Half Term

April 9, 2009

This week has been half-term … Well at least it is for my kids. Mrs Geek’s school has taken the alternative approach of starting half term on Good Friday. This meant that we had to arrange childcare for Bart and Lisa for the week. This is where my parents came to the rescue.

My parents have been looking after them down in Bristol (~200 miles from here), and it sounds like they have had quite some week, with day-trips to all the fancy places that we never take them.

It has been rather novel for us too. We have become so used to the chaos of three children that just having Maggie seems to be like coasting. I am sure it was far more difficult when we had just Bart! So for us this week has been all about productivity. After sending them on their way (Thanks to Guy [Bart’s Godfather] for taking them back with him), we spent a couple of hours in the garden, mowing and raking the lawn, rounding up the multitude of outdoor toys from every corner of the garden, and an overall tidy-up. A job that under normal circumstances would have taken a whole Sunday in the garden.

My next task was to clear the loft… 😦

Our loft hatch is 10ft from the floor and so narrow that I have to climb trough it sideways. In the loft is what can only be described as filth. Dirt, dust and debris that has accumulated over the past century (well almost, our house is 98 years old). I came back down looking like an old fashioned chimney sweep.

Tonight Mrs Geeks dad and I will be taking the first steps to install a sensibly size loft hatch.

On the positive side, it has allowed me to invest some serious time listening to audio books, and I may actually end up being able to remove all of the Christmas decorations, spare electronics, cables etc that are currently causing me claustrophobia every time I go into my office.

All in all, I think Bart and Lisa’s week may have been somewhat more exciting, but we did get to go to the early bird special at one of the local restaurants, which was a rare treat. Maggie really like the garlic bread!

Tomorrow Mrs Geek and I will be going down to see my parents and rescue them from our kids, but I fear the kids may not want to come home! We are banking on Maggie being cute enough to tempt them to come back with us 🙂




P.S. I appologise for the quality of these pictures, the iPhone camera sucks!


A Little Daydreaming

February 11, 2009

I seem to have something against people reading my blog, in that each time I start getting new readers I then have an attack of life getting in the way and the next thing I know I have been absent for [insert large duration here] and I find myself back to where I was before.

So in an attempt to stop the blog from going any colder than it already has, I will do what I often do in these situations and unscrupulously steal borrow inspiration from somebody else 😆

Today Just A Mom asked

If you could take off for a day all by yourself where would you go and what would you do?(please click here … it will ease my conscience over the theft repay the gift of inspiration 🙂 )

I replied, with a scaled back version of what is below, but it got me daydreaming and I decided to share 🙂

Jardin-Du-LuxembourgFor me, there is a park in the centre of Paris called Jardin du Luxembourg.

Whilst being surrounded by the some of the most beautiful architecture and statues, with un-ignorable history in every direction, whilst being in one of Europe’s busiest cities as well as having many small children playing nearby, somehow this place feels like the most tranquil place on earth.

Chess in Jardin Du LuxembourgThis is where I would spend the day. With the aid of a good book and the odd trip to a local café for hot chocolate, I would spend my hours luxuriating in this blissful stolen peace, amongst the elderly French men playing chess and more fountains than you could shake a stick at.

I would round the day off by returning to the street restaurant on the Champs-Élysées that Mrs Geek and I visited when we were expecting Lisa, where I would once again sample their divine culinary skills by indulging myself with a very rare steak followed by crème brûlée.

I think the only thing to mar this day would be the fact that the original question stated that I was to be “all by yourself”, and as much as this would be an overwhelmingly good day, I think I would struggle to get past the fact that I wanted to share the day with Mrs Geek who I know would probably enjoy the above at least as much as I would.

While I am conscious not to wish my time away (quite the opposite), I do look forward to one day taking this particular daydream and turning it into a reality.

So am I just a freak, or do others have little snapshots of life that they have tucked away until a more suitable time?


Boys Night Out

December 2, 2008

Further to my Day of restraining myself from strangling anyone less than 5′ tall looking after my children, last night my friend Guy and I took Bart to watch his first football match.

LayersBilled as an early christmas present, it was clearly going to be a hit, but I was concerened by the fact that the game kicked of nearly an hour past his usual bedtime, the temperature was knocking -2 and we had over an hour’s drive to get home afterwards.

However, with the usual poor judgment I tend to show in all things parental, I decided he was up to it.

Thankfully he was in a sensible mood and decided to nap on the way there so as to be awake for the game.

When we got there, he came alive with questions. Facinated by everything, yet overwhelmed by nothing he asked about the hillsbrough tribute, about the anouncement that racist or homophobic abuse would not be tollerated (Thankfully I had addressed much of this before), about the Michael Shields anouncement (A fan that has been in prisoner for the past 3 years for a crime that it would apear he did not commit)… Everything.

Free Michael Now

He continuously refered to his programme to tell me which player had done what. To see this boy who is so often frustratingly apathetic to the privaliges he is given so engaged was wonderful.

Unfortunatly we were seated just infront of a man that litterally swore in every sentance, a fact that I was hopeing would go unnoticed due to it being heavily drenched in scouse. Alas you can not hide any swear words from this boy as they seem to be his pet facination, but he did seem to understand that this was not a “very nice man”, and that maybe swearing is almost as uncool as mummy and daddy keep suggesting.

Unfortunatly the game ended a goalless draw. Bart took this in relativly good spirits, but thankfully for once, he really did seem to care.

The night was topped off by one final act of poor parenting on my part, as we all finished the night sat in a carpark sharing a KFC bargain bucket.

LFC


Imperial War Museum North

September 2, 2008

Note: Woops! I wrote this post a number of weeks ago, but left it in draft as I hadn’t copied the photos to my Mac (shouldn’t have bothered). Since then I had forgotten about it, until I looked just now. I figured I would publish it any way

Disclaimer: This is not my normal happy type post, so you may want to skip this one.

IMG_3922
On Saturday we the weather was … well lets just say somewhat changeable, so we postponed the planned treasure trail and decided to pick a museum, as the kids have got really into going to museums recently. We decided to make a day of it and go to Manchester to take in one of the big museums, and we decided on the Imperial War Museum, as both of the children had found the subject very interesting in our local museum.

We started with the Horrible Histories exhibition, which is a child friendly exhibit with information mainly related to the first world war.

A fact I had not realised was that on Armistice Day, as we know the armistice was signed on 11th of November at 11 O’Clock. 11th Hour of the 11th day of the 11th month and all that but what I didn’t know was that the soldiers were told at 9am that it was going to be signed but they were expected to continue fighting for 2 hours knowing that the war was over but for the paperwork. 2000 allied soldiers died that day!

Don’t get me wrong, being English I have had heard a lot of information about the awfulness of the two world wars, but no matter how much you find out about them, there is still new things to be outraged by.

IMG_3923

By now it had dawned on me that, as interesting and educational as it may be, this was maybe not going to be the most uplifting of day trips. We then went into the main exhibition where they gave a light hearted children’s talk about heroic animals during the war.

At the end of this they announced that there was a film about children in wartime, so found ourselves some seats and stayed to watch it. Big Mistake. They told us about the evacuation of the children during the Blitz and how the children got through it, and all I could think of was how can somebody be expected to make the decision whether to either allow their child to taken to the countryside to be looked after by a stranger or to keep them in the city to experience the worst bombing England had ever seen.

Again, this is all stuff I had heard many times before, but not as a parent. Sitting there holding one of my children close to me listening to the awfulness of peoples experiences made me want to vomit.

It is hard to describe the experience a place like the IWM provides. As awful as it sounds, it is incredibly interesting and while I believe it is important not to dwell on the past (as we Brits are often accused) I do think it important that we know our history. In the words of George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”


Don’t Panic … I’m Back

April 15, 2008

OK, So I went off to Spain and forgot to tell you. Did the internet seem empty without me?

I am assuming that I have so far not been blocked by China as although I have not received the anticipated number of comments (I am currently around 2 Billion short on my last count) it appears it is because I have got people so worked up they have chosen direct action. Granted it may just be a coincidence, but what are the chances of that? Ban me you swine! If you can ban reincarnation without a license you can ban my blog!

So where have I been? Ah yes.

A long time back in the mists of time, my father-in-law stated that when he retired he would like to take us (his children, and their families) on holiday, his treat! Well as much as we may have smiled and made nice words, I am not sure that any of us actually expected it to happen, but happen it did, and it took place last week.

Mrs Geek, the children and I, were accompanied by her 2 sisters, brother-in-law, 2 nephews and mum and dad. Off to sunny Spain!

Nerja

The location was Nerja, on the Costa del Sol. The Coast of the Sun? Not for the first 4 days. Sure we left the UK in a blanket of snow, but it was an awful long way just to upgrade snow to rain.

Now it may not work quite so well for Eliza Doolittle, but I have decided to update the famous phrase to read…

The rain in Spain falls mainly on … Mr Geek!

My Son was determined that being the first time he had ever had his own pool, he was going to use it regardless of the weather, and to be honest everyone pitched in and made the best of what we had. We had a number of lovely meals from some of the local restaurants, Donkey Sanctuarywent to the local Donkey Sanctuary which was great, we walked along the beach, which while not exactly being golden sands was still fun for the kids. Also it had numerous little parks for the kids to play in, where I proved myself to be King Of The Monkeybars. I also got to watch the Mighty Reds defeat the Evil Gunners in what was one of the best matches I have seen since the 2005 final.

However after four days of rain, in what were admittedly very luxurious accommodation, nerves were beginning to fray. Good company or not, 11 people, including 4 under 8s, hiding from the rain on what everyone had anticipated being an oasis of relaxation, the irony begins to wear a bit thin. People seemed to be a little fed up of looking at the “Bright Side”, and my quite hilarious comment about how much money they were all saving on sun cream seemed to get lost in translation as I don’t think anyone fully appreciated my genius for lightening the tone.

But then the clouds parted, the sky brightened and the sun came out! And it came out with a vengeance! It was as if it were trying to make up for lost time. Cue the sun beds, cue the ice-cream, cue the pool, OK so that was still a bit cold. Everything was good again as the Sol had returned to the Costa del Sol.

So on the Sunday when our time was up, it was with a heavy heart that we left our temporary home in Nerja to return to the cold air of Manchester. On reflection I have to admit it was both a memorable and actually genuinely rather enjoyable week.


Winter Wonderland

January 7, 2008

I have decided that it might be a good Idea to post a little about our recent trip to Saariselkä, Lapland, to see Santa. Mainly because it was a great trip, but the Google Juice wouldn’t go a miss either.

I have to admit, it made me cringe that, whilst discussing the possibility of the trip, we worked out that we could go to Disneyland for 2 weeks for about the same price as 4 days in Lapland. But my children are 7 and 4. They will always enjoy going to Disneyland … on the other hand Father Christmas only has so much time. This was back last March, before we had decided to try for baby #3 and before deciding that we wanted them to go to a private school, thus by the time we realised that maybe our finances are a little over stretched, the die had been cast.

The first thing we had to deal with was the need to get up at 3:30am to get to the airport in time for a 7am flight. I thought that this was my wife’s standard over preparation, but I wanted things to go well so I humoured her.And a good job too. I will admit now that I haven’t flown for quite a while, and the level of paranoia surrounding check in is now ridiculous. After 1½ hours in a queue for check in, with 2 over tired children, I was ready for the fun to start. And so it did. My kids have never been on an aeroplane before, so they were quizzically amused at the whole metal detector palaver, and they were in hysterics when my wife set one off and had to be patted down. It took a lot of restraint to not imply that she was some kind of terrorist. By this time my son had woken up and was as excited as a puppy drinking espresso. As the plane took off he actually shouted “WooHoo!!” to the amusement of everyone around him. And that is when I realised (I know I am a little slow on the up take) everyone was going to see Santa!

Reindeer Reception Committee
We were met by some “Elves” and a Reindeer Reception Committee at the airport who it would seem had been sharing coffee with my son. Having left Manchester in early morning twilight, we arrived at 1pm only to find that we had missed the sun for that day. We were soon on a bus off to get fitted with what my son decided were “Sumo Suits” courtesy of Lapland Safari. These were one piece thermal suits with Jumbo boots and gloves. Standard issue to all new arrivals.

After a brief moment to check in to the hotel and a dull orientation talk we were back outside with me being husky to the 2 kids. And then we found it. There is an immense toboggan run. Just shy of 2km I am told it is the longest in Europe (I am sure they all say that). We started simple, by going to the first kick off point which was about a 60m run, which alone was probably better than any toboggan run that I had been on, and it was not long before I had joined my daughter in wiping out the fencing going down the side.

That is when the obvious struck. I am now looking for my children amongst probably 30 other children that are dressed Identically from head to foot! There is something inside you as a parent that tells you that the could recognise their children in a heart beat, let me tell you, that little something is lying! After randomly approaching 4 incorrect children (behaviour that would see you locked up over here) I got them. The biggest tip I can give you is if you are thinking of going, take something distinctive, a big red hat, or a reflective cycle vest, because it is no fun playing where’s Waldo with your own children!

The solution we adopted was to take walkie talkies, with an alleged 5km range (2-3 is more realistic, but proved to be plenty). These made me Extremely popular with the kids but my wife, being the resident technophobe, was somewhat sceptical. Her I told you so moment is the reason for the next tip.

Remember to turn on the aforementioned walkie talkies BEFORE allowing your children to go off onto the slope.Our evening meal was translated as “Meat Stew” which whilst being absolutely delicious, the translation seemed deliberately vague and having seen very few cows in Lapland (i.e. none), left one with the distinct suspicion that we may have been eating one of Rudolph’s relatives.

Later we all went to the pool, followed by a sauna. My son seemed to love the sauna. I think he considered it a test. He was completely unphased by the No Swimming costume rule in a co-ed sauna and just wanted to prove that he could endure the heat for longer than I could, but in my defence I have a layer of fat that he has so far failed to develop trapping the heat.

Snowmobiling
Next day it was time for the first of our activities. Snow mobiling cross country to a restaurant to have lunch. This was again Awesome. If you haven’t tried it, you should (not overly practical in the UK, but still …). The children however, were in a sled pulled by a snow mobile. My son found it most insulting that he was not old enough to ride for himself (he’s 7, you have to be 18) then he noticed that they were sitting on what looked like a husky fur, he was not impressed. I fear he may end up vegetarian. My daughter was generally grumpy because we had to be up at 7am (5am UK time) for the whole thing, she doesn’t function before 7am, unless for some reason we are at home and I have the day off of work. I think she has decided to start the whole lazy grumpy teenager thing a little early (she is 4!).

All aboard
The following day gave us another early start, but this had the promise of a husky ride, a reindeer ride and meeting Santa, Even my daughter didn’t dare being grumpy today! As an English man who has now come to accept the English obsession with health and safety, it was strangely liberating to be given a sled and 7 huskies followed by 2 minutes of training consisting of to turn left lean left, to turn right lean right, and to stop stamp on the break and pray, and we got through it with no accidents.

This was the day that provided both the high and low point of the trip. The high came just after the huskies, and meeting Father Christmas when my son gave me all the reasons that “He was the real Father Christmas”, I really could not have asked for more than that, when he saw Santa pull out the letters that they had written weeks earlier, the look on his face was priceless.
With Santa

Now we had all been suffering from a mild cold since leaving England, it was around about lunch time that My Son upped the anti and really got ill. He had shivers and had basically run out of energy. So we took him into what the locals call a hot room, and believe me they are not kidding, again he displayed an ability to endure furnace like temperatures, this time whiles wearing a ski suit. My wife decided that she would therefore stay with him in this room, while I took my daughter out to enjoy the rest of our afternoon. And just to prove that no good deed goes unpunished he waited until they were getting on the bus to vomit into her hat.

So was it a perfect trip? Well that would not be our family’s way of doing things, but it really was a holiday to remember for all of us. The question now is does this count as taking Baby #3 to Lapland, or are we looking at going again in 5 years time (and if so does anyone have any part time work going)
The Family in Lapland