Wednesday, 17 September 2014

True Artists aren't in it for the Monet

lego docks with police boat and rocket launchersseconds? no i'm stuffed teddy bear funnyJofs' birthday at last! I know she looks forward to it so I brought her a birthday balloon. OK so it was the one I saved from Erins' party, but it still says happy 9th birthday.
Today the Prodigal Sun returned so we picked Ben up from school and all went sailing, an hour earlier than usual, for Daylight Shaving Time which is something done by American men and Catholic women.
childhood friends in wetsuits and buoyancy aidsBut first we got some quality Lego-time in, having elected not to go to the park at all. We made a city with dock and Police boat with rocket launchers.
portsmouth watersports centre sailing lessonsAt sailing there weren't so many of us so it was 2 to a boat and we all got towed out into the creek by the motor launch and did theory and practical for a while.
Then we were cut loose and [Ben and Johnny] capsized immediately. Then we all got the hang of it again and sculled up and down doing groovy turns. There were a few collisions and some random adults were doing paddle-boarding nearby and they looked quite bizarre first kneeling, then standing on their boards in formation.
After sailing it was still Jofs' birthday so we had a slap-up meal in the Harvester although nobody actually got slapped, but we all got full.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Exsanguinating Rita

scottish wedding groom in kilt leaves skidmark on wedding dress funnyJust think, by next week, ElizabethsDad could be a foreigner! Would we be better off without the Scots in the Union? They gave us deep-fried Mars Bars, the Jock Strap and the inability to say "Burglar Alarm", and they've got our secret nuclear base anyway.
News reaches me of a new service for those mourners too short of time to attend the send-off. The Paradise Funeral Chapel in Michigan has installed a drive-through viewing bay. You drive up, press the button and a curtain opens for 3 minutes accompanied by sombre music. I guess you have to hope you get the right corpse and don't try to order a burger with fries.
At school we are now learning the violin, or vile din as it is sometimes named by some people. We may get to scrape en masse at the end-of-year play, something potential audience members should consider.
Luckily we had enough time before Gymnastics to visit Stamshaw Adventure Playground. It's very big and complicated and relies more on topiary and topology than giant set-up frames, but it does have a decent pirate ship and some tunnels with an old shipping container.
stamshaw adventure playground portsmouthThey also have a wide range of old tyres and a herb garden and a splashpark (no water) and a handy motorway just over the verge.
We chased and rolled tyres at each other (until tired) and ate blackberries from the security hedge and didn't learn any new words from the delightful locals because I've seen so many Arnold S movies.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Random Access Mammaries

wonder of windows crashing funny fail at baseball stadiumToday some workmen came to our school and installed some new playground equipment in our schoolyard!
triple hoop basketball game school playgroundWe've got 2 big metal football goals right in front of the big windows of the computer department so expect windows to crash regularly Aahaha and 2 giant basketball poles that are 17 feet too high for little people like us but very swish.
card and gift shop birthday card selectionOne is a monopole but the one outside my classroom is a tripole with 3 baskets pointing to all 3 points of the compass, er.
But we diverted on the way home to the charity shop where I got a Lego car for 20p and the card shop, just in case anyone important to me is turning 53 again any time soon.
I liked the way the card-racks were separated off into 'Female Relations', 'Male Relations' and 'Improper Relations'.
Later Jof phoned and reminded me about homework. This is an advert for Chessington World of Adventure wildlife park, and it's all about descriptive words tempting you to visit, ie use of language in advertising.
I am tasked with memorising the whole thing: so I learned the first 2 paragraphs, declared that I'd do the rest tomorrow, and performed what little I could remember while swaying, scratching, pulling up my shirt and everything else 8 year-olds do when reciting.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Exeat: Arundel Castle

arundel medieval castle stately homeAt last! We'd promised to meet Obscure Cousin Margaret for a tour of Arundel Castle ages ago, but the first free day in our crowded social schedules was today, well after the summer holidays were over.
We'd all gone to bed late last night so we were a bit slow off the mark in the morning and Jof wasn't ready in time. So we totally blew her out and went anyway, driving the wrong side of 80 to get there before 1115. We got to Arundel station absolutely the second Margaret stepped out of the station building so got away with it.
collector earl garden folly arundel castleFor some reason this well-known tourist attraction was popular today and we had to park miles away, the other side of Swanbourne Lake, nearly to the Wetlands Trust. Still, we got to eat free blackberries from the hedgerows.
The entry fee was steep, like the mound the castle is built on. We thought that for £45, we needed to see absolutely everything, so we got the Gold + tickets that let you in everywhere. But soon we found places we weren't allowed, like the fishpond.
arundel castle gatehouse defencesI took the map and led us all round the very extensive gardens first. It seems that when you're a Duke, you can have a garden as big as you like and he obviously liked. They have their own medieval chapel with tombs with marble sculptures of the dead people lying on top and a metal strongbox and a lot of stonework and the first of many uniformed volunteer helpers to make sure nobody did anything bad.
norman keep looking to bevis tower, arundel castleEverywhere you are gently reminded that photography is not allowed in the castle so we took as many pictures as we could, but when you get to the more interesting places, there are helpers all over the place.
In fact, Margaret has done this castle before, about 70 years ago. She remembers that you could roll down the slopes to the keep etc, but nowadays the Health and Safety Police have put up little signs telling you not to do anything.
After the Fitzalan Chapel, we did the 'Collector Earl Gardens' which had a willow tunnel and many wooden sculptures and follies and one with a crown suspended on a jet of water with the entire room made out of seashells, as you do.
The vegetable garden is huge and there's a staircase leading down, it says it's the Victorian central heating room to keep the greenhouses warm. It must work, because they grow chillies and peaches and lemons and passion fruits and all sorts in there.
old fashioned toilet arundel castleThe large walls surrounding the gardens give it shelter so it's like a jungle with exotic plants and triffids. You're never far from walls and arrow slits and moats and towers, the Norman keep and Barbican Gate are 11th century, a lot of building went on in the 14th century but the impressive and suspiciously clean stonework on the front is from the 1880s.
They clearly did it well, with huge rooms and little doors everywhere, in the olde style but with modern building materials and skills, leaving the ancient parts intact. Having done the grounds, we entered the castle and had lunch.
stone built fireplace arundel castleWe've done captive lunches before and you just know it's going to be expensive. But this time it was a mere £33 to feed the three of us, I couldn't even finish the coffee cake. When I went to the toilet it was right at the base of the biggest round tower!
The Norman Keep is up 131 steps but that troubled none of us. I found the portcullis mechanism and laughed at the displays in the lady-in-waiting chambers and guardrooms with little plastic rats dotted throughout.
The views are pretty good from up there and there's a dungeon and a mini-chapel and a garderobe and a small girl making pigeon noises. The spiral staircases are very narrow and steep.
But once you get inside the main stately home, that's when you see the expensive stuff and Volunteer Helpers abound. The first bit is the armoury. They've got loads of swords and halberds and armour and guns and knives and stabbing weapons of most inventive design. If you really want to make a mess of someone's throat, why not have a massive sword on the end of a pole with 3 or 4 sticky-out bits going in different directions.
mace and medieval swords Every item of furniture is labelled and it's always 'Ebony table with ivory inlay, 15th century' or 14th Century German iron strongbox' or similar, no price tags on anything. The inner chapel is impressive but dark, then the rest of the rooms have set-up displays like 'Breakfast for the Royals' and there's a cabinet full of gold items including Mary Queen of Scots' necklace that she took off just before her head was removed.
The family (Dukes of Norfolk) had portraits done of all of their family members, nicely named and dated and done by people like Van Dyck: Canaletto and Gainsborough have also done paintings for the castle. I can tell you that the first wife of one of the Dukes back in the 1400s was ... not a natural beauty. Perhaps that's why she was only the first wife.
The great hall is hilarious with its understated fireplaces 50 feet high, lots of 16th century silverware and irreplaceable furniture, some quite overdone with curlicues and frippery bits, but who's arguing.
You get to see some of the bedrooms with ensuite bathing palaces, and an old-fashioned toilet that looks out over the south Downs. The library has 2 levels and lots of snug areas for private contemplation.
arundel castle tourist busAt the end we had to do the Gifte Shoppe but I just couldn't find anything that I was allowed to have, they sell really expensive stuff and tourist tat but nothing in between for me. They do sell swords and a decent mace (double-balled Morningstar) but only to over-18s! Cheek. We bought Jof some choc chip cookies and I settled grumpily for a pencil. This brought on a sulk that only an ice cream could cure, from the freezer visible behind the swords.
My little legs were tired. Immediately outside the gatehouse, one of the nice helper ladies said did I want a lift down to the front gate in her golf buggy. This totally made my day and I rode out in style.
We sent Bud to the next town to get the car back and Margaret went home on the bus after about 5 hours in the castle. We only had to park for about 20 minutes on the Chichester by-pass (the Grim Reeperbahn of Despair) and we were home. I had an excellent day and can thoroughly recommend Arundel Castle if:
You have a lot of money
You have resilient feet
You have a camera with a manual flash so you can take pictures surreptitiously

Saturday, 13 September 2014

A Right old Let-down

Up quite early and we had to go shopping. I had about £9 in my pocket money so I wanted a Minecraft book: my drudgery-payment for this was to endure shopping with Jof while he delivered some bedding to the homeless shelter and hit the charity shops of North End.
Meeting him back at home, we parked and the tyre went bang-hisssss, and we gradually sank down towards the pavement. I suppose it's good that we noticed, better than waking up to a flat on a Sunday morning.
napoleonic lumps fort portsmouth esplanade
He drove it round to the tyre replacement shop (about 200 yards) and I built a wooden house in no time at all, but also in cyberspace, where time doesn't matter anyway. That wheel was £60 of your Earth pounds wasted, I could have spent that on Lego FFS.
Some time ago, some nice policemen came to my school and security-tagged bikes for people but they'd run out of Plutonium or whatever by the time I got there so we looked up their advertised schedule and cycled down to Canoe Lake for today's session.
We cycled round and round but there were no policepersons at all, my second let-down, unreliable public services. So we did the Model Village (as promised last week) anyway. I deliberately sent Jof away citing bloke-ish things, but she met Erin and had tea and watched her push her dad in the sea so not totally wasted, although ErinsDad might have been.
southsea model village display mouldy due to damp conditionsI've done the Model Village before (4 years ago, with Ben) but I enjoy bestriding the world like a Colossus (not Bletchley Park's code-breaking computer) and I met the resident cat and climbed the castle and chased the trains up and down and actually recruited 4 followers in the 5-7 age range and we all chased trains for a while.
At last they all went home and we went down the tunnel. The Model Village is housed in a third-section of the Napoleonic era 'Lumps Fort'. Other sections of it are the Rose garden and the Oriental garden; the whole complex has 3 concreted 6" gun emplacements with splendid views of the deep-water channel and harbour approaches, and 2 bomb-proofed firing tunnels, one of each of these are in the Model Village.
castle of model village portsmouthThere's also a bunker-style machine gun and observation post and the tunnel has a dozen or so embrasures (rifle firing positions) that cover the east and west approaches to the fort, but one enemy grenade inside would silence all of them.
I like the trains, the lines go on for hundreds of feet and follow a set pattern.
The cat wanders everywhere as do the kids, and a lot of the buildings have funny signs like:
I. Cloutim & E. Bellows Blacksmiths, Stagger & Tripp Brewers to the Nobility, Messrs I.C. Trees & Esau Woods Timber Merchants - Branches all over, Ivor Norse Bookmakers and quite a lot of funny gravestones in the churchyard along the lines of "My wife lies buried under this stone for her peace and my peace of mind".
Inside the old expense magazine they have model circus tents that are supposed to do something but don't, there's a lot of buildings etc made out of matchsticks that took some old soldier ages to complete but are now going seriously mouldy in the damp subterranean environment, not kidding, there are mushrooms. A free-standing shed holds a collection of historic dolls, if ever one needs a tactical nuclear strike, can I suggest this target.
Then I got an ice cream and we met Jof and he went for a run and we did some exercises and got a Lego Hero in a charity shop with my one remaining pound. Luckily he'd bought 4 Bionicles on his journey so I disappeared upstairs for ages.
model village with waterways and model trains
Because of all this disappointment we started to talk about holiday destinations at suppertime. We've only done one but we learn fast and the little choosing subprogram protocol isn't much different - hot place with swimming pools and stuff.
The first place Jof found on the internet had a beach and 6 pools and one of them had a pirate ship in the pool and the rooms weren't rooms they were villas and each villa had its own pool ... oh dear.
So I had my first Bath Fizzer Night in ages, things keep getting in the way.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Snakes in my Brain

man falls through thin ice into lake funnyToday was Roald Dahl Day. Most people came in costume including the teachers who came as Oompa Loompas. Miss M is quite used to ignominy and ridicule, being a Wrong Direction fan, so dressing as an Oompa Loompa was practically par for the course.
We had a chocolate fountain and we were all allowed to dip one marshmallow in it and our class was allowed to dip 2, don't tell anyone.
We took Football Harry home today and I regaled him with tales of guns'n'bombs all the way home, but conflated all of my most recent films into one great big action movie ...
shirtless boy and giant lego collection boss from monsters inc"And the terminator kicked a desk through the window and shot lots of bombs at the police cars and when the alien ran away into the forest he took the big gun off the dead geezer and totally mowed down the jungle with the Gatling and the machine gun with the grenade launcher on top and he said that's a nice suit it'd be a shame to ruin it at christmas and shot him in the head and they fired 2 rockets at the tank 'cos they were all ex-super army but you have to be careful or you'll crack the dome and all the atmosphere will get out and ...." If you can just imagine all this at top volume for 600 yards with quite spitty machine-gun noises, you'll guess how chuffed Harry was.
We headed straight for the Lego Room and made a Lego Hero Army With More Legs Than You Would Expect and had lots of fun until HarrysMum arrived with Baby Felix who stumped around in his nappy and took a liking to my cuddly snake and had a right old fit when it was taken from him at going-home time.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Well spin my Nipple-nuts and send me to Alaska

bayeux tapestry star wars funny cartoonGoodbye to Richard Kiel (Jaws of Bond inter alia) who died yesterday. I met him a year ago at a Sci-Fi convention where he strangled me and signed a picture. I see there's another nerd convention next month in Southampton so I'll go and see whose autographs I can get: if any of the Red Dwarf Crew or Star Wars actors subsequently die, it's not my fault.
They have a Terminator exhibition.
autumnal park sceneToday in school we did science and literature. This may not sound plausible but let us not forget that Louisiana combined their religious and science textbooks into one bible, saving lots of money on printing costs. We poured water from vessels of different sizes down a tube to see how far it would get. As the emptiest vessel, I was chosen to run along the pipe to see how far the slosh went, so I was tired by the end of the day.
Nevertheless, I opted to take a football to the park and LittleMax and Football 'Arry joined me and we both played against 'Arry because he's much better and we lost the ball in the hollybush and sent LittleMax's grandma out onto the pavement to find it but it blew down out of the tree anyway.
I hurried back to watch the promised Phineas & Ferb Star Wars Crossover Episode. It was totally epic with far more sly references than I'll ever spot.
My Zimbio
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