Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Buses and Trains

Sadly, the weather has not been good this Bank Holiday weekend.  It rained almost the entire time, which was a bit disappointing as we had all been looking forward to the long weekend (even though I was on call for the department, so was technically "working").  We managed a couple of visits to the park but we didn't stay out for long because the weather was so poor.

Yesterday was Bank Holiday Monday and we went down to the Park Club to go swimming.  The swimming pool was really busy because of the poor weather outside.  However, both Lauren and Jocey had a good time and both girls are gaining in confidence in the water.  They will swim for short bursts with their arm bands on now; a huge achievement when you consider Lauren was screaming every time we put her in the pool only 6 months ago and Jocey is only 8 months old.

Today, the weather was overcast and on the cool side, so not a brilliant outdoor day again.  I decided that it was time to face up to my fear of travelling on public transport with the children.  Before today, I had never (yes, honestly - never) been on the Tube or the buses with Lauren and Jocey on my own.  Lauren has never been on the Tube at all, but Jocey did go that one time with Jase and me to Benares.

At the weekend, we bought a Buggy Board on eBay.  We got an excellent deal because it was brand new and the latest version and we won the auction at half the retail price.

Lascal Buggy Bo

As you can see, it's a little wheeled board which clips onto the back of a pushchair.  Your toddler then stands on top, holding onto the handles of the pushchair so that you can ferry them both around without a double pushchair.

I hadn't tried one before because I didn't think Lauren was really big enough or strong enough when Jocey was born.  However, Lauren did not have too many illnesses this winter and had a massive growth spurt so is now back on track compared to the rest of her peer group.

She's now even wearing some clothes in the 3-4 year age range.  I have had to do a major clear out of her wardrobe as a consequence.  What a change from the little girl that she was!  I can't believe that she was so far behind just over a year ago.

Today, I took Lauren and Jocey out with Jocey in the pushchair and Lauren on the buggy board.  We went on the bus down to Shepherd's Bush and took the Tube to Latimer Road to go to this big indoor activity playground called Bramley's.

Our first public transport outing was a really positive experience.  She loved riding on the buggy board and said "Choo choo!" every few metres.  We didn't have to wait very long to catch the bus and before we knew it we were at the Tube station.

The Tube station itself (as with most in London) was a bit of a nightmare.  I had to negotiate a long flight of stairs (very few Tube stations have lifts) by myself with the two children.  I had to carry the pushchair with Jocey in it up the stairs whilst holding onto Lauren to help her walk up the long flight, as she could not reach the banisters.

Anyone who thinks London is good for children obviously doesn't live here.  I have never encountered a city quite as child unfriendly as London.

However, we did make it to the top and waited for the Tube.  I was so impressed with Lauren; she knew to hold my hand, not to run about and to stay away from the edge of the platform ("Trains go there, Mummy.  We not go there.")!  Lauren was really excited and watched with fascination as the Tube train arrived on the opposite platform.  Again, we did not have to wait long before our train arrived.

A nice man helped me with Lauren and the pushchair onto the train and we managed to get seats as it was quiet.  I think Lauren was sad to get off the Tube; she wanted to stay on a bit longer!

When we arrived at Bramley's, Lauren could hardly contain her excitement.  She could see all the other children on the big climbing frame and was dying to give it a go.

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However, she reluctantly allowed me to take her shoes off first before she ran off to play.  As soon as the shoes were off, she darted off to try out the climbing frame.

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She had a really good time clambering up and down the frame, whooshing down the slides and swinging from the ropes.  She especially enjoyed the ball pits.

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I think I can honestly say that she really enjoyed herself.  I think that she'll enjoy it even more when Jocey is big enough to be running around with her, as Lauren doesn't really like playing on her own.

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By the end of our time there, she was pretty tired out and was keen to get home.  However, despite her tiredness she was well behaved and co-operative on our way home and enjoyed both the Tube ride and the bus journey.

Both girls went for a nap after our big adventure today.  Mummy was pretty tired too, but was very proud of her girls!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

So tired...

Since going back to work it has been non-stop; I have already blogged about how busy our weeks tend to be.  It has been quite hard to blog, especially as despite my best efforts to get away, I seem to be doing 11 - 12 hour days.  I think I have taken on quite a lot of responsibility since I returned to work and have been quite surprised at the volume of stuff I'm already doing.  I suppose I was never the kind of person to sit idle...

On my day off from work, I have the girls at home with me and often we go out to play in the big sand pit at the Park Club. 

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It's also an opportunity for Lauren to run around, play on the climbing frame and generally let off steam.  Jocey seems to enjoy it too, even though she's not at the stage where she needs to run around yet.

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Even at the weekend, we are busy.  We going swimming with the girls almost every week.  Lauren has turned from a girl who was terrified of the water to a child who loves swimming.  Last weekend, I put the armbands on her and she managed to swim entirely on her own.  She didn't realise it at the time as she thought I was still holding onto her; however, when distracted she was quite happy to paddle on her own.

The girls have had a persistent cough in the last few days after the tail end of yet another cold from nursery.  Unfortunately, this has caused us quite a few problems at night with both the girls vomiting after coughing fits during the night at the weekend.  This has taken its toll on us both and we are both exhausted.

I am on call this week so am especially busy.  I am finding it hard this week because I am so tired.

Last week, we were talking about our plans for our 10th wedding anniversary.  I can't believe how quickly the time has passed, as I can remember the day of the wedding as if it were only yesterday.

We had wanted to go away but were worried about money, as currently money is very tight.  I am sure this is the same for almost everyone, with the sub-prime disaster, economic slow down and the rising cost of living affecting us all.  However, we both badly need a break and have decided to go away to Dorset.

We can't wait!  We've booked an apartment overlooking the harbour and the beach at Lyme Regis.  In the picture below, the apartment is in the cube shaped building second from the left.


Lyme Regis Harbour, originally uploaded to Flickr by Andy Latt.

It will be a proper break away from the stress and strife of London and an opportunity to spend some quality time together, just the four of us.

There is a sandy beach just on our doorstep and a separate beach for hunting fossils nearby.  On the ground floor of the building, the owners of the apartment run an ice cream / buckets and spades shop.

What could be more perfect?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

60 Years Young

Mum had her 60th birthday celebrations a couple of weeks ago when my parents were staying with us in London. It was a glorious weekend and we took her to be pampered at an amazing spa, the Shymala Ayurveda in Holland Park.

We both had the most fantastic time with a facial, facial massage and all body massage. The oils they used felt gorgeous on the skin and had a wonderful spicy scent. We came out feeling relaxed and glowing afterwards.

Later in the evening, we went out to eat at the Royal China, our favourite Chinese restaurant in London. We had all manner of seafood and other yumminess.

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The food as always was wonderful and everyone had a great time. Mum loved having her children and her grandchildren around her.

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It was also the first time we'd managed to meet up with my cousin Amy and her husband Antony since the death of my Aunt Barbara last year. We were all glad that they could join us and it was good to catch up with them.

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My brother Jason and Charlotte were also there; Charlotte's bump is getting pretty big and she has been getting quite tired with the pregnancy. However, she looked in good spirits on the day.

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All too soon, the evening was over and there was the usual fight about who pays (traditional in all Chinese families!). Dad, due to his much greater experience at this ritual, won the tussle and ended up the victor.

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Jase and I were pleased at how well behaved the girls were. They were relaxed and enjoyed the evening as much as the grown ups. Here is a picture of me, followed by one of Lauren.

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Here's Daddy with Jocey.

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On the Bank Holiday Monday, the weather remained good and we managed to get out into the garden. We had a relaxing morning enjoying the sunshine.

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Lauren discovered the camera on my mobile phone and wanted to try taking photos. To my surprise, they were actually very good and quite arty!

Here's Lauren's photo of the birthday girl.

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The blurriness is due to the camera on my phone rather than Lauren. Here's GungGung and PoPo.

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Here's Mummy, taken by Lauren..

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and Daddy, taken by Mummy..

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Jocey, taken by Lauren..

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and Lauren, taken by Daddy!

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We finished off the weekend with a family lunch on the Bank Holiday Monday before my parents flew home.

Lauren was sad to see them go as always, but fortunately they come to see us every month so it's never long between visits! We will see them again in a fortnight and we are all looking forward to another family weekend.

Our photos from that weekend can be found here on my Flickr site.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

"That's my Tony!"

The weekend before last we had the first day with warm sunny weather this year.  We finally felt that we had thrown off the shackles of winter and we decided to make the most of the good weather.

On Saturday morning, we made an effort to get up early and went to Brent Cross to get Lauren a new pair of shoes.  She had been saying that her old shoes were "ouch" and I had suspected that they were too small for her as she had grown so much this winter.

Surprisingly, Brent Cross was not as chaotic as we had expected and we spent a pleasant morning shopping until the girls got bored. 

Lauren's new shoes

Lauren loved her new shoes and immediately put them on.  We stopped to have a leisurely lunch at Wagamama's before heading home.

It was a glorious afternoon and we felt that it would be a terrible shame to waste it, so we headed to Ravenscourt Park almost immediately.  After feeding the ducks, we headed off for ice cream.

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Lauren really loved her ice cream. We even got to share a little with her (well, all except Jocey)!

Jocey also had a good time in the sunshine and enjoyed playing with her feet.

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Mummy and her girls enjoying hugs together.

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Daddy gets hugs but not to "share" Lauren's ice cream...

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After Lauren had played on the climbing frame, we went to the sand pit to try out her new bucket and spade.  Jocey got a lift on Mummy's shoulders.

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To our surprise, we bumped into her little friend Tony from her old nursery at Hammersmith. He was there with his parents and his new baby brother Sam.

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After about a minute of initial shyness, the two of them were having a fantastic time playing together. It was lovely to see Lauren so happy. She clearly misses her Tony.

We managed to swap telephone numbers with Tony and his mum. We hope that they will want to meet up to let Tony and Lauren play again. Poor Lauren was so sad in the car on the way home. She wanted her Tony back!

Friday, May 02, 2008

YouTube

I've added a direct link to my YouTube channel on the right hand side.

I'll be migrating all my videos there over the next few weeks.

I have put four of the more recent ones on there already.

You can see them here.