Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Enter the Ender-Dragon

fridge magnets product failJof picked me up from school and she had been cooking all day.
I helped her loudly with cake-making for the school cake fayre and we decided to cut out the second layer and the leftover ring looked tempting.
Our creative juices flowed and we made a triumphal arch but then fiddled with it so much it broke and we just put icing on it and ate it anyway.
easter cake for school cake fairWe were supposed to put an Ender-Dragon egg in the middle but there wasn't quite enough space after all the normal Dragon eggs.
Later Bud went to a Scout meeting for ages so we watched Grauniads of the Galaxy which was absolutely wonderful with its heroes for no apparent reason and unexpectedly coloured villains and Jof thought it was pointless rubbish so we switched over after an hour.
The wind was so strong it knocked out our cable internet.

Monday, 30 March 2015

The Battle of Omdurman

wisconsin snowplough clearing snow off roadWell, in honour of the first day of British Summer Time (when the clocks go forward and the man from the Met Office steals an hour of our lives) I notice that the weather forecast is for even more wind and rain. Thanks.
So for some reason this entire school week is full of tests, in all subjects.
There was a complicated maths test in which the answer had to go in Box A and the second calculation's answer went in Box B and you did various sums and boxed the answers and the real actual final answer was Box G minus the number you first thought of and it's pretty well identical to the inheritance tax form when you apply for Grant of Probate.
For writing you had to make up a god so I invented Omdurman, god of stonework. Very popular with statue-carvers, he is patron saint of masons (both free and monumental) and has the following characteristics.
He hates dynamite because it makes a mess. His hobby is hollowing out vast arenas under Mount Olympus and starting tournaments such as basketball. In one, Zeus chucks a thunderbolt and it pings off the walls like that game 'Pong' in the Science Museum and the first to touch it wins, although they are fried by the thunderbolt so their descendants get the prize money. He also has a drill attached to his forehead for more accurate tunnelling although this does give him a disadvantage in the ID parade when picked up for Drunk and Disorderly. We briefly visited the local church where I do Scouts and we saw their 3-foot candle that they light on good Friday and it lasts until easter Monday.
portsmouth 5th scout group milton st james churchIn Cub Scouts we did "Dangers in the Kitchen" which is fairly similar to "Dangers in the Bedroom" that we did last year but included a wet mop and some pasta boiling over. We also made rice-crispies cakes with little chocolate easter eggs to take home, and my homework is to plan and make a meal. I forgot both so the nice Cub lady delivered it to our door. It was Badge-Fest day, I got 3 more and some of the older Cubs got their silver award which is when you have all 6 triangle badges: I have 4 so far. Everybody seemed to get badges today.
Supper was really nice but I just couldn't quite be bothered so pushed it around a bit and I said I had a tummy-ache which is Standard Excuse #3, the others being It wasn't what I expected and I'm full, with #4 being I do like this food just not this one.
Of course I know the cure is to lie on the sofa for hours watching Spiderman and Hulkman and Metal Bloke beat up Inexplicably Orange Geezer who is Just a Face with Tentacles, and his mouthy cohorts 'Daft as a Brush but with Big Pincers' and 'Enormously Muscular Fish Chap' and 'the one with the high-pitched cackle that doesn't do anything'. But Jof made me go straight to bed without any TV or Minecraft or hope of X-Box.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Putting the Wind up

milton park portsmouth in springTypically for a Sunday of rest following a Saturday of activity, we didn't do much until Jof insisted I got some fresh air.
I kicked the ball around the park for a bit while they made a huge investment at the bottle bank and the skate park was padlocked so we bimbled around with the ball.
executive toy pin art science museum londonThe wind was so strong, if you missed the ball it would go running off down one of the paths so we gave up and went home where I scored my 2 hours of Minecraft and pestered Jof for something to do.
She tried to teach me to make my own bed so I lay on the floor and gyrated loudly until all the work was done and said well that was difficult.
In the last 3 months I have grown 9mm, which in this case, is not a small arms calibre.
This is my "Pin Art" executive toy from the Science Museum. It's good for hands and Jof made a face.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Exeat: Going Underground

Last week, one of the Giddy Biddies at the top of Winchester Cathedral tower asked me what castle tower I'd be going up next. As it happens, plans were to go underground instead. 8 of the stations on the London Underground network have deep bomb shelters, built to save lives during the war with an eye to using them as parts of new lines in the future. Eisenhower's bunker is under Goodge Street. But they're either empty or used for document storage now, and I'm not allowed in. But there are places ...
river thames view big ben palace of westminster
The taxi was wonderful because it only took 3 minutes and £3 to get us to the station. The train was big and open and fast and I liked looking through the fog and racing cars on the A3 road to London.
Just as we passed the MI6 building I decided I needed a sit-down toilet which was, like, 5 carriages back so I didn't get back until we were stationary in Waterloo.
Walking through to the London Eye, it was good to be back in town. The London Dungeons are based in the old GLC building next to the aquarium and we got there dead on time and waited in the dark in a prison corridor with a black light so my socks lit up.
portland stone central londonbuildingsGradually we got to the front of the queue and you go in in groups of 20 and travel round the whole experience in the same group. Each room represents a different aspect of London life and history (and London has a whole bunch of history) and each room has one or more actors who go through their little routine in their own mini-kingdom. Henry the 8th (Brian Blessed) welcomes you in by saying you're a traitor, prepare to die tediously.
I can tell you that most of the men sound like Arnold Rimmer apart from Master Bates the geezer who captured Guido Fawkes 2nd time lucky. I can also tell you that all the ladies are Antipodean apart from Mrs Miggins in the pie shop. In between rooms are various corridors where they've tried to disguise the water pipes and aircon ducts. We all got lost in the hall of mirrors.
There are some tame rats in cages, they're strong on darkness, barrels, funny noises screaming out at you, and banging on doors. A couple of times air blasts hit you and it goes woosh and I got a bit nervous because you just can't see where you're going.
There is a boat ride and you go backwards in the dark and get splashed and you can't use flash photography. A nice prostitute told us that some of her friends have had their throats chopped and a judge with added clerk made some very rude and suggestive jokes about doing naughty things with a sheep and they like a bit of audience participation and kept asking a bloke called Craig to sit in the iron maiden or get hung at Tyburn or have his tongue torn out, as you do. The lady torturer explained all about how the expanding pear can fit in both ends of your body, and I bet they didn't wash it.
churchill war rooms whitehall london bunker imperial war museumsBecause you go around in packets of 20, once the actor has done his/her bit, there's an embarrassing period while you all shuffle off to the next room and the actor has to fill the time by asking if you've enjoyed the plague pits and please move along.
Then they reset all the stage props. Mrs Miggins makes pies using human flesh and Sweeney Todd's chairs poke you in the back and tip backwards at the end and make you jump. I was too short to go on the Tyburn noose ride (min height 1.40), bummer. But I did get squirted by the bladder in the post mortem room and the leeches tickled our botties and they do stand right in front of you when the lights are off and go rargh when they come on again. The floor shakes in the cellars under the houses of parliament and there are fire-escapes everywhere where fragile people various left the party early.
In the shop at the end we didn't buy the official photo but got a red skull and some squashed pennies. The shop is strong on skull tankards but they have a sticker inside saying not suitable for use as a drinking vessel. On Westminster Bridge there were a lot of Turkish immigrants doing the stone-age 3-cup trick. Each one had a mate who wins some money off him pour encourager les autres and then he scams Joe the public who stands around the mini-arena making the pavement impassable.
I watched them a few times and just when he's finished moving the cups and 'The Mark' has paid his money and made his choice, he puts his arm over them and switches 2 cups.
churchill cabinet war rooms imperial war museum whitehall londonSo we strode on past Big Ben which I shall climb in 2 years time and wandered off through the heart of Whitehall, which is where the government lives, to the cenotaph where we saw signs to the Cabinet War Rooms.
The foreign office is having scaffolding and the chief workman came past on a Harley Davidson and all the guys in Hi-Vis jackets were right old Cockneys, Gor luv-a-duck. The queue went under the Treasury so we looked at St James' Park and could see the Queen's house at the other end.
We disappeared under the specially reinforced building and saw where Churchill sat with his wartime buddies and saved Western Civilisation. You can see the transatlantic secure phone line and the bedrooms and map rooms and the extra girders and sub-basement and the Churchill museum with bundles of artefacts.
He was a bit of a Jack-the-lad in his day and they have some of his personal guns.
I actually did love it all and that's not just a 9 year-old boy trying to say the right thing. Afterwards we got a medallion and some squashed pennies in the shop, looked at Horseguards Parade with its armed policepersons and re-crossed Westminster Bridge to go back to the London Dungeons and have a MacDonalds next door, of all things.
london science museum steam technology exhibitBreaking the usual habit of insisting on pizza, I found no room inside so I rested my poor tired feeties on the alfresco tables where we were attended by pigeons, starlings and the view of the Houses of Parliament, not bad I suppose. The Thames was at low tide.
Then we re-crossed my favourite bridge one more time, seeing some real live MPs by the river stairs. We went underground at Westminster Bridge station. I read the tube map and determined our course. The Oyster card we'd so carefully organised failed to work.
At 'Customer Enquiries', the man said we'd done it wrong so we believed him, for it was our first time. But it didn't work again and he actually came out of his booth-bunker and tried it himself and it didn't work and he said he'd never seen that error message before and gave us a new card.
Speeding across town, we hit South Kensington and 7 1/2 million Chinese tourists. They have a special underground walkway leading from the station directly to the NAT HIST MUS, the V&A and the science museum and there was a busker who almost played Stairway to Heaven and we emerged, blinking, at the Science Museum.
When you go to London you must always have a backup plan in case your first 2 plans are over too quickly, and you've come all that way after all. The Science Museum is big.
lighthouse steam engine diesel van airliner
OK, the NAT HIST MUS is big too, but those naughty Victorians really knew how to educate the masses and it's yet another priceless part of the London tourist trail with collections to die for.
Now Bud was looking for a radioactive rock he saw 35 years ago and I wanted to see nuclear bombs and the liquid metal Terminator. In the end, neither of us got what we wanted but boy O boy we saw a whole bunch of other stuff that knocked a hot rock into a cocked hat.
I spent ages playing Pong (1972) and we laughed at the early washing machines and the Texas Instruments Talk'N'Spell and the ZX80 and the hoovers and the toilet cistern named Thomas Crapper and the V2 rocket and a porcelain bowl melted by the Nagasaki explosion and some cars attached to the wall and the truly massive steam engines and some 4th order 3D shapes and Babbage's Difference Engines and a Damascus steel sword (1000 years old and we still don't understand it) and even the glassblowing exhibit was cool.
There are more floors than we could visit and my poor little feeties fell off. Fortunately, the moon lander and the huge lit-up loop in the atrium and the shop rejuvenated me.
I bought a brightly-coloured plastic spring with Science Museum written on it and one of those pin-art blocks and a London Underground map, for I love it. I also squashed some more pennies, and I can heartily recommend the Science Museum penny squashing machines because they have a copper hopper full of bright new shiny pennies so you don't have to supply your own, just the £1 coin.
pong gam 1972 texas instruments commodore 64 zx80By this time, they were trying to close so we walked back to South Kensington overground, using actual streets, seeing the gorgeous NAT HIST MUS (looks good enough to eat), those quiet religious nutters that just try to hand out is-god-real pamphlets rather than engage you in paranormal conversation, the other 7 1/2 million Chinese tourists you'd forgotten about and some very modern trendy red double-decker buses and some 'Boris Bikes'.
We lost altitude and gained kelvins as we got back on the Metro and a girl gave up her seat for me because it was so busy I had to sit on the floor (tired feeties). But maybe this is because I'm handsome and she knew she was doing the right thing.
We deliberately changed at Westminster to get the Jubilee line to Waterloo, because it's deeper so I got to use more escalators. At Waterloo we signed out of London using the replacement Oyster card, bought some beer and Tuna Sweetcorn sandwiches in M&S and caught a train to Pompey with 1 1/2 minutes to spare.
The train was so full we had to sit on the floor behind the driver and then we discovered we'd got on the one via Basingstoke (add 40 minutes to your journey here) and I got the Science Museum spring fatally tangled after about 10 minutes and we sped home (via Winchester) through the night with big bags of booty and some giant chocolate buttons.
Even the toilet seat was funny.
Jof picked us up after 12 hours out of the house even though she was really tired and I ate some supper and went straight to bed, you know when you get in bed and you do the bicycle thing and just lose consciousness ...

In honour of another trip on the London Underground (my favourite tunnel network) I hereby reprint the lyrics from Amateur Transplants' "London Underground", a parody of 'Going Underground' by the Jam. They are 2 London hospital doctors who sing: we have 2 of their albums, very funny indeed but very rude also, ho ho.
Now, after my dear mother, bless her, suggested I watch Die Hard instead of Schwarzenegger films all the time, I no longer blush at harsh language. But there are 2 words, clumps and bankers, that are quintessentially English but I simply haven't met them because they seldom occur in 80s American action thrillers. Therefore I have redacted or modified some of the bad words in case any of my readers are girls.
westminster station district and circle lines westbound platform
Some people might like to get a train to work
Or drive in in a Beemer or a Merc
Some guys like to travel in by bus
But I can't be bothered with the fuss
Today I got to take my bike
'Cause once again the Tube's on strike
The greedy graspers want extra pay
For sitting their arse all day
Even though they earn 30k
So I'm standing here in the pouring rain
Where the fart's my farting train

London Underground (London Underground)
They're all lazy farting useless clumps
London Underground (London Underground)
They're all greedy clumps
I want to shoot them all with a rifle
don't flush goldfish down this toilet

All they say is, "Please mind the doors
And they learn that on their two-day course
This job could be done by a four-year-old
They just leave us freezing in the cold
What you smell is what you get
Burger King and piss and sweat
You roast to death in the boiling heat
With tourists treading on your feet
And chewing gum on every seat
So don't tell me to mind the gap
I want my farting money back

London Underground (London Underground)
They're all lazy farting useless clumps
London Underground (London Underground)
They're all greedy clumps
I want to shoot them all with a rifle

La-l-la-la, la-l-la-la

having to sit on the floor because there are no seats on the train
The floors are sticky and the seats are damp
Every platform has a farting tramp
But the drivers get the day off when
We're all late for work again
London Underground (London Underground)
Ba-ba-bankers, they're all bankers
London Underground (London Underground)
Take your Oyster card and shove it up your bottom

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.
box10.com 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.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Total Eclipse of the Arse

Today was Eclipse Day, been looking forward to it for ages and it's one of those things that if you miss it, you have to wait ages for the next one like Halley's comet or a packet of Revels without a toffee.
So we all trooped out into the playground and it was dim and cloudy, just like every other day in the English winter when it isn't actually hailing on you. We all brought plates with pinholes in but we might as well have played Frisbee.

eclipse on cloudy day science museum
I'm under there somewhere
Of course, it would have been better in Svalbard but you know, it's a school day and I'm saving my air miles for Nigeria, where I'm going to surprise that nice Prince who's been emailing me for my bank account details so he can pay me £40 million when he escapes the country.
We had our second Dance Class which is more step-to-the-beat at the moment but I see the embryo of a Street Funk dance routine developing. We also had a quiz. This one asked whether we have enough homework. And what type of homework we preferred, maths or literacy. And whether it was too easy or too hard, and whether any parents, guardians or unrelated authority figures helped us with it.
lego mixel minifiguresWell of course that's a pretty dumb question for a load of 9 year-old schoolkids, we all said far too much homework, cheers, but I did grudgingly admit that maths was my favourite. Liberty Bodice and Grace N'Favour and Amelia (all on the Blue table, or should I say the Boo table) all said that they wanted more homework, Jof called them Swots and Teacher's pets. Amazingly, recent exit polls suggest that the parental version of exactly the same questionnaire was heavily loaded in favour of much more homework, please.
At home I got this big lecture on doing what you're told and keeping an eye on the time which is why I keep getting my Minecraft time taken from me, because he sends me to bed and later finds me singing to Lego without having done my teeth or anything, or he says go to bed by 915 and he finds me downstairs at 930 and I say I didn't know. But I got a bonus 30 minutes of Minecraft because it's Friday. And 2 more Lego Mixels.
Grandad rang to say that there was something he had to tell us, and that he was sure he'd remember it soon. This is becoming increasingly frequent, is this what I've got to look forward to?

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Game of Thrones

sussex bacon company delivery lorry Today was completely different. Last month we all had to pay for a Hoplite which is not some form of exercise, but an authentic Ancient Greek Soldier who has been time-travelled from the Bronze age but has also been taught English.
groundlings theatre portsmouth stage propsHe hopped and danced and explained all about the weapons they had and how you couldn't wield your sword properly in battle for fear of decapitating your mate, and how you couldn't wield your spear properly for fear of skewering the chap behind you. Even the slaves fought, although they only had rocks and had to bash in the heads of the opposition, sounds like that Pompey v Luton football match a couple of weeks ago.
Well the blokes had it tough, you were basically either tilling the fields or stabbing the opposition, but if you were a woman you got shut away in the villa and made clothes all day, although there was a special time of the month when they all got to go shopping.
groundlings theatre portsmouth In the afternoon I signed up at the theatre for my drama lessons. I've gone for the hardcore stagecraft establishment not the happy-singy-dancy place although it was a tough call. They had a Tudor costume drying on the doorhandle and a throne that was too big for me, maybe I'll grow into it.
It was surprisingly busy in the office bit and I had to sign on the dotted line but I haven't had to choose my stage name yet. At home I went into the loft and chose a Bag. Every activity has to have a bag, so I've always got the right stuff, some emergency money and somewhere to keep the script and the make-up remover.
Jof abandoned us to witness the opening of a new Cheese'n'Wine emporium so we had film night (Ghostbusters). I said the beginning was boring because all they do is talk but then it got fun and we spotted the reporter git and round cop from Die Hard and Groundhog Day man and Louis from Trading Places and I haven't seen Alien yet so didn't recognise Ripley. I went to bed singing about how Bustin' makes me feel good.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The Brown Hand Gang meets again

painting yourself into a corner failSchool was uneventful. We played 'Hand Tennis' (volleyball) and looked words up in a French dictionary and I am one of several people working towards a "Pen Licence" which will enable me to use a pen in polite conversation.
For advanced students, an "Ink Pen Licence" is available.
But I didn't get hurt today which is practically a first although someone twisted his ankle and there was blood everywhere and he had to call a Doctor and use a wheelchair.
milton park bowls club outer perimeterI missed World Book Day by not caring and hastened to the park where we scored heavily on Known Faces.
Owen, Destroyer of Worlds seems to always be there, but I also had Ben, Robert, Laughing Boy Thomas, Brandon the boy who won't pass the ball, LittleMax, Jack W and Poppy.
We broke away from the main football game and then a few of us went to the climbing tree and it was good, until the poo hit the fan. OK, there was no fan, but as Robert and Owen and Ben and LittleMax and Poppy and I were up the tree, it became obvious that dogs still use the undergrowth for toiletry purposes and we'd all trodden in it.
milton park recreation area portsmouth
Then, when you climb, us sure-footed mountain goats sure put our feet on the branches and then also grab those branches so the poo goes around and soon all of us were the Brown Hand Gang.
Some amongst us dipped their hands in Poppy's waters but the sensible ones (all those beginning with M) went to the village hall where they have such luxuries as handwash, hot water and towels.
We even got half an hour of Lego, let's hope the brown-ness had gone by then.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Breakfast Revisited

he moos in mysterious ways dairy herd
At break today, Quint vomited everywhere and got 2 people on the trousers. It stuck in the radiator and the special carpet that doesn't give up its secrets, and smelled horrible until going home time, and was the best thing that happened today.
If most of us hadn't been in violin class, he would have soaked us all.
In gymnastics the whole class is flummoxed by the Euro-reversible double cantilevered backwards spring roll. At this rate, nobody will move up a badge, I'm half expecting the teacher to say we've got the wrong number of legs or something.
Today was football (Cheltenham) so we had to park so far away we were nearly at Tunnel Park. We ran back to the house to keep warm which revealed that I need a bit of practise before this Autumn's Great South Run.