WMC's diary pages, 2003.

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See-also: http://www.wmc.care4free.net/diary/.

July 2003

Tues 1st

Work. Home for 1h lunch, then pick up DE & B & Sam.

Goes well, I get tidying done. DBS gather rasp then play castle in D's room. Then to tree house: I put up new handrail-rope. E tags along happily but not up to stage 2. Jeff comes to fetch Sam at 6; then DB come in to dinner which I hand over to M, who gets back 6.20. I to pc (planning) 7 until :13! Not a record, apparently.

Soir: school web. Backup portege via wireless to desktop.

Wed 2nd

To town, but slowly, not leaving till 11 (since I spend an annoyed hour trying to find E's swim costume; later M remembers that M'a probably has it, and she does). We cycle in, since I am somewhat put off by the though of pushchairs and buses. Arj for food and Cb1 for coffee (me) and milk and biscuits (E). Oddly, this works quite well, and we sit there for about an hour, E quite quiet and looking around her while I read. In fact, better than sometimes in the pushchair.

Cycle home (I *must* pump up my rear tyre) and put her to bed.

E still asleep at 3:45 when MD back.

pm: tidy house! Since C+A+N are coming, and coming (at my invite) early for a "family" type evening. So blitz around, fit up 3rd coatrail (means taking down "the deep" photo picture: need to find a new home for that), tidy hallway and kitchen, while MED go off to D's piano.

CAN arrive a little after 6 when the pizza is in hand... a restful meal and talk, and DNE play quite happily, getting more and more tired, till at 9 its their bedtime and CAN are off. Interesting experiment: worked rather well I think.

Thurs 3rd

A day of rain. Work / yoga / a bit more work and I've discovered the secret of ozone ancils: lbegin. Anyway. To town, cb1, then xx-octopus to pick up some more "intrays" and discover a nice lidded pine box. Just about fits on the back, wrapped in 2 wallpaper bags to keep the rain off.

Fri 4th

Work, misc, lots of people are now off in Japan.

I get back home at a sensible time, for once: 1:30, time for a nice rest, lunch, coffee; and all preceeded by a brief allot visit to weed a little and pick a few beans/peas.

pm: pick up DE and home we go. Take off D's stabilizers and make him have a go (he's a bit reluctant). But its OK, with me holding him, and he becomes quite enthusiastic, though more practice is required.

Oil the new pine box - what shall we use it for? So many poss. D wants it for his toys.

Soir: down on my knees with the mouse doing the bathroom floor, extending the oiled area.

Sat 5th

Lie in till 10: I'd intended to get up earlier but somehow the will wasn't there. At 10, MED go off to w/rose and I get up: not cause and effect.

B'fast & coffee, then don boots and too allot. Give a jar of honey to the fresh produce stall, and go pick some beans (and a couple of onions that came up with the weeds, though they aren't really ready). Then set to some more weeding. Really its OK this year (bar the areas I didn't cultivate): the picking is mostly keeping up witht the growing of the bbeans and peas; the onions are coming along and the garlics are some ready; the potatoes are growing and the raspberries good. And the Jarts are getting tall, along with the cardoons. The weeds are taller than they might be but under control. The front patch is indeedd quite lush, mostly with non-weeds.

MED come to visit on their way back; I weed a bit longer then home. Lunchtime, by and large.

2: E to sleep, D and I to xx-Octo for more boxes and other stuff (more sandpaper for mouse!), D explores the chains, the baths hanging on the walls, etc. We get 3 more boxes; a little 6-drawer cabinet for him; and some wood and hinges to make his box on his bed, which has been long-promised.

Jo and Ewan come round with SW; they get some of Dots gooseberries, and some of our bbeans, and borrow some BTB duplo.

Dinner: fish (nice, says D) and noodles, which E spreads around. I have cardoons and bbeans instead of F.

D looks tired at 7: so after brief piano to bed with the start of Wizard of Oz.

Soir. We had promised ourselves an evening together but M has too much email to process. E gets up a few times and I put her back to bed. One more time, and I say its M's turn to bed her. And since M is by the desktop, and I'm by the fire, that seems to be that. Quite a bit later, M happens to get up, and notices that E is sitting by the lroom door, where she can see us both (though I hadn't seen her), looking very patient and sleepy, holding crow and miss ermine and huggy, waiting (one supposes) for one of us to rebed her. When she toddled off in my direction M assumed that I had done it...

Sun 6th

[Hmpf. This to thurs reconstructed, thurs eve, after a total reset on the clie, probably due to total power loss. The power has been getting erratic - running down fast - of late. Possibly the tissues stuffed into the sync socket didn't help either].

Up with DE.

M up 10:30; 11 they go off to take D to s/club and I go off to field behind us to check/clear the walk path, but as it turns out a wide - indeed quite enthusiastic - path has been mowed by Mrs Bradfords contractors so nothing needs to be done. Its a fine walk though, and I cache a bottle of water in case its a scorcher.

Home somewhat before 12 I think, though I have no clock. Where are they? Mow front lawn and other misc gardening. Just as I'm setting out before 1 to find them back they come, with N in tow - they are just back. How nice to see her again. So she and D play happily.

2: I'm off to the walk, arrive at the green to find a rather small group - 11 of us, but that includes Beryl, Dot, Gordon, Mrs Bradford, Barry Pierce and wife. So the number of "independent" walkers is small, which is generally reckonded to be due to the lack of advertising. Ho hum. As it turns out, this has some advantages, as both Mrs Bradford and to a lesser extent BP stop on their lands and talk about management etc.. And Mrs B shows us the badgers set and explains the bench "grove". And all in all it *is* a good walk, even for the second time that day. At the top of Mrs B's, at the 30m contour, there were apparently coprolite mines, somewhere around 1850-75, a brief phase.

Mon 7th

Work / yoga / work.

Soir: M yoga.

Look at bees: they are "hanging out" in the front of the hive - I wonder why.

Tues 8th

Work, then back in good time (1:30) to help with D's classes mural, on the playgroup wall. I roller in much of the sky, then clouds where we've run out of blue paint, and that looks good. We are under Barbara's artistic direction working to a collage the cl;ass did as a basic pattern.

There is a bumblebee hive under preschools mobile.

Bees still up to their naughtiness outside.

M emails all soir.

Wed 9th

D to school and I hang around with E, not for any good reason, but we are in no hurry. Listen to the classes literacy hour and then help D (and others) with some writing the days of the week. Then (since E is being remarkably well-behaved) stay on and help the children to do the painting, which they are doing by blobbing on colours with sponges.

10:30: tea in the staffroom, and E reamins good, then home and cycle into town. Food from arj, then E and I repeat last weeks expt and try cb1 sans pushchair, and again it works, hurrah. E is much admired by Marco and others for her curly hair and general cuteness. And they are right!

Home 2:30. E sleeps in pushchair outside, I read paper and relax.

When MD arrive, I decide to use this pm to make D's box. I've prevaricated long enough. Rashly I decide to joint it (though not dovetails) and set too. Hard hot work, but perseverance brings a stiff wrist as well as a mostly made carcass. Continue soir, and have it glued before bedtime (need more and bigger sash cramps).

M again emails all soir. I am good! I tidy up kitchen, again. Can it be kept up...?

Thurs 10th

Clie beeps in the morning while I'm lazing in the sunshine (prob for the SO meeting on mon) but when I next look at it its blank :-( Oh dear.

Yoga at lunchtime is a video (indeed, *the* video) since J is absent. But: the super-duper BAS multimedia facilities fall in a heap and everything but the video works. Hey ho: I do nice things with the ULS data instead.

Then I'm left with a free afternoon, which is pleasant but puzzling (there is a talk at BAS I want to go to at 4:15, but the timing is wrong, and one I don't want to go to at 3...), since I have nothing urgent to do. After dithering, I head into town through the hot hot sun, passing M on Downing St and bumming 20 off her since I haven't my wallet. She is off to have her hair cut. I am off to cb1 where I finish the dreadful "all the weyrs of pern" - not that it stopped me finishing it - I remember reading dragonsdawn with the piccy of a dragon leaping out of an egg on the front cover, back in northchurch, whilst staying with G'ma and D'dad, a memory wrapped up with old binoculars and the Arran jumper I didn't like!. Then watch Richard doing odd things on a go board; to Arj (Ursula and one other leafletting outside; I am recognised); Oxfam; Borders for 1/2 appointment with M. I'd forgotton how much I disliked their coffee shop, with its near-magical ability to employ large numbers of people none of who appear to understand what they are doing. So I give up on buying a coffee (M does it for me later when she arrives) and am waved at by Steve and Sharon who are celebrating Steve's b'day by buying a new car. And so we talk, a pleasant surprise meeting up again.

They leave, and M&I stop for a while and talk. Then I'm off home (via checking on Rec and Skateboard, and briefly to allot and pick beans) to pick up D; then E.

Cool drinks all round and sit down feeling sweaty.

M back now long after. I go for the box phase 2 (the lid) while M plays with D in the sand pit.

Soir: Sand down box and oil. Meanwhile E mostly keeps getting up, and we alternate rebedding her, getting harsher each time. She knows she is naughty, and tries to laugh it off, almost.

Meanwhile M is emailing, but not nearly so intensely.

Late: photos to Amanda re pool rebuild. And write all this back to sunday to reconstruct clie. Hope that doesn't happen again.

Fri 11th

Look around classrooms after school for pics for web: notes: Greek - cl 4. Rain - cl 5. Struay - cl 2.

This day otherwise blank... clearly nothing too exciting occurred. D went to Billy's, to the possible slight displeasure of his Grandma, though it can't have been too bad as I got a glass of wine and a piece of the french visitors chocolate tart when I came to pick him up.

Sat 12th

Up at 9, later than planned, but earlier than I would otherwise have, because E is taking books out of the corner b/case and throwing them down the stairs and M is doing nothing to stop her. So I get very huffy. M's inaction turns out to be because she is making fudge and cannot leave it for a second. It looks bad for the fudge (blackish bits) but D persuades her to put it into a dish anyway; and it sets (unlike the last lot) and then tastes nice (ditto); ie sugary and crumbly. Though D will eat it but is not too keen.

M takes infants to w/rose; I to allot at 10. Have a fine time weeding and begin to get on top of stuff. Now its dry all goes slower so its less 2-forward-1-back. Also find stuff for us, and for stall: pots for us; beans for us and stall. And buy artichokes from stall.

Get paddling pool out (first time this year) & its a hit, esp as we fill it from tap using red build-a-frame as pipe. D invents various apparatus to fit onto the end with names like the "spolonikon" or whatever, which pleases me, since its the sort of thing I would say.

pm: M sleeps/sleepy. Infants play under my watchful supervision.

Soir: to A+S's party, eagerly awaited by D (and perhaps us) because he can play on the boat, moored at the end of their garden. And he does, merrily. They have 2 anti-flood scaffolding poles, barberpole-striped, and the kids climb onto the roof (aided and abetted and egged on by someone who shall remain nameless) and slide down them. Genevive and Arthur are there; and a 10-y-old Alathea; and some teenagers; and some other kids; as well as more adaults; so its all very jolly. D insists on showing us how the bunks work. All goes well and they chase around the lawn etc. We leave 9:15, M driving since they had provided a barrel of Hobsons Choice.

D to bed. Under heavy pressure, he agrees to let me try reading Swallows and Amazons too him. But after ch1, he is hooked and says "I really like this" so thats good.

Sun 13th

Up with DE but not till 8:45, ha ha! Hot. Stay in shade. Make dough-bread at D's request, which turns out to be 4 rolls.

Gardening at the front at 12-ish when Dot appears and asks about the picnic... and it becomes clear that its at 3:30 not 1:30 as I'd thought. Aha. Rapidly re-order things in my head and realise that we (D and I?) should go soonish if we're to have time before having to return. Can't face the cycle in this heat (and the poss that we may have to come straight back if I've got the day wrong; and my wonky back wheel) so drive.

To cmes, after failing to spot the sign, driving round a bit, arriving, and being told that it doesn't start till 2. Still we get to sit down in the shade (plaque on tree we lean against: in memory of X, corssinmg keeper, who spend many hours in the shade of this tree) and have our picnic: rolls we've just made, apples, water. We watch as they drive off to put up the signs and people start to arrive. D stands on the footbridge and watches people setting up the trains on the turntable.

When we can go in D gravitates to the smaller (1 1/2" ?) track after 3 big rides, perhaps feeling its more his 'scale' - the main track is run by men in boiler suits, this track is more the preserve of children & women.

Leave 3.30 for picnic: stop on way back to watch cat tractor plough where Mrs B's rape was. Then drop D at rec (he stays at corner to await me) & leave car & cycle back with picnic M has prepared (M stays home with sleeping E, reading her book club book).

Meet D at rec & we join s/club picnic: under a blazing sun (why no trees in interior of rec? Sez all; put hat and lotion on D and hat on me). Games first then food. N & D race: D wins! Hurrah for him. & just as D was sad when he lost, N is sad.

Fin 6. N drags D back for din & I return alone to M & E. M has felt lonely, she says. Apart from E, she hastily adds.

Mon 14th

M'a is of today... oh dear. I'm due in london & M is kind enough to take over.

Another hot day. D to school, town. I have 3/4 h free: oxfam, W/stones. 10.15 train. Realise: I don't know where Royal Soc is. Try phoning bas; fail; kc station staff; fail. Dir enq works: carlton house terrace. Arrive about on time only a little late & hot but its cool inside.

Meeting ok; lunch quite good veg salad. But: as ever: this is a 'discussion' meeting with little discussion: we sit in a hall listening to talks. Is this the best way? No. Its dull. More broken up & groups is required. Everyone to do a poster perhaps. Is it even worth my time to be here? Questionable. Esp since M had to give up her day. But the important thing is to remember this & not go next time. & write mail to... jck? cjr? But what about learning new inter disp things? Hmm. Prob better off reading their papers. Otoh, Simmo & Yuan both made me think. But so would posters.

Some thoughts from the conf:

Sam: is it distinct from p-dec-at-pole in cl-ch?

Hall & Visbeck 2002 joc 3043.

Distinguish acw & adp (yuan). Forecasts: do based on pattern-corr?

We (tlc and I; GM left earlier) leave at 5:10 just as discussion is going on, since I have to get 5:45. And we do. V hot on u/ground. But 5:45 is delayed; we catch up with GM and play the what-platform-will-it-finally-arrive-at game.

Home 7:20; shower; bed D and read him S+A.

M off to yoga - final of the term, and ever with L, since she is retiring off to Cornwall, lucky her. I put up pre-school prospectus, and read mail/news, as every night.

Tues 15th

Another baking day. We're well into the dry half of the year.

M'a still off. To town with E. Xx-oct: new shower line, since I've finally become annoyed enough with the old one falling off. Apparently M didn't care... It turns out that my tyre is flat: puncture I assume, since I'd rather not believe general neglect. Since I can't face changing it in town, and would have to borrow the tools anyway, and the tyre itself needs replacing, I decide to cycle with it flat, slowly. To Cb1 where E is good as usual, and ingratiates herself with the girl behind the counter (except she isn't a girl, because she has been there off and on for several years, and must be at least over twenty). And someone in XX-o called her a cherub, how sweet.

Anyway. wobble off, stopping at BH for a new tyre and inner, and an enquiry re new bike prices: 300-500 ish, for some quality. Hmm. Well, a new tyre for now. E by now is dopey, and sits quiety in a BH chair through this. Head off, and about at the UL the tyre complains abnout the abuse by the inner wrapping round the hub. So I chew it off. At which point I discover it *wasn't* totally flat just mostly, and that yes it can get worse... anyway, we make it back home, at which point E wakes up, and I put her into her pushchair to sleep, which she doesn't. Its now 2:30.

Sit down to lunch, iced cordial and finish "Big Planet". Which is ok, but not vintage. E restive. 3:30: to school for D, but send him off with Adam (and N) since H is happy to take him and he is keen to go. So E (a little sadly) and I head home to a quiet time. Washing up; hoover; she plays Jump-Ahead Pre-School a bit but not too engaged. I cook (my) pots, and the 2 artichokes remaining from last Sats veg stall.

M phones at 6:45 (!) to say she's just leaving, so E and I cycle to H's to pick up D, who has just settled down to BtB and who doesn't thank me for arriving. But he is tired and needs to come away. And so we return, E perched on the front seat which only just holds her.

M back 7:25 just in time to put DE to bed; I settle down for a well deserved rest. E runs back downstairs and into the garden but is caught by M...

Eat outside; I start "The Cassini Division", which may follow on from the Sky Road. And may not be so good. Light fades: sky is so clear that its hard to tell if its totally clear, or thinly overcast. Prob clear.

[Inside writing this up on the desktop, which now has palm desktop installed today. M appears in doorway and says "add redo kitchen to your todo list"]

Wed 16th

Another hot day. M'a doesn't feel like doing today to compensate for y'day so I have E, which is OK. D to school; talk with N about bees; home via BW (have brought pliers to ease in the loose screw on the net again. It really should be done properly...).

So: since we are short of frames, I need more. Thornes would charge me 7 carriage so I might as well go to Berrycroft, as E would enjoy, or at least tolerate, the trip. So we do: going via work coffee, where we hear of the marvellous replicator machine, but its gone when we go look. To Willingham: get 30 super wax and 10 frame parts (30 = spares; some in case N wants them; and anticipating damage during extraction). Then Histon, Bishops, to get some sash cramps... eh that brings back the woodwork room at school. We do: a pair of 900mm draper extructed Al. Home now: E is drooping. Put her to bed; make coffee.

2:30: get up and decide to go look at hives, with a view to seeing how full they are. See bee notes. Move old hive off roof and super, which turns out to be the one I made, now somewhat wonky. Undecided what to do: spin off or add super? Sit down for some more coffee instead...

MD back. D wants to see me making up frames so I do. Make 10, in short order, and put them into the newly-strengthened and straightened super. Should I make another...? Where are the hive plans?

Go down garden again and remove top full super from leaning hive, which is just about liftable. Replace it with the newly-refurbished super. Put some frames from the full super into spaces in ex-rust (which is to say, the outside hive, which is the only really accessible one, and thus the one I add full supers too; sometime I really must move the other hives outside, or somesuch) then put the super itself on top, so it now has 4 supers! I've never had that many before... not that they are all "home-grown" from this one hive. Still its pretty good, esp as I've spun off some already this year. I reckon there are probably about 5-6 full supers to spin off - I'm waiting till N is ready to do hers too, to save a washing of the extractor.

BTW, you'll have noticed how long these last few entries have been, because I've done them at night on the desktop, which is now more convenient since I've stuck the cradle onto it. And the USB connection is faster than IR to portable. So in general, there are 3 types of entries here: ones written entirely on the palm, which tend to be terse; ones written entirely on the desktop; and ones expanded on the desktop from notes on the palm. Its hard to tell the latter 2 apart.

Anyway: after this, MED off to D's piano lesson, I settle to read. D returns injured from and over-exuberant jump off the BW climbing frame, with a sad foot. a useful lesson perhaps.

A'noon: clouds over; rumbles; 6 ish downpour, and again: about 1/2 a waterbutts worth. Good, cools down, perhaps not enough.

Dinner; bed: read ch VI: island life.

Soir: try to make wod frame for bendy queen excluder: do so, but will it last? Its been a bee day. E is naughty: won't settle; takes off her nappy and wees on the table (argh). M emails; I make map of coton footpaths.

Late: hooked by the cassini division till 12.30.

Thurs 17th

Light rain. M'a back so she gets E, D to school (still some probs with foot).

Work: reboot cluster; find conf room for Doug (who phones to say lightning probs with kc trains so via liverpool st hence late). He arrives with AO at 11.30 & we chat; he is soon off to be a maths teacher! Talk 12.30-1.15. Lunch. Then through rain (borrow tlc's bike) to New Hall for vn 2 of talk, just on time at 2.

IS: trough isn't there 'cos of Ant but dyn. What about our no-orog expts? & forcing of Weddell gyre?

Work rest of pm.

Fri 18th

Sports day! Arrive tooled up with camera and video. But as usual, children running around is hard to photo. M'a gets E, and they sit on a blanket to watch: Megan is in several events. D is in Red team (N is in White; there is also blue) who, apparently, traditionally win. Its all jolly exciting: children running around, kids shouting, parents shouting for their kids colours. Starts off with 3 races right around the field, older kids; then moves on to races on a track across the centre. Kids are sat in their teams on one side of the track; parents on the other; pre-school have a stall selling approriately coloured cakes. D runs in several races: not a straight race that I saw; but a reading-partners race, and a picking-up-beanbags-back-and-forth race. He ended up with 2 green stars (3rd) and one silver (2nd). No firsts sadly. Red team won, hurrah, also they had the best chants. It ends up with tugs of war: W-B; B-R and R-W. R get stuffed in all of them, but happily have enough points to win overall.

Get into work 11:30. Read IT's aces-focas (ugh) proposal but not enough to comment. Do read JTs aces-global and comment. So much otherwise productive time wasted in proposal writing. My theory is that the admin folk, who don't get to do any interesting science, want to force the scientists to do lots of boring admin too.

Pick D up 3:30 and solve computing problem for school; bring N home with us for the a'noon. All is well, except I'm a bit tired, and E spills my pint. DN persuade me to put up tent; and it occurs to me that she could stay o'night. So check with N: OK. She brings over jim-jams etc, and (bar late getting to sleep, which is expected) all seems well. E is happily asleep.

Tidy up at front of house somewhat under the shooting hollyhocks. Sit by pond and read into dusk.

11: reassure N that the trees are not monsters & that D will protect her (D: she should be quiet & let me sleep) & so will Mr Weasel & Pilchard (whom she has adopted for the night). N says that they aren't really real; I say neither are the monsters.

Sat 19th

No alarums in the night. My lie in: when I get up DN are the picture of cuteness in the bath.

N (reading my T): the land isnt yours Me: how do you know? N: because its God's. [What I failed to be impressed with at the time was that she read my T so readily].

N retrieves N at 10. I to town: rs for sams present (orient exp lego); cb1.

To school picnic.

'crow jane' do a fine job of 'wild horses' but don't have the anger for 'thats entertainment'. Which starts a wave of memories... did we ever? It seems far away amongst the nice folk on a sat pm in coton school grounds. 'hotel california' is closer; & 'yesterday' is close to original.

I lie back & stare up at clouds & wonder when I last did.

Fin: ME home. D runs around & is tracked down in tree with N. Thunder speeds their descent. 'its surprising how fast a little rain can clear the streets'.

Sun 20th

Up with DE about 7:30.

11-11:30: tidy drive. Tie up hollyhocks.

M goes all day in dressing gown!

D does magic trick (its quite good): has glass in hand, covered in hankie, puts it down on 10p piece which disappears! Secret: white paper taped on mouth of glass.

To orchard with D for sand (building & play) ok; fail on cement. Browse their cedar sheds.

D plays 'telephone' on the xylophone.

Mon 21st

Tues 22nd

School: pick up sleeping E, then D & Billy, both burdened by a folder of the years schoolwork / class decoration.

Home. E slumbers, DB play woodworking, I go to try hkr's plan: compost slats should be vertical. But... taking the thing to pieces would be too much trouble, and anyway there are cross-slats. So leave it as is.

Wed 23rd

Since I can, while E is being good, & at D's req, I stay at school. Kids all sit quietly by her chair, get cards they made for reading partners, & troop off to:

Leavers assembly. I don't remember this from my schools. Very touching. Hymns (sadly the guitar sort, no match for jerusalem), speech from Mrs M, music from kids, spoken piece.

People have been signing each others T's, then get given leavers T's & get those signed too...

Stay till playtime. N leads us up to top corner where D plays in Sam's gang, to her sadness - she wants him to play with her.

Town. E sleeps on back of bike on way in.

Thurs 24th

My day with D! B'fast on the patio, D fetchingly naked in a blue blanket.

Coffee at work - D shy. Yard. Watch building.

Town: heffers: get #1 ladies' det ag for M. D desires t'birds x-sect book but doesn't get it (but, unknown to me, thinks he has, which is why he leaves so quietly).

Just time for lunch & then D's concert. Present: playing: D, N (with N accomp), Adam (with H), Abby (indian girl about 6-7 in beautiful white dress, plus mother); also: me, M, Patrick, Nelson, Nike & O&V.

D to N after play on bw. So I get some time on M's main pres: tidying the bedroom: such quantities of stuff!

Allot. Honor: dinner.

Tidy bedroom more: volume of rubbish. 3 bin liners of old clothes. Toys...

Cook. M late (?).

Fri 25th

Late up (not woken till past 8, not up till 9, prob cos E was wandering around at 10 last night).

Work, slowly, on misc. Lunch with Tlc and Jck; work pm too. Decide to stay on post tea but... Oh no, trapped in the icebreaker by directors announcement about the Sea Leopards... perhaps all overemphasised, but these are touchy-feely times.

Home somewhat after 5. David and Ilga (or rather, the other way round) are here, I'd forgotten that, having tea. Talk. Show them my hives.

Next: pack up and go. Take 2 bin liners of clothes to lammas land recyc. to get them out of the way, and prevent yet another re-sort. There: its done.

Then to F's: hell on the M25 as ever, about 2 1/2 hours. Such fun. M+J there. F has good b/w photo of young Noah, to put next to D and E. He was 1 month premature, which of course we've spoiling by talking about Niamh...

Sat 26th

Wake slowly. Hear E upstairs but leave her to F; somewhat unfair of us but not unkind: F loves to be with E.

Outside to see D off (its cool out here) & E doesn't want to come in, so we stay out. She puts her sandals on.

M and J are taking D off to the childrens prom today, something of a bold experiment, leaving early (9ish). Meanwhile, much slower, we will take E into town so that we can have lunch at the Chai Bazaar, or possibly Choi Bizarre, its not quite sure. And the lunch (well more a high tea, with indian savories and sweets) is indeed quite nice (we could have had a full lunch but we beat F back) though totally wasted on E, but not (IMHO) worth coming all the way into London for, since L is, as ever, noisy, busy, and dirty. Mumpf grumpf, which doesn't go unnoticed. While we're inside (downstairs) the Gay Pride march goes by, and when we come up and M and F wonder why there are no buses I point out to them that the reason is that the road is closed to all traffic, which is why there are only scarabs streetcleaning. Some people don't use their eyes, as my father always said of me...

Anyway, after this we go on to Hamleys on some flimsy excuse or another (spirograph for D as I recall) and H is crowded and smaller than I remember. Lots of lego; poor on video games. No spirograph. Still selling bubble-paste. Back.

To E Croyden (home of Nestle UK, oh goody..., says the station) at 4:30 and I break off into Croyden (helped by the travelcard working on the trams, which is nice as its pouring with rain) leaving sleeping E to M and F. Browse smallish W/s and Books etc (espresso) and end up with "the builders bible" a rather useful book about selfbuilding houses (calm down: my ambitions are not so extreme; I'm just interested).

Back 6, still raining. DMfdJ still not back. They arrive 7:30 ish, because they were in the sci museum till closing! Apparently D only stuck the first half of the prom, and Mfd wasn't too impressed with the music either. And indeed the brochure seemed somewhat condescending. Anyway, the sci mus was, apparently, as good as ever, and they didn't get out of the basement.

Soir: gift time: F has (insanely) bought Mfd (and J? seems to be Mfd who gets the gift since "he is the chief cook"; though J did bring cabbage for friday night) a ?teriano? from le Crueset - anyway, a big heavy conical slow steam cooker that he neither needs nor has room for. And F knew that from the start. And Mfd, one of whose many virtues is honesty, says so. So now everyone knew what they knew at the beginning, ie F loves her family and likes to give them presents, but sometimes choses unwisely.

Sun 27th

Again slowly up. Todays main event is Josh and Esther visiting for lunch (J+K have cried off, reason unknown). In the meantime nothing much needs to be done, bar D watching morning TV and F slowly getting lunch ready. Mfd and M take D E to the park once TV is (forcibly) over - D would watch rubbish forever, given the chance. I decide to sit outside drinking coffee, then remember I'm to trim her umbrella tree, so I do that (her shears are nice and sharp) then get carried away and do the roses too. Then there is still time to sit outside, drink coffee, and design the shed.

Esther arrives just before 1; Josh somewhat after; lunch is as ever quite extended, and anyway D E break off to play in the middle, of course. F has bought a bubble gun (much like Genevieve's) and we go out to try it, bubbling the car and D. There is a knack to it, which D (sadly) mostly can't get, so I do the bubbling. Then he is invited in to play with Caterina who has been waving from her window and watching bubbles. So we p-ack while he plays and leave somewhat after 4; back 6.

Soir: I cut most of the back lawns; add some more boards to compost heap; realise that plan for shed-all-across-garden is prob impractical (too wide); move more compost from old to new; sift good compost into second heap; and in general exhaust self.

Mon 28th

Since I never phoned the folk in Toft D is not going to "summer fun" or whatever it is ("holiday fun"?) but since he is pretty tired thats a good thing. He stays home while I take E to M'a. Then we have a quiet time before settling down to the packing... I've forgotten what you take camping, but manage to keep the junk level down, though there is plenty of tempting space in the car. Fin after 1; to N for quick lunch and pick up N and off, ta ra!

Decide to drive via thetford forest and convince self that this way might be just as quick due to better roads. Hard to tell as we stop alonmg the way.

First stop: 2:50: www.brecks.org. It is a monument, a war memorial to 1914-19, but its enormous. D and N have fun climbing round it and finding the back door and wandering in the nearby field/wood. 15 mins drive then stop (#4) in Thetford forest. Just a turn off the road to a grass lane. Pleasant, green, bracken, trees. Reminiscent of Berkhamsted Common in fact, pleasant meories of childhood. We could have stayed here a while but we really ought to get on. 4:40 (starting to get: are we there yet?): South Creake: big green, river, ford, play area. Yet another diversion...

5: Find campsite at Burnham Deepdale, which was where we were heading. Ok; a touch large / well done; next to a farm. Not quite my ideal but ok & DN like it. Look around, decide where to pitch: but: office says: its full! All empty spaces reserved. Oops. & its getting late.

On! To a field-behind-a-house in Holme-next-the-Sea. Rundown, more my style. But: no kids allowed. Argh. On: same village, other side of road, another field, nicer, with a bent (as in bowed) old chap in a bungalow. Success! Pitch while NE play hide & seek. Then! Beach time. Drive down about 1km.

6: finally, at the beach! Sun, blowy but ok in the dunes. Few people. D & N have brought diggers & work in the sand - no thought for the sea. The nikon is out of batteries so I can rest (& write). This beach is perfectly pleasant but to my mind the sand dunes aren't as good as old H.

Further down the dunes. Then sea-wards, where an arm of the sea is coming into mud. Above high tide the mud has dried & cracked, inch-deep. Patterns. DN have thick black mud on their feet.

Seawards. Clean feet. Dam slowly encroching arm (N needs this explaining: do continentals not do dam-building on beaches!?!). D is a sand-speeder, he shouts out, as he rushes up & down.

Back to campsite. Cook: cans of soup. Tomato ok (too spicy for N) but I eat most of carrot. Bread to dunk; eggs; horlicks. Then teeth + wee, a prob as its getting dark - 9.30 - & there are no lights & N decides to be afraid of ghosts. I make p'mint tea.

2 chap of swallows+amazons by torchlight - appropriately enough the raid on amazon river. 10.20. Bed & giggling. I'm outside in an old quilt s'bag quite warm, with bivi-bag to hand.

Tues 29th

O'night light rain: I draw on my bivi-bag. Morning gray & rain & wind so stay inside. Make warm milk for them (req mostly to see stove I think) & tea for me. Ch xx of s+a.

Pack & off at 9; 2 mins down road is...

Old.Hunstanton.: cafe. Tea & coffee cake for me; a cookie & slushie shared between them. N writes a p'card to mummy 'not to nelson he calls me poo-poo he might think I liked him'. She is v definite about this; but includes Patrick.

Weather improves: still windy but dry & occaisional sun. N puts on s'suit; D won't. To sand dunes with diggers & I loosely supervise while reading 'peaks & lamas'. Its quiet. 4 horses road along sea; some folks appear to be kite-surfing; DN are digging with a boy perhaps 1y older; his parents too take the chance to relax.

On the horizon ships go W; I can see the far shore.

All is so far well. D & N tend to quarrel but soon make up, & they don't know how to talk quietly in a tent.

The dunes here are a great place to play for small kids... up to? Several years older than ND at least. Lots of sandy hollows & paths & huts. I let them go for say 10 mins then wander round to see if I can find them and eventually do. Repeat.

12.30: back to cafe for lunch. F'fingers & chips for them, & egg&c for me. Ice creams: N chooses mint; D choc or toffee & I must choose; I ch t. As exected he only wants 1/2. A tractor pulls a big trailer full of mussels covered in mud.

Time for play after. I to the low-tide sea (a long journey; starfish). They stay by the white beach hut - more interested in stories of diggers & depots than serious business of dams. Last photos of them wiggling their bottoms at me then sticking out their tongues. Then pack up and set off home. Put on "the borrowers" and they listen quietly... droopily... and within cd1 they have fallen asleep. Leave 2:30; quick trip back; to N's 4:15 ish. Drop of N; N is presse so take D home and pick up E, who has just been put down to sleep but of course won't once I get her home.

Wed 30th

Thurs 31st

Huge battle over getting D to write 'grandad is silly yah boo!' on his palm pilot. Which is sad. He doesn't want to see me smile (a nasty smile? 'No, its a nice smile I hate it'). Odd.

Town: germ cafe at D's req. Once finised, D is a lighthouse under the stool.

Cb1. Bookshop tour, in search of Ob&Ast. Get 1st ed of Mr Tomkins exp the atom & others; Rupert annual for D.

Blackberries at top of bridge: Chris Doake says these are always an early bush.

Car on pavement: aj52 urd (blue citroen clio).

M back 6:20; MJ 6:30. Chaotic dinner.

Out to Folk Fest (drive) 8: ok, nowt stands out (bar cw overcrowded bar driving me us to cider). Back 10:30.

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