Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The People on My Side

It's tough thinking of new and interesting (dare I say - educational?) things for the little people to do on half-term breaks etc. Always one poor downtrodden parent has to chaperone the child with too much time on its hands and today that was Bud.
But I have people on my side, and in this case Jof. When we were vacillating about going to Bath (full of Romans, and you can do the cathedral tower tour, but it's over 2 hours drive) she said well why don't you go to the Fishbourne Roman Palace instead, full of Romans, and only just down the road.
fishbourne roman palace west sussex
So that's what we did. We left the house at 10 and were there 22 minutes later, seeing Obscure Cousin Margaret's old house from the grounds. We were nice and early so 3 men in hi-vis jackets selected us a special car park space and we bought our tickets with the bonus of coming back free within a year.
Straight away there were dead people and alive people. The dead ones sat in their caskets and display cases and weren't communicative but the live ones tried to get me to dress up as a Roman or learn weaving or 1st century wax tablet calligraphy or many other worthy endeavours. I did none of the above.
But we marvelled at the ironware and the bottles and the plinths and columns and hypocausts and mosaics and box hedge layouts and even more dead geezers and the garden was nice with its own bronze age BBQ area but it was quite cold so I bought a copper pencil sharpener in the shape of an owl, yet another wooden sword and some reproduction Roman coins in the shop which was warmer.
I could have learned to cook like a Roman or walk like an Egyptian but I've got time in my life for that.
So we hopped over the A27 and got a suspiciously long-term car parking ticket and walked into Chichester. They have Roman city walls which were useful when the marauding French were abroad and you can walk on parts of them so we did. This led us round to North Street which had shops and I bought Jof some complicated chocolate to thank her for thinking of me although I shall expect some of that back in tax.
chichester town walls walkway footpathThe Pizza Express advertised on Google Earth was actually still open so we got in early and started with garlicky doughballs, my favourite. I battled with the same quiz on the kiddie menu and I just hate the word-unscramble. I managed to unscramble 'Ice Cream' on my own but the other 3 were still beyond me, I had to have 'Brown' of brownie spelled out for me before I got it. Meanwhile, the Pizzeria filled up with screaming brats, who'd have 'em. I discovered that 'Capers' are the most disgusting thing this side of Krak Des Chevaliers.
Back up South Street (packet of Pok√©mon cards) to West Street (did you see that one coming?) we looked up at the splendid cathedral and its bonus bell tower and were sad that they don't have a tower tour - but it was really cold and rainy and I wanted to go home. Near the end of West Street we found some small old antique shops full of small old antiques which was good for us as I collect coins. £4 bought me several new ones including those from such states as the Kingdom of Italy, Ceylon, the Dutch East Indies and Southern Rhodesia.
Reacquiring the car, I was just getting in when he said not so fast, my son, you haven't got your swimming bag out yet. I was gobsmacked. But this is not a case for the Social Services Child Protection Group, it turned out we were parked in the Westgate Leisure Centre car park, an idea from Dear Follower Fiona, who visits 'Chi' frequently for its upmarket chic-ness and better-looking everything. This leisure centre has a 50 metre pool with kiddie area and 1 large red flume with 2 drops and 2 circuits and a splashpark area and all the usual lockers and changing rooms that I understand. We laughed, fought and spanked our way around the complex drawing admiring glances, well it certainly made the other kids giggle.
chichester westgate leisure pools flumesIt was only £8 for up to 6 1/2 hours in the pools so we started. The deep end is 2.3 metres so you're allowed to dive. No board, but that meant I could bring my show-off diving back up to scratch and we flumed about 8 times each and the splashpark area has significantly warmer water so I called it the Sauna Room and it's got those tipping-buckets that dump water on your head and a circular squirter that looks like a jellyfish and we did hand-stands in the water and swam around and were only told off once for doing complicated dives and after 2 hours 20 minutes I was actually tired.
Now this is epic and great. Because, like when we discovered Romsey Rapids, this is a new place only 25 minutes away where I can take Poppy and the boys (on separate expeditions) and we know where we can get pizza and doughballs and rare foreign coins so all in all, that was a good day.
I showed Jof my pile of booty and she went to the gym even though she didn't want to. So I watched Harry Potter and the Poisoner of Azkhaban for only the 19th time.

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