Sunday, 28 June 2015

Runs in the sun

This week was the Healthy Living Week in Number One Son's school. To celebrate this, his class had an Olympics Heritage day at the University of Loughborough. This turned out to be an event were the school jumpers were randomly exchanged. It was nice weather, so all the jumpers went into a pile according to the table were the children were sitting. Then, when leaving, they picked up something - or not. Afterwards, one mother came asking if we had her son's jumper. We did have somebody else's jumper, but it turned out that this family was called something else. I have now a child's name, so I will go around with the jumper and try to get Number One Son's one back. The first mother has got a nameless random jumper from the school. The jumpers are on a mass walkabout...

Another lovely sunny day was last Sunday, when Number One Son attended a very special birthday party. The children saw and touched snakes and millipedes, could see a naughty owl and the birthday boy could touch a honey bear. It was all very excited and we heard a lot about animals which had been trafficked or left without care. The Weird and Wonderful kept even the parents interested and not aimlessly sitting around reading their phones or chatting. My favourite was the racoon who made rounds and ate the treats we had in our hands. Number One Son liked the naughty owl who pooped on the floor. Afterwards some of the children had a good run in the park and I chatted with one of the moms and her sister.

Which brings me to the sports day. The number of little sheets of paper detailing different end of the summer term events had been quite high, so we have been playing catch up. Especially, since we got no sheet about the sports day. Only when Archaeologist Husband attended the dads' coffee morning before Fathers' Day, he saw a slip with one of other dads. We had to inform, if our child was going to go home early after the picnic outside - or if the child will stay at school. We did the trade-off: we attended the events, but then returned home to sort out different work matters.

We managed to remember to get a hat and sun cream with Number One Son to school. We managed to give him water bottle. We just totally failed to get a hat for Archaeologist Husband's bald spot or sun cream for my delicate skin. Nor did we have water or any food for picnic. It was caring parents 1 - total self-preservation failure 1...

This Saturday saw a family trip to the Bradgate fieldschool open day. This time Archaeologist Husband had his hat, I had sun cream, we had water and coins for ice cream. We were prepared. If only we would keep Number One Son away from history, museums and digs! I suspect our pension plan of having a lawyer or a banker as a son is already in ruins...

A fieldwalker model

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The longest weekend

Our Barbecue Master

The solstice weekend seems this year jam-packed with activities. First it was time for Number One Son’s school summer fair at Saturday midday. Then we went all family to the Midsummer barbecue of the Finnish Saturday School in the East Midlands in Leicester. Today it is Fathers’ Day and one of the best mates of Number One Son has his sixth birthday. With animals! That will be fun. Number One Son so enjoyed petting corner in the Riverside Festival.

The Saturday did not start well. The faint drizzle came and went, but it was only overcast when we headed to the school gates. Number One Son’s class had rehearsed a Spiderman Dance, but the heaven opened just when they were about to convene and all the teachers could do was to carry the CD players to the safety. Number One Son had even his Spiderman T-shirt and trainers on! The rain continued, but the atmosphere was nice and Number One Son really enjoyed picking a duck from the pool and gold sieving. He was proudly presenting his treasure to his Bam Bam today during a Fathers’ Day phone call to the South.

I had serious doubts about heading to the barbecue, but the rain stopped momentarily and somebody in the fair said that the forecast is better for later afternoon. Anyway, the lady who had invited us is known to be very generous and preparing lovely food, so at least one had to turn up to assess the situation. I should not have worried. Even the Spiderman Dance was reanacted on the lawn.

It was unclear if it was overcast, rainy or sunny, since all weathers were present at the same time and the seating covers were moved and removed several times. But we did have a barbecue, eat too much and enjoy a Very Finnish Midsummer with all the seriousness required - with happy laughs as well. Nevertheless, once again I and Archaeologist Husband had the shortest discussion on the Earth: “Who is driving home?” Should I have asked... He happily drank a few beers...

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Sunny Sunday along the Riverside

The first Sunday of June seems to be the time for leisurely festivals. Be it the Strawberry Fair in Cambridge that has lost most of its somewhat alternative and steamy flavour, or the Riverside Festival in Leicester. The Riverside Festival is the ultimate in sociable hours and community spirit. Actually, the programme finishes at the supper time the latest and there is a lot for younger children. Not the least because the main area is in Bede Park next to the playground.

On Saturday there was a Dragon Boat Race, but since on Sunday Castle Park became children’s activity area, it made more sense to head there then. It was also a lovely warm and sunny day. My good mood was instant when we found a parking space conveniently next to the Jewry Wall Museum.

We were there at the lunchtime, when not all crowds were there, so we could have a glimpse of swans in the canal before the number of people sent them packing up or down the canal. The first stop was the crafts stall where Number One Son made with me a lighthouse. Then it was time for an ice cream cone and some sitting time watching a ceilidh band playing. The Castle Hill was open, so we popped up the monument as well. One of the highlights of the day was the pet station, where Number One Son could pat baby goats and hold a chick in his hands.

We spent the longest of times next to the huge slide that was so tall that Number One Son could use only the shorter one at the lower level. He seems to have inherited my slight vertigo. Then it was time to test some of the rides in the fairground area. However, Number One Son was not impressed by the drumming workshop: it was too loud. Last but not least we walked by the riverside back to Castle Park.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Secret Egypt – in bright lights

The last Sunday of the half-term was partly spent in the New Walk Museum where the Secret Egypt exhibition had just started. Having this exhibition in Leicester seemed a bit redundant first when one considers that there are considerable Egyptian collections in Leicester; a result of the locals funding Flinders Petrie’s explorations in Egypt. However, the Egyptian section, even if well designed and interesting, cannot really accommodate big school groups. Another matter is that it is a relatively dark place in order to preserve the mummies and objects in different perishable materials. Number One Son flatly does not go there.

In contrast the exhibition upstairs is spaciously laid out and thoughtfully put together. There are different games and activity points for children and the exhibits include also material of ancient Egypt’s effect on fashions and popular culture. You have even a copy of the Indiana Jones poster (Raiders of the Lost Ark). The collection comes from Birmingham and includes all your standards. ‘How pyramid was built?’ with a series of objects. Checked. Animal mummies. Checked. A pharaoh sculpture. Checked. A mummy. Checked. Neck rests and jewellery. Checked. One case even presents my perennial favourite, the art from Tell el-Amarna, from the short-lived court of Akhenaten. Several fragments have recognisable human figures in the unmissable Amarna style with elongated features with the pharaoh himself features on a white one.

For a regular visitor of the British Museum, it does not offer much new. However, for all the school children who will undoubtedly visit it during the summer term or at the beginning of the new school year in September will have a lot to see, learn and enjoy.

What did Number One Son think about it? Not much. He was puzzled momentarily by the mummy. ‘Is he dead?’ ‘Yes, he is very dead’. He glimpsed the animal mummies when tey were pointed out. He was amused briefly by the internal organ game by the canopies. Nevertheless, he liked the soft geometric form pieces in the largest activity area and we built together the pyramid for which there were instructions. Never underestimate the power of pyramids...