Sunday, 30 August 2015

In a secret garden

How do you keep a little boy happy? Take him to see his cousins and Bam Bam and Nana.

Bam Bam and Nana live in a flat in a converted larger country house. There are the gardens to roam and this time plenty of other children to run with. We went picking blackberries and saw the gardener mowing the cricket pitch (of course a country house had its own cricket pitch). Number Two Cousin came to a visit and we went to a playground (above) in the nearby village that has a shop. Naturally, we had to replace everything I had forgotten to pack with us. It is not nice to go for a week without a toothbrush. That was basically the last we saw of dry weather (with occasional rain drop) in West Sussex.

Bye bye Bam Bam

What followed was spells of heavy rain that continued all the way down M3 when we were on our way to Devon. The rainy weather seemed to hover above London, West Sussex and Kent and be county-defined. After witnessing the slow lane transforming into a river on M3 off M25, the rain stopped when we entered Wiltshire. We managed to see Stonehenge in sunshine, although a bit Japanese fashion by taking a photograph.

Number One Cousin lives in a community in the uphills of Devon towards Exmoor where they grow vegetables and have a camping. You can step into their gardens through the old country house gate and walk through the overgrown drive way to the lawn of the house. This was a heaven for Number One Son. Not only he could play with his cousin he had not seen for awhile, but he could also observe the chicken, take part into building a den and run through the woods on the Two Moors walking trail. There was a dog to pat and a cat named Tiger.

It was also highly educational. We visited a parish church and saw Dartmoor in the horizon. There was the school Number One Cousin will go one day - if not otherwise, then for the brownies. We smelled the pig poo and avoided cow pats next to the electric wire. There was an autumn feel in the air. Even if it was sunny during the day, there were plenty of muddy puddles for the children to get themselves muddy in. Zed was seen in shorts and people in Exeter did have summer dresses, but when the evening came, it was chilly.

Like the other people and the campers, we also came and went. Now it is the Bank Holiday weekend and the summer holidays are over. Year 2 starts in two days.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Fairies, superheros and picnics

Similarly, to many children born to archaeologists, Number One Son starts to live the life of an archaeological scale bar. See, here above Number One Son and his dinosaurs do a section of Fosse Way south from Narborough where one could actually park without being in danger of being flattened by very large lorries, which could easily happen on Watling Street. Below he found the fact that there was a naked bum in an information board in the Roman baths of Wall totally hilarious. “Mummy, mummy, look, a naked bum!” However, what managed heritage sites are really good for are picnics, the main stay of summer holidays.

The second picnic of the week took place with countless other families with small children in the gardens of Belgrave Hall in the ‘fairies and superheroes’ activity day. I have never seen so many Tinkerbells in one place, not to mention Spidermen. This is an annual fixture in the Leicester Museums holiday programme and it is no wonder it is so popular. The gardens used to be a botanical garden, so there is a pond, plant houses, formal flower beds, even a fox hole to marvel. There are spacious grass areas where people can have their blankets for picnics and there is plenty of space for gazebos and tents.

There was a ‘fairies and superheroes’ orientation route – we did find all the fairies and superhero stops. A good way to do sounding exercises, even if I had to do the writing. Then one could do masks, batches, wands and mobiles in the crafts activity tent. Half of the tent also served as a running around area for smaller children. Number One Son is not normally so keen on crafts, but as in ‘Medieval Mayhem’, he wanted to have suitable attire and have his superhero mask.

The formal garden with its rectangular paths allowed children to run around in a relatively safe environment inside the walls of the garden. The garden was slightly outgrown, which added to the excited environment. They also had a small cafeteria so day’s ice cream and flake ration was easy to purchase. Most importantly, it was a sunny day with occasional overcast spells, so it was a perfect English summer day!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Famous Two Meets Nine Ladies

This weeks adventure between Number One Son's days in the local play scheme was directed to Derbyshire Dales in the Peak District. Archaeologist Husband spent his stag night with his friends cruising henges in the Dales, but I was still to see one in the Dales myself. It felt a relatively easy destination for a picnic and a little bit of a run across the fields while reaching the Nine Ladies stone circle.

One thing a person should remember to take with her or him is an OS map. GPS on your mobile suddenly disappears just when you are in the last crucial junction. The non-existence of a mobile signal was a main reason I did not even try to see the second monument I had driving directions to. No point spending your afternoon in the Dales staring at a Google Maps print-out instead of enjoying the landscape. The lorry traffic from the local quarry added to the excitement of the day. Luckily, it was the lorry driver who reversed, since he knew he was coming from the flatter direction from the top of the upland massif.

The stone circle was much busier junction than I expected. There were two large walking parties leaving when we arrived and different couples and family groups went and came when we were eating our lunch. One party had two dogs with them to the delight of Number One Son. He is not only too eager to introduce himself to complete strangers but he is playing with their pets, too. Luckily, this time the magic spell of playing was a delight for both of them. The owner had to return to try to drag his dog away. They had splendid time.

This part of the Dales is a marvellous small geography lecture. In the matter of fields the landscape changes from the pasture land to a fern forest to a light oak forest to a heather and bilberry moor. The landscape may have some resemblance to Lappland, but the distances are not the same. You can change your biotope without breaking your sweat with a comfortable distance from your parked car.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Summer holiday entertainment

The Abbey Park fairground this year

This summer holiday we are working a bit on the shoestring, taking turns in entertaining Mr Wriggly, aka Number One Son. After a week in Italy for a worktrip, I needed to pull my socks up, so I took the main responsibility - although the workload before our small trip to the south to see family is starting to weigh my down. Nevertheless, Number One Son has some days in the local play scheme as well, so we are not entertaining him totally alone.

Kids run towards Bradgate House

The week started with a trip to the Abbey Park to see the Pet Corner, feed the ducks and swans, play in the playground, visit the fairground and have an icecream. It was nice, almost a sunny day and I saw a friend from the NCT while there. Number One Son made random new friends and generally was having fun - until we had to leave the fairground. The whining, the whining.

Nearly there

On Tuesday we had a friend and her children for a picnic visit. We took the public footpath to the Bradgate Park and had a pleasant picnic next to the Bradgate House. The children got together like the house on fire. They ran through the fields and hid in the grain. We finished the day with a stop in the playground.

On the walk around Crags

On Thursday I took Number One Son with me to Creswell Crags. He really would have liked to join the groups visiting the caves and have a hard hat on, but I could see the future before me: Just dragging him off the stones, missing the art, telling him off talking to different people and keeping them away from hearing the guide and telling him that we will keep going around with the group even if he is bored. I decided against it. I will make another trip if and when needed and revisit all the digital resources instead. Nevertheless, we had marvellous time in the playground there and a great picnic.

An open smaller cave

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Invisible Mom

This week I was on a work trip in Italy and left the men of the family to fend themselves again. I had booked one day in a local play scheme, but in the end Archaeologist Husband ended up dismantling two wardrobes in his brother's family's former Leicester house before it is passed to the new owners. Number One Son had had fabulous time, but poor Husband did not do any work. However, moving any furniture with Number One Son is an activity doomed from the start.

My newer laptop has been temperamental with Skype and it has problems with video. Thus, I could see Number One Son but he could not see me. Only hear my voice. To add more to the injury, the latter part of the week was quite hectic and I had to skip a couple of 'telephone calls'. In addition, I remembered to bribe Archaeologist Husband, but did not bring any present to Number One Son. This blog posting could thus be named 'the confessions of a bad mom', but this confession had more to do with the EasyJet hand luggage policies and the extra superduper humid and hot air inside the terminal in Rome. It was the first evening of the holidays and the airport was packed and I was sweaty. I just managed to grab the bottle of local Italian speciality and did not particularly wanted to even think about chocolates that are the main offer. I will have to bring a T-shirt from any future trip or I am doomed.