Sunday, 31 October 2010

Goodness. disneyland Paris. Goodness me. I am at a loss as to where to start, plus I am reading a book by a pastor called Will Bowen about not complaining, so this might be short. If I just write single word sentences, they are not complaints, are they? Hmm, he says if you have to ask, 'is it a complaint?' it probably is. In the book, apparently, my prosperity will increase as I stop complaining, as people will offer me things for free that other complainy people have to pay for. So I am looking forward to Walt Disney himself welcoming me back for free and reimbursing me the 400 Euros I spent to spend two day queueing up to go on fairground rides. The pricing policy makes Claygate flower show fair look cheap. You could spend over an hour queuing for some ride, almost none of them any better than the ones at Paultons. For £100 less, I could have bought our family season tickets for a year of Paultons. and had change for a couple of cups of tea to save R lugging around a flask (one of his least favourite things to do). There are less rides at Disneyland Paris than at Paultons Park. And with Peppa Pig world set to open at Easter 2011, no one with any sense would cross the channel ever again. Now, having written all that, I need to encode it so that I am not faced with a lawsuit from Disney. So, lets call it Frisbeeland Paris instead and re read it swapping all the D words for F words. Not the F word, clearly. It's not that bad.

Good things about France -of which there are lots. The roads - less full than in England. Arras. We stopped for lunch and had a look around, having stayed in the Balladins there en route to Switzerland in February, and only having seen the ring road in the dark. It is a pretty town and the area is worthy of more investigation. Autumn colours on the trees as pretty as in England. Mobile home had unlimited electricity so we managed to keep warm inside although R had a cold nose all week. Supermarkets - Auchan! sounds like a sneeze, is a shop. I like shopping in other countries. Paris - we looked at the Eiffel tower but did not go up (queues too long - had already paid for the experience of standing in a queue for almost all of the day before), walked along the river, and spend a couple of hours in our favourite area of the whole of Paris, La Defense. We went there on our honeymoon, and visited again 3 years later when we accidentally didn't move house when we were going to and booked a holiday to fill in the gap when we wouldn't be moving after all. It is a beauitful area of modern buildings and modern art, and a free museum charting its history with lots of architect's models to look at. Well done France.

We went in the cheap seats, with the Sun 'Holiday for £10!!!' offer, back in January I collected the tokens, and booked the accomodation, at La Chene Gris, a campsite 20km from frisbee land. it's not quite as good as it sounds, the £10 bit, as the 'foreign' destinations are £15 a head, plus I paid the £10 extra each option to guarantee a channel crossing after 7am and before 9pm. Our outward crossing was at 7.30 am, so we spent a night in a Travelodge in Margate ( £19 Supersaver rate, booked in February!). After A threw up on the ferry and both H and I spent out time with our heads in our laps, with eyes shut, we vowed that we would always always go by tunnel in future. The sea was really calm. On the way back it was more wavy, but we found the kids lounge and watched the jungle Book, the perfect Disney film to round off our Disney fix. The girls have been saving up their pasta reward system for 3 jars to get the trip to Disney. We have stopped doing the pasta jar, now it has been patented, appeared on Dragon's Den and Suppernanny and everyone on Netmums is doing it. Our focus for it for over 2 years has been to foster more loving and cooperative interactions between the girls, and they have changed into more loving and cooperative creatures. A had birthday money to spend burning a hole in her purse today at Itchen Valley (new play park great for girls and older age groups) and she bought H an item for £3.50, the same amount she spent on herself. Out of freewill, not with her arm in a chinese burn from older sis. At Frisbee land, they had spending money and cooperated to buy two items between them that they both wanted but which was a compromise on what they really wanted individually. Hurrah. I am not saying we have conquered sibling rivalry, found the great elixir and neither of them ever spouts' but you love her more than me' but things are better than they were.

It was interesting to try to guess the nationality of the families at Disneyland. French people smoke a lot more than English people do. If an overweight man with tubby children wearing a comdey T shirt was pushing a buggy towards you, chances are he was English or Welsh. Dutch men are all incredibly tall, and there are not many of them, but more that there are Germans, clearly the Germans are boycotting France/Disney - or maybe its not that sinister and they don't have half terms. Saw one Irish car. Clearly the Irish are not stupid enough to spend their hard earned euros on platic tat and queueing up. The car stock on a P and O ferry is of a different style to that on the Channel tunnel. Travelling by tunnel, everyone has a 'Posh and Betts' style Landrover or Mercedes or BMW. Travelling by P and O, everyone has a lorry or a Leger holidays coach.

Spending time with a mixture of Europeans, I was struck by how similar we are, not by how different we are. Sometimes the comedy T shirt man spoke in a language that I didn't understand, which means that the French are watching repeats of Little Britain and dressing up as characters from it for comedy effect. The odd Brit could be spotted with a bumbag, or in smarter attire than baggy tracksuit bottoms and a T shirt. Barbour is fashionable on the continent. Everyone's children love having their photo taken with a character from a film.

I found the photo taking really weird. People take photos or video of everything their children do. They don't have time to talk to their children because they are videoing them all the time. I was tempted to fish my phone out this afternoon as the girls walked across a narrow branch over a ditch, but only for the £250 from 'you've been framed' that might be coming my way, and actually, I don't think my phone does video. The girls got into the swing of the photo thing, and have had their photo taken with Minnie, with a gold carriage, with a playing card (what was that all about?). I spotted one child in a queue having her photo taken next to a sign about Dumbo. People took photos of everything. What do they do with all this evidence? If they started watching them now and never stopped they would die before the slide show came back round again.

After getting home late on Friday, we had a bright start on Saturday as I and the girls were off to Winchester to meet Nick Butterworth and Jacqueline Wilson, real people, authors who we admire who wrote books we enjoy in our family. I was excited about going by train, we drove to Hedge End and then its just 15 minutes to Winchester. We queued for 45 minutes for H's friend to get her book signed and photo taken with J W, and I took a photo of the girls standing next to Percy the Park Keeper, as the Disney habits die hard, queueing and photo opportunities with characters being the hardest to break.

A's constant question all week was 'is it real?' a philosophical question indeed, and hard to answer in a weird world where everything, even the trees, are plastic. Another philosophical gem from A was 'When does a rectangle become a straight line and not a rectangle?' That led to a lengthy discussion, the short answer from R was 'it depends how thick your pen is'. It was A's 7th birthday while we were away, we did a 12 hour day, most of it at the Disney Studios Park, which I rate much much higher than the standard park. Some really good events to watch, including a car stunt show which is fascinating, and that park left me impressed with the ingenuity and artistic capability of the people who make films and invent characters and do animation. If you are going (and after reading my review here, you probably won't) and have one day, spend it at the Studios park. A is always on holiday on her birthday (you may look back through the archives for proof) which means she gets multiple birthdays. So far she has had 4 singings and candle blowings, 2 in France, 1 with one granny and 1 with the other granny and pop. Bless her, last weekend things were a bit manic, with R on a power boat course all weekend and me trying to pack, clean (have to leave it clean for the burgers) and do a trillion other things, A took it upon herself to bake her own birthday cake. A lemon cake. Yum. Then there was the brownie cake bought in Auchan! and consumed at 10.30pm on her actual birthday. Then the M and S cake at Granny M's, which we didn't eat, just did the candle thing, then same cake, different day, different granny, consumed at last. And still, a party next Sunday with a few friends. How good to be 7. She has a plan for baking a chocolate cake for that one. Granny M rustled up a great spree at short notice, when we observed that our return journey around the M25 from Dover would mean passing junction 10 at tea time. We had Eton Mess, and a heard it, obviously as 'Eaten Mess'. she thought that sounded gross, a euphemism for sick.

Granny and Pop met us in Winchester, and are spending two nights with us which is great. Then we have posh London friends staying next weekend, the spare room is catching on and you will need to book via our online system soon. They are not really posh, I just put that to make Chris laugh. I hope he did.

So, after a whole week off from training, I am thrilled to be getting back out on the bike tomorrow, excited about going for a run and pleased that its swimming club on Tuesday.

And if you gave me the choice of Blackgang Chine or Disneyland Paris, and you were paying, and knowing how much I hate Blackgang Chine - you know what? It would be the Isle of Wight that won. Happy days, and Florida never was on my list of places to go before I am 80. I knew I was not Disney's market. I couldn't bear Legoland, and knew it would be like that but worse. I did have a great day on Thursday, honest, and we had a lovely lovely time just being somewhere different and being all together as a family, but it was like being a non believer at a religious shrine. Do go ahead and worship all that is fake and plastic and pretend, but I will not be leading the way.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Today was perfect sailing conditions for me. When I got to the sailing club after an hour on the bike, I expected that R would be getting the boat out (in fact, I assumed it would be rigged and on the beach for me, but it wasn't - clearly I am not paying enough). R had in fact fixed up for someone else to borrow our rudders, and take me out on their bigger and boat. It was great, and I 'crewed' ie fiddled with the gib from time to time. We had a great sail, there was a fair bit of wind a bit further out, and lots of yachts, and we got up on one hull leaning off the side, and at one point nearly vertical. We were really zooming and I loved it. Coming back was a bit slower but still fun. I really loved it and was smiling from ear to ear. I had already done a triathlon in training, not all at once, but swam and then ran this morning, found a new piece of countryside to run in ( the path across the golf club has been eradicated by the new building site for the rose bowl improvements. Any way, this new piece of countryside is behind Burger King at Hedge End and is nice running terrain. I did an hour on my bike after lunch, out along Allington Lane and then back through Horton Heath ( did you know that was the surname of Horton hears a who? character). Then down to Boorley Green and back through Hedge End and over the motorway to Bursledon. In case you are my stalker. I tried a new technique for traing, of using the Garmin beeper to alert me when my heart rate went over zone 1, which seems to be 131 bpm. It was really good to stay with a low heart beat, and my average time wasnt any lower than it would have been if I had pushed harder more often. Which was interesting, and I will tell my new triathlon coach, Joe Beer, about that finding. He says we are to get more things wrong than right. I certainly achieve that, in last two events, I forgot my goggles and did 2 extra lengths, and then last Sunday on the sportive I took a wrong turn and did an extra 7 miles to refind the route. I think I am the perfect person to take that kind of advice.

I like Fair Oak and Horton Heath for cycling cos there are some great road names, like Pilchard Avenue and Dumpers Drove. Nowhere is better than Butlocks Heath, though, I was tempted myself to change the l to a t and add a l before the other t, to change it to Buttocks Health. Someone else has beaten me to it on the first part of that plan, if one of you would go and put the l in one night I would be grateful.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

After a really really wet and windy bike ride on Sunday, when I missed a signpost and did an extra 7 miles - made it 72 insted of 65 which was the intention, I have spent a couple of days resting. That is two events in a row where I have accidentally done 10% extra exercise. What is going on with me.

I am reading Ellen Macarthur's book - she went several thousand miles further than she needed to didn't she? I am finding it an amazing and exciting read, she puts my sailing skills to shame, I can just about tack with one sail, she had about six to reef and put up and down, on a boat 4 times as long and on her own among icebergs. I am also reading A Generous Orthodoxy, which I have read before, it is an interesting and fairly easy read for a dense Christian book ( not that I am suggesting the author is a dense Christian).

My life seems to be lurching, in some kind of rhythm, between doing family/exercise/cleaning/fun stuff and WORK. Which is all consuming on the days I do it. I have so much paperwork and stuff to catch up on that I found myself chivvying the children out of the door thinking ' right, now I can get the work done' which is stupid, they are the work, all the other stuff is just stuff - but sadly there is a lot of it. Bits of paper to fill in and give to a variety of people. What happened to 'Let Teachers Teach?' all I seem to do is fill in forms. I hope it is the time of year and it will all get done so I can concentrate on teaching and learning and not bits of paper.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Today we took the Lashes sailing, it was mild weather and wind, so I taught Steve all I know ( took about 5 minutes) then we took Abigail out while R and Jonah tried to catch us on the Topper, then R took Victoria out. They all loved it. I am reading Ellen Macarthur's autobiography at the moment. Wow. I fell off my bike today, only my hybrid and on grass and mud, but still enough to feel a bit sore. H is loving her tri club training on Saturday afternoons, she did a mini duathlon today. Not saying much today as off to bed before a big bike ride tomorrow, got to get the sleep in for some healing and rest.