Friday, 27 March 2015

The Big Giant Head

penguin misses iceberg Hooray for Inquest Day! It's amazing that those highly qualified teachers need so much training.
Therefore we didn't get up until at least 10am which was fine by us and I got my Minecraft time in early but Woo-Boy next door started woo-ing and drumming at 0630 which woke Jof up.
The main event of the day was buying a new bike helmet. Now you may not think this is earth-shattering in its importance or complexity but if cycling up to Halfords is the only thing you've got on that day, you're talking relaxing.
We used the Eastern Road bike path and I stopped off to throw some rocks into the sea and Jof looked at Ipods and Iphones and Ipads and Ibrows but didn't buy any.
farmhouse restaurant burrfields portsmouthIn Halfords the nice man measured my head and I am an adult, although he said it didn't mean I could buy beer. The only helmets in the child-suitable range had yellow dinosaurs on so do not even go there and I selected the plainest adult one available although the straps are too long, I may be giant-headed, but a bit chinless.
We had lunch in the Farmhouse Restaurant nearby and they have an indoor soft play thingy and I was surrounded by 4 year-old girls so I recruited the only boy and we did all the usual attack-chase games.
You know the git reporter in Die Hard 1 and 2 who was also the git environmental health Nazi in Ghostbusters? Well, this guy was his clone. I played the Madagascar Wii game where you have to dance with penguins or lemurs or whatever.
madagascar wii game pony club burrfields portsmouthIn swimming I beat Conor (the best in class) because he did breaststroke and I did crawl. Sometimes you need brains.
Later, Jof and I played Sniper. One of her Facebook friends had (after 25 deleted attempts) managed to post a video of himself turning off the light in his bedroom (to the consternation of his dog) using a Nerf gun from across the room.
Clearly we had to re-create this epic effort and we tried, Oh how we tried. Only 3 hours later, once I was naked and about to shower, did Bud visit my room and I said watch this, mush, and I shot the light off first time.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Week Subsides

jihadi insurgent fighters throwing RPGs to each otherAt last the week finished early due to an incense day. But we got to do ancient Greek pottery in art class. We all got a blob of clay and I got some leftovers from Ben and Estelle so my pot was bigger than most.
house with subsidence heidelburg road portsmouthIn the afternoon we sauntered to the station to collect the tickets for the Saturday Expedition and looked at the falling-down house on the way back.
This end-of-terrace was initially advertised as 'may have partial subsidence' which is probably why it had a "Condemned - Do Not Enter" sign on the front door, which was in itself a clear foot below the rest of the house, with groovy cracks running all over the front wall.
We've been keeping tabs on the builder's progress and they did remove a couple of walls and the roof and some more walls and now they're putting up new ones.
Otherwise I used up all my run-time devising new obstacles for my X-Box Minecraft world, let's hope I get an X-Box soon.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Here Comes the Quantum Fireball

School was great again, we had our lunch in the playground for the first time in Year 4 as it was so sunny. There was one minor incident with a plaster from the Office Hospital. I was just sitting innocently in French when suddenly my foot hurt and I had cut it. Normally French isn't dangerous unless you don't get the surrender flag up in time.
So on the way home Ben and I discussed what we could make with Lego and we decided on a TV big enough to get in so I could present the news and the weather forecast while Ben was on the double-decker couch.
using box as a pretend TV home bonfirePerhaps we have a distant memory of a bonfire TV presentation we did over 3 years ago ...
And it was a lovely day so Park Wednesday was ON. The JBs were dead on time and we went to the base tree and 3 separate football areas and coped with Owen, Destroyer of Worlds and we pigged the Jaffa cakes and left after 45 minutes even though it was nice.
diva drama performer waving arms for audiencelego star wars in bedroom with lego tableThis is because we all wanted to play Lego TV rolling news with adverts and Simpsons and natural disasters and we actually did really well. The TV frame was finished and Johnny did an expose of Empire life aboard the Death Star, Ben made a working remote control and Robert did the weather.
The Lego Millennium Falcon got slightly frumbled and we had competing adverts and we had 5 stage managers and no producers but as long as you shout louder than anybody else, your opinion will matter.
As usual, they ended destroying everything and I got angry and said nobody can come round ever until at least tomorrow. My School report card says I'm either good enough or totally wonderful at everything and have extra enjoyment of drama. Moi?

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

I need Trepanation like a Hole in the Head

workmen having lunch under digger safety failToday we had an hour of Religious Extremism (I think that's what RE stands for) and learned about Brahma and some other gods. Then we had to design, draw and colour in a new god of our own invention, much like it was done in the old days. Bud says I should heckle the priest and shout out do you want us to believe in the tooth fairy as well.
It hailed at lunchtime, possibly due to all those gods.
We had our final violin lesson today and we all tried to play along with the violas, not keeping very good time. We sawed away on our vile dins and tried to make up our own tune: if my interminable roadside rendition (I'm a Turnpike Troubadour at heart) is anything to go by, it's a cross between Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit by Chas'n'Dave and the Star Spangled Banner, perhaps we should call it the Star Spangled Bunny. island clash game on friv Showing the attention span of my age group, I eschewed my Hour of Minecraft and played 'Island Clash' instead. This wonder of 8-bit graphics is on good old FRIV and Finlay was playing it in Mr Bayliss' class.
It boasts such dangers as the Red Tank and the Metal Chicken (didn't they get to number 23 in 1972?) and you buy ever more complicated guns to protect your island nation from the advancing Blynd Tygers, Ferrous Ferrets and Alabaster Alpacas. Much like any other game, then ...

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Face only a Plastic Surgeon could Love

street sign no public urinationWell today was awards day at school. There were reading awards, sports competition awards and inter-school PE tournament awards. 3 Puddlers were called to the podium, I wasn't but I'm willing to take the hit for the team every now and then. 'Fridge' Frazer got a gold medal in the sports and our school did well overall, possibly due to improved nutrition in the well-heeled suburbs.
milton 5th cub scout group in church hallIn Cubs we played Human Battleships again and the opposition are getting wise to our moves by looking through the little gap between the upturned trestle tables and spying our locations and painting us as targets. We also did work towards our cooking badge with the old hand-washing comparison, what gets your hands the cleanest, water only, soap and water, soap only. Spoiler alert ...

Sunday, 22 March 2015

USS Theodore Roosevelt (Rough Rider)

tidal lake near haslar naval hospitalA fairly quiet morning due to late nights so there was a lot of sofa and relaxed consideration.
But in the afternoon he announced that we were taking advantage of the excellent weather and doing a bike ride. Jof decided to come too, even when she found out it was to Gosport.
So we gathered our stuff and cycled to the Gosport ferry and emigrated. Jof is always amazed at how big the Gosport peninsula is, and some of it is almost nice.
We took the southerly section of the old decommissioned railway down past Workhouse Lake where they have a tidal lake and a dammed bit, and down over Stoke Lake where we stopped to admire the view. As it was an old railway, there's a decent iron bridge with massive rivets, a waterfall and an egret who padded about in the fast-flowing water trying to stab fish.
american aircraft carrier visits stokes bay on world tourPast the rather impressive Crescent, we broke out into the greensward of Stokes Bay and met half the world who had had the same idea. We parked up and noticed a submarine hiding and several suspicious ripples in the open water, and a lot of giant colourful kites and a lady spinning green whizzy-things on strings like you get at new age festivals.
I was just throwing some stones into the sea when the insanely large aircraft carrier hove into view off Portsmouth point (Pom. P. on navigation maps, hence Pompey). This little chap (100,000 tons) is the USS Theodore Roosevelt which is so big it can't fit into Portsmouth Harbour, so had to drop anchor in Stokes Bay, which is why we were there. You could see right through it where they had helicopters.
double choc ice cream watching american aircraft carrier
Many tugs and vessels busied themselves around it and we had ice cream and Jof got tea, and ham and cheese toastie sandwiches and we all looked at the carrier. The beach was quite busy and many blokes had those giant zoom lenses that have to have their own suitcase but I didn't care because I had a double choc ice cream.
The deck is 4 1/2 acres in size. That's enough to grow a couple of thousand apple trees but they use it to store lots of fighter planes.
But soon enough we were cold, because it's still March and it gets blowy on the seafront so we got back on the bikes and went home as quickly as we could to get back to the kind nurturing sofa with its comfortable seats and endless chocolate.
american carrier warship visits solent stoke bay gosport portsmouthIncidentally, the journey was 9 1/2 miles, Jof and I cycled, Bud ran it and still had to stop and wait for me to catch up.
Pompey has always been a Navy town and back in the day when we had a Navy, the arrival of a ship into port was a big occasion because there would be hordes of thirsty Matlows (sailors, from the French Matelot) looking for beer and fights, and lots of young ladies in challenging skirts from all over the country would travel down in the hope of meeting some of them and hearing how lonely they get on board so everybody was happy.
The USS Theo Roosevelt contains 5,000 sailors who will get 5 day's shore leave. That's an awful lot of seamen for the young ladies to cope with.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Exeat: Winchester Cathedral

winchester cathedral tower tour reviewI have been to Winchester before and it is where I first met those street performers who pretend to be statues. I also bought an orange watch, as you do, and refused to pay the entry fee for the Cathedral.
This time we'd arranged it all in advance and were prepared to pay. Jof had elected not to come with us because the shops in Winchester aren't a patch on Salisbury, apparently, and she had yet another opticians appointment.
So we drove to Grandad's place, for he is a nutter like us and had eagerly accepted the chance to accompany me on an expedition into the unknown. We found a multi-storey car park that said it was going to be demolished in 9 days' time, giving us a sufficient window of time to do the Cathedral Tower Tour.
stone spiral staircase winchester cathedral tower tour reviewThe Cathedral itself is a little smaller than the one in Salisbury and its tower is definitely shorter. But they say they're the longest one in Europe and have the biggest bell-ringing room, and that the stone spiral staircases are narrower than anywhere else.
We approached the desk and said we've booked, can we have our tickets. They said go to the box office: the box office tried to send us back again but then she printed out our tickets and flustered, forgot to charge for the privilege.
This was absolutely the right price for us so we didn't mind having to pay the entry fee of £13 (which was for 2 of us even though we are 3) and I wanted to buy a pheasant feather and pot of quill ink from the shop but he said you'll never use it, just because you've seen it in Harry Potter does not mean that you can't just use a pen. Plus, if you haven't got your pen licence from school yet, think how long it'll be until you get your quill licence. Pheasant Plucker.
So we gathered in the gathering point after a quick look in the treasury which is a load of glass cupboards with 16th century gold and silver chalices, beer steins and plates. These monks obviously knew how to party, some of those tankards are like, 3 pints each.
The tour guides were two old ladies and they had to ask us all if we had a history of heart attacks, vertigo, sudden blackouts or demonic possession etc, to be fair, I'm 9, Bud is 45, the other 2 were in their twenties, only Grandad was older than the biddies at a mere 85. But we had to do the biddies' bidding and duly said we were fine, whereas in reality, the least able to negotiate steep spiral staircases were the biddies themselves.
winchester cathedral tower tour reviewWe ascended the first flight and came out onto the roof edge of the main nave. This was a groovy view north up the hill to the Roman roads and we saw the tower and St Catherine's Hill and some pigeons. The lead roof had many patches with dates on (2009 etc) and at some point soon, the whole thing is going to be covered in scaffolding so the lead can be stripped off and replaced wholesale.
Then, like at Salisbury, we traversed the length of the nave in amongst the rather chunky medieval rafters and roof supports and we saw that they were good.
At the end is the base of the tower where the bellringers stand. They also have those placards where they record the longest ever campanology sessions and one was 4 hours and 11 minutes, bet the local population loved that one. They used to all be blokes and you know what it's like when you have 10 blokes all alone in a tower for 4 hours, so those nice Victorians installed a urinal in a cupboard. We also saw the giant central trap door for bell-lifting.
winchester cathedral tower tour guides reviewI found a spare clapper behind a chair and it was heavy. But then we went into the corner where the biddies got all worried about our ascent to the next level. OK, so the spiral staircase is narrow, and the steps have been worn away so you could easily slip if you were drunk, incapable, an old biddy, or not looking where you were going. You have to go down a bit, then along and up lots.
We also made rude jokes about how Americans couldn't get up the spiral stairs due to being moderately plump. But that's unfair, they're not all like that.
Grandad caused mayhem when he decided to go down the steps backwards, like in a ship or submarine, but then he bumped into a wall which is why you go down forwards. On the next astral plane is the bell room. These bronze monsters go up to a ton and a half and while we were there, some dinged and donged because it was quarter to the hour.
Back into the narrow staircase, the biddies were back in claustrophobic panic mode and we emerged onto the flat roof with raised sound dispersal unit and flagpole. We looked from all angles but I must report that the wind was a bit keen and I was glad I was wearing a coat. In fact the monks have a special medieval Papal Edict, signed by the man himself, saying they're allowed to have their hoods up during services, for otherwise their ears would succumb to frostbite in the centuries before windows, and decent clothing.
The time came for us to descend and that's when one of the biddies revealed she actually knows Grandad, from one of his church singing groups. I guess that once you meet him, you don't forget him. Mmm.
winchester cathedral tower tour reviewAt the very bottom we all got a certificate, signed by the actual Dean of Winchester Cathedral's actual photocopier, saying congrats you have climbed the 213 steps on the tower tour and the biddy also said that we'd broken records: the youngest person to do the tower tour (me, 9), and the oldest person to do the tower tour (Grandad, 85) all in one go, and all in one family! Gosh, how we guffawed, chalk up another victory for Team M.
So you can't pay 60% of the entry fees and not have at least a quick circuit of the building so we saw the Crypt and that's when Grandad came up with his poem, about a cat that crept into a crypt and crapt. The poem was good, but the crypt was crap indeed because it was a big nice place if damp, but you couldn't actually go in it, just huddle at one end and view it through a fence.
All through the superstructure we found medieval flagstones in the floor with pull-rings so you know full well that there's tunnels and stuff down there. They also have many chantry chapels dedicated to various great and good from the 14th century and yes, it bursts with history, rocking mental stonework and wide open spaces, very valuable, extra credits to the deep-sea divers that saved the place by supporting the foundations.
There was also a choir practice going on, they were doing Bach, and Grandma would have wet herself with joy at some solid choral Bach in a decent Cathedral so Grandad sat and listened for a bit while I lit a candle to Nanna, which is what I do.
cat crept into a crypt and crapped poemOutside we found a pricey yet VERY good Gourmet pizza establishment and pigged out, and then we did the city museum which is fairly small, even smaller when filled to the gunwhales by 57 Spanish students all trying to fill in the learning journey funquest and we saw many Roman coins and mosaics. Next door is a pub called the Eclipse, bet they had a good day yesterday.
We had a few minutes left so we ran to the old castle with its gifte shoppe of ambitious prices and squashed 3 pennies, King Alfred, Guinevere's Garden and the Round Table, which hangs in the great hall next door. It is a faithful medieval reproduction of the legendary original, using exactly the same shape!
The time on the car ran out so we drove Grandad home. On the way out, we saw people on the tower roof, from the 2pm tour! At his apartment, he made me do some angles, quizzed me on geography, gave me some foreign coins from his latest far eastern cruise and we came home, where we parked at exactly the same time as Jof and her work friend Katie off the hovercraft and they had prosecco and WKD blue and went to Gunwharf and then phoned us up and said I forgot the camera so we drove to Gunwharf and Bud scooted through the flat concourse and delivered the camera. Everyone in Gunwharf should have a scooter.
medieval stonework in winchester historic cathedral
Then I chose Schwarzenegger in 'Eraser' for my film night because I like the guns. Then I watched 'Predator' because I like the jungles, and dollops of extra death, hurrah. Overcome by tiredness at 1020, just when Dutch was making his final stand. Blurred Jof got home only 30 minutes later. I have orders to be quiet tomorrow.