Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Am I healthy yet?

tv news tilt funny fail sex for mcnuggetsThe school onslaught into our bad habits continues. Today we had to design a healthy meal with all food groups represented, so I chose to make a roast chicken dinner with 4 veg and orange juice. Once I'd got to the end and totted up the food points I discovered I was low on Dairy and Carbs so I added a buttered bagel for Horses D'oeuvres.
All of this was physically represented by bits of card and artfully folded tissue paper in a range of garish colours.
For Judo we learned to bow first because it's Japanese and then we did one person lying on the floor trying to get up while the other pinned him down with a grapple-hold. Due to physical weakness I chose Estelle as my partner as she is even smaller than me, not remotely to do with having to hold down a struggling girl.
kirby road swing park north end portsmouthAfter Judo we did Shaolin Violin which is where you stand on one leg for 3 days and play the violin without a bow, mm.
Before gymnastics we had time to visit 'College Park' which apparently is the true name of Kirby Park. I never got a go on the swinging basket but did some arm exercises which immediately paid off as the Gym teacher said I had vastly improved in the last 2 weeks and I would move up a badge next time there was assessment. I am now dead set on doing press-ups before my shower and suchlike, then maybe I won't have to choose a weak girl to play Judo against.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Vorsprung Dork Technik

engineering representation symbol of resistorToday is the beginning of our "Healthy Living and Staying Safe Week" at school. So to balance out all those lifestyle lessons I spent breakfast swearing at the coloureds, nakedly invoking satan with the curtains open, idly browsing lemonparty.org using my corporate email account and smoking some opiated full-fat Yangtze River Dolphin butter washed down with Jack Daniels and not washing my hands after having a poo.
portsmouth and southsea safer neighbourhood team police bike security markingWe did basketball shots in house teams and boxing which is basically dancing and waving your arms about because it's totally non-contact at this age, I mean, how long would I last against Ben or James? We got to watch the slow-mo video of someone sneezing, and learned how to wash our hands.
year 4 advertising poster schoolwork project
On the way home we saw a group of police in the park. Instantly we sprinted/scooted away from them at top speed but actually because they were the bike security-marking police, not because we have skeletons in the cupboard, honest. Got a perfectly good basement for the skeletons.
Racing back, they had not yet packed up to leave and they marked my bike and recorded the frame # and took our details, what model citizens we are, all part of the staying safe theme.
At home I finished my Willy Wonka poster using only 4 blatantly plagiarised internet photos and some overdone colouring. I'm sure those Oompa-Loompas are the wrong colour.
I only grew 1 centimetre in the last 3 months and may have to give up my dream of joining the Harlem Globetrotters.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Estaad Ovito

free spinning roundabout in parkMassive lie-in today, so much that we actually missed breakfast time at Sainsburys.
So Jof is away at Nanna's place cleaning it and emptying it out for the new owners. This does not mean we get out of going shopping so we visited Unexpected Horse Park (East Lodge Recreation Ground, Farlington) where we saw the horses as expected but didn't feed them. The fact that the unexpected horses are now predictable poses a challenge to their own existence in reality, be careful or they might vanish in a puff of logic.
So I did the roundabout and Ben might, just might, have been playing football in the field next to it but I don't think so. Then came the wheeze, the jape and the brainwave. Why don't I order breakfast at the café in the supermarket, and eat it while he does the shopping? So I did that. But we'd missed breakfast because it was 1145 so I had fish fingers which were undersized, probably global warming or something.
mountbatten portsmouth swimming pool fitness centreThe nice lady asked how old I was but they weren't age-restricted fish fingers, she just wanted to know if I'd be naughty and throw my food or similar. I was good and finished it, but the boy at the next table turned out to be the bad one, running around screaming out of control.
Jof wasn't due back for hours so I demanded satisfaction which turned out to be a cycle ride to the Mountbatten Centre and 2 hours of swimming, diving and underwater handstands. It was like Mallorca all over again and strenuous exercise to boot, not that we had a boot. We did quite a lot of pushing each other in, which is against the rules and I sang my special song "Estaaad Ovito" over and over for half an hour while doing the stick-your-tush-out wiggle dance to infuriate him.
When we got home I made Jof play Lego with me while he ran 10 miles, she wasn't really in the mood but I didn't notice. I had lunch at 530.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Failed Under Continuous Testing

A relaxed start to the day and then into town for shopping. But as it was for my benefit, I didn't mind. Sports Direct have many sporty items and I found some wetsuit gloves to keep my poor little fingers from freezing, and little wetsuit booties as well. I wanted big clumpy boots for sailing but apparently I'm not going to be bought expensive boots just for immersing in seawater. Outside the shop, a chap stopped us and opened his rucksack and said look what I've got 'ere mate, pucker gear, offering hooky perfume for less than shop prices. What is this, Peckham High Street? Still, Jof bought me a toastie sandwich in Marks & Spencer (I am a frequent flyer there) and then I was good enough to get a slice of the 'Cake of the Month', so big it had chocolate all over its chocolate.
Bud got me a random bag of Lego from a charity shop and Jof drove off to Nanna's house again. That's when Ben said hello from the other side of the road and we took in the poor abandoned waif and we played Lego Attack for ages, like, 2 hours, which is all we ever wanted. Even the offer of free ice cream didn't prise us from our lair.
dining table with lego flats glued down for lego building area
The latest project is a tower I can fit into (again) so we played bases and armies with the outsize Lego charity shop girl playing the role of the enemy. She has articulating ball and socket joints so you can move her into all sorts of compromising positions, mm.
Then Jof rang from Arundel railway station to say the car had broken down irreparably and she was waiting for the tow truck. Once she'd waited for an hour and a half the truck man said well actually the exhaust pipe has a hole in it so it sounds bad but actually you're fine so Jof carried on and had a cup of tea at Nanna's house, should have been 7 pints of Chateau Grinderneuf if you ask me. She also very deliberately and loudly said with careful enunciation that I should not be watching Killing Movies for a while so I looked through the selection of new films and chose 'Eraser' with Arnold S in one of his less memorable but highly clichéd films. OK, so we had to go back a few times and have Mafia 101 and Treachery 101 and stuff but I loved it and had bath fizzer night with "Granny takes a Dip" which is a multi-coloured fizzer from Lush right next to M&S. If you think your life is good, you are wrong, sorry old chap. Mine is better.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Something for the Weekend, Sir?

trolling motorbike rider with red smoke flare funnyJof had a day off today so you think I'd be able to go in late. But no, she told me off for not eating breakfast, for not doing my teeth and for putting my shoes on the wrong feet.
match attax! card collection spread out over floorSo I sulked all the way there, which was at least quieter for her.
Then it was dull dull dull until we took Harry home and we shot each other and did Lego and ate choc biscuits and ran around slamming doors which is because we're boys and you lot exist only to serve us, don't forget it.
At the last minute I realised that Harry was a Match Attax! card collector and offloaded half of my collection (of last years' cards) onto him.
Not only is Jof leaving us tomorrow, she is going out with the work girlies tonight as well, I feel a double film night coming! I chose 'Highlander' (there can be only one). OK, so we had to have several toilet and plot-explanation breaks but once I'd pinned down who was who and appreciated the dual-time slot storyboard, I got right into it and after my shower we had a massive fight where pillows took the place of swords and it was every man for himself and I came away with only neck scars and he had jaw injuries and liver cirrhosis and who's counting.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

My Favourite Flavour

tv news tickertape funny fail penis pumpsToday at school we had our first fire practice. We were all out in 1 minute 20 even though I was in maths instead of my normal classroom, teacher says that was the best ever time.
Then we strolled all 250 paces to my old school where we waited for Dilly, me wearing my balaclava due to incognito mode. She was released into our custody and she brought a trumpet, as you do.
wimborne junior school trumpet lessonsSociety frowns on blowing one's own trumpet but we all had a blart on it and it's very difficult to parp if you're laughing. Then I beat my bare chest (pigeons not included) which was the challenge for greater things and we played pow-pow with my various rifles and a game in which we were rich people and scoured the house for burglars. I held the machine gun and she played the guard doggie.
lego city star wars fighter on dining tableSo often games are played in which the chap holds his big weapon and the girlie is on all fours barking and crawling around following orders. No, I don't know why either.
We were offered ice cream: Dilly actually turned it down on calorific grounds but I had one, chocco, my favourite flavour. Goes well with a decent wine like Seules de Mafite.
Thus we ended up playing Lego which was the whole point of the playdate, I  made a museum with historic attractions such as the first gun and the first missile to strike Germany, and she made a house with transparent walls and hosepipes.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Don't Hack my Cloud, Man

Yesterday at school we did music lessons but with a twist. Students got to play the instruments on stage and the teachers put girls on the drums and guitars, and had boys on singing and dancing! Do they know nothing? So Bud explained at length how you can't say that sort of thing any more since it was discovered that girls are only 73% crapper than boys.
Anyway, I can't dance, although I certainly put in the effort. The only move I can do is "Village Idiot Who's Just Had 46 Espressos" which scores 8.3 on the Spasmograph but only 1.3 when the judges hold up those little placards.
So due to having to buy more blue food for our mousey visitors I didn't get to go to the park but we cycled to sailing as usual.
hayling island billy line course of old railway across mud flats I was first there and the six of us (missed Erin) got our boats down to what was left of the water. Having been cheated by a previous low tide we wasted no time and I sped southwards towards deeper water after the 2 vastly more competent and speedy girls.
Ben and Johnny capsized a few times and had to be de-rigged and towed after us but in the end we all went in and chased each other around in a little channel of water miles from anywhere surrounded by whiffy mudflats. However, dunking yourself repeatedly on a cloudless evening in late September means that we were all very cold with stiff little fingers.
At home I had fish pie supper wearing one of Jof's crotchety blankets like an old granny and did my best wounded soldier impression with tragic voice and 3-dimensional limp. This only made them laugh louder, how unfair is that. Chocolate always helps, though.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Raining Champagne in my Brain

neurotic illogical woman problem funny flowchart
lego model 60058 land rover jeep 2 jet skiToday I took my bugs in resin into school.
american selfie woman in purple pays $20,000 for third breast get your ass to marsEver since we found this display case of petrified arthropods of impressive size, I've been able to win any show'n'tell or bring'n'burble. In that regard it has proved quite similar to The South Sea Bubble, which was a parrot owned by my Aunt, who I lived with.
The power supply was back on again, for how long nobody knows.
I chose to Minecraft instead of go to the adventure playground, because now that Microsoft have bought it, some kind of pay-per-brick scenario may be on the cards. Or tiles.
Anyway I bring you the latest of my Bribery Lego, can't even remember why I deserved the double jet-ski truck combo.
And far more importantly, I read that a Florida woman has paid twenty grand to have a third breast implanted. She hopes to get her own TV show. Get your ass to Mars, Baby!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Isolate at Main Breaker!

red bus crashed into river ravine funnyA rather boring day at school, had to happen sooner or later.
But when I got home, things were different. The power was off, and I mean all of it. I couldn't watch TV, my snack had to be cold, the tablets didn't work, so I ended up emptying my old Match Attax! folder.
electricity distributor worker in protective gearThen the men from the electricity network came in 2 separate vans. They looked at our system and said the fault must be in the road.
The young sparky was on probation or had to be observed or tested in some way so the old hand man left him to it. They opened the hole in the pavement and oohed and aaahed a bit, as you do.
The young apprentice put on a large hi-vis coat, and some giant work boots and a helmet with welding mask attachment and some big yellow rubber gloves you could investigate an elephant's fertility issues with if you get my meaning and he might have had one of those dog collars with the spikes and some SCUBA apparatus for all I know.
aged electrical supply cables in roadThen he used a big orange fitment to put in a massive new fuse and they looked at it for a while and then the older bloke said nah you don't want to do it like that and he just grabbed it and shoved it in without any of the coats and protective runes or herbs.
Everything came back on and I played Minecraft and Jof got home with extra carrots and was none the wiser.
At Cub Scouts I played lots of team games and when I got home the house was full of candles because the power had gone off again and the same 2 electrical blokes were drilling test holes in the pavement. Because supper was cooked by candlelight, it was an inventive affair but healthier than the MacDongles Jof had suggested for me.
We took advantage of the returned power and showered, watched some TV, vented both some spleen and some plasma. I was in bed by the time the power went off for the 3rd time.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Singing in C sharp

horizones and swimming pool havant leisure centreToday was a lazy day to make up for yesterday, we all deserved it. But we did have to go shopping even though nobody wanted to, Jof offered me a miniature golf but I elected to go swimming. I had to be told off 5 times for singing.
By the time we'd made it to Havant Leisure Centre (where I had my last birthday party) there was only 45 minutes of swimming time left but that was enough. The diving board was broken which was a shame but I can dive off the side perfectly well.
Later we looked up Die-cast miniatures (all the burnished copper pencil sharpeners I have in my collection) and discovered some crowd in the Netherlands who have 450 of them. The motorbike is #9629 so there might be nearly ten thousand different models for me to get. I may never complete the collection, but might have to buy a dedicated display cabinet.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Exeat: Windsor Castle (it's good to be the king)

Choices, mmm.
norman keep round tower windsor castleFirst thing he said (just as a fragile Jof cycled to work) was what do you want to do today:
1. Windsor Castle
2. Fort Nelson
3. Bike ride of your choice
4. Other
and for a while there I wasn't sure. All the way up the A3 I played Minecraft, we parked on the M25 and the M4 (as you do) and reached Windsor in record time, even though we'd had to use the handbrake which is something that you never need to do in Pompey. We toured the mean streets of the Royal Borough but they were all residents only, so we did what we were told and found River Street car park.
4 hours there would have been £15 so we drove right back out again and found Romney Lock car park, which we'd used before when we went to Legoland, £4 for the same time.
Now, we've done plenty of castles and similar venues and have finally learned some lessons. If you go in, get some sights seen and then have a meal in the on-site eatery, you will pay either 1) through the nose or 2) an arm and a leg. So we chose to eat first and take the advice about not going in the castle between 9 and 11 because the ticket office is busy.
Pizza Express is directly opposite the castle so we sat down and we had to wake up the waitress who then proceeded to apologise in Polish for the rest of our meal. I did the kids menu/crayon challenge thing and still had trouble unscrambling the words "eprpep" and "motota" even though it's exactly the same word-scramble challenge as in the numerous Pizza Expresses that I've already visited in Arundel etc.
frogmore house view from windsor castle norman keep round towerThen we approached the castle itself. Bud set off the metal detector with his steel work boots and we paid a mere £42 for the "Conquer the Tower Tour" once I'd passed the height test (just). I've seen the castle before from the outside and I've met other impressive stonework edifices and historical items. But I can tell you that this place is a Castle That Does Not Mess About.
The Norman Keep is Norman, so it's a thousand years old. The site has been added to, strengthened, improved, cleaned, upgraded, tarted up, and otherwise expanded variously ever since by all the big names in the English Sovereign lineage, so it's practically designed to shock and awe the tourist dollars out of the many visitors. At the base of the main Round Tower is the 'Moat Room'. It advertised activities for children: I looked inside to discover finger-painters and dress-up-as-a-princess merchants. I am not a child. I left forthwith.
The main tower is surrounded by ancillary defensive walls, so has a protected microclimate of its own. Probably not what the original builders had in mind, but very advantageous. They have some lovely plants. Incidentally, I can also tell you that the castle is on the main flight path for Heathrow airport so every 47 seconds, a plane goes over and blasts the Royal airspace. I expect if King John knew that, he would have relocated to Abingdon.
The first place we went in was St George's Chapel. This mini-cathedral has 1348 as a build date and this kind of stunning detail is reproduced all over the castle. The gate opposite was built when good old Henry the 8th ordered it to make egress easier.
I liked the woodwork and the tombs and the flags and the steps that go down, and the steps that go up. We weren't allowed on them. Again, official helpers abound making sure that nobody takes photos, so our album is mostly of outside views.
queens rose garden yew tree topiary
In the shop I bought a pencil, in a similar move to Arundel Castle, it was what I could afford. We ran up the slope to the big central tower and joined our little scheduled tour group. Straight away we couldn't take pictures in the access corridor (thoughtfully roofed by King John in the 14th century) but enjoyed the mini-portcullis and the 9 foot cannon pointing down the stairs to blast attacking soldiers with murderous grapeshot.
The first level has cannons pointing at Eton College. The nice man said that it costs 30 grand a year to go there, but Bud sang there for free 30 years ago. Then we climbed the staircase to the top and were told not to take pictures of the Queen's sitting room. I ran off on my own and was given a special personal tour guide to make sure I didn't plummet to my death, but then we got talking and she told me stuff about the local environment such as the chocolate factory just over the river in Slough that makes 3 million Mars bars a week and I told her about all the churches and castles I've been in and she said I was the best thing to happen to her all week. You can see the Royal Mile, a massive procession route to the statue on the hill, shows what a back garden you can have if you're the reigning monarch.
boy eating windsor castle royal herd ice cream
We saw some Beefeaters doing changing of the guard, they have MP5 automatic guns apparently, but they do look rather swish in their freshly laundered uniforms. The bearskin guys in their little guard booths didn't bat an eyelid however many oriental tourists lined up to have a picture taken with them. You can also see the Thames covered in swans, all owned by the King since time immemorial. It's good to be the King.
The Round Tower Does Not Mess About. It survived both sieges and now houses the royal photo collection. On the way out I deserved an ice cream: for £3 I was gratified to read that it was produced (personally) by the Royal Cows. Then we hit the Middle Ward (Lord Chamberlain's) shop because the queue for the State Apartments was really long.
fully armed beefeater soldier royal entourage guardI got a Windsor Castle Medallion and some chocolate and tea for Jof and a little cannon but did not get the Beefeater pyjamas or Beefeater pen or Windsor Castle fridge magnet. I have a collection of "Squashed Pennies"; where special machines elongate a penny and imprint a logo specific to your tourist attraction. The nice lady at the shop said we don't have one here, perhaps it's because the Queen (who lives here) doesn't want her face squashed. Good point.
At the bottom of the Lower Ward is a series of brick buildings that were built by Elizabeth 1 and by gumbo, they're all lived in. Then we noticed that all the wall towers and medieval buildings and precincts and stuff have numbered doors and little gardens with bags of compost and tomato plants and dedicated car parking spaces and people live there! Several houses had gargoyles on the outside.
How totally bodaciously cool must it be to say your address is #5, Windsor Castle?! Once we'd stopped laughing we went through the door (built 1543, told you) onto the North Terrace and saw the Royal Rose Garden, and some little baby cannons and some serious topiary and some rather spiffing frontage and you can see why the Yanks and the Japs and the Aussies and everyone else totally rave about the place, after all, I did.
Then he said look you, we've got to at least try to see the State Apartments 'cos we've come all this way and spent all this entry money. And hey, whaddya know, the queue was not for the State Apartments, but for Queen Mary's Dolls' house. We said Poldarks to dolls houses, for we are chaps and want to see guns and swords and knives and stabbing weapons.
We got a couple of pictures of the swords before the Helpers came over, and we proceeded through the roped walkway. Immediately it's Meissen, Delft, Wedgwood, all with the royal names that make it unique.
sovereign of the realm tourist magnet
This castle is somewhat better than all things we've ever seen before. Rooms are vast. They are plastered with artfully arranged collections of priceless flintlocks, ceremonial diamond-encrusted swords, terrible cutting weapons, knights in shining armour with those jousting lances holding up the ceiling, golden presentation plates, halberds'R'us, and little surprises.
You can just imagine that any foreign dignitary such as the President of America or random Kings, Prime Ministers or other potentates might be seriously over-awed by it, imagine being given a bed for the night here.
Each room has a rather special name like audience chamber, King's bedroom, Waterloo chamber etc. The Lantern Chamber has silver gilt items of top top top workmanship with dates like 1653 and one room is covered in paintings of unreasonable size by unknown artists like Rembrandt, Durer, Titian, Rubens, Van Dyck, Canaletto, Gainsborough, Vermeer, who are these people?
One room was completely gold. Not kidding, everything was gold. The one next to it was the Order of the Garter room, for the King's best friends. The Kings' bedroom has tapestries, oak panelling and ostrich feathers, why not. The clash of status symbols was deafening.
royal collection military armaments windsor castleI do not yet appreciate the little touches like the labels - '15th century cannon taken from Portuguese ship captured by navy 1754', 'From King of Abyssinia' and so forth. We're lucky living in Portsmouth because we are the military fist that the Monarch (all 39 of them so far at Windsor) used to punch those nasty foreigners in the face. Thus we have the ships, the forts and the history. But when the armed forces had done the killing and the capturing, all the best war souvenirs ended up at Windsor.
We went back in and found the queue for the dolls' house had gone, so we went in. It's quite fun, actually, even if you don't do dolls' houses, the design is very detailed and they have a wine cellar and an underground car park and the whole thing is contained in an outside layer that lifts up and down on a pulley system. But next to it is a series of actual dolls with French garments and nappies and hats and they can all burn at the stake like the Windsor Protestant Martyrs of 1543, purely a personal opinion.
boy coosing tourist shit windsor castleThen the car parking ticket was going to run out, so we got our castle tickets stamped (free return within 1 year) and left, although I wanted to do the State Apartments one more time, shame, but there's only so much gold and glitter you can hold in one little brain.
On the way down the hill, we hit one of the crap tourist shops to get some garish piece of tat. Actually, although castle-related tat was available, I did the 3 items for £10 on the series of copper pencil sharpeners that I love so much. I got a globe, James Watt steam engine and a motorbike. I Minecrafted all the way home to the CD of Flanders and Swann's Drop of a Hat.
This is a place that should be on your list of things to do. You might not meet the Queen. But you'll see her house. It's better than yours and mine.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Will you accept an IOU written on a napkin?

meon school milton portsmouth raising money for school fundsSo the Haggis-wearing Sporran-eaters have decided to keep the family together and ElisabethsDad doesn't have to get deported. Expect to see "Scottish Constitution, never used" on sale in the freeads soon.
At kick-out time some trestle tables were set up in the playground with a plethora of cake-y delights. Of course, if you don't know in advance, and you don't bring any money you cannot partake.
At swimming I now enjoy showing off my 'Arrow Dives' where the body is straight and cuts through the water like ... a machete through a zombie. This time I was so penetratingly efficient my trunks came off and my willocks were exposed. I managed to pull them back up before I surfaced, apparently it's a good jape for a visual laugh the first time.
When we got home. Jof had already been, showered and gone out with the girlies for drinkies, champagne at the castle, how swish. We watched Schwarzenegger in 'Red Heat', not his best and full of fast-talking wisecracks but I liked the bus chase.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Like a Teabag, you are Clever

At school we designed chocolates to go in the wrappers we designed last week.
Mine is a ruler-shaped confection with a base layer of orange-flavoured white chocolate with squares of dark choc on top, each one imprinted with the single letter R. It is called Roolo.
milton park portsmouth green open urban spacesAfterwards we raced to the junior school I would have attended if I hadn't moved house closer to it, and waited outside for Dilly, with whom I had a playdate booked.
I came over all unnecessary and reminisced about the happy years I spent at the infant school, and how fun it was waiting for kickout time the other side of the fence.
I saw lots and lots of faces I knew and ended up playing with Kate-Lyn and Emily. When Dilly failed to show, we slipped into the school and found her incarcerated in the after-school club, because her mother had forgotten the playdate we made a mere 3 days ago.
dog shagging someone's leg in battery powered birthday cardYou can't steal children without parental authorisation so we went home empty-handed. I'm just not used to parents being stupid, never happened to me before, honest.
We hit the park anyway and immediately met Max and Harry so went back to the football tree where two of us have to climb the tree and cling on while the third is ground attack, shooting the football at the Klingons. We're very egalitarian and took turns nicely.
Later we had a scooter race and I came off and grazed my anatomy again.
One of the cards for Jofs' birthday sings a little song when you open it, amazing, what will they think of next. It also has a dog which vibrates against someone's leg, no idea why. It made me jump.
Post #1500 © Mungleton

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