Saturday, August 30, 2008

Day out in the Gardens...



... Claremont Landscape Gardens, that is.

Today, something happened which has been far too rare here this summer - the sun came out and stayed out for an entire day. I know, amazing, right? It was actually warm enough to wear shorts (well, I didn't wear shorts - not a shorts person, really, but I did wear short trousers and a sleeveless shirt!). Anyway, we decided to get outside, so after lunch we headed out to Claremont, which we had some tickets for. It's only about 20 minutes away and it's a nice, fairly small gardens, with just enough things of interest to look at. And just over the road is our local pick-your-own farm, so we stopped on the way home and got some raspberries and some sweetcorn, and some lambchops from the farm shop. Mmm.

More photos over here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Who?



Another busy week - can't believe we are nearing the end of the holiday - amazing! Last week on Wednesday we went to the Wetland Centre, but I didn't take many pictures, so didn't share before now - this is Alex and McKinley doing some pond dipping - we went with a big group - we had 13 kids between us - and had a lovely time, despite the average weather. At least it didn't rain...

Today, I took mine to the Dr Who Expedition (as Alex called it) at Earl's Court, which they (and I) enjoyed - lots of models and so forth from the show. There are a good handful of photos over in my flickr album - some with the kids in, and some just of Dr Who Stuff, which may be of minimal interest to many of you :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Gerbil pile




Haven't had a photo of the gerbils in a while - so here's a cute one - they are sleeping all in a big pile - not even in the corner or anything, just piled up in the middle of the bedding. I feel sorry for Ozzie (the black and white one) as he's the littlest, yet seems to have ended up on the bottom with big tubby Billy on top. Oh well, I suppose if it really bothered him, he'd protest more!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day out at Leeds Castle



Okay, I know, this doesn't look much like Leeds Castle - first, we went to Whitstable in Kent to eat some oysters and other things, and then we went over to Leeds Castle after lunch. As it happens, this was an excellent choice, because the weather was a bit dodgy in the morning, but cleared nicely in the afternoon and evening, so the time at Leeds Castle was very pleasant indeed.



Much more castle-ish, don't you think? Anyway, some photos of the kids at the castle are over here...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Horton Park Farm



Alex and I spent today at Horton Park Children's Farm with my friend Sharon's kids and their nanny. Sharon had some errands to run and probably needed a bit of a rest (this is my friend who I've mentioned, who has Hodgkin's Lymphoma). The photo above is McKinley (Alex and McKinley are in the same class in school), Alex and Edie - we had another child with us - Baby Beau, who spent most of the time in the pushchair, but enjoyed looking at some animals.

Here they are having dressed a scarecrow (or more precisely, they directed me while I dressed the scarecrow and they ate icecreams).



I took loads of photos - they are over here on flickr.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The first tomato



...was eaten with great ceremony. It was nice - quite sweet, not very big (slightly larger than cherry tomatoes - maybe golf-ball sized - they are obviously a small variety). There are several others which are almost ripe on the vines, so there will be more to look forward to eventually. There are LOTS which are still green, so we may end up with a glut eventually. Though with the weather the way it has been, perhaps not. If need be, I shall make green tomato chutney...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Here there be tygers



Went to the zoo today with friends. Loads of photos here. Three happy kids below - the other was refusing to be photographed, as usual.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A day in town



Here are the kids on the top of an old double decker bus in the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. We really enjoyed this museum - I highly recommend it if you are in London with kids - just enough information to be interesting for adults, while not too much to overwhelm the kids (actually, there's lots of text you can read if you have the time and are that way inclined, but they've done a good job of presenting just bits and pieces where essential, so those of us being pulled along by a 5 year old don't miss out too much). All three of mine had fun - at ages 5.5, nearly 9 and nearly 11, it's not always easy to find something which suits all three.



And then we went for a stroll - had our lunch in Covent Garden, then wandered around looking at street performers, like this lady in pink, who stood completely still like a statue until you placed a coin in her hat, and then she did a single, lovely move including blowing a kiss and a wink to those (mostly children) who placed the coin. It was a nice variation on the usual living statue.

And here is one of my favourite little places in central London - Neal's Yard - the colours of the houses are just great - I don't have a photo of the pink one, or of my very favourite, which is further down the alley and hard to photograph, but it's orange with blue shutters and windows, like this one, only more so. Plus, there's a bead shop in the yard, too, which is always fun.



There are lots more photos over here...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dreaming Spires



We actually didn't spend much time amid the actual dreaming spires of Oxford, though we did have a day out. Geoff's off to a conference at Magdalen College this week, so we drove him out today and had a little family day out - including a very windy picnic in the University Parks, a quick visit to the Ashmolean and a longer, more leisurely stroll around the Botanical Gardens, where, among other things, we sat and watched the punters crash into one another on the river. Ah, Oxford...




We saw this chap in the park - isn't he fab? More photos over here on flick.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ripening...



We have one tomato which is actually putting some colour on - it's not quite as red as it appears in the photo but it's definitely getting there. None of the other ones show much sign of colour yet except this one precious youngster, but I'm sure his brothers will soon follow...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Birds & Reptiles & Amphibians, oh my




Out again today so the guys could finish up the flooring (which they have now done, which means we don't have to go out tomorrow, except to grocery shop) - this time, to the little Reptile Rescue Centre at Syon Park - it's called Tropical Rainforest, which is a rather grand name for it - it has a crocodile, a caiman, loads of turtles, some fish, snakes, frogs and then a few random birds and mammals thrown in for good measure. Mainly, they take in unwanted pet animals, specialising in reptiles & amphibians, but not limited to them. Anyway, they do an encounter session, which we just got there for the end of, where you can touch animals - here's the kids touching a nice python.



And here are a few others - Alex and Sarah watching a little spider monkey, and Olivia counting a huge pile of turtles.

It wasn't long after we got home that the guys were totally finished with the floors - here's what they look like:



(the colour in the hallway is darker than reality - the living room is pretty good, colourwise, not that I can take a photo of the living room in any practical way - stood outside and took this one through the window!). And the bedroom:



It's so much better I can't even begin to say. We're delighted. And now it's done, hoorah! Of course the really nice floor makes all the not-very nice wallpaper in the hallway look even worse, but that's being dealt with in the autumn. Patience until then...

A day in the life

Yesterday, the kids and I headed to Kingston (local large shopping precint) to run some errands - I had something which needed returning, plus we had a list of odd bits and pieces (water bottle for Sarah, school shorts, 99p shop, build-a-bear workshop for free code for website (don't ask), clarinet music) and a need to get out of the way of the guys doing the floor.

So here we are watching the singing bear display (the one shopping centre always does this during school holidays - they are animated bears) and having a coffee and snack in Costa (or in Alex's case, a "babyccino" which is steamed milk and foam, in Sarah's case hot chocolate and Olivia's case a strawberry frescato).



And here are the kids trying to catch the water fountains in the market place without getting completely soaked (though it was raining anyway).



And when we came home, there was this:



(and also in the living room, but no photo of that yet, as there are still lots of tools and whatnot piled in there as they are doing the bedroom upstairs today)

Monday, August 04, 2008

A little bit of this and that

Given that the house was a bit like this today:



we went out and did some errands, including this:



and a bit of this:



When we finished, the house looked a bit like this:



(the right hand side of the hallway under the radiator is actual finished flooring - won't it look nice?)

and Olivia looked a bit like this:



(yes, it's fairly short - get a load of the amount of hair on the floor in the picture where she's having it cut! - it looks fabulous, though)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Befloor & after



or, not so much after as during. We're having wooden floor (laminate - but the nice kind) put down in the hallway and living room (and our bedroom as well) - so today I spent time taking all the stuff off the bookcases and so on. Then our friend Mike (who is a builder and does a lot of work for us) came around to take off the skirting board (we are going to have the rooms decorated in the autumn and the skirting board really need to be replaced - we decided it was better to take it off, have the floor put down and then put the new or refurbished skirting board back down on top of the floor. As Mike can't start the redecorating until his kids get back into school we will be without skirting board for a while, but I imagine we'll live. He also helped me take up the carpet & underlay, which the floor guys would have done, but as it was halfway up in order to take the skirting board off, it seemed silly not to finish the job.



Here are the two rooms with only floorboards showing - not too bad - we did briefly consider having the floorboards refurbished - most of the ones in this road are in pretty good shape - but there is just so much dust and mess when you have that done... So, they are starting tomorrow morning, and hopefully, will finish the downstairs in a few days. Then the bedroom. Photos of the finished work as soon as I can...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Up, up and away



Here's just one photo of our day trip to Brooklands Museum today - rather more can be found over in my flickr album, include photos of the kids actually INSIDE Concorde (smaller and less flashy inside than you might think) and us all sitting in racing cars, and other exciting tidbits. A fun day was had by all, and as dinner consisted of takeaway pizza, I'm not even too tired at the end of it.

We also said goodbye (temporarily) to our friends Lana, Rod, Thalia & Keir, who have just moved from down the road (although they are keeping their house to come back to, and renting it out) to India (yep, India). It will seem very strange not having them just down the road any more, though I'm sure the 2 years or so they are out there for will be over practically before you know it - life seems to go that way these days - quick, quick, quick.