Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Old Woman in a shoe bakes a cake and the family survives

How many items do you need to bake a cake?
(the spanner in the front came in very useful actually).

And how much washing up is created...

To produce this for Tech-boy's birthday:

And we went bowling with friends (thankfully Tech-boy wasn't thrashed by his sister):

and look what Tech-boy got for his birthday:

It works better on water:

And in the meantime small brave people test the lake water for temperature, while us not-so-brave adults look on:

And Tech-boy hoarding his other presents:

So, what did Tech-boy choose to do on his birthday...

...yep, you've guessed it, he wanted to have a screen day. ALL DAY on the Wii and his DS Lite.

Well, one can hardly refuse the wishes of a birthday boy.

Sunday, 23 May 2010


Today I tried to work out exactly how much sugar you need to add to homemade rhubarb crumble to make it edible. I got as far as half a bag of white and then (thinking I really needed to do the healthy thing) I added about a third of a bag of brown sugar (it was a big pot of stewed rhubarb). It's like when you make homemade jam and realise that the recipe requires 1lb of sugar for every 1lb of fruit. So much for a nice healthy alternative to shop-bought products.

Anyway, enough about jam and rhubarb.

Today it was hot. Yesterday it was hot. That's two whole days of hotness. No doubt we will have just acclimatised to this unusual summer weather when it will turn back into the sludgy greyness of a normal British summer. In the meantime I'm going to try not to complain about being hot. Honest, I really am.

The kids had a swimming birthday part to go to today so I sent dh along with them. I find swimming one of those things that is very difficult to enjoy. It bores me. I swim to the end of the pool and think 'Oh yeah, it's the end of the pool again, [yawn].' and then want to get out and go sit in a jaccuzzi (except that there isn't one). Still the kids enjoyed it and it was probably the best place to be on an unseasonably hot day.

While the kids went off and I had some peace and quiet I made headway into an article I'm writing for ThenUK. Somewhere along the line I seemed to have volunteered to edit their magazine. Perhaps I thought I had rather too much time on my hands [mad hysterical laughter as woman snorts into her red wine surrounded by piles of washing and an un-made house].

Yesterday I got up early and cycled on my rickety shopper to the allotment. I mostly cycled on the pavement as I'm not yet up to being released to the public roads. But it was early and the police were obviously still in bed and not bothering to harrass wobbly pavement-cyclists (either that or they saw the mad glint in my eye). The allotment looked pretty much as it did about a month ago when I last cycled and looked at it. Except that the weeds were taller. My, don't those weeds grow.

I made some feeble unsuccessful attempts at digging and then, because it was hot (see paragraph earlier) and the wheelbarrow tyre had deflated as usual and we're not allowed to put weeds on the allotment dump anymore so I didn't know what to do with them. So I cycled home, via the key-making person. I'm not sure where all the front door keys of the world go to, but probably the same place as all the odd socks. When you're down to one door key it's time to do something about it before the key fairy removes that last one.

It's ds2's birthday soon and I am in denial about needing to organise a party/outing/expense-fest. But it needs to be addressed and soon. Or birthday boy will be most displeased.

I have some catch-up to do about the kids' activities this past week. Mostly they involved fishing at the sailing club (Wednesday) and then yesterday ds2 did a sponsored walk, followed by bbq, canoeing, and waterpistol fight with siblings. I'm saying all this because the photos are on the other pc and if I don't get around to posting the photos up then I might forget to mention these things at all and then I'll look back one day and wonder what on earth we did in the week up to May 23rd.

So that's it. I'm going to go and continue being hot. Did I tell you it was a hot day?

Friday, 21 May 2010

Pocket-sized guide to London (Part 2)

If you missed part 1 (shame on you!) that was yesterday's post, so go scroll down and read it!

Oh, and my apologies for all those who posted comments on my blog post about voting a few weeks ago. I had switched my comments thingymajig to 'moderated' after getting some well-weird comments with links to rather unsavoury websites. But although Google blogger was meant to email me when there were comments to moderate, it didn't.

And there I was, feeling like nobody loved me, when in actual fact quite a few of you had acknowledged my existence and it was Blogger that had bogged it all up.

So, anyway, on to Part 2, Monday's excursions in London...

While the boys had a tour and workshop at The Houses of Parliament and ds1 went up the inside of The Clock Tower (what we commoners know as Big Ben) I gave dd the choice of entertainment...a nice relaxing river cruise down the Thames, or a very expensive trip around the London Aquarium.

Guess which she chose? So, feeling mildly ripped off at the handsome price of £17.50 for an adult ticket (yikes!), but also chuffed that I'd been organised enough to print out a 2-for-1 voucher, we tackled Fish Land.

For the benefit of those who don't want to take out a second mortgage to spend an hour looking at fish, we took photos of everything that moved (and some things that didn't)... the attention-seeking Starfish:

'Pick me! Pick me!'

And the Ray, demonstrating why you should never let an amateur perform liposuction and lip implants at the same time:

And a turtle on performance-enhancing drugs:

And a fish version of Marvin The Paranoid Android ('Don't talk to me about life'):

And small person in pink:

And small person in pink swimming with the fishies:

And a prawny thing, sealed in a bubble:

So, er, how thick is this glass?

Small pink child looking excited:

Not half as excited as the shark who has her on the menu as bite-sized pink sushi:

And a wavey, prawny thing:

Ok, that's enough for now. I have loads of videos of fish too, but I'll do some mastery on that and bore you with it at some future date. I have to confess, even though I shudder with frugal-overload, at £17.50, it was worthwhile.

In between waiting for the boys to come out of various workshops, dd and I had a wander. This is a bronze statue of Boudica near Westminster Pier.
Boudica is the gal previously known as Boadicea before someone realised that they'd messed up the translation and had been calling her by the wrong name for a very long time. I can't quite understand why there is a statue of her in the city that she encouraged a whole bunch of rebels to burn down, but maybe that's just because my historical knowledge is a bit patchy. Maybe someone can explain that for me.

Oh and here's Westminster Abbey, which looks rather splendid from the outside. As you may have noticed, most of our photos are from the outside. No prizes for guessing why.

And heres a pointy pillary war memorial thingy outside Westminster Abbey, which looks even better coming out of dd's head:

Yeah, nice hat luv!

And the Methodist Central Hall, just behind the Houses of Parliament, complete with London black cab for authenticity:

We took a stroll along the river and dd was particularly fond of the cast iron swans on the benches. (Note also the twisty fishes on the lamp post behind)

We came across Hampton Court Palace, a famous place that I know nothing about, but has something to do with royalty and Tudor stuff:

And just around the corner was The Museum of Garden History (in a church) and a lovely little park & gardens. I did get through the door to the museum, but then saw the entrance fee and changed my mind (seeing as small person would have been bored and I wouldn't have got to see anything anyway).

But the pond outside was much appreciated and totally FREE.

Dd demonstrates the slowest method of getting water to flow down a straw

(while I'm yelling 'Don't drink the water!'):

And after the play session in the garden we treated ourselves to a full 6 seconds on one of those telescope viewers. Just long enough to unjam the 20p coin and focus on a muddy bit of Thames water.

That's plenty for now. If I get a chance I'll post up some photos from Houses of Parliament (on the boys' cameras).

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Pocket sized guide to London (Part 1)

Welcome to our perfectly formed, pocket-sized guide to London, first installment.

We had two days, one of which was to be spent at the Houses of Parliament on a Home Education workshop.

We'd booked a Travelodge in the Southwark area for Sunday night so decided on Saturday to visit the replica of The Golden Hinde in SE1, just along the Thames path. Fortunately I'd rung ahead and found out that the ship was booked pretty much all day for kids birthday parties. However the woman I spoke to (sonia) was wonderful and offered to squeeze us in inbetween the parties.

It's a replica of the original boat that Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the world in, and has itself been sailed on the same route. Now it is permanently docked in London as a museum.
I have to say that the crew must have all been dwarf-like because even though I'm only 5ft4 (ish), I was bent double in places on the ship!

(ds2, being his charming self)
(and taking a shine to the Captain's seat)
We continued along the Thames Path and came along this marvellous artistic creation, just inside a market/shopping parade. At various times the parts of the machine spouted or whooshed water, other parts spun or whirred and about every fifteen minutes the oars moved. It had two model 'sailors' (just about visible in the photos) and sort of fishy lips at the front. The kids particularly liked the bum hole at the back that gushed water!

(The entrance to the Shopping parade, looking out at the 'Gerkin')

Then we came across HMS Belfast, just before Tower Bridge. I think that'll be a trip for the boys some other time (with dh).

And just before Tower Bridge there was a whole herd of elephants, well, artwork elephants, each one different. Some were mosaic, mirrored, spotted...

And one had clear plastic bobbles on it, which when you looked inside...
...contained a miniature city of elephants, complete with miniature skyscrapers!
And the kids found some irresistably artistic water fountains!
Not forgetting, along the river, this window-cleaners' nightmare:
(but very impressive and photogenic)
And then on to Tower Bridge...

Across the bridge to The Tower of London:

With Traitors Gate, which is, er, a very important and famous and slightly wet gatey thing.

Here ended the pocket sized guide to London, part 1. More to follow.