Monday, 30 April 2007

Phew got there in the end. These are some of the photos I promised back in February, from our trip to Manchester. Sorry I have not learnt how to turn them round yet, you will have to tilt your head to look at Rob. I liked the idea of an emergency which was so severe you had to break a seal. Maybe melting of the polar ice cap, if you were a polar bear, would be reason enough to strangle one of your friends. The top picture is the window cleaner who asked if I was from the social. Remember?
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Saturday, 28 April 2007

Its the New Furzey Gardens. Mayfield Park, Weston. All these years it has been inches from our home, and millimetres from Chamberlayne leisure centre where I occasionally go for Pilates torture. It has everything that Furzey has, apart from the cross and the tree houses and the boat and the appealing drive past New Forest ponies, and the llamas. Not much left, you think. Well, Mayfield does have azaleas and rhodedenrons, a nursery and cafe run by Mind as a rehab/therapy centre, so something socially enterprising along the same lines as Minstead Project. It has a park, mature woodlands, a bowling green, and the best thing of all is that it is within cycling distance for the Bowens. So it is the new environmentally conscious Furzey replacement. I must confess that we went there via Tescos, and I drove to Tescos while rest of the family cycled. So probably lost all my environmental brownie points in one go. I did decline to buy plain flour in Tescos as I remembered there is a working windmill across the road we have visited once before. So I dragged my two girls across the A27 to buy flour (H asked if that was where Tesco bought their flour from - ha!). The windmill was shut. No 24/7 service from Dusty.

Mayfield Park, which has avoided us for so long, got our attention today because it was hosting a 'Spring into Action' day. I can usually find some free event in Southampton on most weekends, and as we pay £100 a month for our council tax I like to feel I am getting my money's worth in free activities. They do put some good things on in the parks. At this one we made masks, egg shaped animals and a bamboo pile of twigs for bees to lay eggs in. We did not bother queuing up for face painting on this one, we did do the treasure hunt and touched a snake and a velociraptor. Jut checking you still with me. It is an awful lot of mask making and snake touching to make it worth £100 a month, but my long suffering family humour me and off we trot to wherever I have found is offering free crafts this weekend.

The most exciting part of today (I know - if you were me you would have been sitting down after the velociraptor touching and would have called it a day then) was cleaing my kitchen with my new ENJO products. I got so excited I cleaned all the windows in the house as well. And then cleaned my bike. Due to short notice only a few of you managed to come along to my cleaning cloth party, but I intend to have another and to give you plenty of notice. It really is amazing. I even did the washing up with one of the cloths. I can't say too much here because it does sound too good to be true, but I will let you know when the next party is so you can make sure you are there. Or if you want to come round and do a bit of cleaning anytime to check it out you can.

When I got home there were lots of letters on the doormat, and one of our Girls God Gang (GGG) who needed a plaster for her knee. She actually needed a skin graft in my opinion, but I gave her a Melonin square and some micropore. You know, I forgot to pray for her. Rubbish. Anyway, she doesn't wear shoes much and has feet that show it, and her mum has more children than the lady who lived in a shoe. (Maybe they don't wear shoes because they live in them?) The letters included bills and bank statements. My lovely GGG friend said to me 'Anything exciting?' about the letters, and I said 'No, just bills and bank statements'. She said: 'Oh it is always exciting when a Giro comes isn't it?' and I realised what a different world I have lived in from her, how the 'protestant work ethic' is so deeply etched in me and how much I have to learn about people and Jesus. I told her that Rob went to work and got his money that way, which I honestly think was a new thing to her. I tell this story more to show how much more work God has to do with me than to make any deeply political point about the benefits system.

I met up with the mum of one of the lads we know who is a bit of a local 'yoof' but is really a big kid who never got to play. She told me they were hoping to move in the next couple of weeks, and so another of 'my boys' departs. When Jamie and Taylor and Reilly moved my heart was broken, and I guess I have toughened up my heart now and expect these young people whose world I share to move on, and have to trust God to look after them.

You know, I think it is just what happens to everyone that whenever I get to be friends with someone they move. Or is it just me? What a reflective heart I have today.

Popped to the gym at Chamberlayne as well today and did 40mins, mainly upper body weights. Hope you can tell. x

Friday, 27 April 2007

I need to reply to some of my comments.

Lou, if you go back to near the beginning you will find the reasons for my peculiar desire to write 'sic'. I could explain again but it is really too sad and dull, if you take me out for a very posh dinner sometime I will chat you through it.

SJ and E. Congratulations. When can you be back in Bitterne? I would love to take some really extreme wedding photos in the precinct, perhaps abseiling down the front of Peacocks, bowling in Bitterne bowl, using the public conveniences ( not close up shots though). I could do them in black and white soft focus if you like. Just let me know a date. If you could make it a Tue evening in the next 3 weeks I could arrange for the whole class to come and make an outing of it for them all.
This is my 5oth posting. I feel like I have come of age in the blogging world. Shame I still don't know how to do links or upload photos, except by accident.

Yesterday we did Bitterne - the Leisure Centre (swim and creche), the bottle bank and through the graveyard to the Police station. It sounds like a new version of Cluedo - Bitterne Cluedo, or maybe Monopoly. Anyway, the police were unhelpful and the graveyard was nice. Full of fake flowers and corpses. There was one epitaph which read

'Fred Bloggs' ( made that up to protect the indentity of the deceased)

1923-1982 ( and made that up too 'cos I can't remember the precise dates)

Alto saxophonist.

that was it. What would the one skill be that you put on your own gravestone? I don't think I am enough of a purist at anything, so think I would put 'jack of all trades' on mine.

Certainly not flautist. I played the flute at school, and was very very bad at it. I failed my grade 3 exam and passed the second time around with one mark to spare, then I failed my grade 4, by spectacularly playing the whole piece in the wrong key, among other painful mistakes I have buried in my deep subconscience. The only reason I kept going was because you got to belong to the orchestra, which was lots of fun, involved lots of trips to old people's homes and junior schools and warm practice rooms during the winter. I quite liked the bit where you cleaned your flute by shaking the spit out onto the floor. I did not like my flute teacher, Mr Taggart ( sorry mate) who slobbered on my flute and then gave it back and I had to try to clean his spit off with my sleeve before playing. My flute was held together with a cocktail stick which probably explained some of my problems. I had to buy Rizla papers to clean it with. My only foray into drugs and tobacco paraphernalia.

I just reread and thought I should mention that the graveyard corpses are all buried ones. Well, I assumed they were there, did not dig around too much. Another freaky thing about the graveyard was that it rained for the exact time we walked through it. A bit of a twilight zone I fear.

H had a concert last night for her singing group, and I was a helper, which as I had predicted meant escorting children to and from the toilets for several hours. The university concert hall was the venue, and it was an impressive show of singing talent from the Southampton Music Service singing groups. It was good to go back to the university with a different view on it from when I was a student. I did think it was good when I was there, but probably did not appreciate the luxury of being able to study there and what a good place of learning it is. And of cultural experience. I did go to a few things like concerts and theatre and films and comedy, but if I was a student now I am sure I would do loads more of that kind of stuff. It was interesting to walk past places that had been a big part of my experience all those years ago, and now although I live in the same city I couldn't be further away from it, geographically and socially.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Hey!That is a picture out of 'sample pictures' that I did things to with Picassa at my course tonight. I tried to put it on my blog and IT WORKED! Tonight I remembered my USB leads, had done my homework and was early, but I had not checked and the battery was dead in my camera. I had lots of fun using Picassa and taught the rest of the class how to use the 'collage' feature' to produce pictures that look arty-ish. We were allowed to print some of our pictures tonight, for added excitement. Next week we are using Photoshop. If anyone has a wedding or other occasion and would like me to do the photos, I also learnt tonight how to use the anti red eye feature, so would be well worth a gamble. £50 for the whole package? Steve?

Have overdosed on Bitterne, dear reader. I know it sounds impossible, but I have done BLC twice in two days (one swim, one gym and swim) and checked out the library and the charity shops on one of those visits. The guy who tried to steal the child was 53, btw, not 23. Don't know if that makes the previous entry better or worse, but at least it is now factually corrected. One of the mums from school was one of the people on the scene who shooed him off and had to give a statement to the police. So she was a reliable source.

One quite exciting thing is that Bitterne Library is going to be opening on Thursdays from now on. Libraries in Southampton are traditionally shut on Thursdays, so it is quite a departure to open on a Thursday if you are a library. I can see that I might have built that up too much by describing it as 'quite exciting'. But that is relevant to life in Bitterne. Another exciting thing was that I found a new flavour of Snack a Jacks in the newsagents in Bitterne. Prawn cocktail. Mmm. I don't think I have ever eaten a real prawn cocktail so I don't know how little the crisps taste like the real thing, but I love the synthetic flavour, along with Worcester sauce flavour crisps.

Incidentally, I have never eaten a steak.
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Sunday, 22 April 2007

Bitterne hit the headlines of the South Today news for all the wrong reasons. A 2 year old girl was snatched from her pushchair while she sat with her mum in the precinct, by a 23 year old guy they caught and charged with attempted abduction. I heard a story, a while ago, about a friend of a friend. She stopped someone taking her child from Sainsbury's in Bitterne, where the child sat while the mum packed the shopping. I don't have any wisdom or wit to offer. Am going to keep A on a very tight rein when we are 'in precincto' from now on.

Our weekend involved one night of camping. Words can not do justice to the depth of coldness experienced by the foolhardy camper in April. 'Cast n'er a clout till May is out' is wisdom indeed for the Yorkshire folk amongst whom I learnt that phrase. I would like to add my own proverb to the English language: 'Don't camp in April.' I know it doesn't rhyme, but I hope you appreciate its sentiment. The girls were asleep early enough in the evening to not feel the cold (or else were covered in a thick permafrost so we couldn't hear their cries), but we stayed up too late and it was cold. It was a fabulous clear night with great star views, so that was a bonus, but not much of one compared to being awake a lot and not being able to feel your legs.

We live and learn. Or in my case, we live and don't learn, because by this time next year it will be a romantic long forgotten memory and once again I will consider camping as a 'fun' and 'cosy' experience. So, please, please, get to me first before I suggest subjecting my family to such pain again. Yes, it was entirely my stupid idea in the first place, I hold up my hands and freely admit it was stupid. But I bet I do it again next year.

The weekend was lots of fun, we stayed at the YMCA up the road for our church weekend away. The weather seems to be programed to 'sun' for all the time we are there, and 'rain' comes in at the end of the spin cycle when we are packing up to go home. I had a great kids work session 'winging it' which is one of my favourite teaching activities and one which you don't get to do much of when you are responsible for the kids work, or indeed a class of children. We did lots of team activities, sports, arts, creative, with the sum total resources of 2 footballs and some eggs and spoons. Oh, and a parachute. Give me those items and I am invincible kids worker! The 3s up to teens were all together and the oldest did a good job of team leading the youngest. Would like to do that kind of thing more often than once a year, but not sure on my motives, only one I can honestly come up with is cos I like it.

Before we went away I had a busy social Friday, which culminated in a cleaning cloth party. Called Enjo, we really were amazed by how these cloths clean just using cold water. They are incredibly expensive but I was convinced by them and can only assume that they are made from the robe that Jesus wore (or at the very least Peter), for their miraculous properties. For the first time I can take seriously those people in Acts who brought hankies for the apostles to touch to take away with them the healing powers. I am serious. I have always considered those people to be sad, hopeless and deluded individuals, but am now delighted to join them, and feel sure that I, too would have brought my rags and asked the relevant apostle to touch them.

I have finished reading some of the 'personality type' book that sheds more light on the Myers Briggs test result, which could not have been written more accurately for me than if Myers himself had written about me. Yesterday we had some training about how people of different types relate to each other, and this used colours to quadrant the four main types. I guessed from the names around the edge of the colour wheel which one I would be, then we used cards to categorise ourselves and each other and I did end up as orangey yellow, an EF, known in this colour wheel chart as Motivator. It was weird how I was attracted to being a yellow right from the start, did not think about it too much but knew I was not turqoise, or any shade of green or blue, as soon as I saw the chart. Those of us who did the training session ended up fairly well spread around the circle of colours, which was pleasing to my sense of fair play.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

The Queen of Denmark and King of Sweden.

I forgot to say, I have a selection of seeds from Thompson and Morgan, the seed specialist catalogue. You are probably familiar. On the reverse of their packs, they have the crests of the Queen of Denmark and the King of Sweden. I assume that these regal nordic cousins use aforementioned company for all their seed requirements. Now, in Sweden and Denmark, maybe the royals are famous for their herbaceous borders and vegetable patches, in which case it would make a lot of sense to tell their loyal subjects which brand they favour. But as I do not have any idea of the gardening aptitude of the Scandinavian royal families I am not sure if this makes them a good buy or not. Maybe Queen Denmark can never propogate cuttings, and King Sweden's bulbs are always getting nibbled by squirrels. Maybe neither of them know their hebes from their jeebies, in which case why would I want to follow them down the sure root (sic) to failure in the garden room?
Digital photography at Itchen College started tonight. My evening class. I arrived late, after a very hilly cycle ride, and missed the fire regulations bit. It transpires that in the 5 minutes that I was not there the class decided to start half an hour earlier each evening, so I will have to cycle faster, invent time travel and hope that Rob is home in time each week. It will be worth it.

Feeling like a loser with my camera, I proudly downloaded some pictures last night so I was up to speed with the course. It is a course of two halves. There is one row of computers, where everyone has a big black camera with extra lenses and they know what to do already, and there are the rest of us. We have small silver cameras and don't know how to get the memory card out of them ( I didn't know I had one of them till tonight!).

I made 2 new friends, Barry, with a big black camera but very helpful and sitting just behind me, and man next to me (sorry forgot to look at his name card) who made me feel more computer literate than an Evans brother. He wrote everything down and we did everything slowly and twice, and it was good for me to talk through things again to help me learn them, and for him to do things and learn. We started with how to press control alt and delete at the same time. Yep. We were slow, but thorough, a good team. Tonight we learnt how to copy pictures and save them in a folder inside 'My pictures'. So far I do not feel at all out of my depth.

I cycled to nursery this am, and then to Hedge End at lunch time to pop into school and give back some work and that kinda stuff. Really missed being there, has confirmed my love for the beautiful profession! Might have just been that thing that kids do when they see an 'old' teacher and wave and look really pleased and give you hugs and smiles. Don't get that on a normal day at the coalface!

Apart from that work interlude, I was doing being at home with no kids day! I did washing, ironing, cleaned kitchen floor, changed beds, hoovered upstairs, sorted clothes that are too small/winter to give away or store, sorted the girls' wardrobes out, prepared a roast dinner, picked H up from school, did Girls God Gang and finished cooking the roast ready for when everyone else got there at 6pm. Did not get around to photo album sorting, loft clearout or gardening, and did not buy a curtain pole or any bicycle trouser clips. My nature is to look at my failures rather than my successes, but even I was chuffed with what I got done. Imagine what the world would be like if I was in charge...

I read in the paper at the weekend that a girl invited people via Myspace or something to a party at her parents house, and 40 000 people caused £20 000 damage, or similar ( that's 50p each - what did they do, break a plastic spoon each?) In the spirit of hoping that my blog reaches that many people and you are all free, I am having a party on Friday night. It is an environmentally friendly revolutionary cleaning cloth party. Get in touch if you want to come. It will be more about tidying than destroying, and will involve 'before' and 'after' cleaning. Now, I can see from reading that back that it sounds too far fetched to be true. It is true. I really am having a party about cloths and you really are welcome. Bring a bottle (of bleach).

Monday, 16 April 2007

Woolston was my half way point on a journey today. Offmac stationers are my favourite laminating service. The ladies are so friendly and kind, you feel like you are in a 1980s sit com. Today a customer was photocopying her dead dog (pictures of) and telling the staff member all about the little hound. I am giggling now, thinking of her actually photocopying her dead dog, which probably the ladies in Offmac would nod and smile about too.

Sholing. It lies between Bitterne, Thornhill and Woolston, and means you have to go through it to get to other places. Thing is, it is a no man's land that neither Bitterne or Woolston could be bothered to fight over. I cycled zig zag through it, in a cunning hill averse strategy which went badly wrong. I zigged and zagged and was up hill on almost every pedal. Best thing is to go straight down the outside of Sholing, never try to cut through. It will eat you up and spit out the bits.

Scootering was the transport choice for the afternoon's journey and we had a great time climbing trees on the way home from nursery. We go through 'the woods' - a patch of maybe 10 or 12 trees on a widened grass verge, but it works for my girls as 'woods'. We find conkers and pine cones there, see squirrels and even climbing ability tested out today.

We had our first barbecue of the season today. Less washing up - I love the summer. My courgettes have got 2 leaves on them now, and I cheated on Saturday and bought some plants already going from Haskins, to help me win the slug battle. I have watered every night, although tonight got 3 of our friendly 9 year old neighbours to do it. I have decreed that we need another water butt and will ask R to get one on his bike on the way home from work. He might struggle a little, but today I cycled home from the scrap store with a bucket and 2 full and heavy carrier bags on my handlebars, and R is much more experienced than me so should not have a problem carrying a butt. I did find it difficult to brake, and was going down hill, but all in the name of fashion so its worth it.

My blog was blocked again for 'adult content'. Really struggle to see how I might offend, but sorry if you are easily disturbed. They must be really sensitive at the nanny net dept. So much has happened and I have been eager to write for days now.

Our public transport trip to Thames Ditton. All went well. It took a long time, with some long waits and diversion as Basingstoke has imploded. Ah well. Taking the bikes was the most troublesome thing, especially trying to ensure that all of us and our bikes were on trains before the whistle blows and the door shuts. Without bikes the whole thing would have been a delight. We did 14 trains in 4 days, as we did a trip up to east London and stayed one night in Bethnal Green, with Millie and her owners. We were very impressed with Stratford, in London, although it has a different feel to the more well known Stratford. We went to 'Discover' which is a fantastic afternoon's entertainment for 2-7 year olds, with creative play, crafts and an adventure playground. It is such a friendly place, we thought, and so diverse that H asked 'Are we still in England?' which I thought was a good question and a good place to talk about where people live and why. Bethnal Green is famous for its toy museum, which is big and open plan and allowed us the luxury of letting our girls (and the cousins we met up with) have the chance to roam around more freely than is usual. A spent an hour on her own in the sand pit. Yes, she could have stayed at home and done that, but where's the fun in that? My favourite bit of our trip was pretending to drive the DLR train, and trying to explain to H why there were no drivers on the train and how it works. I went way beyond my comprehension of computers and control, into tortured explanations of messages and switches, while R sat quietly and mentioned at the end that he taught GCSE control as a job. Ha!

Ham House (not made of pig meat, sadly) was another stop on our cultural tour of the capital. It is not far from R's mum's, and as we have bought NT membership we are going to go to every single stately home in the guidebook this summer. The gardens were fine, we did a trail thing which involved measuring and was up H's street. The girls and R stayed in the gardens playing while M and I went inside to nod at the paintings and look interested in the furniture. There were many voluntary workers at this site, which impressed me. There was one in every room in the mansion, and a team of gardeners doing gardening things. It seems to me there are worse ways to spend one's retirement. You might disagree on that. Outside Ham House there is a ferry across the Thames to Twickenham, which we were attracted to because of the playpark you can see from the river. It was great to do the river crossing, at £1 per crossing per person, it might be the most expensive stretch of water, per metre, to cross in the world. The guy driving the boat was smiling, and reminded me of Richard Branson.

Furzey Gardens was our car borne treat on Sunday. If you only go once this year, go now. The azaleas are out and it is amazing, walls of bright pink flowers, bees everywhere, and the apple blossom and lilac smell wonderful. It is so worth a visit in the next couple of weeks, it is by far the best time to go - just go! We did a memorable ditch crossing which went badly wrong when R's instructions to me to 'just catch her' did not match up with me already being precariously balanced on a muddy bank. A, in new white dress, went in the ditch big time. H had wanted to vdeo the crossing, but I had refused as I wanted to look after the camera - oh how I wish I had let her, we would be £500 richer courtesy of ITV by now.

On Saturday we did Itchy Valley for a picnic and play, impressed with the new 'facilities' and mainly by the sunshine. I don't think I have been there on a day that is not sunny. Am I just lucky, or does the sun always shine on Itchy V? We had a birthday party to attend on Sunday for one of A' friends ( 'the one she will marry' -H) at Bitterne! Wahey! Managed to do an hour in the gym during the party and felt loads better for it. beat my own personal best on the rower - 14 miles in 7.8 seconds. Good huh?

Saturday, 7 April 2007

In the spirit of 'The Good Life' I have been improving our garden. Yesterday I had a great time getting compost out of the bottom of the compost bin and spreading it around the place. Today was the fun planting seeds bit. H did some sweet peas, A did some tomatoes, but the idyllic family afternoon gardening quickly degenerated into me digging and raking and the girls indoors doing much more sensible things, like dancing and colouring.

I had a romantic dream of family life that involved gardening. That dream is gone forever, like the threat of frost in Hampshire. What is it about gardening that makes it more attractive as I get older? Is it getting cooler to garden, or am I getting older and so more likely to be in on a Friday night watching gardening programmes? Either way (and I fear it is the latter) I am pleased to say that global warming is helping me personally as I am confident that there will be no more frost in our garden. With the prospect of early potatoes, a forever supply of lettuce and tomatoes, I am wondering if we should give up the ridiculous public transport dependent car share option and do more to contribute to global warming. The idea of growing figs, peaches and oranges sounds great, doesn't it? Till I remember, with a crashing tumble back to reality, that today is the only day I will be enthusing about gardening and from now until September I will be chasing slugs with a humane trap and getting impatient. Last year I dug up some radishes because I got fed up waiting for them. So peach, figs and oranges are clearly not on the menu in our house this millenium.

Some neighbours of ours (across the road, don't know them, but have reliable facts from Lorna, their next door neighbour), are having a new fence, extension and outdoor heated swimming pool installed in the back garden of their 3 bed semi. Now that's a positive attitude towards global warming which should be encouraged. Might have to get to know them better, so I could have an even more convenient leisure centre than Bitterne. Will ask them to install a gym and sprung floor aerobics studio too.

The Queen eats Carrs Water Biscuits, by the way. Stuffs her face with them.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

We are attempting to simplify our lives and reduce our dependence on a car, as regular readers will already be chuckling about. Tonight, we have attempted to find a way to travel by public transport from Hedge End to Thames Ditton. Not the most frequently used route in the solar system, but we have worked out that we can bike it at both ends. So desperate has become our quest, we have looked at getting a coach to Heathrow (one journey is over 5 hours long, and involves a 2 hour stop in BOURNEMOUTH); a bus from Winchester to London (can be done, but only at 6am and still costs over £60; train travel via Reading (4 changes - imagine that with 2 kids and 3 bikes, even the Bowens can't do that kinda travel!). Our best bet seems to be to spend most of a day on a train, with 3 changes, and the whole thing comes in at £65, or £40 if we buy a family railcard. Which would, I assume be an incentive to further travel (we have bought the damn thing so we had better make the most of it!). Still, once we get there (and we did even think about cycling the whole 70 miles - poor H, she only just made it back from Haskins this afternoon) we are doing some travel into London, to inspect the Olympic sites, see the Queen to catch up on her brand preferences etc, and travel with children is free on the underground. Phew. Does the District line come as far south as Hedge End?

R is keen to get back on the computer to check out flight options, and hiring a helicopter might be worth looking into. We are 'saving' £100 a month from our car share, so can splash out from time to time. Andrea's husband has a microlight plane glider or whatever, and he might be convinced to take us - but not sure about the bikes. Anyone have a motorbike, roller skates, horse and cart - hey, we might even have to break our rules in the first week and nick the car from our own drive when H is not looking.

Haskins was good fun, they had a hunt the easter bunny competition on, and as Easter is all about bunnies, gardening and DIY we took part with gusto. As an ENFJ person I get gripped with the emotional fervour of competitions and it makes life tiring for everyone else in my family. I made H wander round the slug killer section twice looking for a bunny. The girls both got some free chocolate out of it, and Haskins was the destination of our 'Family Bike Ride'. This is a big deal for the girls, who think it sounds fun. R has bought a new death wish seat for A that goes on the front of his bike, which she loves. We cycled along the pavement on the A27, and I found the journey there one of the worst journeys ever, as I kept barking orders at H to stop, move away from the kerb, cross now, now NOW, while she sped along downhill at her top speed.

R bought road tyres for my bike as well, which makes me go faster. That's a significant chunk of our '£100 we have for public transport and cycling' gone already, for this month, so it is looking like cycling up to Surrey is going to be the only option open to us. I am sure that local buses would be a good option, but R is not keen. His best plan is for him to road bike the whole journey, while us 3 girls fend for ourselves with a go cart and 2 scooters.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Gruffalo day today. We went to Eastleigh (always a treat), with 2 kindred spirits, Andrea and Gillian, with assorted family members, to The Point for 'The Gruffalo Child' play. It was impressive. The actors were very talented and there were only 3 of them.

I cycled to Eastleigh. And home. Our serious car share trial began yesterday, so car use at weekends only, and I am starting as I mean to go on, even though Hat still has her car for 2 weeks, she is insured and the car is for her use Mon to Fri. It means we are doing a few creative journeys this holiday, and it is good that we are both 'j' people which means we plan ahead. Have to, to work out how to get everyone and stuff to right place at right time. Might need to get some panniers, and really need some cycle clips as have ripped another pair of trousers. I have started folding them up to the knee to avoid more mishaps, so if you spot a crazy cyclist with one trouser leg up and one down you can keep safely assume it is me.

Yesterday was a Hannah day. We spent the whole day together, got loads of activities packed in including pottery painting, hair cuts, swimming and a pub tea, and did it all on the buses ( 4 different trips.) Did Harefield to Bitterne, Bitterne to Woolston, Woolston to St Marys and then home on a number 7 to the top end of Thornhill. Woolston has a poundland shop which had modelling balloons, which H has desired for ages, so we bought some. H made her money back on them, as in the pub at tea time a gang of old guys on the next table were so impressed one of them gave her a pound coin. She made them benches and dogs, she actually is not bad at all at them, a skill worth nuturing for a lucrative career if the job at BLC doesn't come off.

My hair cut was a highlight of yesterday for me. I was there for ages, and H had hers done and made many balloon animals while she waited for me. I had it dried straight, which takes forever, and was well chuffed with my 'stepped out of the salon look'. However, swimming a couple of hours later does not do much for straight hair, and I was back to curly as ever within seconds of entering the water. By the time we reached the pub, I was feeling a bit despondent because I LIKE having my hair straight and it was curly again by then. We sat down in the pub, and one of the balloon model fan club walked in and looked at me and said: 'That hair style... amazing, looks incredible...' to me! To my normal curls!!!! I wonder if he was an angel sent by God to encourage me, which seems crazy, why would God be interested in my hair being curly or straight? But then the bible says that he notices each hair on our heads, and it is very hard for me to imagine a God who would be that involved with me. So, have taken it as an affirmation of my being made in God's image. Which is curly as well as straight.