Thursday, 16 August 2012

Simple things

You buy your child complicated toys and what do they like best? Yes, stones and sticks. On our trip to Rome Number One Son found endless fun with dried out oranges in the garden. He piled all oranges up in a heap and ‘classified’ them by excluding all too rotten ones. Those with visible oozing brown holes had to go. We hope this interest can be directed towards biology or similar discipline in the future and does not suggest we have managed to bring up another archaeologist. That would have a severe effect to our ‘pension plan’.

Another simple joy (photo by Archaeologist Husband)

Number One Son also showed interest in santpietrini, reversedly-positioned pyramid-shaped stones that have been used to cobble Rome’s historic pavements. While Italian toddlers were sitting quietly in a stroller waiting for a bus, our pride and joy insisted in sitting in a small earthy square where a planetree was growing next to the bus stop where we were waiting for a bus every evening. He was playing with a santpietrini stone as if it was a handaxe and then kept covering it with smaller stones and dead leaves, that were plenty, and dust. Alternatively, he was turning and piling the dry leaves along the pavement while waiting.

His real passion is diverted towards stones and gravel. In Rome he sat on a park walk way as soon as we stepped out of the bus and started organising gravel stones in piles – to the entertainment of the Romans sitting on a park bench on a hot August day. More entertainment followed when one or both of us tried to lure Number One Son back to our place of stay.

More gravel was available back in Britain. Number One Son’s grandparents live relatively near Brighton and with his Number One Aunt we visited Hove beach. It was a sunny, if windy day and red flags were plenty. It was no time to let him swim in the sea but he could divert his passion towards the gravel of the beach. He was looking for nice stones, big enough to create a heap that stood apart from smaller gravel. He was clearly also trying the feeling of the gravel under his feet in a true explorer fashion.

Friday, 10 August 2012

End of kidadulthood?

There are moments that symbolise the fact that you have become an adult – and a responsible parent. For years every time I went to Rome me and my friends we headed down the hill to Trastevere and frequented Bar San Calisto, a bar with a certain reputation but visited by everybody from retired ladies having their afternoon tea, families buying ice cream to young couples having a beer with their student friends and local drug addicts. The nights were long and wet but now for the first time I did use their latteria service. They are one of the bars that provide milk outside the shop opening hours. After an early supper I and Archaeologist Husband bought a litre of whole milk and a bottle of white wine. Something for Number One Son and something for the parents who stayed in to look after him while he was sleeping. This one act demonstrated us that we are truly older now.

Bar San Calisto (photograph by Daria)

Travelling during the hottest time of the year with a toddler changed the rhythm and the extent of our travels. Since we were on a hill slightly outside the centre of Rome overlooking the city on the western side of the Tiber, we stuck to Trastevere and did not even try to reach any famous squares in the old city centre with Number One Son. Forum Romanum would have been murder; it is a true sun trap. I ventured farther away for some work-related tasks but as a family, we descended the hill and looked for an early evening meal.

We did have a supper around 5.30 pm, which meant that our selection of open restaurants was not great. We were stuck with the ones offering the all-afternoon opening hours that are directly targeted to the tourist market. The food was not necessarily great and service was sometimes lacking but these restaurants did not exist ten years ago so one has to be grateful one can eat somewhere else than McDonalds. They clearly have changed the eating landscape, since one of the traditional Trastevere pizzerias, Ivo, was open for business already at 6 pm instead of the more usual 7 pm on our last night.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Ashby Castle, knights and a three-year-old

We finally made it to a Festival of Archaeology event after the return of Archaeologist Husband. Ashby castle hosted the most child-friendly of the events, the Clash of the Knights. Number One Cousin loves knights and has a costume and Number One Son is not averse to Mike the Knight cartoon. However, neither his concentration nor communication is developed enough to truly appreciate the knights giving a show fight. Unlike Number One Cousin who was mesmerised with her eyes transfixed to the clash.

History alive

An active small boy did find interesting things in a castle. Number One Son really liked to climb up the narrow stairs up to the tower. However, he is unfortunate to have a mother with vertigo, which has developed in adult age. There was no way I would have showed him the view over the edge as Number One Sister-in-Law did. I was not always like this but enjoyed hair-rising climbs as a child. Irritating and embarrassing in an equal measure to feel the panic coming when trying to take a photo from the tower.

The second hit was the tunnel under the castle courtyard. Number One Son was unsure first since it was relatively dark in the room leading to the tunnel but when he realized its true meaning he was happily running back and forth. He also found any stairs upwards more interesting than the clash of the knights. The only times he was interested in the knights was when he wanted to run beyond the ropes lining the safe area for the audience and join the knight performers in their compound.

Preferred activity

The real hit with Number One Son was the huge green in the front of the castle were many visitors were enjoying their picnics. The sunken areas of the past garden gave him an opportunity to make most of the sunny weather. Up and down he ran, following other children every now and then. Up by the blue bells and back down on his backside as long as the adults allowed.