Monday, 30 August 2004

August Bank Holiday

Pretty disastrous bank holiday weekend.

Didn't do much on Saturday, on the grounds that there were always Sunday and Monday...

Sunday, was ready to do the weekly shop at about 11 o'clock, but Jacqueline (who has worked Saturday and was due to work Sunday) said she was still tired, and could she have another half hour lying down. Two and a half hours later... So we didn't get as far as the shops. However, later in the afternoon Alice and I did meet up with Simon and Patrick, for a swim. Went on to a child-friendly pub where we had a not-bad evening meal, and everyone was happy.

Today the sun was shining so we went over to Marwell. Unfortunately lots of other people had the same idea. Had to queue to get in, although once we were in it was pretty good. Until lunch. Again, we had to queue for lunch and Alice and queues just don't mix. They had a burger kiosk and a seating area, so Jacqueline queued for the burgers while I secured a table. After a fair old wait, in which Alice flitted continually between the two of us (in addition to going to the toliet about 3 times), Jacqueline arrived at the table with the food. Alice promptly spilt her drink - one of these fizzy, syrupy pop things - all over me, soaking my t-shirt and shorts. So there ended the day at Marwell - there was no way I was going to continue walking around in sticky, soaked clothes, so we ended up driving straight home. What a waste of fifty quid, which I can ill afford at the moment in any case. Very angry. Plus, of course, we'd tentatively planned to eat out (given that there was no food in the house) and of course all this came to nothing. So supper tonight was a somewhat frugal affair.

To cap it all Alice's childminder has just phoned to see if Alice wants to go out for the day tomorrow. Guess where to? You guessed it, Marwell. So she'll get to see everything whereas I just get a soaking. Currently very anti children. Plus, of course, I get the feeling that Jacqueline thinks I ruined the day by refusing to walk around the place in soaking clothes. It always seems to be the two of them versus me.

Friday, 27 August 2004

Later that week...

Well, its obvious what the difference is between holiday and non-holiday - time available to write diary entries!


Haven't really got up to much this week, catching up with everything. Been sorting the holiday photos - just completed it tonight having done a stint pretty much every night. 186 in total will get published in the album.
Weather has been very changeable this week, pretty much the same as last week.

More work on the horizon, hopefully. Also, thinking of booking a week away over half term, over to the a gite in the Vendee. We'll see what happens, since it's roughly the time when the current contract is up for renewal. Its likely that the clients will want to renew, but its best not to take things for granted. It'd be nice to get away to France in the autumn though.

Monday, 23 August 2004

Back to Normal

Back into the routine. Spent a pleasant day yesterday chilling out. Amidst beautiful weather, went for a walk into the Forest, (Highland Water, by Boldrewood). Wow! As an aside, Multimap actually gives maps to OS detail - very impressive, there was no way I'd have remembered the name otherwise!

Thereon spent the day in "end of holiday" mood - we went over to Burley for a cream tea, then having driven home I made a barbeque of fillet steak as a rare (nowadays) treat. We just about missed the rain.
Picked the cats up yesterday and spent most of the evening with the Barn wedged, limpet-like, on my knee, watching "As Good As It Gets" (excellent film, got it already on dvd but what the hey?)

Stormy night, cats restless. Barney caught something and from the crunching sound it sounded like he was having a feast, bones and all. I'm glad I left this morning before I got to see what he'd left on the floor! Alarm went off at an incredible 5:45am, the holiday was definitely over and the routine had resumed.

Rain all the way into London, and most of the day since. Went into St James's Square at lunch (during a bright spell) to finish off my book (this is still Book 1 of 4, if you've read the holiday entries). Unfortunately was rudely interrupted by a rain shower, so must wait until the journey home tonight.

Saturday, 21 August 2004

Home at Last

Home at last.

The meal last night was excellent, a traditional old fish and chip restaurant. Then back for one more visit to the nearby Carbis Bay. We avoided the hotel this time, though, and just headed for the beach. It must have been 10pm, and the sea was black apart from the white surf. Tried to take a couple of photos but not sure how they'll come out (haven't downloaded them yet).

This morning we got up early and packed without hassle. Then, disaster struck. As Jacqueline was taking some rubbish to the bin, she managed to get stung by one of the million wasps in this place. So she's been uncomfortable all day, not to mention highly vengeful!

Having left early (well, before the 10am deadline) we heard reports of traffic build-up on the radio so we headed off to the Lost Garden of Heligan. Another garden, what can I say? We can stroll, I can snap, Alice can run around like a mad thing - perfect! Fortunately the route we took today was quiet (the gardens were quite close to St Austell, which took an hour today but two hours the other day), so we had a couple of pleasant hours walking around. Not quite sure where the time went but we decided to head into St Austell for lunch after the gardens, not least to get some of the nice pasties for supper! As it was, we visited the cafe we went to the other day (The Thin End, I think), and the Pastie shop. Again excellent, and the people in both places were so nice (and very gorgeous, but we won't go into that!). Funny really since St Austell in itself is nothing spectacular.

Anyway, at around 3 o'clock we were finally ready to head back East, having hopefully missed the traffic. Just like going down there, we were again fortunate, didn't hit any traffic and arrived home at about 7pm (including a half-hour ice cream stop at Exeter). Because of Jacqueline's sting I ended up driving all the way, and consequently am struggling to keep my eyes open now. It won't be long before I drop off, I reckon.

Friday, 20 August 2004

Pleasant Surprise

Another largely successful day, thus far.

Because of the rain we weren't in any great hurry to leave this morning, as it was we didn't get out until almost 1pm. Off to the Poldark Mine, an old tin mine which does guided tours. This was one of the main things I wanted to do in Cornwall. We spent about an hour underground - excellent but rather wet at its deepest points. I was quite surprised that they know so little about the mine - they don't know when exactly it closed (although they reckon about 1880), or even the full extent of the mine. But it was entertaining stuff, and the guide certainly seemed to convey his own interest in digging around in deep holes! On the surface, there was a wood turner and we picked up a couple of lovely pieces of woodwork (a vase and, er, "an ornament").

On to Truro, although it was 4pm by the time we got there so we just had time for a bite to eat and a brief walk around. Alice had an enormous ice cream sundae - strawberry and cornish ice cream, plus clotted cream. Interestingly, she also made a bee-line for the cathedral, so we took in a quick tour. In St Pastel she did the same thing, so maybe we're rearing a religious child.

My mother incurred my wrath in Truro. We always shout at Alice because she can't leave things alone. If she sees something, she has to touch it or affect it in some way. She can't just leave things be. Typical of children, you might say. Except my mother (who has just passed sixty) is just the same. We were back at the car, and loading things into the boot. Now, we've had this car for over five years so I'm quite familiar with the dimensions of it. Except this time I bent down to put something in the boot and - Bang! I caught my head right on the corner of the hatchback. The reason? My mother had decided that rather than just let the hatch extend to its full height, she'd hold it. Consequently it was a foot or so lower than usual and I didn't notice it. A small thing maybe, but it bloody hurt! She can't just let things happen naturally, she has to affect them in some way.
On the same note I should just add that it has been funny seeing her with Alice all week. Alice likes to be free, my mother likes to control. Immovable object, unstoppable force. The upshot is that Alice has spend a lot of the week not speaking to my mother - who doesn't understand why. Amazing when you consider that Alice is only five.

Just writing this briefly this evening - we've decided to go out and get some fish and chips tonight, so I'm making the most of the half hour before we go out. Worthwhile to write a summary of the holiday:
  • Books read 1 (almost) of 4) . Not very good but four was very optimistic. And a lot of free time has been spent either diarising or organising the photographs (must have taken about 300 since we arrived)
  • Television Watched - none - exactly to plan. The tv has been on sometimes, but it's been a background thing.
  • Diary - this'll be the fourth entry of the holiday, which isn't bad, don't you think?
  • Wasps killed - seven or eight. The one thing about the Holiday Village is that it also appears to be a major wasp habitat. Thank you, Raid - since our Tesco's run Monday you've made our lives a whole lot better!
Home tomorrow - just when we're getting into the swing of things. We're talking about one final visit on the way home tomorrow - will let you know what happens from the comfort of my own office!

Improvement

An interesting last couple of days. An improvement, no doubt.

Wednesday started off typically. We decided to visit the Eden Project, and because of traffic jams it took us 2 hours to get there. I looked on Autoroute and the distance is 40 miles...

Still, that was just about the low-point. Eden itself was excellent. The weather was generally good, we had one extremely sudden and heavy downpour just as we were making our way out, but apart from that it was lovely. Plus, of course, we spent most of out time in the biomes. We visited the humid area first - fascinating to see all of the plants we take for granted. Alice was particularly enthralled by the banana, coconut and pineapple trees. For me, I never realised that pineapples grew from the ground. So there you go... But it was very hot and humid so by the end my clothing (quite heavy clothes, prepared for the worst after the day before) was quite uncomfortable.

After a spot of (expensive - £20 for sandwiches and a drink for four) lunch, we headed for the dry, temperate zone. This zone was far more to my liking. As soon as we walked in they had olive trees so it felt a little like southern France. Because this zone was drier, I was more willing to take photographs, so was snapping away. Following an ice cream treat, we explored outside whilst making out way vaguely to the entrance. We had lovely, bright weather until this downpour hit us.

It was probably around 6pm by the time we'd left the place, so on the way back I decided to head for The Lizard. Of all the parts of Cornwall I've seen (and let's face it, this is only the second time I've spent a week here), the Lizard is my favourite. The last time we visited (in October 2000) by pure good luck we stayed just a couple of miles from The Lizard, so we visited there a couple of times. This time, again, it was excellent. Because we hit traffic once again (and because I took a rather inventive route out of Eden) it must have been around 7pm by the time we got there, just in time to watch the sun disappear behind the cliffs. This visit, however, Alice and I went all the way down to the boathouse at the foot of the cliff. It was all the more spectacular since the sea was quite rough, and we narrowly avoided being soaked as the spray came crashing over the sea wall. Very beautiful - the smell of salt in the air was amazing - but at the same time quite scary. By the time we headed back up the cliff, we got the added bonus of seeing the light from the Lizard Lighthouse (Alice has developed a "thing" about Lighthouses). Of course it was quite late by now so, in typical tourist fashion, we stopped off for a MacDonald's on the way home. Even Grandma was happy!

Yesterday was even better. One of the things that I'd noticed when we arrived in the Holiday Village was a sign for a nearby farm park, Cheney Mill. This was not just your average farm - this one boasted snakes, lizards and spiders as well as cattle, pigs and goats. Alice was fascinated. So, we headed over there yesterday morning and explored. I should add that we had beautiful weather yesterday too. Anyway, this park was excellent. Plenty of animals to keep Alice occupied, and we had good old walk. Ironically, Alice's fear got the better of her and although she get "up close and personal" with a lizard (some kind of dragon) she left before the chap showed us the snake and the spider. So we had to be content with looking at them in their glass display cabinets. In the same room, we saw some giant cockroaches, which must have been 2 inches long, from eastern Africa, and an absolutely enormous (yet very lethargic) python, who we were told, when uncurled, stretched a massive 16 feet. Apparently the python had been fed a meal of a cockerel two weeks ago and hadn't moved from that position since. It had also been known to stalk little children when it was hungry (fortunately with a big piece of glass in between it and the kids), and the chap said that pythons had been known to move at up to 120 mph when striking for prey.

Fascinating stuff. Not to mention the cows (lovely Jerseys and "delicious" - in more than one sense - Aberdeen Anguses), goats, pigs, chickens and donkey and deer.

Thereon to Hayle for a spot of lunch. Jacqueline's eagle eyes had spotted a "famous pasty shop" from the day before, so we partook. Our verdict? Ok, but not as good as some we'd bought in St Austell a couple of days ago.

After lunch we headed over to a place called Trebah Gardens, close to Falmouth. Surprisingly enough, a garden. Beautiful setting - from a house high on high ground, the garden slopes down a couple of hundred or so feet to a cove on the Helford Estuary, with garden all the way. Specialties were hydrangea bushes (in bloom and lovely), and giant rhubarb. Excellent time, rounding off at just-about closing time with an ice cream each in the cafe.

Since the weather was still holding, we then trekked over to the nearby beach at Maenporth, where we let Alice scamper round for half an hour or so, during which time she became completely soaked and covered in sand. Still, she enjoyed herself, and she's had precious little opportunity to play on the beach this week.
With the weather still holding, we headed back to the chalet and to supper. However, no sooner was supper over than we were out once again, this time to watch the firework display at Land's End. More by luck than judgment we headed over there and I though we'd just catch the sunset. Then we encountered the dreaded camper van on the road, a fifteen minute journey became a thirty minute journey, and sunset came and went as we were still traveling. Still, I snapped a couple of photos of the cliffs and the lighthouse, albeit at dusk rather than at sunset. Alice must have been completely drained after such a long day, but she still asked if she could have a turn on the (Scooby Doo) Bouncy Castle there. I had to ask her to stop after a couple of minutes, though, since she was quite obviously flaking out. Undimmed, we then perched ourselves on a rock on the cliff top in preparation for the display. And what a display! A spectacular display lasting about fifteen minutes, we watched as in front of us the sky exploded into colour, whilst to our side we saw daylight turn into moonlight, and the lighthouses light up the horizon.

Back to the chalet for about 10:15pm, all of worn out after such a long day, Alice pleading for a MacDonald's on the way home ("My tummy's rumbling"). Still, I didn't give in and surprisingly enough she's still alive this morning. No chance of starvation for our daughter!

Weather overnight has certainly turned. Woke up to that oh-so-familiar thud of raindrops hitting the roof. So I'm not sure what we'll end up doing today, although I do know the first task ("Daddy, can we go for a swim?"). It'll be a relief to get home and have a rest!

Tuesday, 17 August 2004

Wash Out

Awful Day. Started off Ok, we decided to go into St. Ives only a couple of miles away. There's a public bus service from the holiday village, so we thought this would be better that trying to find somewhere to park (which we found impossible the other day). So we took the bus and arrived in St Ives. Thereon the day went downhill. There were so many people it was unbelievable. Then the heavens opened (and it is still pouring with rain seven hours later). For all it was raining it was still quite warm, so we carried on walking around. But the amount of people...

I'd looked up a couple of restaurants in the Michelin guide, in the hope of having a decent lunch, but when we found one of these it was full. We resolved that the best thing we could do was to get out of there. However, we'd made one important mistake - I knew the buses ran every hour, but we hadn't checked the timetable to work out when! In the end the answer was presented to us five minutes later when we saw the bus heading for the holiday village go past.

We found a little coffee shop and had a light lunch, and I promised Alice that we'd go down to the beach. However by now the heavens had well and truly opened, and when we ventured outside we rapidly became getting soaked. Fortunately Jacqueline saw a little "beachy" shop and got a couple of banana-coloured ponchos to keep the rain off (Grandma already had a kagoul and we'd brought Alice's raincoat with us). We then made our way back to find the return bus stop, although this was very well hidden and I was afraid we'd miss the thing since the next bus was now five minutes overdue. Plus, my mother and Alice were dithering. If Alice were just with us we'd have dragged her along, but of course her Grandma has to do everything that much slower...

Anyway, I walked up the road and we did eventually see the bus stop, and only a couple of minutes after getting there the bus came. And went. Without stopping. It was a tiny minibus and even though we were at only the second stop on the route, the bus was already full. You can imagine my mood by this time. Anyway, Jacqueline had seen a taxi rank, which I readily agreed to (the only other alternative being an hour's wait for the next bus). Even there, we had to join the end of a rather long queue, and were standing - still in the pouring rain - for at least another half hour waiting for a taxi. Anyway, eventually our turn came and we got back to the chalet. Travel costs for the day were £6 for the bus tickets (the return portions of course going unused), plus £10 for the taxi. Altogether a rather expensive alternative to a couple of litres of petrol and a couple of pounds parking. And a soaking to boot.

We consoled ourselves by drying off and immediately heading off - sans Grandma, who again had decided not to join in - back to the hotel in Carbis Bay (I think it is called, rather surprisingly the Carbis Bay Hotel) for afternoon tea. Finally, an enjoyable part to the day. The hotel has a lovely conservatory overlooking the sea, and it is a very relaxing experience. We found the place on Sunday and it really has been the most enjoyable part of the holiday thus far.

We even got a slight improvement in the weather, so much so that we (Alice and I - Jacqueline had the sense to stay in the car) walked down to the nearby beach for a paddle. No sooner did we get there than the rain started up again, but Alice of course didn't mind so we stayed in the beach for about fifteen minutes, until it was simply too wet to continue. We eventually made it back to the chalet - me without any footwear and Alice stark naked!

This entry is probably a very boring read. However there is a reason for this detail. Basically, if ever we're mad enough to consider coming to Cornwall again, we'll just need to read this to restore some sanity. Actually that's not true - I'd happily come to a nice hotel sometime like January, or something. But the place should definitely be avoided anytime "in season". As things stand I'm watching torrential rain fall, and it's mid-August. We've already decided that we'll go to France again next year - far more civilised. Also the holiday village continues to be unimpressive - I don't think this was a particularly cheap holiday and is certainly poor value for money. It would have been far better to pay the extra and go to CenterParcs.

On other things, have received a couple of hassling emails from the agency my company is currently working through. I think I might have outstayed my welcome with them, but then if some new business comes along I'll be able to take the opportunity to blow them into touch too. On the plus side, the accountant reckons we may be able to barter with Customs and Excise in order to get this fine reduced.

I've just about had enough of running my business. If anyone reads this and is looking to take on a good technical architect with almost fifteen years' commercial experience, drop me an email to pete@hurford.me.uk. It's just too much like hard work any more.

So far so good

Still on holiday, and enjoying a rare quiet morning since Alice is still asleep. We must really have worn her out yesterday.

The plan yesterday was to visit the Eden Project, although we needed to do a little shopping first since we arrived (somewhat mysteriously) in Cornwall minus Alice's swimsuits. Our best guess is that she'd maybe unpacked them before we left, although she denies this. Anyway, we headed for St Austell to do the shopping. By the time we got there it was lunchtime so we stopped in a lovely little cafe. By the time we were actually ready to move on it was 2:30pm, and we decided that maybe we should devote a little more time, on another day, to Eden. So, we headed south, originally the intention being to visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan, but we eventually decided on visiting Mevagissy instead. Charming little fishing village, although Alice was disappointed not to find a beach there..

I should add that throughout this time the weather was quite bright, although not exactly glorious sunshine all day. It was some surprise, therefore, when we got back in the car to hear about flash flooding in northern Cornwall! True enough, as we headed back to St Ives we encountered some really heavy rain. The idea had been to drive back along the coast and to find some semblance of a sandy beach for Alice, even though it was getting quite late now. As it was, the rain stopped and the weather cleared and we did find a beach for her, although it was only fifteen minutes or so before the rain started again. Still, it was very beautiful and I did manage one or two nice photos.

Supper last night was cornish pasties from a baker's in St Austell. Unanimous approval.

Today we're staying local, in the hope of visiting the fireworks at Land's End this evening. It'll be a late night for us - have been waking early and sleeping early thus far, but Alice loves fireworks, and we'll get to see the lighthouses in action too.

Sunday, 15 August 2004

Off to Cornwall

Well, a busy last few days. We are now on holiday in Cornwall, having arrived here yesterday, while on Thursday night it looked like I wouldn't be coming here at all.

My mother arrived Thursday and virtually from the moment I arrived home we argued. This time, Alice was the cause. Having broken something of mine earlier in the day I shouted at her. My mother immediately jumped to her defence and tell me to stop chastising her. Also, whenever I get angry with Alice, Jacqueline always takes her side, so a dispute between myself and Alice almost automatically turns into a dispute between myself and Jacqueline.

Ah, well, anyway.... Suffice it to say we all eventually calmed down and yesterday came across to Cornwall. Jacqueline had the bright idea of leaving early, so we left at 6:30am and it did, in fact, turn out to be a bright idea. We didn't hit any traffic until well into Cornwall, and by that time we were probably only 30 miles from the holiday village in St Ives, with something like 5 hours until our arrival time. So when we did hit some traffic, we took a detour away from it and were fine. We ended up reaching a pretty little fishing village called Porthleven, where we took lunch and had our first Cornish ice cream.

First impressions of the Holiday Village haven't been particularly favourable. The chalet is unbelievably small, and the furniture in it looks to be straight out of Argos - cheap pine and chipboard. There are some 300 chalets on the site. There's a basic shop and pool, both of which are Ok but nothing special. There's also a kind of club, which is a bit grotty. Reminds me of a working mens club from somewhere up north, to be honest. There have been a couple of kids events, which Alice has enjoyed, but the amount of parents sitting there smoking was staggering. Difficult to say all of this without sounding snobbish, but this kind of holiday really isn't my cup of tea. Having said that, there has been plenty for Alice to do, which was a big factor in coming here.

Today we went for a swim, then headed off to Land's End (check out the photos). After having a bit of a walk, we settled down and had an ice cream, and Alice watched Punch and Judy. After that, we drove on to Sennen Cove, but couldn't find anywhere to park. We continued along the coast and out of the blue saw a sign for Pendeen Light House. Sounded interesting, so we headed on down there, and now we know how lighthouses work. The lighthouse is about 110 years old, and there was some beautiful engineering and craftsmanship on display. All obsolete now, of course. The same function is performed remotely using silicon chips. Maybe I'm just an old romantic at heart...

More friction with my mother. Whenever I shout at Alice I get backchat from her Grandma, it's very annoying. She'll never say what she wants to do, just says "I'm easy", so one has to guess what she wants to do. She won't even join in as much as coming to this "clubhouse" place with us. Not sure this was such a good idea...

Weather thus far has been very variable - very sunshine and (heavy) showers. weather.com is showing showers every day in St Ives for the next week! Still, hopefully we'll be Ok. Other items we've discussed doing this week are: firework display (Alice loves fireworks), day trip to the Scilly Isles (well, its different), and a trip down a mine (which Grandma has already said she's not interested in).

Will keep you posted.

Thursday, 12 August 2004

The Latest Straw

Surviving frugally this week, although in truth I haven't needed to buy anything so it hasn't been that much of a hardship. Fortunately the company's invoice gets paid tomorrow so all will be well again.

On that note, I got a very pleasant letter from Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, arbitrarily fining me for a mistake made in a VAT return for a couple of years ago. I don't know, running your own company seems to have become more trouble that it's worth over the last couple of years. I know I was more eager to spend time on the company when its income wasn't such a problem, but it seems that there's that much more bureacracy these days. So I need to think about whether to be awkward and wait until the summons arrives until I cough up, although I suspect I'll probably just find some way of paying the fine as the path of least resistance.

It's just drip-drip-drip. No one thing in itself is a big deal but the continuous trickle of government-induced hassles really hacks me off. I remember the film "Falling Down" and I understand it.

Anyway, as if in some perverse sense of respite, my mother has come down today for a visit.
Went to Hatchards at lunchtime, only to find several photographers there - I'd walked straight into the middle of a book signing by a guy called Charles Spencer. Didn't ring a bell at the time but when I got back to the client's office I mentioned it and was then told he was better known as Earl Spencer, Princess Di's little brother. He didn't recognise me.

I did, however, buy a Michelin guide. We may only be visiting Cornwall this year, but I can at least try to find some good places to eat!!

Monday, 9 August 2004

At the end of the day

Well, we finally got some rain today, so things are looking a little greener outside. Was woken up by hearing the rain in the earlt morning, but it made everything seem a little fresher.

After my entry yesterday Alice decided to be really awkward about going to sleep. I ended up shouting at her and giving her a smack, which obviously upset her and stressed me out. A wonderful end to the weekend.
Forgot to mention, another batch of work fell through last week. In fairness this was at a much earlier stage than last time, so I haven't really had to invest any time. Really annoying, though. These particular clients wanted the flexibility of a consultant (i.e. no employment committments, no tax, no NI, can get rid of me when they want) yet expected me to behave just like one of their employees. Their spec even said they expected people to "go the extra mile when necessary". A bit of a joke. If you want professional people to do business with you you have to act professionally in return. So now everyone loses...

It really would be nice not to have to rely on clients!

Sunday, 8 August 2004

Summer Sunday

Well, another fairly agreeable weekend. We went out for a pizza Friday, and had a barbie each weekend night. Quite a lazy weekend in fact. Yesterday we went over to Bournemouth (Jacqueline's flat again), but didn't do a lot else. Today we did the weekly shop, then I unpacked the new bike rack to test it on the car (fine). Also, Jacqueline was working this afternoon so I'd promised to take Alice to Clownabout. She'd been playing wit next doors' kids all afternoon so I offered to take them along too. Everyone seemed to enjoy it for the last hour of the day.

I've been quite conscientious this weekend and got around to sorting all the party photos, including separating out child-specific photos for respective parents. At the end of last Sunday we went for a walk down to the Millenium Green, and I got some really good scenic photos just as the sun was going down.

My latest invoice didn't get paid Friday as expected, so will be very poor this week! Must speak to the bank tomorrow...

Still, looking forward to the family holiday in a couple of weeks time.

Oh, incidentally, although it's been ok weather-wise, its been quite muggy today and nowhere near the glorious weather we had for last week's party. We do seem to be unbelievably lucky with the weather each year.

Wednesday, 4 August 2004

Nightmare Train

Just a brief note this morning. It took me 5 hours to get home from London last night, so am not a happy bunny at present. With reference to yesterday's entry, it's to be hoped that if Al-Quaeda attack the UK they don't attack the railways - nobody would notice!

Tuesday, 3 August 2004

Getting into my Stride

Two entries in two days, three in five days. My, we're getting keen!

Actually I've just finished something and it's almost lunchtime, so I've got a spare five minutes.

Alice's birthday passed quite nicely in the end - apparently she got taken for a birthday lunch to McDonalds, a rare treat for her. We'd got her a toy guitar for her birthday and she was playing with that as I got home last night - it's actually quite good, although I got tired of hearing it pretty quickly! Before getting the train I stopped off at Thorntons and got some chocolates for after supper, the final treat of the day. Finally, when I tucked her in she was quite sad that tomorrow wouldn't be her birthday any more. So she'd obviously enjoyed the experience of the last couple of days.

Haven't talked about the world news recently, mainly because there's not a lot going on. Latest things on the news are about the Al-Quaeda guy who was arrested in Pakistan, and on his computer they found plans to bomb things in America and Britain. The Americans have been open about this, and have released the names and locations of the possible targets. The British government has kept quiet. Obviously they know best....
It's very infuriating to be treated like a child, even moreso because I'm at risk precisely because of the policies they are pursuing and which I don't subscribe to. One can hardly be surprised if the Muslim world is up in arms because of the crusading US and British. I suppose one must hope for a Kerry victory in November, followed by a pretty radical shake-up of US foreign policy, hopefully leaving Blair sufficiently isolated that he'll just go along with the Americans. I don't think an election in the UK would make any difference, since the only people who would have led the UK into Iraq faster than Blair, would have been the Tories. So I think Kerry is the best hope to improve this madness.

It must hark back to the Cold War, when ultimately you had to ask yourself whether the "ordinary" Russian really did want to kill you just because of your lifestyle? Of course not, as long as you weren't adversely affecting their own lifestyle. I'm sure the same must be true of Muslims.

Lunch.

Monday, 2 August 2004

Birthday Barbie

Woke up this morning and felt very "lucky". The weather over the last few days - including this morning - has been absolutely glorious, and our local countryside looks at its best at this time of year. Very much a green and pleasant land!

We had a very agreeable weekend, culminating in having our annual "Alice's Birthday" barbeque yesterday. It was quite hard work, although this year we'd done most of the preparation, cleaning (a big task in our household) etc. on the Saturday. Also, Jacqueline had done the bulk of the shopping on Friday evening so the only things to do yesterday were to get a couple of last-minute items and to give everything a cursory re-tidy. Oh, and I needed to clear up the patio (for which the new hedge trimmer was used for the first time and was very effective). By about 2pm I'd had enough (far too hot to work!) and just settled down to await the onslaught.

Thereon, apart from about ¾ hour when I had to do the cooking on the barbie, we had an extremely pleasant, chilled afternoon sitting in the garden in beautiful weather. We really do seem to be lucky with the weather each year (although one really should expect good weather at the beginning of August!). Jacqueline's sisters, Lorraine and Susan, came over. Also Simon and Janet, plus Steve and Mel (next door neighbours) came along, complete with broods in tow. I think probably seven or eight kids in total. I took around forty photos, which I haven't had the energy to look at yet, but which will appear in the Album as and when. (I did manage to put the photos from the New Forest Show up there on Friday evening, so I am making an effort!)

As things started getting hotter I put the sprinkler on in the front garden, and the kids started getting wet.

Finally, at about 7.30pm with only Simon and Co left, we headed down to the river (leaving the womenfolk to watch Coronation Street) for an evening stroll. Alice and Patrick still had lots of energy to spend, so we just let them run through the meadow. Christopher, on the other hand, had pretty much decided enough was enough, so Simon had to carry him pretty much there and back. A hot air baloon passed overhead - the people inside must have had a lovely view.

So, back to grimy old London this morning, although it is now only two weeks to go to our holiday. Must get the bike rack, reg plate, sorted next weekend.

Oh, forgot to mention, Alice is 5 today.