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The Family Bandwagon

Our family is spread out across the country and across the world, and what better way to keep in touch than a collaborative digital journal?

Thursday, 25 June 2009


Well these school holidays i have calisthenics because the saturday after that we have our mid-year concert and we now have 8 girls so we need lots of practice.
I also have math homework and pathways home work so no getting out of it.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Relaxing in Wales - yn llacio i mewn Cymru

It's day four of our holiday out of the city, and we're sitting in the Hawk and Buckle Inn reading historical fiction, sketching architecture and writing weblog posts. It's been incredibly relaxing.

The town we are staying in, Llannefydd, is too small for even a general store. Apart from a handful of houses, there is the Hawk And Buckle Inn (where we are staying), a church and a primary school -- such a cute wee school it is too! Strangely enough, the Inn gets busy of an evening! I think everyone in town drops in at some point during the night, although the combination of enormous amounts of good food, a bar that has Australian wine (especially after we spoke to Stuart, the owner's son and wine-buff) and the peace and quiet means we've been toddling off to bed any time from 9pm ... and never later than 10:30!

p1000675.jpgOur room is nice: cosy, comfortable, tastefully decorated and with a large double-jacuzzi. The owners are lovely, quirky and friendly, and the chef seems gruff but creates delicious meals: sausages, potato and leek soup, chicken with Welsh cheese and bacon, lamb burgers with just a hint of mint. Good, honest food -- and today we might have a Sunday roast! Breakfast has been similarly delicious-and-epic. On our first morning here we opted for the Full Welsh breakfast which included sausages, eggs, tomato, mushrooms ... I even suspended any analytical-thought long enough to try black-pudding (it's yummy, just don't think about what goes into it -- kind of like haggis in that way then!).

p1000734.jpgThe GPS has had inestimable value, although we suspect it has a dark sense of humour with some of the roads it's taken us down -- tiny winding lanes which look more like someone's drive-way than a main thoroughfare but go on for miles at a time. With "navi"'s help we visited the castle at Conwy (Conway) on the bay, explored the local streets and sat on the shore for a spell. It's incredible just how much effort went into building an enormous stone citadel that once housed lords and ladies, only for it to become a giant birdhouse for pidgeons and gulls...

After Conwy we drove to Caernarfon (seems to be pronounced "Carnarvon" -- like the Aussie one!). Caernarfon would be beautiful -- the centre of town is entirely within the castle walls -- but inexplicably it is more "bogan" than touristy, complete with dodgy little shops filled with the cheapest of plastic tat, pubs that a sailor would be wary of entering and pregnant teens arguing loudly and in Welsh in the street. I'm exaggerating a little there, but it's still hard to understand why such a place is not filled with tiny cottage cafes and tearooms, hand-stitched red dragons, tea-towels, tiny wrapped soaps and the friendly bustle of tourists, loud Americans, timid English-folk.

On the following day we saw Llannerwst, a beautiful little town with an brilliant tea-house accessible over an ancient stone bridge and all covered in green vines. We ate (and ate and ate) lunch there: a ploughman's lunch of ham and turkey and salad, and Welsh rarebit (toasted cheese and mustard), washed down with strong, rich tea. (The water tastes better out here, even when we filter the London water.) Then more: scones with jam and cream and too many slices of bara brith -- a fruitcake with butter that I'm sure Nanna has made before! We waddled out of the cottage and prayed that the stone bridge would hold us, then walked at least some of it off around the town.

Today we're staying "home" -- Dee gets a rest from driving, I can upload the photos (see the Cymru set on Flickr) and we can both read, write, draw, play chess, argue, plan, laugh, doze. I think we're both recharging nicely, so are feeling much more positive about the rest of the year and living (and working) in London for just a little while longer. Chris (Dee's brother) is visiting shortly, so we'll be off to Istanbul and who-knows-where (last-minute travel plans are great!), and in the meantime we can hopefully find some fun things on weekends and public holidays. Before too long we'll be winging our way (er, railing our way?) back home to see you all!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Geekin' it up on the way to Wales. I'm sitting in our hire-car -- a little Vauxhall Corsa, or as we all know it, a beep-beep Barina (the car that can go-go-go!) -- writing a 'blog entry on Dee's netbook ("noodle") whilst connected to the 'net via a 3G mobile phone. Meanwhile, Dee is navigating with our new GPS unit (a Garmin Nuvi) and listening to MP3s. Ain't tech grand?

Seriously tho', we've wanted a GPS thingy for a while, and when I couldn't get a USB one for noodle we decided to hire one from the car-hire place ... but they didn't have any! Apparently they go missing, who'da thunk?! The car-hire man was kind enough to point us towards a Curry's Electrical outside the congestion zone (who wants to pay just to drive through London?) so we got ourselves there (just barely) and geared-up. (Actually, we didn't end up buying the ol' sat-nav from Curry's, as the staff were by all appearances apathetic morons to a man. We went next door to Halfords. It still took longer to part with our hard-earned cash than we liked, but at least they actually had stuff in stock.)

Anyway, I'm using this as a test -- can we post from the road with mobile Internet? Can we keep in touch with people when we have no fixed address? Can we connect with you guys from a hut in Thailand, a caravan-park in Western Australia?

Let's see if it actually posts, eh?

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Shopping and Dad

Hi all,
Dad has been driving and walking so much improvement. On Friday we went into town and he drove. We visited the Marketplace, then decided to get our printer cartridges refilled at Cartridge World. They can't be done because they have a chip that so far can't be reset. Since by then we were inGolden Square, Dad suggested a visit to Lansell Plaza. We had a coffee and two donuts as a rest stop after we'd bought some fruit and veges , NQR goodies and checked out Sams. We called to see Nana on the way home. She was very pleased to see Dad so mobile since just last Tuesday he wasn't well enough to go to Probus and he didn't make it to the funeral on Wednesday. Today we walked down the street inEaglehawk, where we met Nana and then came back here for coffee. After looking at the labels, he also bought a ticket for tonight's Lotto draw. Uncle Ron called in on Wednesday and suggested a product he uses called Alpha Lifeline. he and Mary returned on Thursday with the tin that should last a month.Dad has had two doses of that now. It's supposed to be good for digestive health.It contains colostrum. If it works we'll be getting more and may try the capsule version since Dad isn't fond of the taste. It tasted fine to me.
Glad to hear Dayna has drawn an update for the header. I look forward to seeing it.
Do any of you want to play Wordscraper on Facebook? I play with Lisa, Damien and Val at the moment.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Oscar's day on the farm

Hi everyone!

Yesterday we took Oscar to the miniature farm barn for a friend's 2-years-old birthday party. We dressed Os in some cold weather gear and he met a lot of animals for the very first time. The first part of the party was a bit of a tour and feed then it was pony ride time. All of the kids were too scared! Apart from Oscar, who sat on one for a little while. They were really cute ponies (I know what I want for my birthday!) and if they could have held my weight I would have been up there in no time as well! ;) Some of the little girls ended up putting hair clips into the pony's mane and leading it around the yard. Next was farm equipment time. I think Os enjoyed the tractor ride the most :) Then all of the kids went inside for some morning tea and cake. Oscar had his milk and then sat next to his little friend while he played with a serviette. It was a very cute party and it tired the little guy out. He fell asleep on the way home, so instead of trying to get him into the house without waking him we drove to the local shopping centre and Damien and I took turns going in to get lunch and eating in the car while Oscar slept (sneaky! :) We took heaps of photos, of course :)

Today we've had a quieter day. We went to the shopping centre for lunch and spent the rest of the day at home. Not sure what we'll do tomorrow. Probably enjoy the public holiday indoors with the heater on :)

Saturday, 6 June 2009


Hello from France!
We arrived in Nantes at around lunch time on Tuesday and spent the afternoon wandering around the city - just to see what was where and to get our bearings a little. Wednesday we decided to head to Le Machine de l'Ile - The Island of Machines. It's on l'Ile de Nantes and has only been open since 2007. It's a workshop/gallery working towards a major interactive attraction - a carousel/merry-go-round with three levels and lots of creatures that visitors can interact with and 'run'.

Can you control the crab?We saw eight of the creatures. They're a strange combination of Leonardo Da Vinci's mechanical creations and Jules Verne's imagination - my favourite is the squid, but I think Bruce's favourite is the crab (because he got to control it for a bit). The combination of wood and metal looks really cool and there's so much articulation in the moving bits via pulleys and levers - what a good use of physics!

Chateau des ducs de BretagneThursday we headed over to the Chateau des ducs de Bretagne (The Castle of the Dukes of Britanny). We'd walked to it on Tuesday, but decided to use the Bicloo rental bicycles (pay £1 for the day and the first half-hour of each rental is free). There are docking stations all around the city centre, so it's easy to keep your trips under half-an-hour. The Castle was amazing - it's only recently been restored. The Nantes History Museum is housed in the Castle, so we spent the day discovering the history of the Mermaid city (with strong ties to the land and to its port). We also wandered through the special exhibition - I found some hammocks. Dad, I'll join your pirate ship if I get to sleep in a hammock! ;-)

SnoozingFriday we headed away from town and went to the Planetarium. The show went for about an hour and the graphics were fantastic. It started as a simple night-sky - what stars you can see at night. They then took us on a journey to each of the planets. It was a very entertaining show and it would have been even better if I understood French.

Lunch time gamesAfter lunch (and watching some French guys play boules in the park) we headed to the Musee Jules Verne. It was cool to learn more about him and to see some of his old manuscripts and sketches. Although one of my favourite bits were the moon-related toys from all over the world. Wish I knew where to get the TinTin game! It looked fun.

The food while we were away was pretty tasty. The only problem was that there weren't a great many vege options. In fact, I think I had more cheese in this week than I have had since the start of the year! Crepes were my favourite, especially the ones made from black corn with potatoes gratin as filling. Yummo.

We headed back to England on Saturday morning and found the lovely weather was there too. We had a BBQ for lunch because the sunshine was so good. In fact, the good weather lasted until a couple of days ago (I got saturated walking to the bus from work yesterday). So it's back to grey Manchester weather but at least I had a week of fun and frivolity in France (photos here).

*big hugz* to all.