Friday, 30 September 2016

Getting your Retaliation in first

vacuuming housework sexy girl failThe evacuation siren went off again today after another German 500kg bomb was found in the harbour by the dredgers. I know we voted for Brexit, but surely this is taking it too far.
Today was not so much a day of events, more of filling future diaries. I booked Sunday with Sham. Then he was going to Brighton (doughnut on a pole, anyone?) so we rescheduled for Saturday.
schoolboys making castles in minecraftI agreed to do an overnight hike with the Scouts, possibly getting caught up in the fervour, and not listening to the question properly.
But I brought Sham home again and we made epic progress on our shared Castle with added Farm. I worked out how to execute chickens without incinerating them and I've got so much more to do, it makes me all rigid with excitement.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Sharp Sickles

through the arch shaped window failHUGE maths test in school today. It was a 40-question behemoth over 30 minutes which is, like, 7 questions a minute and at the end my brain was like wet socks.
Against all expectations, I have chosen to go to the Halloween disco (normally discos are too hot and noisy for me). Every kid likes it at age 6 when you can put on some skeleton or witch outfit straight out of the supermarket and roam the mean streets collecting bucketfuls of sweeties for looking cute.
cosplay terminator kids sizedie hard halloween fancy dress shirtAnd already the shops have that special seasonal section full of green-haired Frankensteins and zombies and skelibobs which are just stretchy black onesies with plastic don't-glow-in-the-dark bones glued onto the front. But when you get to my advanced age, they look totally tacky and frankly embarrassing. As next year I'll be at secondary school, it'll be completely beneath me so this is the last chance: and I've gone for a new look from another of my favourite films. A couple of years ago I went as the Terminator and didn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear as I filled my choccy bucket, this time I'll have to say Give me my detonators or Yippee-ki-yay Feather Duster or something. Anyway, my original gun from 2014 is knackered, half of the bits have fallen off and the rat-tat-tat noise has been reduced to a gentle grinding by depleted batteries. Any idea how difficult it is to buy a decent MP5 in this market? Nobody's seen Nick the Greek since he flogged those 2 old shooters last year ...
And I practised my speech for church. This biblical excerpt is from Revelations where the author has clearly been under pressure to perform, possibly pressure of wine, mushrooms, and not getting enough fresh air. He goes on about sharp sickles a lot, and gets his angels all mixed up, poor chap.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Bog-Snorkelling with Bucephalus

malaysian product name lost in translationWe all have our artistic talents. Sham can draw parks. Ben C is a cartoonist. I can draw tree trunks. One of these might be useful in a future career. In ICT we did Scratch where you program a sprite and I made mine a monkey and it sang happy birthday and 2 parents appeared and gave it some bananas and a present which opened and revealed another 50 bananas which I had to design myself.
You know where old men in stripy trousers and bushy eyebrows stand there and read from the telephone directory for 17 hours to defeat a motion in the House of Commons, curse of the TV schedulers of 'Today in Parliament'? This is called filibustering and is designed to bore everyone to death by burbling pointless rubbish for so long, the summer holidays come around and everybody has to go home and the important law that Eye-brow Man didn't like runs out of time to get signed off.
climbing swings uprightsWell, this afternoon I described at great length the Minecraft Mob I wish to create: a Vampire Archer. These are Boss Mobs that spawn in the Nether Fortress Wart Room and they have a diamond sword and attack strength of 4-6 and 20 health points and shoot fireballs from their sleeves if you get too close, it doesn't matter if you don't think that's particularly Vampyric, and if you kill one they drop a piece of rotted meat and in 10% of cases will also drop a Nether Vampire Tooth just like the Wither Skeletons that drop a Wither Skeleton Skull 10% of the time and you can build a Wither if you get enough Skulls and if you get 8 Vampire Teeth you can craft a Nether Nexus but that means you have to kill at least 80 Vampire Archers on average so that you don't get the Nexus if you're only a Noob with a stone axe or something because the Nexus is really OP and Boss and they wouldn't want that, would they....
Perhaps I have a hidden talent to complete a 3-day filibuster without using a phone book.
Anyway we did Wednesday Park and one of the Green Guys (not nauseous aliens, they go to a school where the uniform is green) climbed the swings so we called him Tinkerbell but we still did ball-tag and swing-kick.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Gutter Sniper

shoe send shoes lost in translation failThe House Captaincies were handed out today (or perhaps, taken by those deemed most deserving) which has certainly shown up a few strong characters in our year group.
pioneer .22 chinese built air rifleI am due to join the Scouts soon and just when I was burning dollies at the stake last weekend, the Scouts were on a biennial MacroKamp which I just missed so won't get to go on for another 2 years. But I do have rifle shooting to look forward to, provided I get my name on the list. Knowing this, I gave Jof an in-depth training lesson on all my Nerf sniper rifles and Bazookoids and Nerflet Launchers and so forth.
Then Bud got his old gun out of the loft. This Chinese-built Pioneer rifle is about 32 years old. Purchased while at boarding school, the house-master confiscated it immediately at the breakfast table when it arrived by parcel post, can't think why as he was working in the Combined Cadet Force armoury at the time. So maybe we'll take it along to the Scout shooting session if I get in.
pompey pals battalion memorial portsmouth football clubIn an unconnected event, I visited the football ground where a memorial to the Pompey Pals has been put up. During those heady days when we thought the First World War would be over by Christmas, lots of groups of friends and colleagues joined up from community centres like the football ground, major factories etc.
That is why the middle bit was torn out of so many communities when the war turned into a terrifying mudbath of doom, where none of the rifles were air-powered and everyone had a nightmare. This memorial will receive a Scout visit shortly, for Remembrance Day.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Roadside Milestones

The whole school is going to put on an art exhibition. Every pupil will be forced into sorry will joyously make a painting or other artwork and some will make 2. These will all need to be displayed somewhere, and providing every child can persuade at least 1 parent, guardian, carer, second cousin, pet Pangolin or random person abducted from the street to attend, there could be nearly a thousand people, which rules out the school assembly hall.
piano on car crash funnySo we all had a voting session and a votive offering and at the moment, the Orangery at the Pyramids is the hot (and slightly chlorine-y) favourite.
Apropos of nothing, I have reached a milestone that is as intangible as a well-endowed Ender-Dragon. If you use Google Earth, you can zoom in to any part of the planet and examine it down to a resolution of just a couple of feet, so you can see the flagstone patterns on the seafront, and the colours of people's beach towels. Dotted around are little icons that represent a titled photograph uploaded by some helpful soul, so you can see decent pictures which may enable you to tell Grandad to meet you by the giant stone cannonballs outside the John Russell Fox pub in Andover High Street, which we did a few years ago. Or if you look up a local business on Google, it may come up with a description, address and opening times, and a photo uploaded by the owner or anyone else.
I now have over 500 of these photos on Google Earth and Maps. You don't get paid, no prizes are issued, you don't uplevel to 'Expert' or evolve into a higher being. I wouldn't have minded a golden halo around my profile picture. But it's nice anyway.
After school I took Sham again and we babbled nonsensically for 90 minutes and built several more sections of MineCastle, although at one point we did accidentally incinerate 37 chickens, easy mistake to make.
For Scouts I was one of only 7 kids to do the £3 challenge (provide a balanced 2-course meal for under £3 for the homeless shelter) and I did an additional voluntary speech with questions from the floor about my exploits at Centre Parcs, which met with lots of ooohs and aaahs especially about going to bed at midnight on Saturday night.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Egghead (Back, Sack and Attack)

1st clanfield scout hut hyden lodge Woke a little before 8, on the floor, surrounded by boys. No, not an excerpt from the secret diary of a hen nighter, but a perfectly normal Cub Scout sleepover.
So yesterday we'd voted not to burn the teddy bears and dollies on the Pyre of Justice, they'd all been saved and adopted by little sisters and similar creatures. We also didn't burn the totally usable chair, the Clanfield Scout group will either sell it for Scout funds or just give it to a charity shop. But we burned everything else, and I got to set the fire, being the oldest and most sensible and experienced in the combustive arts.
And we played a game where you get in your sleeping bag and hold it right up to your neck and jump around attacking each other, like a fight breaking out in a sack race. This was going really well until someone trod on my sack just as I was jumping and, well, you can't stop yourself falling with your arms inside a sleeping bag so down I went, head-butting the parquet floor with venom and purpose.
This gave me a BIG old egg on my forehead which was black and purple, honest, and enabled me to get up close and personal with an icepack for some time.
peel park recreation area petersfield road clanfieldToday we had another fire because of why not and lots of games and gingerbread man-making and a challenge to get one of our bazookas across a ravine of hot lava using a frame and ropes, sort of a junior Field Gun event.
I was the last Cub to leave at 3-ish and we walked through the village to Peel Park which is a huge swingpark we saw from the road on the way in and home to Clanfield Football Club and a skatepark.
I did have tired feet and dirty legs but I summoned up enough energy to play on the quite decent swingpark and then I drove home and had a really big shower (hooray) before homework (boo).
Jof is going on a diet so clearly the best program to binge-watch is the Great British Bake-off and I was happy to join her in salivating over cakes and pies and Swan-in-Beer pastries and whatever.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Be Prepared (You never know when there'll be an Execution)

Said goodbye to Jof as she left for work and got down to some work myself, which was extending the curtain wall around the castle that Sham and I are building. We have a plan, to grow wheat and cows and tomatoes and pigs, trade them for emeralds, and buy lots of OP armour before switching our world over to Survival Mode. I am able to expound on this for hours, going into impressive detail, but as it is meaningless and unimportant to anybody except us, I shan't.
Incredibly, Sham himself came round to join in. I showed him all the hard work I'd done and we agreed on the next stage of our totally imaginary cyber-endeavour, but then he had to go, because I had to go to Acting.
1st clanfield scouts and brownies groupToday our lesson was outside because the theatre itself was being used as a wedding venue. This is so when the married couple hate each other, they can say I was just acting at our wedding, I don't love you really.
We played games and had to make a machine. Because the new boy was called Charlie, we made a chocolate machine out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
And then my personal chauffeur drove me straight to Clanfield. My Scout Group had booked the Scout Hut there for a sleepover: the rest of them hiked over the hill from Butser but I didn't have to, because of Acting, hooray. So I was delivered direct to the Hut, and we unloaded a carful of campfire wood (including an execution chair for the loser) with the help of an army of Cub Scouts, that's what they're for.
1st clanfield scouts and brownies group hut hyden lodgeBut the word HUT is wrong. They used to have a wooden hut, on nearly 2 acres of land donated by the local farmer, but it was burned down by vandals (Not Huns or Visigoths). Scouts are always insured so after a bit of extra fund-raising, they built a new hut which is in fact a mansion. You could play cricket in it. The South Wing has numerous toilets, shower facilities, gym, sauna, cinema, swimming pool complex and large kitchen with additional Chinese Laundry. The Great Hall with Minstrel's Gallery has vast barn-conversion-style windows, with store-rooms, vault, indoor sand school for the horses, staff flats, observatory and workshop.
The outside has a football pitch, HaHa, HoHo, Elizabethan Knot Garden and campfire area over near the container-ship container and is bordered by fields, and there's off-road parking for 9 vehicles with fold-out helipad, all down a dead-end road where everyone owns a Range Rover. We are officially jealous. But when we'd arrived the fun really started. They loved the 4 procession torches but incredibly they may put the ritual execution of the Disaster Dollies to the vote. Apparently our Nazi-style lynching may go down better with the more brutal Scouts, as some of the Cubs are still a little wet behind the brains. Never mind, there will always be Disaster Dollies in the charity shops of this world.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Scrambled Bikes on Toast

adult on a kids slide falling funnySchool. Well, there you are, you can't avoid it. So we did PE today and 2/3 of the class voted for football, even the girls. I voted for Hockey, a single sane voice in a sea of madness, 'twas ever thus.
The official nurse measured me recently as part of the purge of childhood obesity, I think they're looking for sources of animal fats for the poorly funded Government wick-lamps for when the Zombie apocalypse comes and the power goes off. Even though some parents who shall remain nameless tell me I'm plump, I only just scraped into the slim end of normal, so there, actually.
milton common sea defences reclaimed landAnd then my perennially boring life took a turn for the dull again as I packed my own rucksacks with my Scout camping kit for the overnight camp tomorrow. On the one hand, it's amazing just how much clobber you're told you need. But then again, it's amazing how a toilet error or unexpected ditchful of muddy water can just eat away at your clothing supplies. The Scout Group Quartermaster has arranged a healthy supply of fuel units for the campfire.
kids cycling on milton commonMy mate of 7 years 'Ben' invited me up to the common (Ben's Bumpy Paths, a source of blackberries and nettle soup) for some bike action. This event was put in serious jeopardy when during the voted-for football match, he swung his foot at the ball just when someone else did, and he destroyed a drainpipe and kicked the brick wall behind it. Fortunately his foot survived. The diggers have been digging away frantically these last several months improving the sea-wall flood defences. Some of it has now been reopened, and the challenge was on to scramble our bikes up and down the freshly dug mounds.
I arrived top haste by bike and we did a leisurely circuit of the vast neatly-smoothed expanse. Signs every 7 yards told us to keep off the screeded slopes because they were newly planted with seeds of indigenous life-forms, so we mostly did, because the path was so wide and smooth it was a delight to traverse.
milton common seaside footpathOn our way back we saw the heads of our target friends over the causeway and we reacquired them at the second junction. Ben and Charlie-from-up-the-road (that's his name) have BMX bikes so we all swapped around to try each others out. Johnny joined us. The shadows were long but conditions were ideal.
The slopes were good and the others may be a little more in-yer-face BMX cunning stunters with their handbrake turns and jumps but it was totally worth it riding free across the prairie with my mates under the endless sky.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Milk Round 2

engrish menu fail lost in translationYou know where the maths question is 6 times something and you work it out correctly, and then the next one is 66 times something and you do the same sum twice and add up the results but forget to move the decimal point and you get the next 2 wrong as well for the same error? Mmmm.
Anyway, today in English we had to choose a picture and do thought bubbles coming from it with loads of descriptive stuff. It was one of those no-wrong-answers things, as long as you waxed lyrical you'd be fine. I wiffled on about the glistening surface of the water under the rusty-copper coloured bridge and the teacher said I'd be improving my attainment levels in my school reports.
For relaxation I continued the Mineworld I created with Sham but then it was all rush-rush-rush when Jof got home because we had to assess another school. I saw a perfectly good one yesterday but they insisted I try out another one because you can't compare using an assumption.
crickets mealworms and grubs eating insectsSo off we strode to the school by the station and hey presto, we saw 37 faces we knew but this tour was different. Yesterday we were allocated an official guide but due to MI6 losing-your-tail spooks training we ditched him in 12 seconds flat. Tonight was different, they had 2 tour guides per grouping and it took us several minutes to lose them and struck out on our own.
But strike out we did. Food and Textiles (an obvious pairing) was groovy because you could squirt icing on a biscuit. I did that: Bud ate his first mealworms at the Entomophagy table but was able to get a fruit salad from the use-of-knives table to wash away the taste.
Maths was on the top floor, away from the official route and then we found Pops in the history of Computers room, with clunky computers from the 1980s and one of the PS2 keyboards we've got and the 8 inch floppies and stuff.
In the woodworking room we saw another 3D printer and I sawed away at a brass rod with a hacksaw and played Ping-Pong football with little robots and met Alannah which is why I don't want to go to this school.
school workshop priory southseaI used to do gymnastics and trampolining in the large gymnasia so that was a blast from the past and the drama room was small but full of girls in leotards. The PE teacher tried to get me to do some sprint racing on the outdoor courts, he obviously doesn't know me.
Sneaking off to the older part of the complex we met a toilet with a rotunda of taps like the one Moaning Myrtle haunts and a cafeteria with racing-car seats and lots of staircases leading to a massive internal atrium of style and echoes.
They had a hand grenade, Vickers MG, Lee-Enfield and some medals and flags of wartime pupils past. I played guess-the-location on streetview of Google Earth, most of it was in the USA but once I confidently placed the marker on Greenland and it was Brisbane.
The other side had some replica Shogun kit and a 77 millimetre Imperial German shell dated 1917 just like ours and some shrapnel rounds and a Winchester breech-loader and a harquebus and some swords.
priory school southsea open dayThen we found the animals room and the orange and yellow geckoes were groovy with tickly feet and the pretend coral snake was pretty and the Royal Python was gorgeous with his markings and triangular face, he stuck his tongue out at me. The African land snail was static as was another fat reptile but next door was a 5 month-old raccoon and a fox!
The 'coon was allowed to run over the desks and take grapes from waiting hands but not mine. We'd totally lost Jof so I obtained some official pencils and pens and we left by the gym fire escape and got home to find that we'd left the back door open the whole time.
She wants me to go to this school, because the head teacher's speech was better. We missed that, because we were meeting snakes.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Milk Round 1

stupid dog destroys a sofa what meSchool was ok today. It was the school after school that mattered. First, I took Sham home and we Shpoke shyte again as is our way. We crossed 6 roads (well, 5, but one has 2 lanes) and we failed to look either way on the first 4. It is not that we assume we're being protected by an unseen hand, more that what? we're talking here ... Road safety is not even on our horizons. If asked, we can all quote the Green Cross Code or whatever it is nowadays, but in practice it would actually be good if we were gently hit by a car to make us look automatically.
Normally we'd expect to go to the park and the weather was indeed good enough but because we didn't have to, we didn't, and made a new Minecraft world on the X-Box for an hour and a half.
milton cross academy open eveningOnce Sham had gone home, Jof joined us and we walked to a potential new school with only 2 minor stopoffs to meet and greet local cats. We have to assess the educational quality of at least 2 schools, and it's not as if we're experts in any of it. The catholic school sent us an invite too, but we'd have to do some serious fibbing and forging of baptismal records to get in one of them.
So we started with this nearby one. It is slightly younger than me and right by my birthplace. Staff and pupils alike greeted us at the door and we lost our designated guide sharpish and met Ben and Bo doing some rock-on drumming.
We poked our noses into the drama room, the library where Lego programmable robots stalked the aisles, the biology lab where I handled a green stick insect with wavy antennae. They also have the bugs-in-resin sets that we got from Barnardo's charity shop! I had a couple of bits of cake from the field kitchen in the main atrium.
The head teacher tried to make herself heard above the babbling of babies and we met half the Puddlers and 37 other people I know and watched a chemistry demonstration.
Mr Smith the type-cast chemistry man exploded a jelly baby in a test tube and seemed to enjoy it so we came back for the next session in which he set fire to a huge tub of methanol vapour and shot bottles across the room and killed 3 balloons with a lighted taper on the end of a long ruler. The first was just air. The second was pure hydrogen which made its own little mushroom cloud of rising orange flame and the third was a hydrogen-oxygen mixture as seen in the video.
Of course we all thought that blowing things up was epic so we all want to attend this school. It does look good actually and half of my friends will be going there so this educational establishment is now in first place.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

SatNavs and Speeches

adult learning mathematics fail gold medal tableWell, it's practically back to work properly now with homework and lessons and SAT tests coming up at the end of the year.
These tests may or may not result in streaming the pupils of the world into bands of ability, possibly affecting future college eligibility or academic prospects: all of this is so far in the future for me I can't even see it, like girls.
But I did my first 2 practise tests and noted the time taken, and Jof helped me see the error of my ways and then I wrote a passionate speech asking to be made House Captain (this is homework, I don't actually want to be made House Captain) with a rhetorical yet ambiguous question about whether I'd be better than a chicken in the role.
But then our home broadband was so slow the Minecraft server kicked me off and I resorted to Lego Minecraft. I made (while singing to it throughout) the Minecraft set I'd obtained at huge expense from Just-For-Kids or whatever it was at Centre Parcs. The base board is orange.
minecraft lego netherwort wither beasts
Lego Set 21126 contains a Wither, 2 Wither Skeletons with NetherWort (that's the red sticky-up nobs) and a collapsible Nether Region, and a Steve, who has a TNT cannon. But then you knew that.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Is it Art or is it Pr0n?

pour a pound bag of sugar on meOur new topic is Art. Not just the Art where you splodge browny-purple paint that has been mixed together by generations of primary school pupils and insist it is your favourite Granny, or daub that gooey glue that rubs off into little grey sausages all over the desk and then drop all the glitter on the floor anyway, or get an adult to staple 2 toilet roll tubes to a Pringles lid and call it a particle accelerator.
This is ART. So for tasters we had to go onto a special website full of stock copyright-free images to see what style of art we liked, and then to download a dozen or so representative images from which we would design our own picture, in our chosen style.
We are led to believe there will be a special gallery: some of us reckon it will be a hired venue, some assume it will just be the assembly hall again. I gathered images of castles and trees and nature, because even though I am a city boy, I do like a bit of naturism and who can argue with castles, just saying.
local scout group badge award ceremonyBut Child A near me spent the whole lesson searching the special area for niches and clefts, getting a picture of a couple making sexytime, a naked girl in a doorway with her bits out and everything, and a girl on a sunbed a la mode. This website, you see, is for adults (or at least, not age-restricted) so all styles are available: access is dependent on our USERIDs so only Year 6s can get on it. We have been specifically told that if there are willies and boobies and jigglies and wobblies then there will be rippy-uppies and tears before bedtime. But is it art? A certain amount of artistry was involved.
scout badge for cub scoutsLater, I went to Cub Scouts where I was awarded the Chief Scout's Super Silver Award Badge which is the highest you can get in Cubs. I already have the Bronze award from Beavers (pinned on me personally by the Lord Mayor), and confidently predict that I will still be there in 4 more years getting Gold Awards and moving on to Explorer Mega-Scouts.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Senility And Geriatric Awareness

centre parcs longleat plaza bowling lanesFor our last day we split up. Jof had the first appointment which was a rejuvenating facial for the Advanced in Years at the Aqua Insana Spa and Expensive Mud Pack Treatment Clinic. So we said poo to that and went to the Plaza to play big skittles.
You get 45 minutes regardless of how many balls you throw so we bunged our balls as fast as we could manage and got through 3 full games.
I lost all of them but I will grow and improve whereas he won’t. There was just enough time to con him into buying me a large Lego Minecraft set for only £33 before our first scheduled meeting with Jof.
We cycled down the hill at impressive speeds which made my eyes water and loitered at the arranged time and place but she didn’t show up so we spent some time playing walking-tag in the adventure climbing area. The Sports bar was too full of people watching Watford beat Manchester United so lunch was never going to happen so we got to the Boathouse for our family appointment at 220 for an electric boat trip.
centre parcs longleat plaza shop for kidsShe was late for that too, and we inserted her backwards into a lifejacket as soon as she showed up. I had bought another packet of fish food and like the pie-eyed piper of Hamelin we attracted a flotilla of keenly hungry ducks from all over the lake as we trundled round in little circles (I was steering) and we nearly crashed into paddleboarders and kayakers and ducks, even the decoy ones (D*Koi Dux, well known rap artist from Philadelphia) guarding the fishing area.
We probably took more than the allocated 30 minutes but nobody seemed to mind. Then we had to get the bikes back and Jof had lost hers in the bike park because they all look similar and she is getting old. It turned out she’d actually parked right next to us but we didn’t know either.
Us chaps wanted one last go in the pools so we ascended Plaza Peaks one more time. I found a huge bright green caterpillar in the car park.
feeding ducks from a boat longleatThe Multi-Niagara is our favourite water ride, and we did it 10 times in a row and both got bruised again. Some blokes were trying to go up the slopes and we broke 5/6 of the rules, only missing out on a full house because we didn’t have any flotation equipment. One girlie had a Go-Pro on a selfie stick so we made sure our gurning faces ruined her footage forever, hurrah.
magic mushroom psilocybe semilanceata liberty capJof went home to Lodge #917 with a complicated stomach and started packing and we helped a bit. The journey home in the dark (we left at 8pm) was 94 minutes long so I fell asleep and went straight to bed when we got home.

Saturday, 17 September 2016


writing rude messages to each other on a blackboardI was first to wake up. The view from my bedroom window was entirely obscured by trees, so unlike the view from my bedroom window at home. Gradually Bothy #917 came to life and Jof got her birthday tea in bed and a birthday bacon sandwich and then I saw the blackboard.
steep path through woodland pushing bikes uphillThis covers the door into the cleaners cupboard and from it we know that our Cabin cleaner is Tamsin. We like Tamsin. But because they supply you with a bowl of bits of chalk and a board rubber, somebody had written Mungleton you fart too much and you are fat, so I rubbed it out and put Bud you suck and your bum is massive.
Then we went out on our bikes. Mountains abound in this rural retreat and the wiggly Maple Way bike and footpath is totally unreasonable and 2 of us had to get off and push the bikes up the very nasty hill.
outdoor adventure playground centre parcs longleatThis is where we learned that the Latin name for the Thrush is ‘Turdus turdus’.
Then we turned left at the summit of Mount Maple and almost straight away descended another wiggly bike path to the forest by the lake where we locked our bikes in totally the wrong place and found the beginning to the tree-climbing aerial adventure tree trek.
The people that issue the harnesses and insurance forms said that tree-trekking was cancelled because thunder had been heard so we re-booked for an hour later knowing full well that it wasn’t thunder but somebody moving the recycling bins around at the Pancake House up the hill. But that gave us time to investigate the wooden adventure playground with tubular slides that give you a wedgie and a maze with walls only 2 feet high.
tree climbing centre parcs longleat
I was a Minotaur in the labyrinth of extreme visibility, even though I crouched down I couldn’t hide so we went back to the trees where I was put in a wedgie-enforcing harness with extra clasps and straps and links. We had purchased the additional voluntary tree course as well as the big one so that helped ease us in gently.
Jof knows perfectly well that she doesn’t want to do it so she stayed below on Terra Infirma as ground crew while Bud took the little camera aloft for aerial action shots.
extreme treetop walking harnessed
It was epic and we went last so we had more time and I did the zipline and climbing wall and all the time attached to the safety harness 10 feet off the ground. We completed the circuit and got to the second, larger circuit. This is when a bloke ahead of us declared he couldn’t take it and reversed off the angled tree log and ran away to lick his wounded pride and his wedgie welts.
The second section was much bigger. You do go up, but not much. It’s the ground that drops away from you as the hill plummets down to the lake that gives you the extra height. There were 2 ziplines with catching net and you’re 60 feet off the ground and halfway through people from the next group caught up but we didn’t care.
It’s only 2 people per platform and one person on each walkway or spider-net or zipline so you’re quite spread out. At the very end you go up to 22 metres above the ground and slide down a huge zipline across the lake which is fast but takes ages and for the rest of the day my mind smelt of speed and wind and the zzzzzzzz noise like an air raid siren and every time someone zizzed over us you could hear them screaming and going backwards even though you’re told not to.
aerial adventure centre parcs longleat
You hit the other side and it puts the brakes on sharpish and it was so funny it was worth the £78. That was when my sulky mood cleared up totally. You get a special badge when you give your harness back. The lake had carp fish and they all congregate by the kayak pontoon because you can buy a tub of fish food for £1 and the ducks fight the fish for the little green food pellets that look like peas but aren’t.
Lunch was at the sports bar with its badminton and snooker and giant TVs and I had extra brownies for dessert and then I fed the fish and circumnavigated the lake and we played 9 holes of Medieval Golf with lame hole names and Jof won because age begets experience and then we had to walk the bikes up the hill again.
centre parcs longleat tree climbing
During one of the rest stops Jof saw a baby deer in the bushes, which outranks my robins and pigeons. Mostly all I can think about is waterslides so we puffed up some more hills to the plaza and squashed 3 pennies in the machine and did all the flumes again. Bud got told off for going down the butt-buster backwards and we all joined hands on the Multi-Niagara and tried to block the water flow and had races down it and I did the cold plunger again which made me do the Pasa Trible (better than the pasa doble) and we met wave alert in the big pool. They aren’t very big waves.
We saw some sturgeon-like fish in the Koi pond that must have been 3 feet long.
Jof said she was dead after all the bruising exercise which was pretty talkative for a corpse so we came home to Hut #917 again, only to shower and go right back out again. The Jardin Des Sports was our lunchtime venue and doubled up as supper too, as I don’t like curries so the Indian was out. We walked through the dark trying to find the most level hill-free route.
The giant TVs were showing the Grand Prix and the Arsenal match so I sat at the table helping people choose by reading out the menu loudly. 4 times I was told to read it in my head only and after about 7 seconds of indignant silence I said yes but you could have the steak with eggs and hash browns that sounds nice and there’s the mixed grill which contains some steak and locally grown sausage and gammon steak and … etc.
longleat centre parcs lake fishcentre parcs longleat arcade games sports barBecause to me, the rhetorical question ‘Hmm, what shall I have…?’ is begging for advice.
Us chaps had sensible food but Jof randomly chose 5 sides/light bites/starters/withs and the chef made the point of coming out to serve us himself and say what a strange combination. Afterwards we had a couple of games of pool and shot Skynet’s finest in a Terminator 3 arcade game and got the land train back to the Shack in absolute pitch blackness. We were the only customers. Bed midnight.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Say Again, Granny Alert?

cctv funny car wreckConsider a restoration project for those with a couple of million to spare and a deep fear of crowded spaces. The location of this property, newly arrived on the market, will be ideal for watching the new Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers coming in and out of the harbour. No more will drunken singers argue outside your bedroom window at 4 in the morning. No more will earnest yet deluded true believers attempt to persuade you that the gods are real.
On the other hand, popping out for a pint of milk might be an issue, and it comes with zero parking spaces. Unless you have a boat.
rightmove commercial property auctionWell, it started normally. This is because I was in school. I did very well on my maths test which means I have graduated past The Thing, or Robin the Boy Blunder, or the Reticulated Wasp or whatever superhero represents the 3 and 4 times table.
I will therefore move on to the Green Lantern or Wonder Woman or whoever is in charge of the 5 and 6 times tables. But then Jof arrived to take me to an opticians’ appointment which was outside the pub where Bud picked us up in the big car and we drove west at varying speeds depending.
I played Minecraft all the way to Salisbury which is where we always hit the traffic and after only 2 hours we reached Center Parcs (Longleat) where Jof had kindly booked us in for her 50th birthday treat. We were deep in the countryside and somebody had clearly imported extra trees.
The car park was complicated and we got a bit lost but we followed the signs and only 9 miles later we found Chalet #917 which was in the Giant Redwoods section and everywhere is full of hills.
And trees. And roads you can’t cycle down, and paths you can’t drive down, and signs for Ash 380-1290 and Maple 312-940 and we were just happy we’d found a cabin with the right number.
maple 917 centre parcs accommodationIt was decent in size if there were 6 of you and I found the sauna and BBQ and our own little patch of grass outside and 3 big ensuite bedrooms so I instantly marked my territory by crapping in one of them as is my way. Each double-sized bedroom has its own dressing table and mirror and shower room and I had mine so Jof took the one with the bath and Bud had the other.
So after unloading the 17 suitcases that Jof had thoughtfully packed, they went off to park the car in the long-term fungus-ridden woodland car repository and came back with 2 bikes with automatic lights. I had heard about this place from the PuddleMummies, apparently it is a place where you have a spa, drink vodka and go down waterslides and flumes. Well, I fancied the flumes so we trudged up 7 hills to reach the pool that we could see from our window and it was epic.
palm trees in pots longleat centre parcsAn unseen Tarzan did his ahh-aah ah song intermittently in a vast indoor tropical paradise with palm trees and shops and hibiscus bushes and coffee shops and Indian Almond trees and restaurants and carp ponds and more shops and I goggled at all of it and we hit the waterworld place.
The changing rooms have an ingenious double-door lock it only took me 8 minutes to master and we emerged into the wave pool and climbed the stone walkways under the lianas and palms and tried out the short green slide and the butt-buster and the Multi-Niagara of Destiny that goes outside and the long green slide and the indoor whirl-pool tunnel.
We tend to move around a lot with quacking and laughter and Bud can’t see because of no glasses in the pool and I don’t listen so we go around together and always lose Jof. But then she found us again and we told her the butt-buster was ok and she believed us and made a really big splash and we laughed at her. Then Bud said get in that plunge pool, you’ll love it and of course it was the one at 4 degrees centigrade and I hadn’t read the sign and this is why I hate him so I made him get in too and he said a loud bad word and all the nearby people laughed and most of them were like the Icelandic football team with the big beards.
waterslides and falls plaza longleat centre parcs
I insisted on going down the Multi-Niagara many times with Jof backwards, upside down etc and we bumped into the walls and other Niagara users a lot and shouted “Tell my story” and “Avenge my death” and “I’m too young to die” when going over the falls or getting caught in the whirlpools and I pretended to be the liquid metal Terminator dying in the vat of molten steel and we’ll probably be bruised tomorrow.
We got out at 1 hour 20 past beer and we were all hungry so we walked the miles back to Hovel #917 and had Pizza and dried off the towels in the sauna right under the sign saying don’t leave clothes and towels in the sauna. The bath didn’t work for me but the shower was good and we seemed to have a burping and farting contest which is nice considering one of our number can apply for a SAGA card tomorrow and this is her Adventure before Dementia.
There was cake. And a lot of disbelief that one of us can navigate the sylvan byways and arboreal highways of this forested fen without having seen it before.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Seriously, A Gargantuan Age

family owned shutup no you shutup funnyAt school today we got down to business, where there's muck, there's brass tacks. We had to buy and sell cars and try to make money. It wasn't all plain driving, though, because we used an online car sales establishment to source our motors and had a minimum budget of 100 grand. Then, in a clear break with reality, we had to apply a uniform markup of 2 1/2 grand on each motor, regardless of book price, mileage or condition. Then we were to count ourselves lucky if Miss K was to buy one from us. My partner and myself (trading as BenMax Quality Knockoff Purveyors - Now Warranty-Free!) lashed out 150 grand at punitive rates of interest and have so far flogged about 2.
But after work I had my restorative snack and we drove down to meet Jof. It's good being a kid, because I can swan to the front of the queue and get instant service, which in this case, was a bottle of Prosecco, several birthday cards in restrained pink and a large bunch of flowers with hairy stems. I did not feel in any way silly walking back to the car with this lot, honest.
carl christian cakes st georges road southsea portsmouth
But then was the culmination of a plan. You may not know this, but Jof is about to experience a pretty seismic birthday which isn't the one that gets you a Bus Pass, but you can go on SAGA holidays.
So we visited the Carl Christian Cake Emporium, where Bud had already paid. This cavern of high-end sugarcraft is near the beach and is full of trinkets, ribbons, dainty thingies, labels, edible baubles, silvery devices of unknown purpose, stands, books, large antique machinery of equally unknown purpose, and more fairies than you can shake a glittery wand at, both in front of and behind the counter.
Honestly, it's worth a tour just to see how the other half bakes. There was a giant post box. And a Rapunzel tower. The happy couple were well represented in numerous formats and in all colours of the marriage rainbow, there were trucks and dinosaurs and elephants and footballers and warships and basically you can pay to have anything you want on your cake, and eat it too.
prosecco and cake for birthday partycarl christian cakes shop southseaWe had ordered a round cake for a special birthday with special ingredients and for a reason lost in the mists of time, a map of the world. It's supposed to be 50 in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I hope I am not alone in thinking that the 5 is in fact a backwards 2 because he ran out of pink 5s.
Anyway, we got it home and Jof loved it, we had some after supper.