Come along for the ride!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

"Right here's where you start paying - in sweat!"

As mentioned, the children have been at a dance workshop this week and they are exhausted. Their week culminated in a short performance of the dancing they have learnt over the last 5 days.

In my humble opinion, and as a former mover and groover myself (oh lawd, did he just say what I think he just said?), (yes he did), Joseph is pretty sharp. Annabel too shimmies with the best of them and I'm sure in another couple of years, her confidence will have grown sufficiently to see her through the same performance with aplomb.

Well done kids - we're glad you had a good time.

Smashing embroidered T-shirt's courtesy of dance teacher - 'fanks Miss!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Picture snob!

I know, I know, I've already posted a picture of my fave sculpture in London but as I already said to you, my pictures were rushed.

It was just M and I who ambled along the King's Road last Friday but tonight it was the four of us. We parked in almost exactly the same place, strolled across the bridge, popped into the same shops but ate in a different restaurant.

I thought Joseph had been rather naughty up until this point but as is often the case, his behaviour is usually linked directly to his hunger levels and he was complaining incessantly about being "starving".

We went to Stockpot - an old favourite of ours before our children arrived - and Joseph wolfed down a plate of whitebait, some hoummus, some pitta bread, followed by the biggest piece of fish I have seen in a while, a chocolate milkshake and a large glass of water before wiping the back of his hand across his mouth and announcing that he would like dessert!

He had a ice cream cone in case you're wondering.

Having said that, Annabel also polished off the majority of her spaghetti bolognese, also followed by ice cream.

It has helped that they have been at a street dance club this week because they have been taking a packed lunch and they have realised that they are not full after this type of lunch.

I know what you're thinking - they obviously don't have enough to eat in the day - well, you'd be wrong. A typical lunch bag consists of a ham roll or sandwich, a bag of (baked) crisps, a cheese stick or dipper, a gingerbread man or muffin, a yoghurt drink, a bottle of water and a piece of fruit. On top of this, their teacher provides them with extra fruit but they still emerge hungry.

I said that this was helpful because friend's of theirs have switched to packed lunch and they too want to do the same; until now!! They are happy with school meals because they aren't hungry after school.


Oh yeah, I prefer this picture. You would be lucky to get a shot of this sculpture without any traffic in the background but this one works better. I also got to explain to Joseph about the "troops breaking step" sign on the bridge (see previous post), which was nice.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Famous statue No.2

Well, last night was one of those rare evenings when M and I had some time to ourselves. The children had gone to my parents for a 'sleepover' and so I picked M up from work with a view to mooching and eating.

After brief deliberation, we agreed on the King's Road, not because we are trendy or 'owt (far from it), but because it was our regular stomping ground when we lived behind Battersea Park.

And so we parked on the southside of Albert Bridge (my favourite London bridge), and walked across before being confronted by what is possibly my favourite London sculpture. Actually, the bridge and the sculpture are my favourite London landmarks for the same reason.

Whenever we headed off on holiday, my Dad would drive this route to the airport; around Battersea Park, across Albert Bridge (where I would never tire of reading the sign that "All troops must break step when crossing this bridge"), turn left at the lights, just allowing time to glance up at the Boy on a Dolphin.

Now, I'm no art aficionado so I can't tell you what was going on in David Wynne's head when he made it but I can tell you that it is very beautiful. I can also tell you that it is cleverly balanced on just the dolphin's tail with the Boy holding on to the dorsal fin.

Anyway, my rushed pictures do no justice whatsoever to this lovely sculpture so head across the loveliest bridge in the capital and sit and admire it yourselves for a little while.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Headmaster's had enough today, all the kids have gone away .."

8 thank you cards, 5 boxes of chocolate and 7 (yes, seven) bottles of wine. It seems like some parents really do appreciate the work you do with their children.

Following these gifts, some very supportive and appreciative words from the Headteacher pretty much guaranteed my good mood, which stayed with me for the rest of the evening in a small beer garden, local to the school.

Getting home at a sensible time and, more importantly, entirely coherent, meant that I had a pretty wonderful end to my first academic year at my new-ish job. And, for the first time in a very long time, I am actually looking forward to starting back there in September.

After 6 weeks holiday, of course!!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Then I'll huff, and I'll puff ..."

Will it rain or won't it, that is the question? It had been raining on and off during the run up to the final week of school and everyone was very keen for a dry end to the academic year.


Well, yesterday was Carnival Day; a day to celebrate the 'cultural diversity of the school'. The school is made up of many different cultures which are represented in varying degrees. There is the Irish community (lots of), Sri Lanka (also lots), various African countries (Ghana, Eritrea, Cameroon - a fair amount), Chinese (some) and the titchiest of all those represented, Lebanon (two!).

Well, half Lebanese, natch.

(Their good half is English)


Anyways, anyone who cares to, cooks, bakes or makes some food commonly found in their country of origin - we made (a lot of) falafel, houmous and batlawa (otherwise known as baklava which is of Turkish origin and similar to the Greek version).

So after the children had performed a variety of dance from their specified country, everyone lined up outside the hall to sample food from around the world.

I say "sample" but some people looked like they had deliberately starved themselves so they would be able to chow down as much as was humanly possible. The staff (myself included), reminded people that it was a chance to taste many different foods and that it wasn't in fact, dinner time!

Some people are pigs.

Still, that was yesterday.

Today was Sports Day, the chance for some children to excel at running whilst balancing an egg (or potato) on a spoon (like Joseph) and for others to stop halfway along the track, realising they're being left way behind and to burst into tears.

Like Annabel.

Being a member of staff at the school however, I couldn't really run to her, but thankfully a colleague ran to collect her.

That damn rubber quoit just wouldn't sit on her head and try as she might, it just kept falling off. I could see her looking around for help, her bottom lip beginning to wobble, seeing no-one and tried one final time before it all got too much for her. The offending quoit rolled unevenly across the playground and Missy stood still, a wail bursting forth with a 'more powerful than normal' force.

Poor Missy.

Thankfully however, her next two races resulted in 3rd places for both and the small laminated medal was more than enough recompense for the lopsided rubber ring (which had clearly been sabotaged!!!)

Like many people in this day and age, I have hundreds, possibly thousands of pictures and movies of the children, all stored on my PC. 99% of them make me smile and laugh when I look back at them. There are a few though, that give me a lump in my throat.

The little video's of Annabel running towards me at the finishing line are pretty good examples of this. The setting off a little late, only after she realised her friend's had started. Her little arms and legs pumping to catch up. The stopping in front of the finishing line rather than bursting through it and finally, the searching look on her face, hoping for a medal, wondering if she'd done enough.

You can tell your children as many times as you like that "it's not the winning that's important, it's the taking part", but when you're 4 years old, it doesn't make losing any easier.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My family and other animals

Everyone, without exception, saw the cover of the book I was reading and came up to ask if it was a follow on from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Oh no, hang on, not everyone, just everyone I know.

Silly me.

Why do people say that? Is it to let you (and the people in the room) know that they know books, they know literature and want all around to know this?

For the record, no, this book is NOT a follow on from Curious Incident, it is a stand alone book and I thought it was absolutely terrific. For your information, I haven't read the 'first' book. This book is my first encounter with Mark Haddon.

The cover says "brilliant ... very funny" and it does have very funny parts but I thought, overall, it was more poignant than funny. It cleverly shows the many facets that make up a 'family' and all the love and laughter and problems that come with them.

I knew I was enjoying this book, but it wasn't until tonight that I realised how much. While M got her weekly fix of TV drama, I poured myself a pint of Spitfire and slumped on our sofa, book in hand, and read until I'd finished it.

Any book that give you goosebumps on a Saturday night, that makes you want to laugh and cry within a few pages of each other, that makes you want to hug the main characters, is a winner in my .. erm .... book.

Read it.

You'll thank me.

For the recommendation, that is!

Friday, July 17, 2009

"We want the finest wines available to humanity"

It's simple.

I helped make some scenery, do some painting, general behind-the-scenes stuff, helped on the opening night, made myself pretty indespensable etc etc.

On the second night when I'm not there, the headteacher thanks me for all my hard work and asks me to step from behind the curtains to collect my flowers.

They were collected on my behalf which is not the same!

Grrrrrr ......

Monday, July 13, 2009

"It's got RAM, it's got ROM, it's got them red and green lights, everything!"

We went to collect my birthday present yesterday (4 months late - ' can't get the spouses these days) and I was pretty excited. Now I know that a radio isn't everybodies idea of whooping it up on one's birthday but trust me, this is no ordinary radio.

(Forgive me if the following sounds like it's come straight off the pages of "Nerd Weekly - The Radio Buyer's Guide").

It's a Roberts - natch - model Sound 41 and although this one brings my tally to 5 (or 6), it is oh-so-different to any others I own. Reading reviews about it online, as you do, one person had written that it was "made of cheap plastic, not what (he) would expect from Roberts". I have to say I agree with him. The body is plastic, the body does feel a bit cheap, especially the handle, which looks like it wouldn't take too much pulling about by anyone.

The Roberts radio's of yester-year were sturdy and rugged, looked like it could drop off the roof of your Austin Healey while you were eating a cucumber sandwich with the crusts cut 'orf and it wouldn't so much as dislodge a battery. They were often semi-covered in leather of varying colours, wrapped around the wooden frame with, the pièce de résistance, a beautifully simple rotating black disc on the base which allowed you to effortlessly swivel the radio in whichever direction you desired.

So no, the silver plastic is not in keeping with the timeless look of Roberts. However, this is 2009 and if you think back a few years, even Buck Rogers' best friend Twiki was almost entirely silver plastic and he seemed pretty robust!

Anyhoo, the plastic body is where my annoyance ends.

The controls are wonderfully smooth. The large blue display panel is clear. You want FM radio? You got it. You want DAB radio? You got it? You wanna pause radio? You got it. You wanna programme the radio to record your favourite music show that just happens to be on at 1am on a Monday morning? (oh yes it is) You got it? You want the radio to automatically record that same programme every week until you say otherwise? You got it. You want your radio to bluetooth your TV Freeview box, telling it to record a programme on BBC1 on a Saturday evening? Hmm, actually, it can't do that, but you get the idea!

While the lovely M was purchasing this belated pressie for me, my eye happened upon a rather spiffing little box of tricks that will convert your vinyl records (ask your parents) into mp3. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my impending 6 weeks holiday and technically I'm supposed to be decorating but I'll just tell M I couldn't get the lid off the paint.

*tee hee*

She'll never find out!

Friday, July 10, 2009

"I do solemnly swear, to tell the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth".

Oh come on, be honest, you knew that at some point I'd make a corny reference to teeth, right? I'm married to a dentist for crying out loud, the title of this post was an accident waiting to happen!!!

Wouldn't you know it, tonight Joseph lost his first tooth!!!! If that ain't a milestone, I don't know what is! He was brushing teeth with M (I was attempting to tickle Annabel into submission that it was time for bed - she wouldn't give in, dammit), and he came bursting into the room, yelling that his tooth had "fallen out".

Now, call me Mr Suspicious, but I know that M has been twisting, pushing and pulling on that tooth for almost a week now. "The new tooth is trying to come in", she's been saying, like we'd all know better!!!!

Anyways, the bloody gap said it all - it was out; a single trickle of blood down his chin confirmed it's removal and immediately he began questioning the going rate for teeth. Woe betide the tooth fairy if she happens to forget about our house tonight!!

Actually, make that, woe betide me if the tooth fairy doesn't stop by tonight!

Naturally, Missy flew into a jealous rage because Joseph had lost a tooth and she hadn't. M tried to placate her by giving her a "fun" disclosing tablet (I know, I know), which turns your mouth the same colour as eating half a dozen Blackjack chews (remember them?). This worked for about 45 seconds before she decided she "hated" having a black tongue and collapsed on the floor in a tired rage.

Ho, ho, ho, dear me, it's a laugh isn't it??

Ooh, nearly forgot, Joseph woke me last night to tell me his leg was hurting and to be fair to him, his growing pains do seem very genuine, and so, by the time I'd turned on the lights to rifle through the medicine cabinet, I was nice and awake before administering some pain relief before falling back into bed.

M kindly brought a cartoon home from one of today's newspapers which I have reproduced here sans permission (although I have asked), so I may have to remove it.

For now, however, I think it sums up parenthood rather nicely.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

"Roll up, roll up ..."

What could possibly go wrong when the day starts as perfectly as today did?

Nothing, that's what!

So there was a teensy smattering of rain at midday, who cared? It was an absolute belter for the rest of the day. So warm was it, in fact, that I was forced to ask to borrow a hat from someone I would rather not have borrowed a hat (or anything else) from.

The irony of it being a hat that I have ridiculed this individual for wearing was not lost on me!

Step right up ladies, gentlemen and children, get your picture taken on a real police vee-hicle for just £1.50 (all donated to the school, natch). I couldn't resist getting my own piccy taken within approximately 3 minutes of their arrival. As Ali G would say, "dem bikes woz well wikkid, y' nah't I mean?" *finger lick*

When Joseph came over with his raffle prize, I could've sworn I saw M's eyes roll completely up and over in her head. She looked a little giddy for about an hour afterwards but she rallied herself beautifully.

(I don't think anybody noticed love!!)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

And they're off .....

I wrote (here) about the freedom a bicycle gives you, a freedom which seems far greater when you are very young. Of course, it might have more to do with the fact that I don't cycle as often as I used to, but who's counting?

Anyway, Joseph loves his new bike and we went for a ride together on the local common which, as you can see in the pic', has a neat dirt track with a steep slope to get you started. We both negotiated this 'hazard' without problem but Joseph did a very impressive (but completely accidental) front wheel skid where I was standing to land flat on his front.

He stood up and looked down at himself before smiling up at me, proudly displaying dirt and mud from his chest to his knees.

That's m'boy!