Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Alice aforethought: the empty road ahead

sound of silence from not having any fucking kids
Today is one of those holiday days when you've got nothing planned. Just the odd bit of packing for the trip to Nannas' house, perhaps to read the second of the 6 suggested library books for the summer. I read the first last night and it was about how the little skeleton of a family of skeletons wanted a bat for a pet, against a sceptical Mummy skeletons' advice.
It will be quiet in the house without me, maybe he'll get withdrawal symptoms (I hear beer is the cure).
northern parade portsmouthalexandra park by mountbatten centre portsmouthWe started work on my school project, about tigers. We discussed habitats, nutrition, ferocity, size etc and will draw up a detailed report using all the data mined from the library books and internet. We were just starting lunch when Bud got home from work. How is this possible? He will have to cycle in to work for the next 3 days, hoho. After gymnastics (still no level 6 badge) we tried out all of the outside exercise modules in Alexandra park and did some climbing in the swingpark. I tried out the last of the flavoured custards: I love chocolate, normal and vanilla, but don't approve of strawberry or banana. Not a bad hit rate.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Slippery when wet, grippery when dry

schlitterbahn new braunfels texaskinderhaven schlitterbahn new braunfels texas
 On a promise today to visit the Canoe Lake water splashpark with Mr Ben for slippery fun. One day, when I'm rich and famous, I'll take all the Piddlers to the best waterpark in the world (Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels, Texas). They give away tickets on the morning show of 92.1FM KNBT just for ringing up and telling the audience what you did on the weekend - I'd be sure to win as I'm more interesting than "Oh, we just hung out in the back garden and had a BBQ" but then there's the slight issue of the 40-hour return commute and the £963 aeroplane tickets. I might just stick to cycling down to the seafront.
kid jumping over another kid on a bikeYou'll never see a church offering free wi-fi. They can't compete with an invisible power that actually works....
So. The first week of the summer hols has passed and now it's Jof week. Ben and I led the way with heads held high (as far as is reasonably possible when you're only 3 foot) and met the first error of the day.
blessing the congregation, canoe lake southseaThe watery splashpark was dry. Sand and flakes of skin gathered in wind-blown dunes where there should have been fountains and squirtles and geysers and bubblers and stuff. But this was ameliorated by the arrival of Puddlers Elizabeth and the JoniBobs and a giant beach ball, so we played football instead in the highly suitable Dry Gulch Canyon with its added obstacle course and non-slip flooring. I had a go on the caterpillar (soft play inflatable obstacle course) and Bobert got feisty. In addition there is the perennial task of excavating the mysterious old mound (suspected megalithic round barrow) for treasure and antique artefacts.
by lumps fort soutsea miniature villageWhen the park was built, the men with diggers spent a long time burying a concrete drain pipe section to make a train tunnel and roosting place for mosquitoes. Our job, as we see it, is to dig it up again.canoe lake cafe southsea seafront cockleshell heroes In our 4-hour play session we also hit the swingpark and the sandpit, where we discovered we could fill my socks with sand and swing them around as coshes. Once we'd been told off I de-sanded them and put them back on. Expect a sandy shower tonight. We are also qualified Ice Cream Detectives and can smell a freezer from 300 yards away due to microscopic traces of leaked CFC's, much like a shark detecting blood.
Afterwards Ben came back to mine for extended Lego play, always a winner. Bud had been to 7 shops to try and get bath fizzers, and came back with a bouncy Darth Vader toy for Ben. You've gotta wonder whose kid is more important here....

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Cardiff Sprinter

A bold welcome to even more new followers! You must all be very honoured.
council estate swingsToday the parents were feeling a little blank and vacant so we left Jof to stay in bed and walked to Bens' house to pick up the car. On the way we could not help but stop off in swingpark (several minutes on the hanging basket) and ditto in a deserted Yellow Plum Park for some climbing action. At Bens, we tried to re-destroy the garden and house while the olds sipped coffee delicately. In the end we were too loud so headed off to todays' new park.
poplar trees by the railwayHawthorn Crescent kiddie play area is a medium-sized park right by the railway in Cosham. In fact when the London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour via Basingstoke passed by, we could practically have hit it with wood chips from the park, but that kind of thing is frowned on.
highbury estate cosham by railway triangle cottagesThe swingpark is older (1994) so the climbing constructions are differently accented. There are 2 swinging baskets, a quadruple bridge frame with chain links, 2 wider than average slides and a basketball court. I recommend it but it's not easy to get to. From there we walked nearly up to the motorway (tunnel under it to the footbridge over the moat) and found a metal girder footbridge that goes over the railway to the Railway Triangle industrial estate. The driver of the Cardiff Sprinter waved to us which was nice. There are some cottages in the railway triangle, isolated and noisy stuck between 2 railways and a motorway.
southsea castle tudor brickworkAfter shopping and lunch, I beat Jof at Monopoly while he ran. Then Jof wanted us to do a family activity (she chose crazy golf on the seafront by the D-Day museum) which is a laudable enterprise but one doomed to failure as usual. We didn't make it out of the house until gone 530 so were there just in time to witness the golf man collect up all the flags and lock the door.
henry eighths castle portsmouth Then we tried the D-Day museum (closed 40 minutes ago) and Henery the 8ths' castle (closed 47 minutes ago) so said poo to this and ran round the moat anyway. I finally made it over the triangular bomb-proof cover over the tunnel. Once we'd emerged, it rained on us. It was bad enough being frozen by the brisk wind but that was the cue for a sprint finish to the day and a gigantic rainbow on the way home. Lucky for me I'm meeting up with Ben tomorrow, otherwise I'd die of boredom.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

A mullet with my name on it

3 new haircutsJof got up early so she could help her work open the safe and then she got a haircut. Bud shaved his head last night and this morning I got myself a Grade 2 cranial trim at Sids' by the park. I had a screaming foursome on the swinging basket and got another 20p car in the charity shop where I met BensDad trying to find a video for us lot to watch this afternoon. This is because we're all invited to Bens' house to do the Puddle Olympic Tournament, an eclectic selection of games and competitions on the common. It started at 3pm.
penalty taking competition
O Boy. Was it funny or what. I made it to bed (no bath fizzer night, not even a shower) at 2230 because of how long it went on for.
happy running kidsWe started by drawing names out of a hat to determine teams. Immediately 2 of our number disagreed with the teams and launched into Event #1, Synchronized Sulking. In fact Johnny made it all the way back to his own front door before agreeing to rejoin the collective.
gold silver and bronze medalsThen came skipping. I do not skip so have to throw the rope, run a few steps, throw again etc. Thus I was at a terminal disadvantage to anyone who knew how to wield a skipping rope properly.
fighting with cushionsThen came balancing the beanbag on your head; my newly smoothed bonce proved a disadvantage. We threw the shot put (2kg scuba diving weight) and ran the 60 yard dash. We did the relay (using leeks as batons in a clear sop to those Welshmen amongst us) and took turns at penalty shooting which is something we can all get stuck into.
Meanwhile the PuddleParents sat on deckchairs and clapped appropriately. Throughout proceedings every one of us (except the permanently happy Elizabeth) had a strop, sulk, moan or similar, but they didn't last long. This did mean that the teams were....variable in make-up, as not all participants were always there, or were there but were not participating.
ErinsMum was in charge of medals and we all got one eventually. BensMum was the strict Mistress of Ceremonies and the Dads held up the finishing rope, prepared props, and heckled generally. In the end the other team won but we were down by a whole Johnny for a lot of it. We all got prizes really and headed back over the road to the house where the adults who were not already holding a can of lager started on their Vitamin Beer.
middle aged alcohol drinkers with shot glassesresponsible adults For example. Here are some of our mothers, responsible adults with boring jobs, butter wouldn't melt etc. And here are the same ones later, once the butter had well and truly liquefied.
For a while there, we went back over the road to play football but whenever more than 2 of us are gathered together, there is strife so that didn't last long.
We watched a DVD of the Olympic opening ceremony about 3 times because it was so good. Variously we danced, Lego Heroed, Quarkled, ran up and down and were on average more co-operative inside than we had been outside. The barbecuist served us many sausages and at about 930 we realised it was dark and reluctantly walked home. We are the furthest away and I had to get 2 shoulder-lifts, and even then I was weaving unsteadily. I hope we get to do it all again, but not have to wait 4 years. 

Friday, 27 July 2012

Super Swimmers

tv reporter funny fail
Happy Friday, 7,309 times better than the Mighty Snorting Powder Rangers! This is the last in the current run of YMCA child-minding (I don't mind, and I'm the child). But it's bonus day - splashabout swimming with my mates Ben and the JBs and then my real swimming lesson in the afternoon, all in the same pool, how handy.
Because we had chosen that activity, our other one was inside: 'Night Games' (not Nudey room). They turned the lights off and we made a massive den and had to run between safe locations without getting illuminated by the torch. This reminds me of an arcade game I met in 1978 called Escaped Slave Shooter or similar where black chaps wearing only a loincloth ran from 1 bit of jungle to another and you had to shoot them with one of those wooden rifles stuck on a pole in front of the screen, you know the ones. We won't see the like of those politically correct playtimes again.
Anyhoo, today I funded Johnny and Bobert their 50p tuck money, same as I did Elizabeth yesterday. They hadn't run out of strawberry whips today.
crayon drawings
In the swimming lesson proper, Fraser had some top-quality slashes and burns to his leg and hip, much much worse than the minor scratches I got when I fell through the bench on the pier. Turns out he got a new bike for his birthday and did the 'No hands' thing. Then we went back to collect Bobert and the Keystone Cops business started. First I was going to pick up Ben and the JBs. Then Johnny said he was going with Dominic (?) and BensMum said she'd get Ben. Then she said she'd take Bob to cricket but left without him. Then Dominic didn't show up to get Johnny, so we delivered them both to their Dad in a fit of Brewery-level organisation. Who'd have kids anyway? On the way home Johnny quizzed Bud about the heat death of the universe and the origin of the moon etc, for he is a land mine of information. Johnny thought he'd got all the answers right. We also discussed fatal injuries (as you do) until Bob said he was going to get bad dreams about having his brain cut open.
NEWSFLASH! Ankara is in flames tonight after a running gun battle between renowned Iranian gangster Skittle Ali and his arch rival Tin Can Ali in a vicious turf war for control of the docks. Turkish officials say that the 14 tourist casualties were a one-off and the area is safe for tourism.   (Reuters)
Late into the night (2230) we watched the brilliant Olympic opening ceremony (at least until the interminable procession of countries started) and I loved the chimneys, the stovepipe hats, the Mary Poppinses, the Dizzee Rascal, the fireworks, the Queen getting a lift from James Bond, and all the other excellent stuff. 27 million other Britons watched it as well.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Angry Anglicans, Bishop-bashing Baptists and Holy Rollers

funny lolcat memelolcat memeI wonder if the other Piddlers are singers like me. Of late I have been singing aimlessly whilst on the toilet, in the shower etc but due to my limited capacity for remembering lyrics that were misheard in the first place, holding a tune etc, the quality's a little iffy. Thus I sound like a stuck record where that soundbite is an unfaithful reproduction of the original song.
See if you can recognise these 2 from the hit parade.....
1. "Foodlooz, Foodlooz, put on your Sunday shooz, Louise, Louise, get me up on your kneez"
2. "Hey whaddya look like, you're very crazy, so call me maybe"
Now imagine either of these 2 fragments sung over and over again for 10 minutes, accompanied by a writhing death-throe dance which reminds you of the time you got Javanese bladder worms, and you can appreciate the amount of pure joy I give to my audience.
Elizabeth dropped me off at YMCA today and while I played with my friends and Jof worked, he ran 10 miles to seek out the fulsome funbags of youth upon the promenade.
i. And behold, they were good, but all were tethered and gathered in for the night.
ii. And verily also there were shoals of mermaids, numerous patchy pink sunburns of pain and unevenness, a plenitude of fishermen catching seaweed, and yea, a surprising abundance of the cigarettes with no name.
sleeping like a babyiii. And lo, it came to pass, that even tho' there was sun and ice cream and rocks to throw into the sea that numbered as of the stars in the sky, many of the 4-6 age group were whinging fit to bust for no discernible reason.
Today we walked to Whale Island which is a Navy base but it's got a quality waterpark and adventure playground. I got a lift home with the JBs and headed straight for the TV where I curled up and gormed out. By suppertime I had heat rash on my back and one crampy leg so bleated continuously rather than eat my supper. Jof got angry and it was shower and bed.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Happy Clappers, Rhythm Methodists and Hullabalutherans

didn't expect you home
Yesterday Mr JoniBobs tripped over and banged himself on a ship so Mrs JB took me in to YMCA. Bud dropped me off first thing in the morning and the sun was already hot.
sideways cat funny pictureI must say I've been highly intrigued by the recent news reports of the chap in America dressing up as the Joker and shooting lots of people. The way I hear it, the first one to do it was a postman and all subsequent suicide shooters have tried to get a bigger number of kills than him. Plus, one of our Lego Villains is the Joker, so PuddleParents should prepare for random massacres carried out by a brightly coloured plastic toy, he has loads of weapons as well.
YMCA childminding activities charter academy portsmouthToday Bud sold my old Power Rangers bike to someone at his work for £25, effectively exchanging a bike for a pony, hoho, which is enough to pay for todays' YMCA - a fair deal in anyones' book.
In other news, this weeks' Drongo Bingo numbers are 1 and 3.
plate of sweet watermelon slices on a hot dayIn YMCA we did many activities and were allowed 50p worth of tuck, but they'd run out of strawberry whips. We all made various craft out of paper: I made HMS, just HMS, no actual name, and Johnny made one of those little round fighters out of Star Wars. One boy was put in the sinbin for strangling me and we played with perennial ex-Puddler Kiera.
do it yourself ice creams
By pickup time we were back inside playing lego-tractor mashup and Bud collected us all. We voted not to do Wednesday park because the alternative sounded better - 3:0 for going back to mine for Lego Heroes and watermelon. We were all sweaty little boys and every good boy likes nice juicy melons so we were set. It all got better when Bobert suggested ice cream cones with special BensMum Cornish ice cream and the multi-mixup box of chocco sprinkles. We ate them on the way back to the JBs house where he actually forgot to take me home and had to be reminded to take his own #1 son back with him. Mr JB was asleep with a head full of painkillers.
We went home through the park (free go on the hanging basket) and met Pops who is going to Durham. We recommended the Cathedral tower, nice bit of medieval masonry. I've nearly crushed Jof beneath the advancing feet of my Monopoly army. Bud opened my window to allow fresh air in to help me sleep but I was worried about birds getting in.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A day with the Crash Test Mummies

Hello to the world and a special greeting to my latest follower.
children playing in the water
I don't always hug boys. But when I do, it's really funny
You know the film 'Dinosaurs'? I now have my doubts that it was filmed using real dinosaurs.
Because us little people get so much holiday, they have to take it in turns having my light shine upon them. Yesterday, it was his turn to (fail to) look after me (sunburn, damaged shins, bruises, bike-related exhaustion) so today Jof gets me and she has arranged a trip to the splashpark with anyone who's free. 
First thing, we scooted to the library with my new magic wonder card (they have a Robot Librarian now, still a better love story than Twilight) and I took out some books on tigers and met Ben. It's been so long since I saw him I hardly recognised him.
Once we'd made it out of the house (we were both grumpy and distracted and disorganised) we walked miles to the extremely busy splashpark which is difficult to get to by bus and hooked up with Erin, who had a bonus LittleMax thrown in free. In fact he's so little I reckon Erin and I probably could throw him. We laughed and screamed and splashed as only 450 hot kiddies can, until Erins' parking ticket ran out and we exeunted severally. Lucky Erin has a new paddling pool of Olympic proportions in her back garden. It takes 3 seasons of snowmelt to fill and is currently occupied by a lost dog and 3 nesting herons.
water park southsea seafront near D-Day museum
Bud picked us up and we dropped a hot Jof off at home so we could go to gymnastics. This being the hols, many customers fail to show for the regular weekly slot so they boost business by offering an hours' random play for £4 or so to get local kids busy. This session was a mixture of regs and agency so there were lots of us. We could see from the mixed session before us that parents were allowed in so I insisted he wait instead of going for a run. It was worth it. We tried out every single item in the room and they'd made a big den by putting a parachute over a load of benches and there was a foam barrel you can roll down the slope on and all the foam pits and hanging rings and parallel bars you could eat in 3 lifetimes. Then we were all gathered together to wield the 20-handle multicoloured parachute of fun. Get round in a big circle, wave it up and down with toys on, make a bubble and hide in it, flap it frantically etc etc. Once we had to flap it in the air, get down on our tummies and put only our heads in the bubble. At this point, a Tickle Monster of unknown origin scrambled around the outside pinging ALL of us in the ribs including the official teacher gymnast girlie who was probably not expecting it. Once we had emerged, Bud had chased the monster away which was why he was still pink and out of breath.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Burning long hot summer day

children squashed together boys riding bikes in the park
summers day in the park As planned, hit the park for 1030. Ben arrived a little later and we embarked on a marathon park session.
We played football. We rode our bikes. We played on the curly slide. We rode our bikes again. We got a turn on the swinging basket (which has been upgraded) and played 'The bark chips are hot lava'.
We rode our bikes again and again all the way around the outer rim of the park. In the end I had been there for 3 and a half hours shirtless, soaking up those cosmic rays. No rickets for me.
sunbathing beachAfter lunch (including watermelon) it was back on the bike for a trip to the seaside. We met Follower Zoe who is my spy on the inside and she told me that all the teachers actually were in school doing inset-day activities, not simply lying on the beach as we'd all assumed.
high tide in portsmouth
Popped in on Jof at work and gave her a free smile. Hit the seafront by the Pyramids where I got yet another ice cream (Maltesers this time) for I deserve lots. We parked ourselves next to a large group of teenagers with their unfettered breasts flapping free in the light sea breezes and threw rocks into the sea, which is probably my #1 hobby. There were also mermaids gambolling, frolicking and and cavorting in the surf. Eventually we moved on to the pier where they've painted the crazy golf course. People were paying to use it so we made a mental note to come back later with one of my golf balls and play once everyone else had gone home. Then I perched on the unsafe benches and watched fishermen lose their bait for a while and then stepped onto a bench-plank that wasn't there, fell through the gap and barked my shins something chronic. This was most embarrassing for someone whose favourite phrase is "I know what I'm doing" so we rode straight home: we have both got some sun and I hope I don't burn, I've certainly got comical sockmarks. Pops appeared while Bud was cutting the hedge so I went round there for a bit to play on her new trampoline, she came round mine to play Hot Potato and then I challenged Jof to Monopoly again.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Summer at last

Continued my rediscovery of long-forgotten parks with a trip to a nearby but hidden gem: Tamworth Field. This is one block south of the school where Ben and the JBs play Thursday football, and right by Erins' grandparents. It's a medium-large with 4 separate climbing frames, 3 standalone items, swings, a decent roundabout, a 60 ft zipline, and a scattering of olives for some reason.
Also, the swingpark is in one corner of a large green area with blackberry bushes, plum trees, willows which make excellent dens and a small pond. It's choked with pondweed so there are no fish or ducks but we saw many snails, leeches, water boatmen, Daphnia and one newt.
burgers sausages and pastaAfter Sainsburys he cycled while Jof and I cleaned the car with the 3 free sponges we got with the bike. I also did Pops' car, wonder if they'll notice.
heavily armed kids with light sabresThen the order came through - Random Barbecue at the JBs. We took bubble mixture, beer by someone called Jeremiah Weed and a watermelon.
burning a broken cricket batWe were last there but never mind. We all had lots of food, hardly got naked at all, played in and out with everything we could find. The bubbles went down very well, the hovercraft was in constant use as was lego and the DVD player.
We were the last to leave and on the way home decided to have a bonfire, as you do. The bits of pallet burned very hot indeed and were fun to make castle walls out of. I consigned Bens' broken cricket bat to eternal damnation and went to bed with a 10 in it. I think we only saw 2 small clouds all day.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The third yellow line

kids climbing frame
1. Up at 0950 when one of the Conker Boys rang the doorbell asking if he could clean our car for pocket money. Jof had driven to work so no chance there.
1b. Normal bottlebank walk where we met: Finlay. He broke both his wrists once when he was at the bottom of the bouncy slide in Krazy Kaves or similar and someone else came down behind him and crumped his arms. Then we met Charlie and Lola and then BethsDad who invited us to the pub later.
king henry 8th castle bandstand and amphitheatre2.  Big bike ride to the seafront. I fell off once when I used the brakes - bit grabby, much better than the old ones so stopped dead, fell off sideways and cut my chin open.
3.  Hit the seafront at the Round Tower and threw rocks in for ages. One of Buds' backswings punched me in the head for injury #2.
4.  On the field by the Sea life centre we found a climbing device I've never met before so went up and down 7 times, 30 minutes was more than the 10 minutes we paid £2 for. Very groovy. Music provided by a live gig at the bandstand.
friends5.  Watched a cover band and then a country band from Exeter. Met Brandon (Year 1, now that we've all been promoted) and boogied mightily on the dance floor.
6.  The promised ice cream by the Pyramids, number rocks from the beach, climbed Pyramids outer walls again. I shall teach all the Piddlers this trick on Tuesday when we visit the splashpark (unless it's raining, slightly illogical).
bubble bath frenzy overflowing7.  Big poo in public conveniences, added my own aroma to an already full palette. Home for lunch, met Jof. Used roads on the way home, I have learned to cycle on the 3rd yellow line so I'm not in the middle of the road.
8.  Down to Pirate ship pub where I met Erin, Elizabeth and the BonnieJobs to celebrate sunshine and the beginning of the summer holidays. Lots of fun with balls and pink drinks and private chats with Erin in the playhouse. Quite a lot of moaning as well, I think J+B have not yet realised it's holiday time. Used recently fixed scooter to get there as the new bike would have been too fast and I certainly can't be bothered to walk. Lost them in the park on the way back because I was so fast.
9.  Fish supper because we bought Jof a ribeye steak to make her feel better.
10/10.  Life is, once again, absolutely wonderful. Everybody should have one.
11 (Spinal Tap)  Jof said I had to go straight to bed because it was so late. But the bath was already running (...honestly...) bedtime 2230.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Full circles around me

pupil asleep in class gets a book hit on the head
Another year over, 3 Cheers for the Hols, hip hip, Hooray! The tintinnabula of time have tinkled their way to their chronological conclusion.
finals day of academic yearYear 1 has finished and 6 glorious weeks of tropical temperatures and burning solar radiation are upon us, we hope. OK, so it's not the 104 days of mental rusting as enjoyed by Phineas and Ferb, but still. Jof has booked us a holiday abroad (to the Island of Greater Vectis) and I have my new bike. I don't even want to think about being a Year 2 in September, I might have to be a prefect and everything.
apollo bike from halfords ukBeavers may have stopped, but swimming hasn't. So having completed that (I'm quick at backstroke) we picked Jof up from work and rushed home. My new bike has arrived, all shiny and new, like a velocipede touched for the very first time.
Bud advised me to have a few random circuits round swingpark to get the feel of the new machine and this was sensible. And OMFG. I am now Captain Fast, a fleeting vision in yellow, a high-energy neutron in the bubble chamber of life. He couldn't keep up for long. The big thick tyres absorb all road bumps leaving my bottom comfortable upon the saddle. The brakes work. I'm higher up. Everything's great. The world is my chocolate cupboard.