Sunday, 25 October 2015

Half-term with sharks and ghouls

The autumn October half-term started in sunny weather and we first just enjoyed the leisurely existence in the park. Number One Son now masters the flying fox, so there was a lot of fun to be had. Although both I and Archaeologist Husband were busy juggling different duties. Archaeologist Husband was suddenly needed to cover for a lecture series after a course responsible had a concussion whereas I struggled with a job application in Swedish. I did make it in time but I am feeling for the panel when they have to read all 9 or so supporting documents.

The canalboats in Birmingham as photographed by Number One Son

When the deadline was passed, I took Number One Son to Birmingham to the National Sea Life centre. We had not been before, since I wanted to be sure that he will fully enjoy something, which can only be described as a pretty expensive experience. Now it was definitely the time and he wholeheartedly enjoyed seeing the fish, looking for the sharks and playing in the soft play area.

The Octonauts theme was spot on in the centre, but it was the penguins and the fish that were in the centre stage all the time. As is customary, some of the displays that you encounter in these aquariums is less impressive. They tend to have a mangrove shallow water tank, even if the fish are quite small and colourless. Well, it is one essential world watery ecological environment covered, but most people just walk by. However, everybody are cheering for the penguins.

The main feature is the ocean water tunnel where a huge ocean turtle is floating in the water together with different kinds of sharks and colourful fish. A huge lazy shark was first resting on top of our plasticky tunnel and then moved by our second round lying on the sandy floor. The little boys were totally mesmerised and running around spotting sharks and the turtle and shouting to each other when noticing a new stingray floating by.

This time around we travelled with a coach and found out that actually it is a wise choice for Birmingham. You are not exactly in the new New Street station and shopping centre - we did not have time to visit - but it is a stone-through away from Bullring. Coach takes about the same time as the train and is much cheaper, so it is a viable alternative. There is even a bus stop at the coach station on the route from our village. Naturally, we could not be without a visit to McDonalds and a walk through the ever changing centre of Birmingham. I just wonder how much of a Paradise the Paradise shopping centre will be. In any case, both I and Number One Son enjoyed popping into the commercial art gallery in the concert hall building and viewing work from Ronnie Wood, Bob Dylan and the art forgerer who now sells his fake Monets and Dalis in his own name while waiting our timed visit to the Sea Life centre to start.

The Leicester visit was to the Guildhall children's event. This had a ghosts and ghouls theme due to approaching Halloween, but since it was the October half-term, it was not as popular success as the knight one in the summer. Number One Son is not very much of a crafts person, so he was missing having small boys to run around the premises with. He quite enjoyed looking for the magical object cards in different rooms of the museum and he got his face painted, though. A quick visit to the teddy bear shop, Disney shop and poundshop rounded up a visit that made Number One Son nodding in the bus on the way back. Success!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Towards the half-term

The last school week before the half-term started in happy mood. It was a birthday party of one of the Friends and a lot of excited running around. Nevertheless, 6-year-olds start to be a bit too large to bouncy castles and the result was first ever nosebleed, since Number One Son was tiny. This did leave a long pause: the bleed stopped relatively quickly - and it was me who was covered in blood and having an early Halloween feeling. Number One Son was back running around.

I and Archaeologist Husband duly went for the parents' evening and heard a lot about the curriculum and how Number One Son is doing at school. He seems to have a continuous stream of very good teachers - and it seems that Number One Son is besotted with the latest one. This helps with any potential behaviour problem, since we can always remind him about what the Teacher would think of this.

I missed the highlight of Number Son's week. It was the time for all the new Beavers to get their neckers and all regional and such badges SOMEBODY has to sow on. Luckily, the coming week is the half-term and then they will have a monster disco for Halloween, so I do have some time. Archaeologist Husband was present, as was Friend's mother and Facebook and other nooks of Internet have been filled with videos and photos. It was the first time Number One Son had his scout trousers on as well!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Revisiting Nearly New volunteering

This Saturday morning I was back at the Beaumont Leys School spending the time before lunch with other volunteers setting up this Autumn's NCT Nearly New Sale in Leicester. This sale is amazing show of organisation ran by marvellous women who have steely professionalism, even if this is not their job. The forms have been filled, the room layouts planned, the seller lists in plays and furniture moved in the halls by the morning of the sale - like every year. The the sellers arrive and everything starts to roll.

I with the others was emptying boxes with seller numbers and putting soft toys, baby walkers, jigsaw puzzles and musical instruments into their place. For an archaeologist, this provides an opportunity to reflect on categorisation and classification. Is a book with buttons for different noises an educational toy or baby book? Is a battery-powered fairy wand an item of fancy clothing or a toy? And where does one put an oven guard? With bed guards? With equipment?

Although Number One Son is even no toddler any more but a small school boy, I could still pick up a few bargains in volunteers' pre-sale; I was uncertain if I managed to get anything. However, I picked up beaver trousers for my beaver, black school shoes for £1.50, a new umbrella and sea-themed bed linen among the bits and bobs. All was only £12 even if there were winter boots included. Of course, I forgot that I had picked up boots in the sales already in the spring... The lure of real or imagined bargains!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

First time in a Beaver jumper!

All ready to go!

This week Number One Son was able to put his new Beavers jumper on for the first time. He really seems to wait for the Beaver meetings and this time was reluctant to leave when it was time to the next group to come in. He was moaning afterwards that there was no more fun and that it should have continued longer. I think this will be a long-term fixture of his week!

In front of the scout hut

The evening was the loveliest of autumn evenings with warm sunny weather. The Beavers had been playing outside the scout hut and it was definitely the right day for that. Actually good that the policeman who was supposed to visit apparently did not turn up. Nevertheless, now we have a 'safety' badge to sow on. I now roughly where and Archaeologist Husband expects me to do the honours, even if I am not known for any kind of craft skills. Now, where have I put my needle and thread...?