Sunday, 21 September 2014

Catchup from the summer!

Haven't posted for a while so will do a few catchup posts.  I've been to London a lot in the last few weeks, using up the free train tickets that I get with my season ticket before I move to a new office and have to give them up.

This was back in June and it was baking hot!  I went on a Harry Potter walk with walks.com.

The guide took us round some of the places that he thinks inspired JK Rowling.  Leadenhall Market and Kings Cross Station are too far out from the centre to include on the tour but these little side streets are beautiful...






After the tour I walked round town for miles looking at some of the tourist sights...  







This wreath laid at the Cenotaph says 'Remember the horses that fell with the men'.  

The Cenotaph is of course pretty much in front of Downing Street.  A foreign visitor asked me in puzzlement why everyone was peering through the railings at such an unremarkable street, and I explained that our Prime Minister lives in the little house down the end.  


You can just see the black front door in the middle of the photo.  I guess it's not exactly the White House.

I love the details on the buildings...




Sunday, 3 August 2014

The Uncles

Uncle Nigel has a new CD out - well actually it came out back in June but I only just got my mitts on a copy because I'm useless like that.  That's my / Sarah's /Lizzie's old dolls' house in the video....



Article in Nightshift magazine.

We had a night out with Uncle Peter before he moved to the West Country.  I took some very bad photos...




I do like these ones though.  ("Dad, Dad, she's trying to take our picture)...



Sunday, 20 July 2014

Southern Family Reunion

We've just had our annual reunion for the 'southern' cousins today, or at least I have - the boys bunked off due to cricket and Lizzie's finishing a piece of GCSE coursework.



While the kids played with the sprinkler, the adults got stuck into family history...



I've never seen one of these in real life before... a traditional family bible with dates of several generations of births and marriages...



The odd scraps of paper recording everyday trivia were some of the most interesting things we looked through - wartime letters...


A bizarrely detailed diet sheet for my cousin born in the 1930's, laying out exactly what he should be fed at each time of day to the half-ounce, month by month until he was two.  As far as I'm aware he wasn't ill, so this must have been some kind of Progressive Scientific Motherhood fad at the time, straight out of the era of fascism and really a bit disturbing...


School uniform list for the same cousin and my father, including a requirement for the boys' initials to be hammered in to the soles of all shoes with brass tacks...  
  

The lavishly designed staff list for the school where my cousin taught in Italy...


My personal find of the day though was the discovery that one of my distant cousins is the equivalent of deputy prime minister for a Caribbean country!  I found a youtube video of him, looking exactly like my cousin Nick but speaking with a strong West Indian accent.  David's wondering if we can sort out some work experience in his legal practice... 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Hedgehogs again

The hedgehogs gave us a scare last weekend.  Andy found two little bodies on the lawn in the morning when he went to hang out the washing.  We thought they were dead... until Andy saw the sides of one of them moving as it breathed.  It had been a cold night and I guessed they must have hypothermia; I couldn't get the vet to help and couldn't reach the hedgehog protection people (who have incubators) so I put them in a laundry basket with my hot wheat bag and a pile of hay and they revived.

We had a few colder, rainy days so I kept them in.  Sadly the smaller of the two, who only had one eye, limped through the next couple of days before it died, but I was able to release the other back into the garden.  We have at least 3 of them left in the garden.  Lizzie feeds them morning and evening with catfood and (ugh, shudder) mealworms and it's just lovely to see them running round the lawn.  

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Hedgehog visitors

Look who we have visiting us in the evenings!



Up to six adorable little hedgehog babies.  We haven't seen Mum but they look healthy and well-fed and they don't have any ticks, so we're not interfering except to bribe them to visit with catfood (they're very noisy eaters).  They seem to be quite relaxed around human company and I've promised Lizzie that we can buy a hedgehog house today to encourage them to stay in the garden.




Edited to add - I thought I should say that it's not a great idea to pick baby hedgehogs up because if Mum's still around, she'll probably abandon them - the girls moved these two into our garden for safety which is why they're holding them here.  Baby hedgehogs out in the daytime have probably lost their mother, especially if they're squeaking and have shiny grey swellings (ticks); they need to go asap to a hedgehog rescue place before they die of hypothermia and dehydration.  Our babies are doing fine, touch wood; they have a little hedgehog home in the corner of the garden and are chomping their way through quite a surprising amount of catfood...  still no sign of Mum so I'm guessing that she's been run over or that they were big enough to leave the nest on their own.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Paris with the girls

Now the kids are teenagers, it's hard to find a family holiday that appeals to everyone.  Mum's idea of a lovely city break to look at art galleries didn't win a whole lot of votes.  In fact, David's never been one for holidays and would now much rather that we left him at home with enough money for the dial-a-pizza place for a week.  He isn't much impressed with my argument that it's not lawful til he turns 16.

So, when Lizzie suggested that we have a girls' trip to Paris for a couple of days with a friend I was game on.

Lizzie laid it on the line up front that the Louvre was out of the question.  So, DLP it was.


I'm not a great one for Disney normally - I never saw any of the films as a child and in fact still haven't seen most of them - but I must admit that I do love Disneyland.  It's all just so well done.  The girls, of course, went wild for it.




The girls' favourite ride was Space Mountain and mine was a tie between Big Thunder Mountain and Phantom Manor (oh, and I love La Tanière du Dragon!).




Day two... the Eiffel Tower!  Selfie time...


We went right to the top.  The queue's insane, even on a work day.  It's worth it.  280 metres up - I can't get over the fact that this was built in just two years in the 1880's.


We found this out by accident, but if you get off the RER at Trocadéro (instead of one of the stops closer to the Eiffel tower), you get a great view and it's only a 5 minute walk.  

These guys (Les Autres) were performing on the square at Trocadéro...


They made Lizzie part of their act...



Day three - Café de Flore.  Because of Picasso? Simone de Beauvoir?  Nah, they shot a scene in Gossip Girl here :-)


Guess where this patisserie is?


McDonalds (in the Forum des Halles).  Seriously.  There are some things the French just do better than us.  Having said that, despite all the gorgeousness of Paris it's a lot rougher than London. The underground system is filthy and patrolled by groups of soldiers with submachine guns and dogs. Really.  It'll be a little while before I let the kids wander round here on their own...

In between the sightseeing, the girls hit the make-up shops and Lizzie spent every penny of her birthday money. The Forum des Halles was great and so were the branches of Sephora.  We only popped into the Galeries Lafayette to use the loos but I am so glad we did.  This is a department store.  A department store...



It was a lovely half term break and nice to just let the girls set the agenda and follow along behind them.  I do want to come back with Andy though and finally get to see the Louvre!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Teenage dinner party

Lizzie's always cooking for her friends.  Her specialities are pasta and brownies.  We do have a table, honest, they like to eat squatting on the kitchen floor.


Love that this photo captures how they have to keep their phones right by their side even when eating.