Sunday, 27 April 2014

Number One Son does Fennoscandia

Well, not ALL Fennoscandia, but only parts of two countries, i.e., Finland and Sweden. First we were travelling around southern Finland visiting my family members in different cities and then staying in my student studio flat in Stockholm. The second part involved attending an archaeological conference where Number One Son was the only visible child, although a Swedish Professor had arrived with all his family for an Easter holiday outing.

Every modern parent's dirty secret

One can never laud the persons who A) came up with the idea of a tablet computer, B) the people who came up with the idea of DOWNLOADABLE BBC iPlayer programmes, and C) the persons who developed Angry Birds in its many incarnations – including the animated movies. This setup keeps Number One Son content in the restaurants, for almost half an hour of the opening ceremony of the Nordic TAG and while waiting for mummy between the papers and the breaks in the conference. I and Archaeologist Husband wish not to think about the time these things did not exist. Even the babysitter during the day we had our session used the combined Method A and C at the end of the day.

Sweden/Finland ferry: small boy, big boat

During our trips we encountered the Nordic spring weather with all of its forms. There was the heavy rain when we landed separately at the Helsinki airport. There was snow in the woods in central Finland around my uncles houses (yes, houses – it is a long story). There was bright spring sunshine over yellow lawns in different parts of southern Finland. And there was the cold sunny weather and the warm sunny weather over very green lawns in Stockholm. The most hair-raising cum irritating moment came when on the motorway I did not know how to switch on the windscreen wipers when the rain started.

In pine forest

What I had hoped to introduced Number One Son to, was the Nordic pine forest with the grey smooth outcrops of bedrock that are marvellous to climb on. Sadly, we had all too little time for that, but he did really get the idea. Sadly, my changed schedule over the summer months will mean that we two are unlikely to spend quality time in the north as I had originally hoped for. Our precious moments of overlapping holiday are better spent at home enjoying small adventures in England.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Lambing time

I must admit that no matter how lovely the little newly born lambs are, a whole programme called Lambing Live, suggesting that there will be blood and all, makes me shiver and does not make me to want to watch it. Nevertheless, it is apparently extremely popular and as the BBC Farmers Hour told me, everything has been happier than last year, when there was snow deeply in many of the higher areas and countless lambs were lost. This year it was all sunny and happy.

The programme reminded me that Number One Son had not visited the local City Farm for ages, so we headed there on the English Mothering Day. At the same time when Archaeologist Husband was still in Reading – admittedly on his way home – in a conference networking and meeting his Roman pottery expert and Roman archaeologist friends. It was a fair day, even if it was not as sunny as the Saturday before when I and Number One Son were looking for a new proper-sized bed for him (and I fell for a cheap model, since I got a nice mattress and free home delivery, to the fury of Archaeologist Husband who had to try to put the flat pack wonder together). Number One Son and his reception classmates have ‘Animals’ as this half-term’s theme, so a picnic at the City Farm felt vaguely educational as well.

Everything was nice and lovely, but not overly exciting – until two things happened. Number One Son saw the huge pigs of a traditional British variety. Number One Son was standing next to their drinking hole, and we were lucky, since a huge pig waddled towards us in a muddy pigsty and started to drink. I must say this was very educational to me as well, since I had never seen pig’s upper lip ever. Very thin and feminine, I must say.

Even if Number One Son hogged the sandwiches and enjoyed running around in the playground, the real treat was to the last. He realised that he can feed grass to the sheep and the tickling that resulted from the sheep basically licking the grass from his hand made him giggle. That was a happy end to the fun visit.