WMC's diary pages, 2005.

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2005/08/01. Monday. Clear.

A slow start to the day, since I want to stay at home to catch MG at school. So to speak. Misc until 10 (Heather turns up with matthew and Emma at 9:45), then to school, and get MG to sign her DC2 and talk with her and Jenny. Thence to work, but recalled almost immeadiately by M, since I forgot to leave Nickys DC2. Argh.

Spend most of rest of day trying to get pgf90 running on cene.

Home just before 7. Somewhat tired. DE just finishing dinner, I get to have some of the cucumber raitha type thing D made for me (nice) and the rhubarb and apple crumble.

E to bed a bit late; D on time mostly. While M reading D lucky luke, E wanders outside in her nappy and returns with D's trainers. Hmm, why?

Soir: online: coriolis etc. Sigh.

Phone JB re home club.

2005/08/02. Tuesday.

Work (finally get the DC1 away (again)). Home 1:30, take DE to Helens, because today at 2 is the Great Meeting with Mrs B. A bit nervous at 5-to-2 because neither surveyor is here. But at 2 they are. Pre-chat with V, who is not hopeful, but as it turns out (perhaps helped by M being nice) all goes well and we reach agreement. Hopefully they won't have second thoughts.

Celebrate by doing nothing useful all pm.

Pick up DE just before 6: they have got rather noisy and Helen appears tired...

Soir: M is busy doing some x-vrta stuff and sorting out her mailing lists and staying up v late. I was going to head to bed 11 ish but then got caught up posting on RP (Sr)'s site so I went past midnight, with M still tapping away...

2005/08/03. Wednesday.

So not surprisingly after that I get up past 9. But, surprisingly, M does get up around 8. Odd.

Anyway, quiet morning till about 11 when DE and I head off into town - I decided to forgo smoko in excahnge for some webby stuff (sorry folks!). As a big bold brave expt we all cycle in - the first time D has gone this far. Since he is a bit shaky on the rules of the road I have to tell him what to do, but given that parkside is on the far side of the centre there are surprisingly few roads to get across, and he doesn't get tired. M thought she might come with us, but no, promises to come to cb1 at 2 instead, but in the event she just stays at home with piano instead. Anyway, we stop at germ and I introduce the now larger D to them. Swim OK (E a bit sad because the plaster on her foot falls off) then cb1, where we wait till 2:30 for M who doesn't show. Hey ho. And we would have gone on to cafe de paris had we known. Thence to library, where E manages to knock over a tower rack of cards, but the nice librarian is very nice. Then the long cycle home and D does get a bit tired poor little legs. We get back just at 4, in case Clare is on time, but she isn't and we find M at home looking a bit guilty.

On the bike back E has been saying "but I don't want to play with Clare I hate her" which looks grim, esp as this is Clares first play without her mother, apparently. But when C turns up E plays with her happily as though they have been friends for years (well she is at preschool).

Later, I tidy inside in prep for honey later. And indeed I spend most of the evening extracting honey (with a break to review Goosse), even though I only do 3 of 4 supers. Lots and lots of honey, hope I can sell it all! So I'm writing this past midnight.

2005/08/04. Thursday.

Laughably, I had thought to work today. But D has a filling at 10, so I take him and we stop off at Lighthouse toys for D to get a small toy for the hols, he had wanted "traffic jam" a logic puzzle but gets a different river-crossing one instead. To work; coffee while D works out some easy versions of the puzzle. Catch up with Tom, Amna, Gareth; fill in hols form; then off home.

Adam, Ollie (for a first) brought by Paula at 2; no Viv (H later) and no M, so I'm wondering what to do; but she turns up with E a bit later, and H does bring Viv, so all is well. I finish off various oh-so-important online things. The kids play well (in the sense that we can ignore them most of the time).

AOV off a bit before 6; we eat, then sleep kids. Peace.

With kids in bed, set to sorting out the honey. Fill up the honey bucket - so thats 15 kg - and about 30 jars too. That takes me to 10:30, so its about time to start packing, which finishes about 12:30, sigh, interrupted by a rain storm about 11. Put bikes away, and tidy the spare room, in case the builders feel like turning up... at last minute realise car ins; and can't find a current one; and driving license. Bed.

2005/08/05. Friday.

Up at 4:30! Oooooffff. Quick coffee, kids sleepily to the car, and we're off at 5. Roads unsurprisingly clear, and we go a14-birmingham way. DE awake for a bit with us saying youre silly, go to sleep, then E then E drop off. I'm driving, OK to start then drooping after 1h, so M takes over just before the M6. Then she gets us past b'ham, and I do another hour which gets us to breakfast at 8 at... Newtown. Which, like New College, isn't. It has a nice river, which we don't stop to look at, and M finds us the market cafe, which is open, and the market is slowly awakening. Toast and eggs (me) bacon (D) and plain (M E). That takes more than 1h; and we now head off towards Machynlleth, which we would go to anyway, but since we've realised that CAT is just a few miles away we go there. Passing over a cute stone bridge that as I recall,as we get to it, walking over many years ago when we first went walking in wales. D would like to stop and look but there is no parking: sometimes its bettter on foot.

Get to CAT, not knowing quite what to expect. M is a bit disappointed: just a car park and some building. She has failed to realise that the building is the bottom half of the cable railway and everything else is at the top! D E immeadiately start playing in the stream and have to be dragged away to visit the place itself. The cable railway is splendid: water powered, ie, the car at the top is filled with water till it sinks down, then a pring-thing at the bottom lets the water out. There is however a lot of excess cables and stuff so its not nearly as simple as it could be (for example, the prong-thing hyraulically-extends to push the water valve, whereas it could be arranged for the car just to sink down onto it). So we ascend, and immeadiately start off the wrong way round the tour, but since it early - we got here at 10 - its quiet and this doesn't matter.

Misc fun: the hydraulic ram pump that runs a fountain; the wind turbines, inc the hub you can stand in; the playground and sandpit and cafe. Then we climb up the steep path to a point where you can see the turbines from (not worth it for seeing the turbines but a good walk) and a bit further out of the wood into the bracken. It is very wooden around here in the quarry; and there are many tame birds. And they keep chickens that scratch around.

The place is better (much) than I expected. Its all very eco-worthy: the emphasis on wind/solar power; recycling; composting toilets; etc. Plus on a nice day like today the setting is good.

Fin about 2:30; we still have about 1h to go, we think. Along to Aberystwyth, where we indend to go to the beach (DE and I) and do "the shop" M. But... its pretty crowded, and M is tired, and fairly sensibly she can't cope with fighting back through the traffic to the shops. So we just stop and play on the beach for 10 mins (D and I) to stretch ourselves, and then we're off again, stopping briefly at a bakery, and then a little spar just for enough for today. So we arrive... about 4:30? having taken about 5 plus hours of driving, which is far better than last year, due to better route and sensible start time. Quick unpack then down to beach, its now sun sun sunny. M and I are (due to the sensible start time...) now v tired and sit in the cafe and let DE play on the beach. I shut eyes and sit in the sun. Ah.

Back to house 7-ish; quick bread and cheese and eg noodles for E (which she won't eat) and childrens bedtime (bit of Ivor the Engine); we don't last long after kids and are in bed by 9.

2005/08/06. Saturday.

Children up before us. I get up 8:30 to supervise breakfast. Its raining, lightly. Hmmm. I feel OK but not 100% after a long rest. The house (unlike ours) is clean and tidy and I feel some desire to keep it that way. Get the coffee wrong and its too thin. A bit more Ivor, and this and that, and about 11+ M goes off to shop and (the rain having stopped) DE and I go down to the beach wearing our coats. D heads straight off to dig/dam, meeting up with some others, whilst E and I go to the cafe (coffee, hot choc, and two pieces of coffee cake) to start with, sitting inside since its a bit chilly to sit out. The weather is slowly clearing so after a longish sit E heads out. I finish her hot choc and follow her, and we all have fun for quite a long time, past 2 in fact. So long I begin to wonder what happened to M, and my fingers are beginning to get sandpapered. We need a second spade. E eventually tires and we repair to lie down on a towel; D comes over and we go for lunch in baguettes-and-chips: Tuna bag for D; cheese toastie for me, "Fish and Chips!!!" for E. Good, though not so impressed with their coffee.

M turns up a bit past 3, but bringing with her: Annie. Unexpectedly early, and I was expecting Ma first. Say her, and to Skye and Kes, and we wander around, going down to the sea for the first time, we having been so busy digging. And then go round to look at the low-tide beach too.

After that more digging, with ME and A off about 4 to see if Mother is at the house; D and I last till 5 building a big dam in the pool-bit, then rather light rain starts and we head back at D's suggestion.

Shower/bath; Ma has brought dinner - quiches and summer pudding - and we drink the wine I got from the Rectory for clearing bees.

A bit more Ivor and E's bedtime; ditto for Ds; then adults only and peace.

2005/08/07. Sunday. Sun.

Alarum in the night: E wails: she has taken her nappy off "because it was coming off" and is sad because she can't find another.

Up 9, M earlier, to find bfast in swing.

Down to beach somewhat earlier too: about 10, which is roughly high tide. M buys E some "jelly shoes" which presents a puzzle Es little mind cannot solve: she likes the shoes and their shape, but not their colour, which is green and tehrefor not acceptably girly. I retreat to have a coffee. After a while, Ann and I decide to have a walk. Ma can't really (she has a bad knee, complete with bandage, and we have lent her our extensible stick). M/E... elect to stay. D is digging, of course. And so we go up the path to the next cove, Ann pulling Skyes tail to stop her back legs collapsing on the steep bits. Then on to the peninsula... Ynys something. Beautiful views and lots of sun. The up the L side and around to the top for a brief rest. Skye pants, but then so do I. Then down, past the NT bungalow, and down to the top of the other-beach path, and down that, which Skye finds v hard and needs help. Then we can walk/clamber round, except Skye who prefers to swim: her back half works better in water. MED not here, so walk up and catch them half way up. E has hurt her toe again.

Lunch. After which the plan, apparently, is to visit a water mill in St Dogmaels which is just the other side of Cardigan. I'm not too sure about this plans stuff, which seems driven by Ma and A's desire to... plan. But anyway, off we go, and it takes less than 1/2 h to get to St D, but then quite a while to find the mill which is by no means easy to find. And me criticising M's driving doesn't help. But we all arrive, and the mill pond is there, and so is the mill,and the miller does us a tour: firstly round the side to see the wheel, which he starts by raising the sluice, and it then ponderously rotates. Inside, up for a demo of the grain hoist and dumping said grain down the chute. Down to the mill floor, there are 3 stones with one working. D insists on telling the poor miller about the mills he has seen elsewhere... :-)

We buy some wholemill stoneground flour, then its time to visit the remains of the Abbey which is just opposite. The abbey is beautiful: old stone set in green grass; decaying but with wonderful arches full of sky, which I photograph to death. DE have fun running around the various ruins and find bread ovens and tunnels. After, Ma and A go back to cook; MEDI go off to see what "Poppit Sands" are like, since they are just 1.5 miles further round. Well... they are OK but not wonderful. The sand isn't so great, a bit dirty; its a long flat beach; and the sand dunes are too full of marram grass. But anyway.

Then back home, just in time to eat what has been prepared: spanish omlette, yorkshire puds, carrots, pots. Good.

DE are somewhat in the habit of winding each other up, as siblings are supposed to do perhaps. E can annoy D by failing to "shut up". D can annoy / scare E by roaring at her; or hitting her (or her him); or...

Post dinner bath-then-bed for E, with D getting a bit of Ivor too.

Soir: M tired: falls asleep on me then bed at 9:30. And I'm fairly tired too.

2005/08/08. Monday. Hot and sunny.

Definitely sunny today, up at 8, DE at b'fast with Ma and A. I walk down to the shop for a paper (Grauniad) and some juice. Look at beach in the early morning (well early by my standards): someone has pitched an overnight tent.

Since the tide is up, we decide to walk over to Penbryn so when we get there the tide should be lowish. Ma will drive over, mostly due to her knee but partly because we really need someone to drive over. E decides to walk with us. Its hot and sunny but my umbrella is broken... hey ho, a hat will have to do. We all walk down to the seaside, along the front and past the limekiln, then the going uphill starts. DE hold out pretty well but its a long hill and E needs help before the top. No adder this time, sadly. Also sadly, Ive just looked at the map, and the hill is only about 100m high. But then there is a steep dip down to a little stream. The others go on; I take the path down to the beach called Morfa; last year D came with me. Unlike last year, there are some people there, and two more arrive by kayak and sart snorkelling.

Still, must press on, and catch up with the others... first ME, who are looking for E's hat... there it is. Down the lane (no cow poo this time) to the cafe where Ma has just turned up. Its taken us about 2h in all, with some slow downs from E. E is a funny little thing: she has two states: exhuberantly happy and extravagantly sad. Coffee etc all round, then down to the beach, through the woods. DE run ahead, I come behind with Ma and her knee and talk about selling her house.

No dogs on the beach; so we have our picnic (made by Ma) in the sanddunes. Then D jumos up to dig in the stream; and general beach-iness. Ma and A go back at some point. I go swimming! E comes near the sea but not too far in, but I swim quite a long way out. Its... well, by no means warm, but once you're in its OK. D runs up to water edge but no further. M is sitting down reading the Review section. Its still very sunny and hot.

4+: Ma turns up, leaves us A, and takes E back (E is rather tired, little thing). This while I'm in the sea. Pack up, and walking back. We haven't gone far before D wonders if he wouldn't have been better off in the car... cheer him on. It does feel like a fair way - I must be getting old. In the end, A pulls ahead with Kes, and MD and I puff along behind. M is doing the Crib Goch in sept organised by Luke D, so is keen to get some walking in.

Back: Ma is sitting in the last of the sun (one disadvantage of this house is that the sun leaves it early) so its baths, showers and cooking (the latter not by me), dinner and then childrens bed, E as usual having gone mostly do-lally by the end of the meal.

E plays the "creepy cokey" from a decaying sound-book and dances to it, and tries to get Kes to dance too.

Soir: look through photos, half-watch pathology drama others are watching.

Tomorrows weather looks OK.

2005/08/09. Tuesday. Clouds then sun.

Cloudy to start. DE up about 7 and a bit boisterous, errr, and winding each other up in that cute manner that they have.

We know that the tide will be in so decide to visit Cilgerran castle first. Its inland of Cardigan, in a pleasant wooded valley. There is no where obvious to park, but the high street seems OK (2 pubs just nearby), and its a short walk to the castle. I've cunningly left my NT card at the house, so someone has to pay for me. Across the moat/bridge we find the huge thick castle towers. D is initially a bit disappointed that there isnt much to it: the two towers mostly; some curtain wall; various low walls where stuff used to be; the short grass. But then we go exploring in the towers and its quite fun. The stonework is impressive and looks good; slate. There is a limekiln built into the castle walls for the mortar. E finds a friend: a girl called Jasmine, perhaps a bit older, in a pink dress carrying a little windmill. They run around the courtyard together.

D wants to borrow the camera and I, indulgent father, allow him to. And he doesn't break it. And he does take some reasonable photos.

Then we stop for a coffee break. After this MEMa head off home to have start lunch, whilst DA and I want to go down the walk though the woods to the river. Its beautiful. The sun is out, the trees are thick and green, the river at the bottom is wide and peat-coloured. We skim stones: I try to teach D: its not easy to teach since I don't know how I do it myself. Skye swims: back and forth: she is obviously happy to be in a medium where her bad back legs don't matter. Then back for lunch.

After: walk down to beach. I put on suntan lotion for the first time because it is cloudless and I got a lot of sun yesterday and it "feels" broiling. Some slight nastiness with a (silly!) woman who doesn't like dams. Then E (and D) remember that we promised yesterday to buy an inflatable boat "a medium one" (a "rapid 2000") which, thanks to the std "cheap shit from china" paradigm, is pretty cheap; plus two paddles; plus a little boat for E which turns out to be just big enough for her or D and has a little window in the bottom. These then need to be inflated (its not clear if the big boat can be re-inflated by mouth). Stagger down to the beach, and go to play in the waves. D and I row round to Cilborth, and the others move round, and the waves are a bit better round there. But its a very still day and the waves are small, though quite exciting enough in a little boat. D gets turned over and under and is a bit shocked by this, but goes back in. And then has lots of fun and starts squealing like E with happiness and hasn't had such fun in ages. Meanwhile E is "taking her boat for a walk" since A has leant her a dog lead to tie onto it and it bobs in the surf.

D and I decide to take a trip further round, and we go round to the next beach (which may actually be the true Cilborth) and explore there; nothing special but fun.

When we get back M and A are heading back to start dinner. D and E want to stay and I think its time for an icecream so we do that. E becomes rather chocolatey as does her pink dress (which is now her "fairy" dress) and the ice cream is v big (even the std portions) so I get some of hers. Then... time for the walk back. Ma and E stop to buy a postcard and D and I head back under the boats, which aren't heavy but are awkward.

Home. Dinner. DE tired: D practically falls asleep at the table. Bed for them. We realise we don't know where E's swimsuit is, and... err... I must have left it at the beach. So go back down, with camera, and photo a nice jueelyfish cloud against the sun. And E's suit is there. As is the tent-on-the-beach again.

Soir: MAMa decide to watch some cooking program :-) while I order photos. Then we put on Touching the Void which we have had for ages without watching. Its pretty good, even/esp if you know the story. Mystery: why didn't Yates put a prussic on the upper rope to clear the knot? Summary: perhaps a touch over-dramatised in bits; for climbers, somewhat lacking in detail; for non-climbers (judging from Ma and A): doesn't convey what its all about (hey,at least in so far as I know it).

2005/08/10. Wednesday.

Today is the day of the great escape: M and I get the day off to... well, go climbing. But the nearest is a way away, past Aber. So we leave past 9, kissing the infants goodbye and D promises to look after E (who has had a fairly screamy morning up to now, not wishing to put her pants on; but she is now happy again). Zoom along as far as Aber; a bit slow from there; stop in Machynllth for coffee in the Quarry cafe which is part of CAT it looks like; also get a map for Craig Cywarch and possibly a pronunciation - we've been wondering: I go for Chiark, which is clearly wrong, but at least I can say it. The woman in the bookshop says Koo-ach, or thats what M wrote down.

Mach is having its weds market and is v busy and the main street is clogged. But we get out, then up towards Dians Mawddwy and turn off, then down single track road (no one coming the other way) down a beautiful valley - none of which I remember, from '96 with A-M - to a meadow bit where we are clearly meant to park, as 5 other cars are, though no-one is on the crag so they must be walkers. Its now about 12. After a brief look about we head up the valley towards Bryn Hafod which is a climbing hut, then off L into the bracken following a vague path. We're a bit uncertain where we are and where the crag we want is, but the diagram shows a pretty clear path. Sadly this turns out to be essentially an illusion, and is very hard going - pushing through the bracken. The tops of the two plantations are a good marker for where we are, but the foot of Tap-y-Gigfarn is elusive. We have, perhaps unwisely as it turns out, decided to climb on T-y-G which is the far south, and hardest to get to, though we weren't expecting this. Not till we get home do I realise that we should have shifted to Will O'the Wisp, which was closer (and 3* too). So after about 2h we are at what may be the foot of the crag, the guidebook says 20-30 mins walk in! Argh.

So... gear up and set off, up heathery slopes with little pro except for trees! Hmmm. After about 1 h we're three pitches - about 100m - up, with finally a rock to hold on to. But... the route above is unclear; its now 4; the sky is clouding (later clears again) and I'm a bit tired and definitely unconfident. And we still don't really know where we are. So, reluctantly, we agree to descend. I let M down then down climb; last 2 pitches I ab off too, since it got steeper. Getting down isn't quite the end: we fight through more trackless bracken to the welcome shelter of a patch of trees (grass underneath!) then a bit more bracken and we're free! Back to grass, then - ta ra! - a track. Whew. Sit down for a rest by a stream. Ah. The view down the valley is beautiful (as it was from the crag too). And the light is beautiful.

Down the track is a pleasant walk back to the car. I'm now distinctly tired, so happily M will drive back. From here, and from higher up, we can make more sense of the crag and the book pictures. Lessons? Probably, expect to get lost on big crags and have problems finding the start of routes. Though today was exceptionally difficult. Perhaps, learn to walk around the area first before climbing, if its a strange/infrequented area. I'm sure thats what people did in the "old" days. Today, we have less time: we had only one day. We talk about this on the way back somewhat. Perhaps we should go walking if we get another day off.

Feeling thirsty, we decide to stop for a drink asap, at the red lion in D M, and are just sitting down outside when - surprise - Helen McR turns up. With Charlie. How odd. She sits down to talk, being a sociable sort. She is on hols, with C and her parents; staying at the pub. Her parents used to have a holiday cottage nearby. Her car is currently broken down, having incautiously tried to drive up to a windfarm and blowing a gasket. So we talk, partly about the economic situation of the region: that there isn't much, bar tourism and farming, which latter doeesn't pay well. It would be a beautiful place to live, but isolated. Could I cope? Would I want to? Its an appealling idea - once the children hacve left school perhaps. Thats a way away :-( Have a sandwich and buy Helen a half. C has a solar powered prop from CAT. Then... time to be off, M driving, and home we go. Its a fair time - 1 1/2h or more. Back past 8.

Say goodnight to D who is in bed, just about awake reading Asterix. D, did you have a nice day? Yes. And how about E? She had the same sort of day as me, but with some screaming...

Shower: my legs are crisscrossed with tiny bracken cuts and they ache.

Have tail end of dinner, and are just in time for coffee. Soir: pooter to try to construct pano of cywarch, though the light was poor when I took them.

2005/08/11. Thursday. Sun/cloud.

Up at 9: feeling a bit tired from yestarday.

Leave 10:30: me, M, A, D and E, leaving Ma and her knee at home. We get to hear "the terrible tudors" CD from the rice crispies packet.

M has selected us a walk from the walks-in-s-wales book, around Llyn Teifi, which is I think the sources of the Teifi river. This is inland from Ffair Rhos, on the b4343, map ref 777 682 where we leave the car. Its a fair drive here from us - more than an hour I think. Stop in what we think is the correct place just after a bridge. Then head up the road, before heading off around Llyn Teifi. At some point we leave the truth path, which is a slightly strange thing: I end up leading off, but it was at the suggestion of the others. I'm still not quite sure why we went offpath. So we go down to the lake, play on the shore for a bit, then have to retreat far back to get round without getting too boggy. Lunch. Then round to Llyn Hir, and find some little steps down and spend time there, D skimming stones and E throwing stones for Skye who is at risk of getting one in her face only E can't throw far. Weather clouds over a bit and even darkens and mist on the higher peaks and since we're relying entirely on sight for navigations amongst many similar low hillocks we press on a bit to get back to the far side of Teifi where the barrages carry us round to the main slipway, where we find The Marvellous Whirlpool. Spend ages there, the weather improves to sun, D and E fascinated by it, err, and me too. The whirl is surrounded by "ribs" which rotate counter to the main incircling. Then back via the Unnamed Lake and end up just at the car, hidden by a hummock.

The area is high upland, lakey, undulating with low hills, with views far down to the misty lowlands. Its a pleasant place, would be hard to navigate on a cloudy/misty day. You can walk almost anywhere, except for the boggy bits, and probably this summer is on the dry side.

Fin about 3; thence off to Devils Bridge or Mynach Falls or Pontarfynach. Park in the head-of-railway car parks, though we later find we could have used the free parking by the viewpoint. Anyway: coffee in station, and DE and I watch a train leaving (the "Prince of Wales", which is read, so E thinks its James). Then walk down road to the Devils Bridge, and being cheapskates and not having much time select the 1-a-person short trip (but squeeze DE in on one coin!). This takes you down the upstream side to view the three bridges on top of each other and narrow gorge - really v impressive. The Rheidol valley might well be a good place for a hol some time (though not v impressed with Aber beach - Ll much better for that).

Drive back. The weather is now beautiful, there are lovely places, and we're driving past them, which is sad. Its becoming obvious that whilst we're well situated for the beach, we're poorly situated for the walking we want to do, an unfortunate tension.

E on the way back chattering, to A, about where we live: I live in Coton. Your dogs would like to make music. Eh? Turns out she meant, I would like to make music for your dogs and they would like to dance to it.

Back a bit past 6. Mfd and J have arrived, E rushes in to them, D is rather more restrained.

Dinner. J gets to put E D to bed.

Phone Sonja, she has been texting me today, re HC of course.

Watching Touching the Void part II, the return. Various scenes; lots of interest. The director probes Joe and Simon for emotion, seeking some meaning. It becomes clear that J/S were climbing companions but not friends and aren't now. For Simon, there is no emotion: he has done other things in his life, and although the director is clearly uninterested in that, he obviously is. From Joe S: I hate it here. Have you any idea how bad it was? Which is fair comment. To the film crew its a job, to us its excitement, to the director a search for "meaning" and all the pain fear misery just vanishes, no matter how often the actor doing the reconstruction screams, its not the same.

2005/08/12. Friday. Clouds then sun.

Some indeterminacy as to what we are doing, but I would rather stay here and at the beach. Ma goes shopping; DE and I go down to the beach latish (the weather starts poor and D unkeen; by the time we get down (having gone back for E's jacket) the sun is breaking out) whilst M, Mfd J and A go off for a walk up the lane and... round. Meanwhile DE and I have fun on the beach: the tide is fairly high and coming in (high at 1 ish), so there is enough stream to play in and I build a castle against the sea with E, which rapidly gets knocked over by the sea of course. Cafe for coffee and hot choc and cake and biscuits not icecream. Then M turns up to tell us we should be going back for lunch but! We refuse as we're having fun here. M goes back to tell the others and we have lunch at the Baguette place which D and E are v keen on for somewhat inexplicable reasons.

So the tide turns and later on the others come down too and the sun comes out. I end up going swimming and the waves are quite big and exciting and once I manage to body-surf well and several times badly. D doesn't come in but he does go out in the boat and really enjoys being pushed around by the waves and the boat acts like a surfboard rather well. It turns out to be re-inflatable by mouth which is handy as its gone down a bit.

Then its 5 and we are to go to the Pentre arms for dinner at 6 which just gives me time to go out and have a lock at Ynys Lochtyn from the p.o.v. of climbing. The point is not cliffs, of which there are plenty, but non-crumbly cliffs that top out sensibly, which are harder to find. But the "island" bit seems to fit the bill. Fairly short but seems quite solid and safe and with some pro. Will try to persuade M...

Dinner: OK, neither good nor bad, and the Rev James is decent beer. Home, infants bed, I shower. No pics today: I left the camera at home.

2005/08/13. Saturday. Rain then some sun.

Noises from DE who play "happily" together sometimes. There is a blanket tied halfway down the stairs for some reason.

Up earlier-than-usual-for-me, mostly because E is being far too noisy. D has had b'fast, so I oblige E to put her clothes on so she can have some too. But she won't. So I take her outside to stop the noise, which chills her off, and eventually she relents and goes upstairs to dress and indeed stays there. About half eight go down to the village for a paper. Its not raining - yet - the forecast and the sky promise rain. They have a telegraph but no grauniad - at least no G they will sell me, all others are reserved, err, even though yesterday they wouldn't let us reserve one. And on the way up some slight rain. B'fast, during which proper rain starts. A packs and off in the morning, we do misc quietly as the rain continues. Bread making, of "Challah" which is the same as Cholla (maybe with an H at the end) which Mfd pronounces 'hhhHollah and Ma is unable to hear him saying that.

[BTW: change tape in video at start of Museum]

M has found and organises us to the Museum of Internal power but then wimps out of going herself... Ma stays at home too drinking coffee. I think of staying too since the leaflet is unpromising - it looks like some bod with one engine in his barn - but the museum is far better than its leaflet and is jolly good. Also fairly close, just a few miles up the road. Lots of diesel (and semi-diesel, which means hot-bulb, which means you need to heat them with a blowlamp before they will start) engines, some of which can be hand-started from the flywheel and some of which need compressed air. In fact one engine is only there to provide compressed air to start the others. They make various satisfying noises and various rods and cams move in a shiny greasy way and its fun trying to work out what bits do what. D likes it and so does E, though in a more superficial way. Suddenly its nearly 2 and time to go home for lunch, the gentle rain precluding sitting in the cafe.

Lunch, and then Ma realises that she may as well go off today as tomorrow, since the weather is poor and she is heading for Ishbel in Nottingham.

Start up the fire for fun, and even put some coal on. M plays uno with D, then at 4 she and I head off to visit Ynys Lochtyn and see if any of it is climbable, I having realised that driving miles may be unneeded, though the higher cliffs on it look distinctly crumbly at the top. Rain has stopped mostly; some sun. By 4:30 when we are there the tide is low enough to get across to the Ynys part and look at the "shelf" part I saw briefly yesterday. It seems quite promising, and gets taller further down: misc photos. Possibly better even further round but not in this sea.

Then go out to the tip of the headland to see what is there, and while sitting at the top see - dolphins. A pleasant surprise. Watch them for a while, video some (of the "oh there it is - too late" sort) and a few stills. There are maybe 6 in all, sometimes together, sometimes leaping. Then I explore down a bit - nothing to climb here - and sit watching dolphins a bit more while M heads back (slowly). Out to the SW there are some little holes in the cloud sheddding dramatic light onto the sea like alien spaceships.

Head on up and back (its a fair pull up the hill) and only 15 mins late and dinner is just ready, as is the bread, which is nice though with an ever so slightly too thick crust.

Baths for kids; madness for E again at bedtime, which I make far too late by plugging the camera into the TV and taking ages to show pics of dolphins, and (E's favourite) E at the museum.

Soir: Pratchett (monstrous regt, someone has left here) and photos (do panoramas) and play with Mfd/J's camera. M bath. Fire.

2005/08/14. Sunday. Cloud then sun; windy.

A quiet day. Slow to start, cloudy, so we don't leave the house till 12; and partly because I'm still engrossed in Pratchett. There is a tendency for no one to do anything unlesss its obvious what everyone wants, unless perhaps its me. Anyway: D and I head off, followed at some distance by ME and some other distance by Mfd and J. Tide is fairly high and coming in; we dig somewhat. Its pretty windy and still rather cloudy: coat zipped up weather. ME arrive after a bit and we end up in the "baguette" since the other is crowded. Mfd/J find us and have bought a paper and some bread. Its a bit noisy in here - others with children, hmpf - but out of the wind and warm. Probably we should be rotating adults, so to speak. Out; and DE have a sandcastle competition, which has the foreordained result of course, even with M helping E, and D is of course desperate to be adjudged the winner, which I do, but cunningly add in "...unless you tell E". Which baffles him, because the whole point is not to win but to dance around E saying "I'm the winner, nah nah nah".

Mfd is quite keen to walk round to Penbryn, or at least in the direction; M also keen to go; I don't mind staying with children and J too, so we split. I lie down by wall reading while kids and J play. And so the afternoon progresses, interspersed with coffee, icecream, M/Mfd returning, and playing with DE. Slowly the day brightens, well from lunchtime really, and it gets warmer though I keep my coat on, and the wind dies a bit. The surf is up, and the sea more crowded than ever, but v few are any good at surfing. Eventually Mfd/M/J/E go back and I stay with D; we go round to Cilborth via sea/rocks and D plays in the surf, deeper and deeper until soaked, the waves being rather good.

And so home: good baked pots and stuff, and a quiet evening with a slow "challenging" sudoko from the indep for me. Finish Pratchett, than goodness. Fairly good, but main problem is that it indulges in the sentimentality it pretends not to.

2005/08/15. Monday. Sunny.

Today is a touring day. First to Cardigan (stopping along the way at a place that sells salad that M wanted. Near Tanygroes. Its turns out to be a cooperative/something... a bit of joss-stick selling, but more interesting is the garden: D and I follow the woman picking the stuff into the walled garden: its a bit like my allotment: half cultivated. Apparently this was originally a S African diamond-magnates estate. In the 70's it was self sustaining; now its either on the way down or up, I can't tell. Her ?5? year old son shows D about. Their chard is splendid, and she picks misc salad and also nasturtium flowers... also borage flowers. All this is very cheap), which I haven't seen, nor have Mfd/J I think, though M has shopped there... A look around, inc a "viewing platform" for the castle which is under restoration (and whose walls are fairly heavily shored up, a bit with a wwii pillbox atop them). Then the Black Lion for lunch, which is satisfactory, though their garlic bread is perhaps over-garlicked. M departs to shop, we wander and find... a pleasant enough town, left to myself I'd browse a few bookshops and stuff; in the indoor market M finds stuff that she is desperate to buy... but her evil father won't let her.

A path by a stream; down to the river; E and I ahead, and find the half-boat thing that we had seen from the car park. Its a "floating" cafe, so we stop for a drink (we have 20 mins till 3, M's time). Its fun, we sit on the shore deck in the shade and look around. Mfd/J/D approach too. There is supposed to be some "stones" nearby; I go to look for them and find them by a playground; not being in a wild moorland they aren't terribly impressive. It seems a bit odd: maybe there is so much celtic stuff around that a 12-stone circle is no great matter. Back to the river lower down; just above a boatyard area; find a beached boat and photo; back to cafe and M too.

Upriver towards Newcastle Emlyn, through a pleasant valley - the Afon Teifi valley in fact - towards Newcastle Emlyn, but stop suddenly at Cenarth bridge because it looks nice. And so it proves. The car park costs 1.50, there is a cafe - in fact several, and more across the bridge. The bridge has circular holes in it that DE play in. And so we wander and look. D is captivated by the water flowing. This is the same river as Cardigan, flowing through a bit somewhat like at Bolton Abbey - little falls, and above that rock shelves and pools. Surrounded by green trees and stuff. Upstream is a path M and E and I take; and later Mfd; but D cannot be dragged away from the falls. Could we get down the river in our inflatable? Not the falls, obviously.

Across the river is a mill... when its pack-up time D and I go for a quick look. It would be 1 apiece; it claims to be much-photographed and to mill; but looking at its wheel we doubt its been water-turned much recently.

On to Newkie E, and find the castle and its car park. There is rather more of it that we/I expected; less than Cilgerran; about like Berkhamsted. D climbs the stonework and E a bit less. I end up taking a path down to the river and around; the castle is inside a long bend in the river. Its lovely. Find what looks like a mill-leat... no-one mentioned a mill here. Return to the top, its about time to go, but... just... take D down a slope to explore the stream and round and find what looks like a mill. Ruinous and overgrown. D and I explore... then back up, ahem, sorry, we're a bit late. Now home. Err, I slightly prang the car on the wall, a bit of a scape on the wheel arch.

M cooks; I bathe DE. A bit of 101 dalmations. Dinner. Kids end up in bed rather late.

2005/08/16. Tuesday. Sunny. Very.

Up early-ish, just past 8, and take D down to the shops for a paper (discussing on the way vicious circles and traffic) then a time on the beach. Its quiet, there are only a few people about - but one wades back from the sea - the sea is out, waves are tiny, the sun is hot, we do a bit of digging (and I do a bit of paper reading) until 9. Todays plan is for M and I to do some climbing on Ynys Lochtyn, but its only accessible from half tide so some timing is required. Low tide is at about 2.

Misc, till D and I leave 10:30, assuming the others will come soonish (M says: what's this about soonish? Who said anything about that? m'a was full of games at home; the rest full of breakfast). I take the climbing kit, and D the spades. Down to the beach, with a fine expanse of sand available and the stream to dam. I spend some of the time reading Gill, some helping D. After a while I go for a coffee; D sits by. Where are the others? Curious. Back to the beach, lower down now the sea is further out. Its now about 12; I'm beginning to get a bit annoyed. They turn up a bit later; M grumpy; she nips off to read Pratchett asap. Beach is filling up now.

Eventually I prise M away from her rock and her limpet-like grip on Pratchett and by 1 we are off under the hot hot sun climbing up from Cilborth. When we get there we have to chose a climb... well. Scramble about a bit, then I solo a thing that ends up called "Icicle" from the quartz vein nearby. M gets half way up and gets photoed under protest. As far as can be seen the rock is firm, somewhat fractured with reasonable holds, but not a lot of gear. We are on a wide shelf, breaking the cliff perp to the line of cliffs and sloping gently down to the sea along the line of the isle. At the top the cliff eases off to springy grass, with sparse blocks. Belaying is possible but it could do with a few stakes.

Then... its time to climb something properly. We are both somewhat nervous about this. Pick the outside of "quartz corner", and it goes OK, perhaps S, hard to know, M finds it a bit tricky on the difficult bit too. But quite short, maybe 20m. This one is called "Dolphin" since I saw one swirling about whilst belaying M. Also the odd fisherman/tourist/thingy boat, but I'm not calling it that.

Since that went well, we are encouraged to go down the shelf a bit further, nearly to the sea, so the land cliff is bigger, though this one ends up as 20+m too. Called crab, since from the top I could look down into the sea and see some biggies. Again maybe S, maybe V Diff, who can tell. You don't really get V Diff on sea cliffs so I suppose its S. A few tricky bits at half-height.

What next? Phone Mfd/J to see how things are going. OK, though children are black, since the sea has been coming in and they retreated to somewhere near someones ex barbeque. Sounds good. We can maybe do one more? Hmmm... the obvious lines are perhaps tricky. There is quite a lot of good rock here, though short. Perhaps a top-rope? M is OK with that. How about quartz corner or the wall next to it? Up to the top, and look down - steep - but... no really good belays. Nothing I would like to ab off really unless forced to. So decide that 2 is enough for today.

M heads off (since she is slower on descents) while I coil ropes, take photos etc. At the neck of the Ynys we both get our feet wet, and its just as well the sea is so flat, so also just as well we didn't stop for another climb. She is ahead on the long climb up from Ynys to the path; it looks beautiful, elegaic.

Back at the beach the sea is in and all is well. D is indeed somewhat black, painted by himself and by E. I have an icecream (ginger: OK, but not so good); D by special request gets candyfloss. E runs up to tell us all about what she has been doing and to show us how she runs into the sea with a bucket.

D and I go for a swim around to Cilborth, or I swim and D swim/climbs round, its not so warm in the sea and his swimming is not really up to going all the way round. Then its just Mfd and us left, and we slowly head up the hill.

M is cooking - baked butternut squash - E is in the bath, D needs a shower first to wash off the black. I feel rather tired of a sudden and take a rest. Dinner: hmm well the food is OK, but oddly enough DE aren't keen. E's bedtime story is the end of 101 dalmations; M reads to D. Then its my shower, then I have to lie down...

2005/08/17. Wednesday. Very Sunny.

Another very sunny day. DE up first, Mfd then me. B'fast, outside (D did this too but managed to overturn his toast). It seems a bit late to go down for a paper - its now 9 - but D keen. End up with D, M and I going down (M somewhat miffed about not being asked, but I say she has form) with Mfd/J/E to follow later.

Misc beach/cafe type stuff till 12:30 when they arrive; then M and I set to the trek out to Lochtyn. We could do with a cloud or two. Off on the beach the tractor that takes boats out into the water seems to have got stuck: its at an odd angle and its rear wheels are half buried. What fun. Hot.

So out to our familiar shelf... what to do? I look around while M boulders. Then M fancies doing the easier one from yesterday, which was dolphin as I recall. She does this without too much trouble... so we'd better downgrade it a bit :-).

Then I try being lowered down the seaward side to see what that is like. Sadly it turns out to be dull: too fractured, too easy: maybe mod or something.

Then... greasy corner/crystal chimney beckons, but no I think. Instead the quartz type slab to the L of Dolphin. This is thinner, and at the going past the overhangs section, quite scary. So... I shall give this HS I think, though uncertain. Its was going to be "Porpoiseless" (we saw none today) but instead becomes "Seal" (see below).

After that... as M says, anything else (that I would actually want to do) would be an anticlimax. Though the slab to the L of greasy corner looks good.

When I come back to get the spare stuff, I find a seal, asleep at the seaward end. Or is it dead? No, its breathing. So I suppose it must be sunning itself. After a while it opens its eyes, stretches its tailflippers, and looks at me. M arrives: we watch: it turns round and flips into the sea. Then back, its a long walk up from the Ynys.

Back to beach: all is well. D is digging; E is in the cafe with Mfd. I take the boat into the water with D; then E comes with her boat; we end up with E and me in the boat and D towed along behind. In E's little boat he looks like a cartoon character, implausibly large for his craft. And so it goes. Then M goes boating, with E, M in her fetching new swimsuit all pink flowers, it would suit E :-).

Fin 6:30 ish; the light dimming slightly; out to sea what may be tomorrows rain clouds can be seen.

Back uphill; baths and dinner; DE to bed at 8:30. I stretch out on the sofa.

2005/08/18. Thursday. Cloud/rain.

Today starts with sun but the clouds are about... its clear that the long forecast but long delayed rain is going to be soon. A day to... what? Not beach, D keen on the Cenarth mill we didn't go see, so OK, make that the plan. DE and I walk up our little lane a ways, which we haven't done yet, and encounter a bit up some kids, 5 from two families it transpires, playing with a "mountain board". DE opt to stay with them, while I walk further, which is just what I wanted them to do, so thats good. Come back, and they want to stay, so I say I'll call them when I'm ready, which we aren't quite yet. But we soon are, so up I go and call them away.

And we're off to... Cenarth. Cunningly park in the free parking this time and start off with a quick coffee in the thatched cottage tearoom (hmm, thatch not very welsh I think, but it was real). Then the "National coracle centre" and the mill. The coracle centre turns out to be far better than feared. Probably just one bods dream, the back room of a shop really; he has to leave the counter to show us round, explain how coracles work and how they are made (and the various local and regional variants). But there are 10+ real coracles; D gets to sit in one and pretend to fish; there is a rosie-and-jim do coracles video for E (and D...) to watch. Could we make one at home? Worth trying.

Then the mill. This is clearly not running (the paddle wheel blades are rotten) and anyway the mill leat needs work. But we get to look at the machinery and stuff, and D is of course very keen on it. Then follow the path up and around hill to the top of the leat and realise that what felt like a path on the far side was the top of the weir, with the centre section now ruined. Go upriver a while: the steep bank above is wild garlic? something like that, past flower now of course. See a fish jump clear out of the water.

Rain starts, a bit. Look at a junk stall opposite but its junk. Leaflet: narrow gauge railway. Hmm... why not? Its 3 now. Just past Newkie E, at Henllan. Miss the 3:30 by a bit, so look around - playground, shop, info, other trains - while waiting for the 4:30. Rain now stopped, or nearly, and the wait is not long. Watch the :30 return at about 4:10, and get uncoupled and shuffle round to the back which is now the front, and it whistles at us. Then its time for our train, and off we go. Its about time we did a narrow gauge train, we always did when young. It rattles and shakes on the rails in the proper way and we lean out to glimpse the engine and stuff. M does the sudoku... Turnaround; then stop at a half-way station to see the little falls. M and I decide to walk back from here; D definitely doesn't want to; by running along for a bit I get to wave at the train going by. Pleasant walk back; misc; then it is time to eat... we can go to dinner: Abduls in Cardigan? Try it, but they are full (what sort of cr*ppy curry house is ever full?). This pleases D cos he wants the Blue Boat... but... that is full too (despite not looking v full). Hmpf. Wander the streets and find the Happy City chinese which is OK. Then back, rather late.

I read Scrambled Eggs Super to D; M beds E; and flop onto the sofa.

News: more dodgy stuff about shooting brazilians. Just what did really happen?

2005/08/19. Friday. Mixed.

Today is away day :-(. Hey ho. Pack pack etc; by 10:30 Mfd and J are finished and off they go. By 11 we are and off we go, bye-bye holiday house. It has rained on and off but not too much, just enough to make the boat wet when I deflate and pack it... Everything fits in the car OK, including the things we brought and forgot and never used (Go, draughts, Penrose etc: partly because we were never confined by rain).

So, the calcs: its 11; we want to leave Newtown at about 7, with 3 hours driving from there to home; its about 2h driving to Newtown and about 1h for dinner there; so we have about 5 hours to do things in today.

First off to Strata Florida abbey ruins, which we missed before, when we went to the lakes. Most of 1h to get there; by the time we are there E has just fallen asleep and is most unhappy to be re-awakened. A common pattern.

Its quiet there. Looks like a lovely place to explore on foot sometime sans infants; today just the abbey. Only the main arch is in place; there is marginally less than at St Dogmaels. D and E nonetheless run about playing hide and seek, and we have a picnic, finally using the nice wicker type picnic basket M bought. Sun and cloud, nice light, why don't we live here?

Then on... to? Originally the plan was the CAT again, D v keen, and even the Rheidol railway, but... err... it looks like the silver/lead mines might be a better bet, drivingwise. So... stop *briefly* at trains, and get to see one come in; E again sad to be woken; coffee break; petulant E spills hot choc on me. Hmpf. On to silver mines: 3:30 now. This area (near Plynlimon) is wild isolated and, judging from the map, quite empty. Few roads. On the sjyline, a windfarm: we have seen several. The mine is somewhat dilapidated looking: perhaps a bit in decline. But there are various displays, water wheels (sadly none working when we were there: water is low, and one had its paddles decayed), and a trail. E funks the underground tour, and D is only marginally happpy: the tunnel is low (I have to walk with bent legs, D is straight) but level. It turns out that the lode was a near-vertical sheet, about 3 feet wide, where magma filled an earthquake crack 400 m years ago, and slowly cooled and gravity-settled (copper/tin would have been 400 ft higher, but that all got eroded away here, unlike cornwall). So the tunnel goes to the lode, which is then thin and long and high, with various artifical floors.

Fin with shop: DE have bad habit of expecting to be bought things in all places: D gets a crystal kit (he got a pencil sharpener in Strata F) and E a bendy man. Then only remains to tear them away and we are off to Newtown. End up in a chippy (several curry houses) and E is not well behaved. Poor her, she is tired, but I have to take her out for a bit till she calms down. Newtown is a nice place, I say, it has retained many old buildings and the high street looks "real". Old sun on old red brick.

Off 7:30; no great excitement; listen to Hobbit; back 10:30, E having resisted sleep for a long way. Unpack, mostly. Plough through 1,273 emails (mostly wiki-en) leaving watchlist for tomorrow; and bed late.

2005/08/20. Saturday.

Take D to football at 9:15, skipping bfast. Cycle along with Bram and JE. Talk to Bram while D, JE, Matthew and ?Emma? play - only 5 this week. Martha and Anna play together happily. I demo pull-ups. After, Martha asks shyly if E can come to play - I say, she is shopping, how about after lunch? D and JE say not at all shyly can D come round, and I have no problem with that and nor does Bram, so OK. So I go into town. A quiet relax and read The End of Eternity in Nero. Despite the various relaxations of the past 2 weeks, sitting quietly alone reading hasn't been one of them. Nice.

Back, via alott (greengages on Ben's; giant courgettes; beets from Nick; and a cucumber from me that turns out to be not only edible but nice, even D says so with no prompting!). But the rest needs weeding.

Building: progress in the kitchen, which is now a shell. But a letter from Valerie: looks like Mrs B is going to fight to the death. Hmm.

Lunch with ME, who are back, then take E round. Bram says D/JE are playing nicely and need no intervention; leave E. So, a peaceful afternoon: plough through my watchlist: all seems well, no septic outbursts. Check up once at about 3:30: all OK.

Pick them up 5:15; they come round here briefly to see our works. Discuss builders with Bram. Then take DE to Andrew+Sarah (well, S) to pick up a key for Z next week (or whenever...). Sadly Z is out on hire now so though I get a key DE are a bit disappointed. But they get to borrow cat in the hat comes back.

Dinner (pizza for me/M) and misc online.

M to bed v late.

2005/08/21. Sunday. Sun.

Up with kids, M up at 11. After lunch, I take DE (who want M but can't have her) out to swim at their req (nearly their expectation). Drive to Parkside. Have a good time (while they swim I turn over the Coriolis effect in my mind and reach a form of wording that is OK, I think; also puzzle out inertia circles), then cb1 (D wants C de Paris), then back to car and Lammas land. Fortuitiously we have E's little boat in there too, so they swim and boat while I lie back and stare at the sky.

Home: M's turn while I rest for a bit.

Soir: M gets sleepy early so I send her to bed. I get to bed by 11 even. Work tomorrow!

2005/08/22. Monday. Rain.

Back to work (via quick talk to Ian). Rain off and on all day. Don't feel terribly enthusiastic. Surprisingly little waiting for me... nothing happens in August. Cycle home through rain. Long talk to Ian about progress (would be today but for rain...) and poss of building without going on Mrs B's land. Maybe an idea...

Home: JE and Mar are here just finishing dinner, there is a certain amount of boisterousness, with Martha (quiet and well behaved as ever) looking about as if wondering if she can get away with joining in... But M takes them home.

Soir: quiet. Upload some Wales pics to wiki.

2005/08/23. Tuesday. OK.

Work, but rather listless. To Nero for lunch.

pm: misc; blackberrying with DE and Esther, Ezra and Martha - Bram and Jesse at home in bed.

Make blackberry and apple crumble.

7-10: PC meeting. Oh good grief, the stupidity you get.

2005/08/24. Wednesday. Rain rain rain.

Starts raining at 11 then on/off all day, quite hard.

Morning: misc, and DE's costume.

12: DE to Hannahs party, E wearing the "fairy wings" that she drew and I stuck onto cardboard, D wearing his halloween pumpkin head (which M improved) and skeleton pygymas. Leave them there... pickup 2:30.

Into loft to try spraying the wasps nest from inside. Seems OK. I use the loft pole to push into the nest with bursts of spray to cover me and I only get one little sting - the wasps confused in the dark perhaps.

4: DE to orchard, to buy bread and wasp killer. Also to have "tea", E as usual has hot choc and doesn't drink much of it...

M cooks; I review Holland+Raphael.

Soir: talk to Jane re home club stuff; useful and cordial.

Late Soir: inertial circles. undating (u,v) on a sphere is tricky.

2005/08/25. Thursday. Sun then hard rain then sun.

Work (talk Wang: good) then town (Barclays for HC acct startup; have to wait so to Nero for lunch) then home. MED out still. Rest. From being a nice day torrential rain starts, so move Velux to shelter.

MED back around 3. JEM round to play; Esther comes to take them to Duxford at 5 and ends up taking D; E didn't want to. She plays Bananas in Pygamas. M plays piano.

HC meeting 8:30: me, James, Margaret, and Debbie Nelson to help/advise. Fin 10. So much ofsted bureaucracy.

2005/08/26. Friday. Mixed.

To work, a little late, and don't get much done, what with smoko then talking to Hua, its about time to be off, since I need to do Stuff for home club. Consult with Sheena over the mystery of the cupboard: there is another key: find it, and the cupboard, and lock the HC card index box in there to keep ofsted happy, should they ask.

Home; lunch; read fire policy. 2: to HC, and there talk to Tony Hibbert (briefly) about the fire stuff and he does a check (OK, except perhaps a smoke alarm). Meanwhile Veronica Sharp about checks and stuff, and endless tedious Ofsted bureaucracy, which she does without a trace of irony.

Fin 3; home; JEM are here; pack pack; taxi arrives, send them back, leave 4.

A+S: unlock side gate, but fail to unlock far end. Hmm. So jump over gate on the other side...

Cast off 4:30. Why isn't the engine working? Oops: the engine is on, but in the off position, and it only stops when you press stop. So switch to on...off we go, upstream to Jesus Green to pump out. This is further than I thought, and getting there and pumping and working out how it works and getting back takes 1h, so really we're setting off at 5:30. And... it costs 2. So head off downriver, a bit faster than before, since we've done this bit and we want to get on. Baits Bite just past 6, which is currently on lock-keeper operation (fortunately S forewarned up). It was always a bit dodgy, and hard to persuade it that it was really shut. Apparently (sez the keeper) people opening the sluice too hard is the problem.

Anyway: down we go, and at Bottisham lock there is a cruiser doing the same so he does the locks for us. How convenient. There is a little light rain just out of Cambridge and a variety of yellow then red sunset and big grey clouds, which D looks up in his rainy day fun book.

Tie up at about 8:15 at the GOBA moorings at Fodder Fen, downstream from Upware and on the A1123.

E: do you know what my story will be? Its a secret! All: burst out laughing. How can we read it to you E? E: smiles. But sadly E is rather contrary and stubborn and naughty and therefore sad at bedtime, which doesn't finish till 9: M reading around the world in 80 days to D.

2005/08/27. Saturday.

Downriver to Ely; tie up by the Jubilee gardens and up through the park. MED go to the cath; I go R into town (market day) to get a paper; beer; and some pasta. Also end up getting some bread. Meet in cath; there is an "entry fee" of 4.50 or so. I decide its time for a cafe. Later look round cath with D. D wants to get another "stained glass window" book, since last time he got one E naughtily drew over all but one. Both DE seem to have the idea that they get to have a present from everywhere we visit, an idea that needs to be stamped out. Stamp! On their hopes... Hmm. E has a find-the-animal leaflet from the cath.

Back to boat, upriver to Popes Corner, stop for a 1/2 in the Fish and Duck, which I like, then turn up the Old West River which I also like. Its narrow and reed-fringed and nice. Stop at Steatham to see if we can see the Old Engine but no: its only open 2nd sundays and bank hols. Hey ho.

At the GOBA moorings where we stop to stretch our legs I suddenly wonder about the hermitage lock, and what hours it runs, since its manned: but its OK, open till 8. We get there well before that, do the tidal section, and are in time to moor just after Brownshill as we did before, a good lonely mooring.

Soir: M makes dough and leaves o'night to rise. We try to look at the stars but its 3/4 cloud and we can't make sense of the planisphere.

2005/08/28. Sunday. Sun.

Morning dawns bright and also quiet: the sand conveyor doesn't run on Sunday mornings it seems.

Laze in bed a bit, then up and off by... well I forget; say 9. This is one of my favourite sections, both because its nice and because this is where Howards triathalon used to run, sarting with the Pike and Eel, though the swinging tree has been cut down. M steers; I sit in the bows; the water is clear and the sun shines through to the "river-cabbages" and little fish and gravel.

Sadly neither D nor E really appreciate this; or perhaps they do but are easily satisfied or distracted; because they spend most of their time inside watching Rosia and Jim or Tom and Jerry. Hmpf.

The long approach to St Ives, rather marred IMHO by the new by pass. Just before it is St I lock; through that and slowly through the town, which is very pretty from the riverfront, esp its bridge and the chapel on it. Go up through the bridge to the side-channel for water. *Dont* make the mistake of continuing up the channel this time... once was enough. Instead spin the board on a rope (just enough room) and go back through the bridge to moor at the town moorings (only running lightly aground in the wide section below the bridge, but the bow thrusters spin us off after a nasty minute). There is a nice-looking riverside cafe where we can have lunch. But somehow St I disappoints on closer inspection. The cafe is OK (and since the outside tables are full we have to sit inside) but uninteresting. So is the town, though since its sunday and most is shut this is perhaps unfair. Both bridge chapel and museum don't open till 2, and its now 1:30.

However, the sane thing to do is to make this our turning point and start back towards Cambridge, giving up the delights of the Hemingsfords and Houghton. Hey so, some other time, and off we go, not even stopping at Holywell since its mooring is over-busy. We do stop at the Pike and Eel, or rather the GOBA moorings just up from it, and then have a surprisingly long walk around the marina to get to the pub, which again (I fear) disappoints: just not very interesting. But, I did want to know. So now I do know, I would have been better off just sitting on the boat gazing into the stream as I did for a bit.

But all is going to plan, with time in hand, till we get to Brownshill Staunch and discover a Q: well I suppose it had to happen some time. There are two boats just going in; a big double-width barge; then another narrow boat and us to go in. And on the other side an even bigger Q. The problem is that this is a double-guillotine and very slow: about 1/2 hour per lock-change. So, D gets a lot of lock-gazing (and weir-gazing) done, and does not seem to tire of this. E, who bores easily, runs around with and without her life jacket and is harder to manage. The narrowboat just ahead of us we met before, though I forgot that, and are friendly; we chat; they swim. I dabble my toes: its cold, and I have E. E ponders swimming, and takes her clothes off and dips her toes, but no more.

The wind is windy when its our turn to get in. Fortunately we have a bow thruster and have an easy time; the big double-width-er before us scraped badly, and the narrow boat we share the lock with has a hard time even leaving the bank, amkes several goes, and only escapes when I push it. But we're clear of it by 6:30; we need to get to Earith by 7:15 (well the lock shuts at 8, but the keeper said earlier, and anyway we need to get up the Old West). At 5 mph (GPS) we get there by about 7, and have to circle cos the keeper doesn't show for a bit. Fortunately this is a double-v, hence fast, and we get out ahead of the other narrow boat.

7: pass Earith lock, different keeper today. Its become a truely lovely evening, now the wind has died and the sky is clear of all but a few tiny clouds on the horizon. Speed limit is 4 mph and I obey this via GPS so we're going quietly down the narrow reed fringed river with the sun gently setting behind. After 20 mins we leave the road behind too and its quiet. 8: the GOBA mooring is full... I suppose we could have squeezed in but we didn't want to, so go on a bit further and moor just before the bridge, where it seem steep-edged and onto grass, ish. 9:15: finally childrens stories are finished and they can sleep, its hard getting them to bed when we don't moor till late.

Its still lovely out with trees silhoutted against the darkening sky, and a swan, and (as M points out) more wildlife noises. And the stars are appearing.

2005/08/29. Monday. Beautiful.

A lovely clear sunny dewy morning. At about 7 the double-widther passes us quietly (it was tied up at the goba mooring); in order to get to Baits Bite at 1 we should be OK to leave at 9: 1h up to Popes corner; 2h down to the lock. So I get up at 8 and go for a little walk; quiet. Up to the bridge and look down on us. Walk along the dike: a good path: gently winding, narrow, above the river: views over the river to the R and the fens to the L and the path on ahead, quiet and cool. Back to the bridge. An illusion: a figure in blue looks at me: must be M. But then it suddenly runs off towards me: its D. We lean over the bridge, quiet.

Start off a bit before 9; I sit in the front with Around the World in 80 Days, near finished; DE play inside at making dens; M is driving. When I wake up at 10 I'm puzzled: we're not a PC. M has been looking at the map: this section is far longer than I thought; without hurry, we get to PC at just before 11, so without rushing we can't get to the lock before 1. Hey ho: then we won't. But if I'd bothered to check this beforehand, we could have started rather earlier before 8 and made it. Fuel at PC, but sadly the Fish and Duck doesn't open till 12 (zey are mad, zeese Engleesh) so M plots a course for Upware and the 5 miles from anywhere, which we've never visited.

5MFA turns out OK... pleasant garden, spacious pub, no great character though, F+D still winds hands down for that. Food OK.

Mild Q at Bottisham lock, and sailing boats beyond, which we avoid with skill. See TLC (and Mary) on the bank, and Lucia sailing: wave. Arrive at Baits Bite lock at past 4 (ahem, so plans for 1 a touch unrealistic... unless we didn't stop for lunch perhaps) and (surprise) no Q, so straight through and back to dear old Cam at 5. Its now v sunny - perhaps too much so - any away from the river even warmer. Reverse our arrival method (D tries: he can't: its too wide) and taxi home. Whew... here we are. Hello home we're house.

2005/08/30. Tuesday. Hot again.

Up at 8, it seems surreal to be going to work, but I am. Take E to M'a: haven't done that for a while either. Mostly deal with back emails and stuff. "Talk" to the fids re modelling but only for 10 mins or so: not much to say and they don't seem interested.

Home past 2: MD out at the Orchard, says a note. Rest. M back, alone. D is with B it seems. OK. Web stuff. M plays till 3:45 when she goes to get E and then to supermarket. In return, I do some tidying, then Nicky phones so I HC with her re various important things.

Head home, via Andy. B and D are apparently in our garden, they have had a good time blackberrying with A. Meet B on the way home, and D is at home, so send him off to get his bike. ME arrive. Dinner: mezze and stuff. E again gets tired/fractious around bedtime, D also tired but not fractious. One of the "beauteous chairs" breaks, at a fault line: oops.

Soir: misc web (Coriolis, sigh).

2005/08/31. Wednesday. Hot!

The somewhat surreal life continues. I wake up oppressed by weight of things pending... Home Club; sea ice paper; building maybe. Hmm.

Today turns into a day at home. Its hot and sunny, so (apart from a brief early foray into the garden to cut back various things) I stay inside in the shade. E goes to visit Claire fairly early till lunchtime; JE come round to play with D; M plays piano and I think I'm online. J and D lie quietly side by side in the new room, reading books.

After lunch M declares a siesta, and after this is explained to DE they agree its a good idea!

DE and I to the pool at the school for 2:30, to help Andy. Its very hot, but the pool is cool/cold. Its good. Kids splash and shout, we have E's little boat. Talk to Andy; and Helen. Towards the end of the hour kids drift out of the pool and end up running around the school grounds. Pool shuts 3:30; stay past 4 talking to Dorthe and friend. Then home.

Cut grass at back when we get home. Soir: more online-ing.

Late: dramatic thunderstorms.


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