly taking photos. So it is just as well that Nimmy has friends who will take photos of her!

So here is what it looks like Nimmy is doing:

Drinking wine with other VIFers

Getting a shiny new car

Going to see the Greensboro Grasshoppers (I think they are a baseball team)

Monday, 4 August 2008

Sending Nimmy off

This weekend Nimmy left the UK for sunny (literally) Greensboro, so we went down to Oxford to see her off. We spent most of Saturday packing and repacking and putting suitcases on the bathroom scales, and then had dinner with the Matthewseses. Mf put her new camera to good use and practised using the ridiculous zoom.

On Sunday we took Nim to Gloucester Green to catch the 7am bus and then didn't really know what to do with ourselves. So we did the usual - the Greenough Standard Walk A by the river followed by paying our respects to Waitrose!

I'm not sure that I don't just look fat rather than pregnant....

Crazy zoom