Sunday, 23 April 2017

Queen's house

Easter holiday from school can feel extremely long when one does not do a foreign travel somewhere nice. This holiday luckily Archaeologist Husband took Number One Son to Bristol to see Number One Cousin before I returned home after a departmental meeting. The rest of the holiday was spent nearer home except for a day trip to London. It was so successful that one has to do another as soon as possible during the coming half-term.

There are two ways to travel from Leicester to London and we took the slower one. Number One Son would prefer taking a train, since it is much quicker, but the coach service is much cheaper so we had to slum it. Both ways of travel leave the actual time in London quite short - especially the train travel when the reasonably priced tickets force the home journery either around 3pm or after 7pm, the latter still possibly leaving too much time to spend in the late afternoon or evening for Number One Son. In the end, the travel went fines, but we noticed that the loos in the National Express coaches are really needed!

The main aim of the journey was to go to the Hamleys toy shop. I had not myself never been there, so I was quite keen to see it. There were six floors of toys, but still the department store failed my Barbie test. After all, this is not a large out of the town centre retail park but an old building with a toy shop. I have seen wider Lego collections elsewhere, too, but for some reason Playmobile was well stocked. Similarly, there were a huge Star Wars section downstairs with some added digital and other gadgets. Momentarily, I managed to get my ring and with hand stuck in a pin art gadget. After a short panic, I managed to free myself when I actually thought about it.

When we came out of the toy shop the grey skies had lightened and the sun came out from behind the clouds. It was not through and through sunshine but partly overcast but better than expected so we decided to stay overground, although Number One Son likes the Tube. Since Number One Son is behind in development, he is not really into monument spotting. The living statues were more interesting than Piccadilly Circus, the walk-in fountain on Leicester Square was more interesting than the square itself, Chinatown had no interest for my son and the National Gallery was a bore. This boy's interest was only aroused when we passed some battleground paintings. Luckily, seeing Big Ben from a distance and the lions in Trafalgar Square were a hit. Number One Son was not the only child or adult who was climbing the pedestal of the column there. Then it was time to see what Number One Son really wanted to see.

The real draw was Buckingham Palace. Not only is queen living there but there were also beefeaters guarding the building and we happened to be there for the 4pm change of the guards. A small event with three soldiers but enough to keep Number One Son happy. Then it was time to walk back to the coach station. As it had been planned so that we ended up near the Victoria station.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Birthday panic

This year Number One Son's birthday caused a little bit of a panic. Only in my mind but anyway... All was finde when I booked the venue he had hoped for - that is Laserforce in Leicester - so that he and his mates can have a laser fight. However, the alarm bells should have rang when all but one slot were free. I just thought that it was because it was the day clocks went foreward and the English summer time started. No, it was because it was the Mothering Day!

Of course, when we noticed that from the school's invitation to the mother's day event at the school, it was already too late. The invitations had gone out and the first guests had informed us that they would come. However, there were more cancellations in the RSVPs than normally. Next year one has to be very careful with the different celebrations. I think Easter will be in March again then.

In the end, it all went relatively smoothly. There were some guests, there were money and presents. There were cards. And the Laserforce did have mothers' day special where the mothers went free, so me and another mother braved ourselves and joined the youngters. I did spend quite a time as a dead body since the oldest of the kids had positioned himself into a sniper position...

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Around Thanet

This week we had a minibreak during the half-term week exploring briefly the historic Kent. I call it historic for two reasons. First of all Canterbury had one of the first cathedrals in England with St Augustine as its first bishop. In addition Canterbury has plenty of other historical and archaeological sites to visit. It is one of the only cities in England that still has most of its city walls in place. It also has a Roman museum with the story of Roman Canterbury to tell with in situ mosaics. The second reason to call Kent historic is that Archaeologist Husband lived his childhood in Thanet and this trip included a round trip of his old homes and schools.

To be honest, in Canterbury we adults would have given the World Heritage site that is the Canterbury cathedral a miss. One look at the ticket prices would tell to anyone why this may have been the case. However, Number One Son wanted to see the building from inside so we could not really give this educational opportunity a miss. Not that he lasted that long: after 10 minutes he had got enough and had to be cajoled to let Mummy to see more of the older northern side. In this way we probably lasted 5 minutes longer than otherwise had.

We stayed in Canterbury and made day or evening trips to Thanet, the historic island on the northeastern coast of Kent. However, it is impossible nowadays to see it as an island with straits diminished to underground brooks or narrow streams. I am not sure how impressed Number One Son was about the trip as a whole. It included a lot of sitting while Archaeologist Husband and his long-time-no-see school friends or colleagues discussed. We stepped out and in of the car in order to take a few photographs outside houses in suburbia. We looked for a long time for a tomb. But he was a good sport. Thus, it was sad that Dreamland in Margate was not open since the Leicestershire half-term was a week early. His enthusiasm did not stretch to Turner Contemporary. Luckily, the local beaches were a big hit, even it was really windy and rather chilly.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Having a break

In Devon

Even if I have had to take a break from blogging, we are still exploring with Number One Son - considering my exhaustedness, though. I will resume regular blogging at some point, but now we just enjoy half-term and the normal summer term stuff.

Visiting the Riverside Festival

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Magna Carta did not impress him much

In the British Library

This week started with a movie on a slight grey morning. Similarly to the whole second Easter Holiday week, the weather seemed to change with a drop of a hat and we had both sun and rain in equal measures. The movie we went to see was The Minions. I know we were there way after the first night, but I prefer to go to the Kids showings in Odeon, since Number One Son is still a little bit unpredictable entity, when it comes to the movies. He says that the slightest thing makes him scared, wants to go to toilet in between and hides behind the chair at points - you do not want to pay £10 per head for such an unreliable experience. In the morning shows you get to the premium chairs and if Number One Son decided to walk away, it is not a big dent to the budget. In the end, the Minions found Gru, so Number One Son was very happy of the experience.

In the movies

After a leisurely Tuesday spent watching videos, playing Minecraft and running in the park, it was time for the big trip of this holiday. Taking train to London is ridiculously expensive from Leicester - even one MP has now noticed and started to wonder this - but I bit the bullet. With a off-peak ticket you do not manage to stay for too long, unless you are prepared to wait until after 7 pm. I decided against this, since it is rather late with a small boy who may become extremely tired in the late afternoon. Thus, it was a trip to McDonalds (a must every time - Happy Meals bring toys) and then a couple of hours before the return. We even managed some time in the park at Russell Square. Scaring pigeons. That essential activity the small boys and girls do.

Scaring pigeons at Russell Square

I had pencilled in a light railway trip by Canary Wharf to see planes at the City airport, but to my surprise Number One Son chose the British Museum. On the way we poped in in the British Library, but the only thing to vaguely interest him were the computers giving information on the highlights of the collections. Magna Carta - not really appealing. King Cnut's law collection - nada. Medieval bibles or anything to do with Lindisfarne - could not care less. Not even the 'Alice in Wonderland' exhibition impress him much.

The fake crystal skull

The visit to the British Museum was a bit in a Japanese style. We walked to see a couple of highlights and I took some poses at the main attractions, where I could get him remotely interested. The crystal skull amused him for a couple of seconds, Rosetta stone much less, Parthenon friezes got his approval, but going around to see anything else than a half man, half hors: what a drag! It all looks better in the photographs.

Rosetta Stone? We have a photo...

I must admit he was highly interested in something. You know the Hellenistic statue with a young woman and a slipper? Yes, Alex was very delighted and giggly when seeing a marble-white naked bum. I made the matters even more interesting by pointing out that a male Hellenistic statue had his wi**y still intact. Little boys and giggly bits. How to get children engaged in the past! And this was no museum for poo stories...

OKing the marbles

The week finished with some rides in the Leicester city centre. Together with my belated admission that yes, we have to buy some trousers to Number One Son, since all are either too small, too big or totally ripped. I managed to keep us away from McDonalds until it was the ice cream and coffee time.

It is the end of the holidays

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Birthday Party Number Two and Other Adventures

Ninja Turtle after the second party

What do bad mothers do? They spend far too much time flipping through smart phones, they keep one eye on the work even if it is supposed to be family time and they land with work tasks on their lap during the afore mentioned family time. However, even if I was fretting about it before hand and making Archaeologist Husband irritated, I managed to concentrate most of it to one day and attend Number One Son's second birthday party and spend time with in-laws and Number One Son in the Space Centre (although memo to self - no Frankfurter hot-dogs never again). We also managed to get smokey on a sunny Saturday afternoon in friends' barbecue cum bonfire.

What a £1 can buy

I also managed to run errands that were masked as an educational trip to the museum. Number One Son is also learning to manage his pocket money and we paid a visit to the Pound shop. Where else would you spend £1 pocket money? We couldn't avoid an obligatory lunch in McDonalds. Not to mention the coffee break in the same venue. I am definitely passing my thrifty ways to the next generation...

The trip to the Space Centre has to be renewed at some point. We did not particularly feel like queueing, so we looked at different exhibits and Number One Son could fulfil his photogenic needs by making a weather person video in a dedicated pod. Not that he stayed in one place and tried to mimic any weather persons, but enjoyed a run and seeing himself on a screen.

Constructive in the Museum

Unfortunately, weather was against us on Saturday morning, when we tried a walk to Bradgate Park. Plenty of rain over the recent days in between sunshine meant that there was a point when crossing a field began to feel like a sinking exercise. Sometimes it is more civilised to walk on a pavement...

Another holiday week ahead. We will try to see some of the delights of London and explore Minions.

We like public transport

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Birthday Party Number One

Time has flown so quickly that I missed my last week’s blog as well. I was in Rome and during the conference I made the shortest and the most occasional of skyping to home, so I thought it was not worth it to write a couple of lines on how I was in different events in the evenings and travelling between places.

It is a big day today. Not only does my blog change it name from Two Archaeologists and a Toddler to Two Archaeologists and a Tweenie, but most importantly, it is Number One Son’s seventh birthday. One has to consider those baby and toddler years the past and the quickly sprigging lad as the present. Little by little Cbeebies has been swapped to Transformers and Ninja Turtles. We still have some baby toys around, but soon it is time for the one last clear out.

Main organising committee

Naturally, when I finally arrived back home – and it was already into Good Friday – it was clear that I had picked up a cold along the way. Luckily, the birthday party had been fully organised this time by Archaeologist Husband, so I could keep Number One Son fed and oversee him playing in the sunny garden, while Archaeologist Husband shot for the last decorations and foodstuffs. It was not going to be one party but two, since so many children on Number One Son’s class are born around this time so another party inevitably clashed with his. In addition, some people are away for the holidays, so a mid-week party was a preferred solution for Number One Son. He really is making his own decisions now.

The parties are in our house, so having two actually seems to work well. Both have a handful of kids and during the first one the house did not get trashed. The children also could run around in our tiny garden, so there were happy faces all around. The start of the party was a bit muted affair, since many children did not know each other. But after some egg hunt in the house and Minecraft battles in the garden, it all looked to go alright.

Now Number One Son is indulging with his birthday presents. It is apparently the best day ever – with the BBC online shop closing, Archaeologist Husband had really emptied their Dr Who selection. Number One Son got some Angry Birds and Ninja Turtles as well. A happy day.