Tuesday, 5 June 2012

I Want to Ride My Bycicle

It's Bank Holiday. Everyone is being festive. It's the one day of the four-day weekend that doesn't have rain forecast. Sunday had been spent in a mire of couch-potato-ness, thanks to the incessant drizzle, so Monday was going to be active. We dragged out the bikes and did a maintenance check on them all. One needs a new brake cable, another brake blocks, but we found enough roadworthy bikes to do for the day.

I took the kids and we followed as many small roads as I could find to head for the forest. The road through Buckerage was like the waves of the sea - we would sail down one hill, then have to push up the next. The kids needed plenty of breaks and had scoffed their snack food before we got anywhere near the visitor's centre.

I don't think I have a picture of Eartha looking normal.
Naturally, the centre was like a zoo, it being bank holiday. We bought some lunch and Nick met us with the dog and his bike. We followed the red route, which is about 3 miles, with Pal bounding along beside us. He loved having humans that went at his speed for once.

Back at the centre, there was some debate about what to do next. Home was unremittingly uphill, but Grandma's, although further, was downhill. We plumped for Grandma's. Nick dropped the dog off and got a lift back, then we wove our way through the trees to the back of Uncllys Farm. The bridleway was muddy and uneven and Nick's brakes squeaked like he was trying to kill a ferret with his bare hands. There was one exciting moment, when a rutted path crossed our route and I thought all the children would sail into orbit as their wheels hit the deep indentations. In fact, it was a little later that Nick suddenly stopped killing his ferret and landed with a grunt in a soft pile of brambles. We were sympathetic once we'd stopped laughing.

No, I don't know which gang symbol they are sporting.
We pushed the bikes over a cattle grid and followed the lanes and a steep hill into Bewdley. Somehow we made it through the town centre without losing any children and ended up at Mum's, where the kids were surprisingly quiet. We'd cycled about 15 miles, at a guess. I wanna do it again!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Olympic Jubilee Birthday Parties

My Birthday Cake
I got 'another year older and deeper in debt', as the song goes. I am pleased to say I am now the answer to Life the Universe and Everything. In my new capacity as The Answer, I ate a lot of Chinese food, first with my friends and then the next day with my family. Nick got me a birthday cake. My brother bought me a (3rd world gift) donkey harness, which he thought would suit me following the ravages of my trek to K2. I told him I would wear it on special occasions (if I can ever find the donkey that is currently borrowing it somewhere in the 3rd world).
Cheerleaders on a lorry
Anyway, the Olympic Torch is being carted around Britain by a selection of randomly chosen people. I raced down to Leominster to see it and just got there in time. There was a cavalcade of lorries with waving cheerleaders on them, numerous police motorcyclists and an old bloke carrying the replica golden light. I was surprisingly emotional with national pride. I didn't expect that. 

More Olympic Parade Lorries
My youngest twins saw the flame as it passed by their school. Eartha, being the cheekiest child in the universe, asked if she could hold the flame and amazingly got permission. How cool is that?! 

The Press Corps
Some other friends had to go to a funeral at the time that the flame passed through Hereford. The route to the crematorium clashed with the route that the flame was taking. Those flag-waving crowds that were watching the parade there would have seen lorries with cheerleaders, a carnival of police motorbikes and the Olympic Torch followed by a hearse. I couldn't make it up. What a send off.

Local Man Carrying the Olympic Flame
The national celebrations don't stop with the Olympics. Our Queen Liz has been on the throne for 60 years, which is quite a feat, however you look at it. Every school, village hall, town and city has organised an event, from a barbecue to a flotilla of boats on the Thames. 
Jubilee Garden Party
Nick looking like he's had enough of flag waving.
There are a lot of street parties happening this weekend and we get an extra day bank holiday. Friday we went to the Jubilee celebrations at the village hall. There was plenty of food, a quiz (we did terribly), a tree planting and a balloon release. It was really quite good fun, although I did realise half way through the evening that I'd turned up in a t-shirt that said Kyrgyzstan on it, which probably confused all the people wearing Union Jack print clothing.
Balloon Release

I think the rest of our long weekend will be spent trying to kill off the rampaging ground elder, which is trying to take over my garden. I'm on a mission. The stuff just won't give up. We're trying to stop it growing by smothering it with black bin bags, pinned down with house bricks. We've spread them all over the paths and beds where the unstoppable weed keeps coming up. My back garden currently looks like a mafia kill site.