Sunday, 23 October 2016

Around Thanet

This week we had a minibreak during the half-term week exploring briefly the historic Kent. I call it historic for two reasons. First of all Canterbury had one of the first cathedrals in England with St Augustine as its first bishop. In addition Canterbury has plenty of other historical and archaeological sites to visit. It is one of the only cities in England that still has most of its city walls in place. It also has a Roman museum with the story of Roman Canterbury to tell with in situ mosaics. The second reason to call Kent historic is that Archaeologist Husband lived his childhood in Thanet and this trip included a round trip of his old homes and schools.

To be honest, in Canterbury we adults would have given the World Heritage site that is the Canterbury cathedral a miss. One look at the ticket prices would tell to anyone why this may have been the case. However, Number One Son wanted to see the building from inside so we could not really give this educational opportunity a miss. Not that he lasted that long: after 10 minutes he had got enough and had to be cajoled to let Mummy to see more of the older northern side. In this way we probably lasted 5 minutes longer than otherwise had.

We stayed in Canterbury and made day or evening trips to Thanet, the historic island on the northeastern coast of Kent. However, it is impossible nowadays to see it as an island with straits diminished to underground brooks or narrow streams. I am not sure how impressed Number One Son was about the trip as a whole. It included a lot of sitting while Archaeologist Husband and his long-time-no-see school friends or colleagues discussed. We stepped out and in of the car in order to take a few photographs outside houses in suburbia. We looked for a long time for a tomb. But he was a good sport. Thus, it was sad that Dreamland in Margate was not open since the Leicestershire half-term was a week early. His enthusiasm did not stretch to Turner Contemporary. Luckily, the local beaches were a big hit, even it was really windy and rather chilly.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Having a break

In Devon

Even if I have had to take a break from blogging, we are still exploring with Number One Son - considering my exhaustedness, though. I will resume regular blogging at some point, but now we just enjoy half-term and the normal summer term stuff.

Visiting the Riverside Festival

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Magna Carta did not impress him much

In the British Library

This week started with a movie on a slight grey morning. Similarly to the whole second Easter Holiday week, the weather seemed to change with a drop of a hat and we had both sun and rain in equal measures. The movie we went to see was The Minions. I know we were there way after the first night, but I prefer to go to the Kids showings in Odeon, since Number One Son is still a little bit unpredictable entity, when it comes to the movies. He says that the slightest thing makes him scared, wants to go to toilet in between and hides behind the chair at points - you do not want to pay £10 per head for such an unreliable experience. In the morning shows you get to the premium chairs and if Number One Son decided to walk away, it is not a big dent to the budget. In the end, the Minions found Gru, so Number One Son was very happy of the experience.

In the movies

After a leisurely Tuesday spent watching videos, playing Minecraft and running in the park, it was time for the big trip of this holiday. Taking train to London is ridiculously expensive from Leicester - even one MP has now noticed and started to wonder this - but I bit the bullet. With a off-peak ticket you do not manage to stay for too long, unless you are prepared to wait until after 7 pm. I decided against this, since it is rather late with a small boy who may become extremely tired in the late afternoon. Thus, it was a trip to McDonalds (a must every time - Happy Meals bring toys) and then a couple of hours before the return. We even managed some time in the park at Russell Square. Scaring pigeons. That essential activity the small boys and girls do.

Scaring pigeons at Russell Square

I had pencilled in a light railway trip by Canary Wharf to see planes at the City airport, but to my surprise Number One Son chose the British Museum. On the way we poped in in the British Library, but the only thing to vaguely interest him were the computers giving information on the highlights of the collections. Magna Carta - not really appealing. King Cnut's law collection - nada. Medieval bibles or anything to do with Lindisfarne - could not care less. Not even the 'Alice in Wonderland' exhibition impress him much.

The fake crystal skull

The visit to the British Museum was a bit in a Japanese style. We walked to see a couple of highlights and I took some poses at the main attractions, where I could get him remotely interested. The crystal skull amused him for a couple of seconds, Rosetta stone much less, Parthenon friezes got his approval, but going around to see anything else than a half man, half hors: what a drag! It all looks better in the photographs.

Rosetta Stone? We have a photo...

I must admit he was highly interested in something. You know the Hellenistic statue with a young woman and a slipper? Yes, Alex was very delighted and giggly when seeing a marble-white naked bum. I made the matters even more interesting by pointing out that a male Hellenistic statue had his wi**y still intact. Little boys and giggly bits. How to get children engaged in the past! And this was no museum for poo stories...

OKing the marbles

The week finished with some rides in the Leicester city centre. Together with my belated admission that yes, we have to buy some trousers to Number One Son, since all are either too small, too big or totally ripped. I managed to keep us away from McDonalds until it was the ice cream and coffee time.

It is the end of the holidays

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Birthday Party Number Two and Other Adventures

Ninja Turtle after the second party

What do bad mothers do? They spend far too much time flipping through smart phones, they keep one eye on the work even if it is supposed to be family time and they land with work tasks on their lap during the afore mentioned family time. However, even if I was fretting about it before hand and making Archaeologist Husband irritated, I managed to concentrate most of it to one day and attend Number One Son's second birthday party and spend time with in-laws and Number One Son in the Space Centre (although memo to self - no Frankfurter hot-dogs never again). We also managed to get smokey on a sunny Saturday afternoon in friends' barbecue cum bonfire.

What a £1 can buy

I also managed to run errands that were masked as an educational trip to the museum. Number One Son is also learning to manage his pocket money and we paid a visit to the Pound shop. Where else would you spend £1 pocket money? We couldn't avoid an obligatory lunch in McDonalds. Not to mention the coffee break in the same venue. I am definitely passing my thrifty ways to the next generation...

The trip to the Space Centre has to be renewed at some point. We did not particularly feel like queueing, so we looked at different exhibits and Number One Son could fulfil his photogenic needs by making a weather person video in a dedicated pod. Not that he stayed in one place and tried to mimic any weather persons, but enjoyed a run and seeing himself on a screen.

Constructive in the Museum

Unfortunately, weather was against us on Saturday morning, when we tried a walk to Bradgate Park. Plenty of rain over the recent days in between sunshine meant that there was a point when crossing a field began to feel like a sinking exercise. Sometimes it is more civilised to walk on a pavement...

Another holiday week ahead. We will try to see some of the delights of London and explore Minions.

We like public transport

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Birthday Party Number One

Time has flown so quickly that I missed my last week’s blog as well. I was in Rome and during the conference I made the shortest and the most occasional of skyping to home, so I thought it was not worth it to write a couple of lines on how I was in different events in the evenings and travelling between places.

It is a big day today. Not only does my blog change it name from Two Archaeologists and a Toddler to Two Archaeologists and a Tweenie, but most importantly, it is Number One Son’s seventh birthday. One has to consider those baby and toddler years the past and the quickly sprigging lad as the present. Little by little Cbeebies has been swapped to Transformers and Ninja Turtles. We still have some baby toys around, but soon it is time for the one last clear out.

Main organising committee

Naturally, when I finally arrived back home – and it was already into Good Friday – it was clear that I had picked up a cold along the way. Luckily, the birthday party had been fully organised this time by Archaeologist Husband, so I could keep Number One Son fed and oversee him playing in the sunny garden, while Archaeologist Husband shot for the last decorations and foodstuffs. It was not going to be one party but two, since so many children on Number One Son’s class are born around this time so another party inevitably clashed with his. In addition, some people are away for the holidays, so a mid-week party was a preferred solution for Number One Son. He really is making his own decisions now.

The parties are in our house, so having two actually seems to work well. Both have a handful of kids and during the first one the house did not get trashed. The children also could run around in our tiny garden, so there were happy faces all around. The start of the party was a bit muted affair, since many children did not know each other. But after some egg hunt in the house and Minecraft battles in the garden, it all looked to go alright.

Now Number One Son is indulging with his birthday presents. It is apparently the best day ever – with the BBC online shop closing, Archaeologist Husband had really emptied their Dr Who selection. Number One Son got some Angry Birds and Ninja Turtles as well. A happy day.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Making his own plans

It seems that Number One Son has reached another milestone. Not only Nice Speech Therapist says that he is now ready to be discharged to be monitored by the school (he has made good progress lately, even if he is still clearly behind the others) but he has started to make his own plans and ask for different things. He used his pocket money on Saturday in the community library in order to buy two soft toys. When he heard that I had gone swimming in Stockholm on Saturday, he instantly wanted to swim again himself - and Archaeologist Husband had to take him yesterday. Now Number One Son wants to go every Sunday. I have to check those times for holiday swimming schools. He is now ready for that.

We have proceeded in restoring the skyping schedule from the time of my previous stay in Stockholm. We now have more parent discussion time after Number One Son's bed time and have time to chat as well. Luckily, Easter is almost here, but this week's conference will disrupt any patterns we have had and any skyping will be at unusually ear;u times and trying to find a wifi network to live skype away from hotels or institutes. Luckily there is Sunday evening.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Asking, asking - around Mothers Day

Number One Son by me

This year I managed to be at home on the Mothers' Day, but sadly it was more coincidental than being deliberately planned by me. As I have pointed out before, the British Mothers' Day manages to surprise me every year. Luckily, this year work matters, mainly a series of meetings in London, lured me back in time. I must say I was extremely delighted when I realised that I manage to be home both for the Mothers' Day and the International Women's Day tomorrow on March 8.

I did get something unusual for my Mothering Sunday: a bouquet of flowers. Being married to a Green Party member means that Archaeologist Husband does not buy roses or other cut flowers out of principle. Even if I appreciate his conviction and like his principles, I must say a potted rose does not have the same effect. However, this year he melted in front of Number One Son who thought that Mummy definitely would like to have a bouquet. He even managed to get the colour right - blue. But I still did not manage to get those roses...

This Mothering Sunday the lunch was a muted affair due to Number One Best Man being in town and heading to our house for an evening take away. Then, I did lose once again to Minecraft, but we did have a Mother and Son mutual photographing session and a trip to the local park (and to the said take away to get a menu). What is really striking me now, is the way Number One Son has hit the questioning phase. 'What are lemons made of?' 'Do cats have bones?' 'Do brains have eyes?' The flow of questions is continuous - and yes - it feels good after all those years when the communication was minimal and one-worded and the next phase when the verbs where lacking. The questions may be sometimes hard or impossible to answer, but at least we are having a proper discussion.

Me by Number One Son

Saturday, 27 February 2016

'I miss Mummy so much'

Now when I am not staying in the Youth Hostel any more in Stockholm, I have managed to get back into the old routine. When I do not have some other event - and this week there has been slightly more than usually - I have resumed my evening Skyping habit. I have even started to read Number One Son his bedtime story again, the habit that was distrupted by the stays in the Youth Hostel and slightly earlier skyping times. Having a reliable wifi and a fully working external web camera help as well. Now we are reading about a two small school girls and how one of them is starting to skip school after bullying.

Now when Number One Son is getting bigger, he is also getting more vocal about the way he misses me. He just made his feelings known some minutes ago. Luckily, by coincidence, I will manage to be home for the UK Mothering Day, even if its very existence manages to surprise me every year. The Finnish May Mothers' Day is so engrained to my unconscious, I normally only notice during the very weekend. This year I was a bit early with my realisation, which was turned to a slight irritation, when I noticed that a conference I will be hopping in to and out from at Leicester will be during the same weekend. Not all archaeologists are women or mothers, but it would be nice if somebody noticed these things. It is quite clear that the two-day conference in my case will be a one-day one. In addition, since Archaeologist Husband's Best Man is coming to the conference as well, I can already see from my crystal ball that the 'Ulla Rajala' in the wine reception will have a loud Hawaiian shirt and a stubble beard...

It may even be that the Mothering Day Lunch may be eaten in the city with Best Man joining us or being saluted before he heads back to the south coast.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Dinos and dinners

Cupcakes in the village

Since I am again the away parent, the half-term holiday is naturally my responsibility. Especially, because after a long, almost scary draught in the contract front, Archaeologist Husband suddenly gets contracts from left, right and centre. Suddenly we can breathe more freely – at least for a moment. The EU referendum has now been set for June 23 and we wives in today’s Finnish Saturday school did realise that none of us is actually a British national. The one of us who has been in the country the longest is the one the most vocal about the fact that we cannot vote about our families’ futures. It did not matter before in UK, but now for party political reasons, life has been suddenly made uncertain for many settled couples and our children.

The week starts with chores that have to be done. The cat needs her stabs, so Archaeologist Husband and Number One Son head to the vet’s practice. I have my annual dentist’s appointment and get suggested an electric tooth brush (my technique while busy and stressed leaves things to be wished for). On Tuesday I drag Number One Son to the barber’s – avoiding the mad rush of all parents on Friday. I begin to get an idea what I should be asking for, but I still give blank looks when they ask how I want it. ‘Short’ is not apparently giving them enough directions. Number One Son hates barber trips, so I chose a sunny day when I had promised to take him to the local cafe for a cup cake and a juice. Now he suddenly declares undying love for all things barbery.

Bird box screws need screwing

On Tuesday afternoon we head to the community library (local councils want to cut all statutory services to the bone and shed all non-statutory ones as far as possible) for some bird box making. A nice idea, but perhaps not for five- and six-year olds. The teens do not usually come to these events – if they do bird boxes, it is in the scouts, guides or some nature youth club. Getting screws to bite into wood takes some force, so it was good a granddad could be loaned for a moment. Some other granddads did resort using electric tools in the end...

Sweets in the movies

On Wednesday it was bucketing down, so naturally I was driving up the wet and misty M1. We headed to IKEA to fulfil some Swedish meatball and cake needs – but not by Number One Son. He was quite happy with his chicken bits and jelly, not some Scandinavian fare. However, he was delighted that there was a single slot to the play area when we arrived. He got half an hour in a ball pit before checking bedroom furniture. He really begins to be a tweenie. We have now made notes for his new chair and chosen some wardrobe and drawer units that will be purchased later in the spring.

Also playdates with friends

The latter part of the week was dedicated to dinosaurs. Not only had we realised that there were new episodes for ‘Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures’, renamed as ‘Prehistoric Adventures’, but Number One Son wanted to see The Good Dinosaur, a Pixar movie on a cheap morning show. These are safer when his behaviour in the movies is uncertain and he could walk out at any moment. So cheap and cheerful it is – with added sweets or popcorn. He did have an emotional treat, but I had to bite my tongue not to slag the movie when he was hearing. Farming dinosaurs? Maize? Chicken? Cowboy character dinos? Oh my... Nice computer animation, though, pity the Americanization of a traditional getting lost and coming back story. But this movie ended up having the traditional single parent story line. Pixar only seems to do traditional families in The Incredibles (we have not seen Inside Out, yet).

Exploring in the New Walk Museum

On Friday it was a trip to the city centre. Nominally, to go to do a dino door hanger in the New Walk Museum, as we did, but also for me to run some bank errands plus head to the McDonalds for our traditional half-term Happy Meals. I got a Hello Kitty Supergirl watch. So how was your week?

Hello Kitty!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

After pancakes – they start Valentine early!

This week has been a normal one in relation to apologies. Even if I am at home, I could not make the parents’ evening, because I had already going to London. A slight bout of guilt, but Archaelogist Husband has been here all term, so he is the right person to talk about his homework and such issue. I have now the responsibility for the holiday project. In any case, Number One Teacher was happy to see me doing the school run again. Especially, because I had bought Number One a new decent winter coat. It is amazing what a difference a nice black coat with fake fur lining the hood makes in comparison to a light blue one that has that clear stained grey hue the old coats have.

This week Archaeologist Husband made us pancakes for the Pancake Day. Now we are in Lent, but since it is also the Valentine’s day, I think sticking to fish is unlikely to happen. Or did not happen, since I took Archaeologist Husband to our favourite [not cheapest] Italian, where I could show in precise and tangible terms, what he is worth to me. Plus the babysitter’s fee. We even managed to have a pop to our local where we exchanged the latest with the ex-neighbour. I do not like pink or overload of hearts, so celebrating your spouse is not only practical, it allows you to be romantic in your own terms. And there is space in the restaurant.

I have already in my earlier blogs touched the realisation that my son starts to be on the verge of tweenieship – even if he is not as mature as his peers. This week more than confirmed that notion. He now has ‘his best girl’ and he is ‘a best boy’ for a girl in her class. Number One Son got a letter telling how this girl feels about him – with a sensible amount of pink and hearts – and a bracelet. This meant that we needed to get a Valentine’s gift for the last school day before the half-term. I never foresaw that I will be helping my six-year-old doing this...

Now it is the beginning of the half-term, Archaeologist Husband is having a cold and Number One Son is sniffing all the time. I have been shivering for two days and peeking TV from under a blanket in the evenings. I can see where this is going!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

'Did I miss it'?

A Finnish schooler

This week I heard to my surprise that Number One Son had been extremely worried the Saturday earlier that he had missed the Finnish Saturday School in the East Midlands. This was something unheard of, but he has enjoyed lately his run arounds with a Favourite Girl and the little boys who come to the Saturday school. This week though, there was a disappointment. The Favourite Girl had decided to take up ice hockey - to follow Finnish cultural practices - and was in Coventry with her mother. It is now unclear if this will be a constant feature of Saturdays, but we will see. Luckily, there was a little boy of similar age to cause mayhem with.

This was a Saturday of cakes. The lady in the baking turn had come up with several lovely cakes and tarts with raspberries, strawberries and chocolate. Everybody was totally gobsmacked. Being not a good day, she could not even stay and enjoy her handywork but was rushing off leaving us marvelling the amount of cake.

It will be interesting to see how long this enthusiasm for the Finnish School lasts. The tweenie schoolers in their group did not look exactly as enthusiastic as the smaller ones who were drawing and crafting. Nevertheless, it is nice to know that both the Beavers and the Finnish School keep Number One Son happy. He also asked us to go swimming without prompting. It is truly amazing.

Monday, 1 February 2016


I have recently been really losing it. During our Skype sessions, I hardly get a look on when Number One Son is saying hello and running back to TV or computer, depending on which gadget Archaeologist Husband or Number One Son is calling or taking a call. I have seen Daleks roaming a Minecraft area while chatting on a mobile phone, spitting a flash of blond hair in a school uniform quickly running back and forth from the computer to the TV / tablet and been shown long shots of our cat (returned) instead of our son. Aren't modern communications wonderful?

Well, on the up side, I and Archaeologist Husband can chat more, even if it has been lately rather much on house improvements and different jobs coming and going. Although now when I have been paid again, I am supposed to get romantic again and take Archaeologist Husband out... These are no hints but disguised demands. He really likes his Italian food in our local restaurant. It has been voted the best in the East Midlands or Britain or something

Number One Son is not only running away from any skyping device but also starting increasingly finding the kind of things funny the little boys find funny. I have heard quite a lot of 'I am only joking' remark together with a lot of laughter. I have also taken to the habit of pulling faces in order to make him stop and pay some attention to my calls. On the other hand, last summer's infrequent comments about bums on some information boards on Roman baths have changed to the shows of a lot of naked torso when pyjama should go on. Luckily he still listens when I am reading in the evenings - when I have a possibility. The later bed times mean that due to the time difference I cannot always hang around to do skyping but have to do other matters. Or just be an old lady and go to sleep.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

'I can see clearly now'

Snow in Leicester (photo: AH via Instagram)

Or more accurately, Archaeologist Husband and Number One Son can now see me! I went to Claes Ohlson in the city centre in Stockholm and bought an external web cam. It just seems that the one on my laptop does not work and the work computer at the University as a desktop does not have such a feature. Now I have a shiny new web cam and microphone all in one. And it worked! Just a pity that the lure of the Minecraft videos on YouTube seem to overpower my son. Mummy is something mundane as the Minecraft rocks. Or anything else from Japanese animated videos to the weird merge of Transformers and dinosaurs available on Netflix.

I do enjoy visual things myself, so I can enjoy my son. However, this also means that my son is growing and having his own ideas. Even if he misses me and says so over Skype, he has now his own ideas and interests and parents are not so crucial and central to his life. He had also been kept away from the television for almost whole day, since it was a Finnish Saturday School day. Instead of any computer games or videos, he was happily running around with other kids.

This week there has been snow in the East Midlands. I could marvel photos on Facebook. However, now in Stockholm I am surrounded by the stuff and degrees minus are my reality again. It is funny. The outdoors temperature is feeling natural and coming from my backbone, but the nice, warm Scandinavian heating and proper insulation feels hot now after so many years in UK...

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Here we go again!

The winter wonderland just outside Stockholm

And suddenly Christmas is over and I am back in Stockholm. Again I will try to work around the one-hour time difference and remember that most days this means that I may be able to skype only at 7pm. While waiting to find a proper room, this is actually made easier by excellent wifi in the youth hostel I am staying. I have to hope that the common 'living room' will be relatively empty all the time, so I can try to mobile skype from there. The room I share with three other persons seem to be unlike skyping location in the evening, considering that two of the other three are also working, not holidaying, in Stockholm.

Naturally, my new contract coincides the steep intensification of Archaeologist Husband's workload. After a year or two of very slim pickings, suddenly, the archaeological units just cannot get enough of him and he is booked and working flat for a couple of months ahead now. Thus, Number One Son will learn to love after school club and all his friends there. We are extremely lucky that his school does have the facility. The other primary school in the village does not.

Today I paid quite a while pondering about Number One Son. Indirectly, though. We had the first properly chilly day in the East Midlands recently and I just realised how tatty his winter coat looked. Therefore, I was wondering around the January sales in the hope that I would find something blue as wished for. No, but a really exciting black coat with a fake fur round the hood with a bat logo on the chest. Not really Batman, but quite cool nevertheless. Now a couple of weeks and then he will get the coat for those expected cold days in February.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

From Holiday back to School

Suddenly, it was all over. I was in the mummy duty for the last two days of school holidays. On Monday we went swimming and then on Tuesday to the city centre to see dinosaurs. Having a meal in McDonalds is as important as anything else, but Number One Son was deeply disappointed, when the toy in the Happy Meal was no toy at all, but a cup. It may have Snoopy and Woodstock on it, but it is still just a functional cup. More for the parents that one!

On the way back we saw children from the other primary school in our village come back from school in their reddish jumpers. In Number One Son's school Tuesday was a teachers' training day, so we could still roam free. Not that the weather was so good, but at least we could walk on New Walk without rain.

Now it is in a way back to the old routine. Partly, since I am heading back to Sweden with slightly blinded eyes. I do not have a room to rent, yet, and I can only book a return flight when I know better. There are things to do and plan. However, at home, Beavers have started again and we did the Finnish Saturday School yesterday. Number One Son's everyday is back to normal.

In development terms Number One Son is leaping ahead again. For the first time ever, he was freewillingly asking about Finnish language. They must have spoken about languages at school, since he first asked about Spanish, though. In any case, he wanted to know what a Minecraft pick axe is in Finnish. It is 'hakku' but he could not remember it the next day. He asked, though! :-D

Monday, 4 January 2016

No toddler, a little boy

It is clear that this blog will shortly be renamed and will become 'Two archaeologists and a tweenie'. Number One Son has clearly stepped up in his development and shows amazing early teenager tantrum skills. This may be down to the sheer business from my part and the amount of Minecrafting that goes on both on computer and on YouTube. It is amazing how popular those videos about adults and children playing Minecraft and commenting what they are doing are. It is also good and father and son have a common hobby. Nevertheless, what the Tweenie needs is a good run in the park. However, over the New Year holidays the park has been much quieter than normally.

In communication, Number One Son has improved lately so much. We can hear happy bubbling or humming from his room in the morning, when he is explaining the latest adventures of The Doctor and the Tardis among the Daleks. Alternatively, he is singing some little tunes, sometimes making them up in his own head. Such improvement was almost unimaginable a year ago.

Now it begins to time to go and spend time with my son, not just blogging about him. We have school holiday project to do...

One family member is happy after returning