Monday, January 29, 2007

Swings and Slides

Yesterday we ventured out to the park again. We were a bit better prepared this time, after our recent experience here. We all wrapped up warm with scarves, gloves and warm clothes but in any case, it turned out to be a warmer day.

Lauren hasn't been on the swings and slides since the autumn, as the weather has not been as good this winter. We've had a lot of rain in recent months, so the recent run of sunny days has been welcome.

When we got to the park, we headed almost immediately for the swings in the smaller kiddies' playground. Much to our surprise though, Lauren did not enjoy them. She used to love the swings (see this post) but yesterday looked nervous on them. We decided to let her try the climbing frame, slide and bouncy rides instead.

Lauren went onto the climbing frame first and loved walking around on the walkways, although the climbing parts were probably a bit beyond her at the moment. She really enjoyed it, especially when other children at the park climbed up onto the frame as well. As always, she was fascinated by the other children and was watching what they were doing.

We then took her onto the slide part of the frame. As you can see from the photos, there was much giggling and excited squealing from the little girl. She wanted to hog the slide all day! Every time she got to the bottom, she would start backing up the slide to let us know she wanted to have another go.

Finally, Lauren went on these bouncy rides (don't know what else to call them; they're almost like rocking horse animals but on springs instead of rockers). She didn't like these when she was younger but seemed to really enjoy them yesterday. She would climb on one, bounce around for a bit then climb on a different to see what that one was like.

The day was finished off by a walk round to where the duck pond was and feeding the ducks and geese. Judging by their general apathy, I would guess that we and several hundred other people had done the same thing, so they weren't particularly hungry. Lauren was impressed, nevertheless and said "duh, duh" repeatedly (her pronounciation of "duck", just as books are "boo").

We all had a fun time! After a while, we got hungry so we came home.

Lauren also had fun later in the evening playing dressing up whilst Mama was doing the washing up. Daddy took some photos of the little girl. Lauren is the source of endless entertainment to us!

Tae a Haggis...

Last Thursday, it was Burns' Night. As a child, I was brought up on the poetry and songs of Burns and won prizes in singing of Burns' songs and recitation of Burns' poetry. I've even addressed the Haggis at a Burns' Supper, so it's only natural that year on year, Jase and I give a nod to the Scots Bard on the 25th January and have the traditional celebration.

Funnily enough, it's actually quite difficult to get hold of a good haggis for the occasion in London. Of course, there's the disadvantage that they don't roam wild down here like they do in the lowlands of Scotland. I wasn't going to settle for an inferior supermarket one (I mean a Walls haggis?) so had to do some research to find the right one.

I discovered that a local butcher in Kensington sold the famous Macsween haggis, so duly headed across there to buy one.

I was surprised at how small it was! The one in the picture above is identical to the one I bought and it was about 4 inches in diameter. I was quite disappointed but thought we could probably bulk it out with the traditional neeps and tatties.

On the night, I put it in a pan of simmering water to let it heat up. To my surprise, it started to grow to enormous proportions! This is the end product below, at least doubled in size.

I suppose it's because I haven't bought a haggis with a proper natural casing (i.e. a sheep's stomach) for a long time that I'd forgotten that they expand. The ones in the artificial casings stay the same size when you cook them.

Well, the haggis was cut up with much ceremony and excitement and we tucked in with gusto. The Macsween haggis was (as always) really, really good.

As Burns himself said:

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,

And dish them out their bill o' fare,

Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware

That jaups in luggies;

But, if you wish her gratefu' pray'r,

Gie her a Haggis!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Icicle Mama and Dada

Today, we decided to take Lauren to the park as the sun was shining and it seemed like a lovely day. We thought that we perhaps would not get many opportunities to do so again if we didn't take advantage of the good weather.

Unfortunately, we forgot that sunny days in January are usually accompanied by temperatures which are not too friendly. Both Jase and I forgot to take hats, gloves or scarves with us in our rush to leave the house. It was only 2 degrees C.

Well, let me tell you that I won't be doing that again in a hurry. Luckily, Lauren was wrapped up cosily in her heavy coat and the Cosytoe on her pushchair.

Within minutes, I had lost all feeling in my hands and in my face. We did get to see ducks, geese and squirrels (much to Lauren's excitement) but it wasn't a fun experience for Mama or Dada!

We decided to beat a rapid retreat into Chiswick for an early lunch and went to the fun Gourmet Burger Kitchen for some home-made burgers and fries. The hot chocolates were particularly welcome!

Sadly, all too soon it was time to leave GBK and head back to the car. I hadn't quite defrosted fully from the previous outing, and the biting wind had picked up pace. It was deeply unpleasant.

Fortunately, it looks as though I haven't lost any appendages to frostbite, but let me tell you it was a close call. Several hours and many cups of tea later, I almost feel back to normal...

Today was also my Dad and my brother Jase's birthday. Happy birthday Grandpa and Uncle Jase and hope it was fun!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Lot of Eating

Over the last few weeks, we have managed to eat out a couple of times at our favourite child friendly haunts - the Pacific Bar & Grill and Balans in Chiswick. It was good to get out and about after the festive period and have opportunity to cheer ourselves up and forget about the long winter nights.

Lauren looking around the Pacific Bar and Grill. We were eating lunch out at the beginning of January.

Lauren had a good time, even if she does get bored easily these days. She loved looking out of the window to see the traffic and people going by.

Lauren plays with Daddy; happy smiles all round!

Mama and Lauren enjoying breakfast in Balans last week.

Also, over the weekend we had my mum and dad down in London to celebrate Dad and brother Jase's birthday. We had a big feast of fish, roast duck, tofu and Chinese choi.

It wasn't long before we all tucked in and the food was all gone! Lauren was sad to see the grandparents go; she really had fun whilst they were here for the weekend.

Hubert's Civil Ceremony Photos

We received some lovely photos from Hubert of his and Bonnie's civil ceremony over the Christmas period.

Here's the happy couple on the way to the ceremony:

And afterwards with the cake!

They've just recently bought a house and we're all awaiting photos. Mum also tells me that they've set their church wedding date for 31st August 2008 and booked a venue. Exciting! Brother Jase gets married this June and Hubert next summer!

Suppose I better start looking for an outfit...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Christmas Favourites

Apologies for the lack of posts recently but we have been very busy since the New Year. Jase has been looking every day for a new job, but stuff is thin on the ground at the moment. We're not at the stage where we are too worried yet, but obviously we are hoping that something good comes along soon.

I've been busy both at work and at home as well. I've been taking on a lot more responsibility at work in the run up to applying for the new job; I have to step up to my new role. It means a bit of a change of gear for me; previously I was used to being very clinical (i.e. seeing patients) and now I am expected to do a lot more managerial stuff. It's a challenge of a different kind.

At home, I have had the sudden urge to spring clean in a large scale way; we've reordered Lauren's bedroom and our bedroom and tried to do all the odd jobs that we've been slacking on for a while. We are now about 90% of the way there now - only a few things left to do. Lauren certainly seems really pleased with the new look of her bedroom; every time she wakes up she points excitedly around the room.

I've finally managed to get time to upload all our photos from Christmas and New Year to our photo albums on Flickr and Photobox. Here are a selection of my favourites.

Lauren with my mum and dad:

Lauren with Peter (my favourite one of Lauren with Suzanne is in the Duck Hunter series):

Lauren in her party dress and playing Peek-a-boo from behind the armchair:

Lauren playing with Mama and exploring her new toys:

And finally, Lauren demonstrating her new trick of sticking teaspoons to her nose (after being fascinated by daddy doing this trick!):

Friday, January 05, 2007

Episode 2: Return of the Duck Hunters

The Christmas Trip to York allowed Lauren another chance to go hunting for ducks.

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At first we thought they would be a no-show, but then a nice lady stopped by with some bread and they appeared out of the bushes on the island of Skelton pond and Lauren got to see her old friends!

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Grandma helped with the driving.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Photos are Coming!

I'm uploading 20 odd photos to Photobox now, covering off Christmas and New Year.

I'll link a few of my personal favourites with commentary once they are done.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Welcome, 2007!

Yay! Happy New Year to all!

Welcome the New Year; here's hoping 2007 is a good one!