Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Thea three-cakes

Thea has had a lovely birthday. Thank you for all her wonderful gifts and cards. We started the day with pancakes filled with bananas and honey:

Then we had fun opening presents:

And then the day turned into a Tuesday and we ran around getting to school and kindergarten and work and things. But Thea was a happy person.

That afternoon we had cake. The first of three. Thea had asked for a pink cake, a lemon cake and a chocolate cake with jelly beans on. So we celebrated with F and co with a raspberry and white chocolate cake. And it was tasty. Very tasty.

Next day it was Thea's celebration at kindergarten. I got to come along to hear her story and see the candles being lit. She chose throne material and her cape and was jolly. And she took lemon cake to share.

Next week we have the party, well, gathering. And the last cake.......

Monday, 16 November 2015

Suzuki madness

So, clearly I am not doing a great job of updating the blog. And I'm not going to remedy that right now. So here are some photos of the Suzuki get together that the kids played at in Huddersfield yesterday. 120 kids, four instruments, quite a bit of chaos. And it was all organised with enthusiasm (do you hear the subtext?!). But the kids handled it all brilliantly (even if Thea did get a little bored by the start of the third hour!!!!!), and report that they had fun.

The recorders played beautifully:

And the cellos did great, especially considering the fact that most of them had only been playing for 6 weeks.

And everyone was fascinated by the workings of flutes:

But the playtogether was pretty amazing. Expecially for the recorders, because even a room-full of recorders only makes so much noise, but 60 violins behind you make a lot of noise!

Though my highlight has got to be Nathaniel's face when he heard the violins start to play the second Seitz (he was so excited!), and Thea delightedly and totally unselfconsciously playing air-cello to Hunter's Chorus. So much fun!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Roseberry Topping

Its a good time of year for tramping up hills, so we joined some friends to climb Roseberry Topping. In an effort to make it a winge-free exercise, we went for the quick, steep route, which was lots of fun.

The first bit was up very steep woodland steps which the kids bounded up like rabbits.

And then up the side of the hill along dry stone steps. I love walking along stone paths - something about not wading in mud makes them so much more enjoyable. This is definitely the result of childhood walks always involving paths with 3 inches of mud at the bottom of them.

There were lots of opportunities to stop and admire the view, but on the whole the kids pressed on at a most gratifying speed. Something about being able to see the top I think....

And then we were there. And the sun came out! (And Nathaniel took off his Inuit costume)

We took a different way down and played in the woods and then dragged out the stove and a massive cauldron of sausage stew - very tasty.

And that was that - a most acceptable day.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

This and that and camping

In an effort not to neglect the blog for such a long time (whilst still aiming to actually write up Le Grand Trek), here are some bits and pieces that have happened:

Nathaniel became 7!

Thank you for his presents. He was not greatly impressed to have to go to school on his birthday, but I think he'll get over it. We shall have a party in a couple of weeks time. Oh, and Thea made the cake:

Thea and F and I spent the afternoon at the pump track. Which isn't really news, it's just that it was so much fun!

The kids zoomed around the track giggling and each other and I sat on a bench and read a book and suddenly properly realised that if we follow the recommended Govian trajectory, Thea will be at school this time next year. And instead of spending her afternoons learning about weights and measures and motion and all those other un-lessons that real life provides, she'll be in a classroom messing around with plastic in an attempt to provide "play". Hmmm. We'll have to see.

In the meatime, we shall enjoy cycling. And stopping for frequent blackberry and banana breaks!

Thea started cello lessons! So far it has been a great sucess and she is having soooooo much fun. Here is a particularly tuneless and scan-less rendition (not sure what came over her!) of her first song, designed to help them learn how to hold their cello firmly:
We had a camping trip to Slenningford.

New babies and house rennovations left us with a slightly different camping crew, but we still had lots of fun. The kids rampaged in and out of the water.

Nathaniel enjoyed discussing the relative merits of different tents and their materials:

And we were all jolly:

Beer o'clock!

Sunday, 6 September 2015


Yes, we are still here. And the garden has grown lots (massive courgettes):

And yes, we will post about The Holiday, but until I get around to it, here is what we did when we got back. We went sailing.

We all got a sail and Nathaniel did some helming and we all laughed at me who had insisted on everyone bringing jumpers with them (it felt distinctly chilly and not the 32 degrees we were used to!).

And we all had fun and got home far later than we had intended. Now we have just one day left to sort ourselves our for school and kindergarten starting......

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

France the first

How to start? It's now February 2016, but it's so nice to read about what we got up to on adventures that I feel something must be written, even though it'll be a different story than if we had written it as soon as we got back.

So here goes.

We didn't really know how we were going to leave Britain. The newspapers were full of stories of chaos at the docks as migrants tried to stowaway on ferries while dock workers were going on strike. And the motorway was closed because Kent police had stacked lorries all along it. And the ferry companies kept telling us to leave extra time for our journey. Which was faintly annoying because we had already planned to leave at the crack of dawn.

So it was unearthly early when Ian woke us all up and put us in the car in Fenstanton for the drive to Dover. But at least it was sunny. And there was tea. And coffee. And jollyness.

Of course it wasn't even an eighth as bad as we had feared and we were there ludicrously early after a very short traffic jam. We had hoped we might be put on the earlier ferry, but they weren't doing that, so we waited in a car stack and I read stories and we visited the "services" and watched the ferries arriving.

And then we had a madly short crossing (the previous time we had been on a ferry, it was the overnighter from Santander, so 45 minutes across the Channel wasn't really even a trip). And then we were back in the car in France and driving alongside fortified fences to get out of Calais.

And the trip began. We drove and drove and drove and drove and drove. And nothing of great interest passed us, and we saw nothing of great interest. The autoroute went round the edge of towns, so we saw none of them. But at least we made quick progress through the map pages. We stopped briefly at a green aire (one with no service station), for Thea to turn her nose up at the toilets and for Jean-Luc to roll down a hill or two.

And eventually we arrived at the pretty town of Beaumont-sur-Sarthe, carefully positioned just off the autoroute to avoid unecessary tedium behind spanish lorry drivers, and entered the cutist little campsite ever. We found our pitch, started emptying out the tent and stuff from around a sleeping Thea, and then disaster struck.

Where was Jean-Luc? He wasn't being cuddled by Thea, or on the floor, or on the backseat. How far could one french baby go? I started to worry. Who put him back in the car at the aire? I started to panic. We knew he had briefly been on the roof of the car. I started to feel quite sick. This went on for hours (about 10 minutes). I had no idea how we were going to cope for a month in France starting with the certain death of one of our party.

Then Thea woke up. I lifted her out of the car, dreading what was to happen next. And she was sitting on him. The evening improved.

We put up our new table and the kids immediately took residence with sketchbooks and pencils.

We made English pasta and sauce with beer (nothing is open in France on a Sunday).

We poddled around the campsite a bit and went to bed with as few belongings out of the car as we could manage. The adventure had started!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Camping II

The weather was no more promising than usual, but we went anyway. Our consession was to find a campsite in a valley rather than on the side of a hill, and as most sane people felt it wasn't a camping weekend, we were able to go to an overly-commercial site and have it to ourselves, thus managing to keep the pretense that it was just a private clearing in a moorland wood! The most important thing was that it involved a fine journey across the moors.

It almost failed within the first hour. Thea was enjoying some gentle swinging from an adult when that cry was heard, and as Ian and I ran across the field, it became clear that Thea wasn't able to grasp anything with her hand and had made her own diagnosis. While the rather rattled adult sprinted back to the reception (a good 15 minutes walk away) to enquire as to the local A&E facilities, Thea and I were brave (don't know which one was more so), and I popped her elbow back in. Good thing I pay attention to doctors

Needless to say, I DO NOT INTEND TO DO THAT AGAIN! There will be no more swinging off adults. Ever. Not until she is 18. Understood?

Then we sat and consumed most of a packet of jelly babies between us (I needed them more than her!), until she was wiggling her fingers again happily and the camping trip could resume as planned.

I think you all know the drill by now. The kids play in ponds (catching tadpoles this time), in streams, on bikes, up trees etc and are pretty much left to themselves while we make fire, chat, admire the scenery, drink coffee and whisky and eat cake and other tastiness until the next meal arises.

Many feet went into the pond unintentionally and the amazing heated bathrooms were used to dry their boots and shoes and trousers by lying them on the underfloor-heated tiles overnight. Dorothea and F went on their own adventures by themselves - the first time that they've been confident enough to go off on their own. They found rabbits and ducks and all sorts.

There was fine eating as ever. We consumed proper Korean curry, a cowboy breakfast, toasted marshmallows, pitta heaped with mushrooms and scrambled eggs, pink custard (I don't recommend it), Jacy cake, chorizo pasta and more impressive coffee that you comfortably imagine.

On Saturday we ascended Chimney Bank in the howling wind to eat lunch in a hollow and explore.

And then there was visiting the park and more fire and more eating and more chatting and singing.

It doesn't sound that exciting, but it was lovely. It was on the chilly side (I had at least four layers on at all times), but we were never properly cold. Of course those with stoves in their teepee don't need to sleep entirely in their tent. They might need a breath of fresh air.....

Everyone was happy.