Friday, 17 May 2013
Thea is very fond of horses at the minute. When she sees one (real or in a book), she says "Nay! Dop, dip, dop, dip" (clip clop). So we thought we better take her to the racecourse to see the nays. We've got our system worked out now, so we were in the right place to see two starts and watch the tired nays walking back to the stables after the race. As usual, it was pretty exciting because race-nays are rather big and go very fast.
Nathaniel wasn't desperately interested in the horses, but he was absolutely fascinated by the processes in getting the races started. He watched, with great concentration, the racecourse people (who knows what they are called?), moving the starting gates after the race - removing the numbers over each gate, hitching them up to land rovers, towing them to the next start, resetting, putting up the starters platform and attaching the gate-opening button etc etc etc. Very interesting.
Sunday, 12 May 2013
Today it was the Alex Smith race at the sailing club. This entails sailing halfway to York and then racing near the salubrious A64 bridge with a picnic. But on a day when it was forecast to rain on and off and gust 40mph, it didn't seem like a great child-friendly activity. So instead we took advantage of the sun (winter has returned to York), and went for a paramble at Askham Bog. Its nicer than it sounds. We were never likely to see the deer with our resident foghorn in tow, and I saw a total of one robin, but we saw lots of interesting plants. We examined reeds and marvelled at the fractal-nature of ferns. No-one got stuck in the bog, but both children tried. Thea had a good go at balancing on the raised edge of the board walks, and used the passing spaces for spinning around and around. Nathaniel was mainly a mouse who was scared of the rustling reeds and did more scampering than I've seen for some time.
The afternoon brought the rain that we were promised and Ian and I mainly wanted to snooze - not an easy thing to do with two children with verbal diarrehoea. So instead we broke open the box of Lidl cornflakes and some cake cases and they were busy for about an hour. The activity was improved by the cake decorations and a modest amount of crispie mix, but nevertheless, lidl cornflakes (nutritional value=0), are my new favourite toy!
Monday, 6 May 2013
It was time for another day trip to celebrate Jim and Vicki's car, and with the winter over and the prospect of spending all day outside rather appealing, we went to visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It was immediately exciting. Nathaniel and I had talked at length about sculpture and what it might look like, but he wasn't expecting it to be as simple as a bridge. Nevertheless, Thea found the Ha Ha Bridge endlessly wonderful. She ran over it and around it and back over. She took run ups to it and peered through it. Never has art been so much fun!
Meanwhile, Nathaniel had tempted everyone away from the scultpure and into his "house" where he spent some time identifying various room and directing us to where to sit, eat, sleep etc. We had no objections. Playing in trees is great fun, especially when the foliage is so thick that you are totally hidden from view and can alarm innocent passers by!
That being said, we did enjoy finding scultpures. Some were wierder than others, some were downright scary.
Some were just pleasant.
I enjoyed Barbara Hepworth's Family of Man and we had lots of fun with the musical installation that played things triggered by you walking around it.
For Nathaniel, one of the highlights was seeing a campervan that matched the campervan in his bag. We spent some time examining the two of them together and identifying the differences.
Thea enjoyed the bits you could walk on - which was lots of things. The more precarious the bridge/rock face/scrambling precipice, the better.
After a picnic in the sun we wandered down to the woods to see sculpture hidden around the lake amongst the last of the bluebells.
Thea had a nap and we played pooh-sticks and walked on stepping stones.
It was all extremely pleasant. We just ambled around admiring or being puzzled by the scultpure, watching the wildlife, and having many snack/ice cream stops. You could hardly ask for a more relaxed day.
Nathaniel walked all around without grumbling, helped by his trusty stick which we had to bring home.
Thea was not going to be outdone.
(Cheetah was there too, of course)
And the best thing is that, despite wandering all day, we have still only covered half of the park and didn't even get to any of the indoor galleries. I foresee many future visits!
(Cheetah was there too, of course)
Sunday, 5 May 2013
At last, a day when it was plausible for us to go to the sailing club! I spent the morning, in rather gusty conditions, demonstrating to a novice crew how to convincingly lose two races.
Nathaniel and Dorothea kept themselves busy outside the "club-shed" (named by Nathaniel).
In the afternoon, Ian took out said novice while I spent some time with a clingy baby, and Nathaniel and I took a walk onto the bridge. The wind had calmed down dramatically, and as we watched Sea Willow glide (maybe drift) under the bridge, there was a call; "Does Nathaniel want to crew for the next race?".
I have never seen a little boy scoot so fast. In fact I had no idea he knew how to do it (He's always been a bike rather than scooter child)! In three minutes, he was back in the compound, putting on his life jacket and racing down to the jetty. Steve ditched his rather heavier crew, and the two of them went to on beat everyone in the last race of the day.
You've got to admire him - Steve kept Nathaniel interested during the whole race (something about puddings was much talked about - I don't get it!), and managed to stay sane (in fact he muttered something about being a motorcycle for long periods of time as a child), while Nathaniel made motorboat noises for almost a whole lap!
Saturday, 4 May 2013
In honour of Finn's second birthday party, Thea put on her pretty dress and got ready to go out.
Finn's present almost made it out of the door still in its fancy bag, but it was very tempting to get it out and explore.
The highlights of the party for Thea were the little slide in the garden, LOTS of cake, grapes and playing with bubbles with Paddy (who was inspired by Thea to dress up!).
NB No comments about ironing please!
Thursday, 2 May 2013
At last! Winter is over. (I refuse to say anything more positive for fear of jinxing it!) The day started with Dorothea spending much time spooning poms poms into her South African bowls. This was intensely interesting.
Cheetah made a stage (I assume that he had some help), with speakers on either side. Each speaker had to be wired in using many tools, and once the sound was right, he and Nathaniel started on foldback and other accoustic refinements that would increase the listening pleasure of the audience.
We celebrated the weather by spending the morning in the park with friends. Nathaniel and D and P raced around the woods on wheeled vehicles, and worried other parents by climbing precariously into trees and pulling down branches to catapult things from.
Thea and F rampaged in a way that only they can. They found sticks and explored.
They chased the big boys, and Paddy took them on a adventure into the undergrowth.
They disappeared for some time, the only trace of them being the sounds of P coaching them through the branches: "F, step carefully over here, that's right lift up your whole leg. Thea, duck down so you down walk into the holly leaf".
That afternoon, after music, we rewarded ourselves for hard work (Nathaniel played some very fine long notes on his recorder, and was triumphant in his identifying of notes on a line on a stave) with an ice cream. To my immense surprise, both children adapted to sharing a cone very well and after a couple of tries were able to have two licks and then pass it on. Good skills!
Wednesday, 1 May 2013
There are two things that people rarely associate with Nathaniel; a) simple but drawn out imaginary games and b) cuddly toys. Although he is fond of Spaniel, Beagle and Herman (a mammoth), he is not obsessive about them. He rarely knows where they are, and all get is the occasional cuddle. It was a surprise to everyone when Nathaniel started being a cheetah. He has been a cheetah for at least a couple of days per week for the last few months, and spends a lot of time hunting gazelles. I have no idea where he found out about cheetahs (to my knowledge we have no cheetah books), or why he is so interested in them. And these two things are linked because....... When Ian was in South Africa he found a cuddly cheetah and brought it back for Nathaniel, now knowing how bothered he'd be. The answer: very bothered. Cheetah (as usual, he gets no name, despite my best efforts), is so very loved. He is taken everywhere and shown everything. I have to provide all meals with extra mice added (Cheetah's favourite food!?), and Cheetah has to have a drink whenever Nathaniel drinks. He has been taken to the sailing club and introduced to everyone and everything:
He has been taken to nursery every day and has watched everything from the "going home shelf". On the way, he sits to attention in the trailer, tucked under Nathaniel's straps and asks him questions. It took me a day of careful planning to convince Nathaniel that Cheetah was too young for creche (I was worried he's get lost in the transition between rooms and didn't know if there was a going home shelf in creche), and so Cheetah stayed at home, but Nathaniel told everyone about it, and was desperate to see him when he got home.
Cheetah has been treated to all sorts of activities. Here, Nathaniel has provided him with a photo of big cheetahs for him to look at (postcard from South Africa), and he is explaining it to him.
When we went to collect Thea from nursery, Cheetah needed to come to, and to see where he was going. So we needed a sling:
Then there was a drop of rain, and despite claiming that he didn't need a coat as it was clearly only a little shower from an otherwise blue sky, Nathaniel insisted that Cheetah have a cover to keep him dry.
Only then were we allowed to go anywhere!