Archive for July, 2009

Day One on Holiday

July 31, 2009

I’m writing this from my HTC Magic, in a campsite in Brittany, where we are camping with my mother and step-father, Clare and Chris. The trip over yesterday was okay. Today the weather has been lovely and sunny. We’ve been to the beach and Ella has had a paddle on the sea. Hannah went food shopping with Clare. Not much progress has been made with Ella’s potty training, though.

Nearly Done and Thomas

July 29, 2009

We’ve done quite a lot of the packing up of the house, which is good. There are quite a few tasks to do tomorrow, admittedly, before we leave. Of course, the lovely task of putting it all back again awaits our return from holiday. We’re all looking forward to our 11 days in Brittany, and hopefully Hannah and I will get a good rest and the weather will prove good and sunny.

Ella did enjoy her Day with Thomas. Her most favourite thing was a retro car-based merry-go-round, with the cars going round and round on a track. She loved spinning the stearing wheel, and did have a good cry when she was taken off it after her first ride. That was followed by a ride on a merry-go-round which was a load of swings going round quite fast. She did look a bit miserable during that, but afterwards did ask to go back on (which she did later on). She also loved the bouncy castle, scrambling around with the other kids that were on it.

The trains – well, she was rather bemused by why she was having a photo taken while standing on Thomas. She did enjoy the train ride (which wasn’t pulled by Thomas, instead one of Thomas’s friends, aka one of the railway’s regular engines). She frequently commented on the ‘rocking’ and ‘rolling’, said ‘choo choo’ after the whistle was blown, and in the same vein as last week’s trip round the North Circular was quite excited by the tunnel.

All-in-all, a successful day out.

Toilet Humour

July 29, 2009

Ella is developing something of a dirty mind. Today, while I was bathing her, she did two quite load farts, giggled, and then said ‘bit funny, poo in bath’. I really had to fight hard to not completely crease myself up laughing. There wasn’t any poo in the bath, by the way.

Frantic Preparation

July 25, 2009

We’re off to France on holiday next week, for a period that co-incides with Cowes Week, and so we’re renting the house out to someone willing to pay a good deal of money. This means all our superfluous stuff has to be packed away into one room, which then gets locked. This includes things like our clothes, Ella toys, photographs, odds and sods, and right now I’m sat in the middle of it all. It’s been an ongoing task over the past couple of weekends, and it has always seemed that there isn’t enough time to get it done. Coupled with all the usual pre-holiday tasks, it is quite a lot, but you don’t get money for nothing.

Ella has developed a new phrase – ‘I don’t know’, which is actually quite cute when she says it. Hannah was reading a book to her tonight, and when Hannah asked where something was on the page, Ella kept replying ‘I don’t know’. It’s a handy phrase to have, but hopefully she doesn’t use it too often. Also on the calendar is a trip to the Isle of Wight Railway tomorrow for their Day with Thomas [Tank Engine]. Ella is quite excited, and when Hannah was asking her about it today, Ella said ‘can’t wait’, which Hannah reckons is quite advanced because it is an idiom. Anyway, it should be fun seeing the steam trains, and Ella loves Thomas, though she might change her mind when she sees a great big, steaming, noisy engine.

As a result of packing up the house, Ella’s cot is currently in its original flat packed state, and Ella is sleeping in some kind of portable blow-up bed on top of a fold-out double bed. This means she is free to escape the confines of her sleeping area, and hopefully she won’t wreak too much havoc either tonight or tomorrow morning.

Hi from Here

July 22, 2009

Really this is just a quick hi. We’ve been up to quite a bit recently, with a visit from Hannah’s sister, Miriam, last week, and a day trip to London to visit my brother, Douglas, and his family, including getting to meet our new-ish niece, Grace, for the first time. Ella, of course, loved spending time with her family, and Miriam was chuffed that Ella could finally say her name. We did have a couple of wobbly lip moments and crying at Douglas’s as Ella either had to share with her three cousins, or didn’t get to do what she wanted, but she had a really good time, and was wonderful in the car both to and from London. She was quite excited by the tunnels and bridges on the North Circular! Not the sort of road architecture you get much of on the Isle of Wight.

Hannah is now off school and into the summer holidays. She isn’t taking it easy, though, what with preping some drugs education stuff for a new programme she’s helping kick off, and getting the house ready to rent over Cowes Week. Right now I’m sat in a room that is filling up with boxes, and there is still plenty more to do in the couple of free days I have before we leave. In fact, I should stop now, and get on with the monthly budget.

Worst Night Ever

July 12, 2009

Yesterday we went over to Barbara’s for her birthday party. We decided to take Ella, and stay over. This meant that a) Ella would go to bed later than usual; b) probably be somewhat over-excited; c) sleep in the same room as us, which does tend to make her more difficult to put down; d) sleep in a slightly unusual cot (which she does sleep in occasionally). Okay, not the best set of influences for a good night’s sleep, but every-so-often, on a special occasion, you have to push the boundaries. She was quite excited at Barbara’s house before everyone arrived, and remained so after the party goers turned up. We didn’t keep her up long after the party started, and settled her down to bed. After a while she was still awake, so Hannah spent some time in the room with her, and she did go off to sleep. It’s not unusual for her to take an hour to go to sleep at home, with her just talking or singing to herself or her toys. When we went to bed, which was about 2am (rockstar lifestyle), she popped awake and wouldn’t go back to sleep. I have to confess to being quite rubbish, having been under orders from Hannah to take advantage of not having to drive and consume beer; and Hannah did most of the work to try and get Ella back to sleep. Eventually, after some fitful periods of sleep, Hannah and Ella got up around 5, and went off to watch TV, though Ella did bash Hannah in the eye with a book, which didn’t help. Hannah got me up at 7 so she could have a some kip. So come 10 o’clock when we left, all three of us were quite tired. Ella did do quite well in the breakfast stakes, having got one from her mother early on, and another later from her Gan-gan when Hannah was asleep and no-one knew Ella had already had breakfast.

She was rather crotchety at bed time tonight, but she was asleep nice and early (which you can tell from the fact that I’m writing this now and it’s 7:15, when Ella would normally still be heading for bed) so hopefully tomorrow she’ll be bright and breezy again. She’ll need to be because Miriam (Hannah’s younger sister) is coming to stay, and no doubt Ella will be engaged in a whirlwind of activity for the few days Miri is here for.

Shiny New Phone

July 10, 2009

So I have a new phone, with new phone number (got to text that out), and I’ve spent most of the day playing around with it (much to Hannah’s annoyance). It’s quite a change, even for me who has had a smartphone (Windows) for several years. The most important difference, apart from the interface and 3G, is the fact that it is location aware. It is a HTC Magic, a Google Android based phone (Android being the operating system). Obviously it ties into Googles web-based apps, like Maps and Mail (making me sync my Yahoo mail into Google to get the best email support on the phone). Using the touchscreen is very different too. My old phone used a stylus, but this one doesn’t work with a tap from an inanimate object, instead it uses the electical contact from your fingers to sense the weight and length of the contact. This is what the iPhone does and is all the rage. It’s nice to experience it. I do have rather fat fingers, though, so hitting the right key in the on-screen keyboard is tricky, but the predictive text also checks for likely spelling errors, so often the phone corrects my bad typing.

I’ve downloaded a few apps – simple things like a battery display and compass, as well as a Weather Channel app, task/to-do app, bar code reader (which hasn’t recognised anything I’ve shown it yet), My Tracks (which records where you’ve been, and promises to be excellent), and loads more. The Places Directory ought to be very useful when visiting new places, as it gives a directory of shops, entertainment etc based on your location, which is established using your mobile cell or the in-built GPS. I’ve registered for Google Latitude, so if you’re a user of that, let me know and then we can each know where the other is at all times. Spooky.

So overall, I’m liking it as a device. Plus it’s lighter and smaller than my bulky old smartphone, and with the 16Gb micro SD card (they are shockingly tiny), I’ve now got a new MP3 player as well.

A Small Adventure

July 10, 2009

I took the day off today to look after Ella while Hannah had the day in school running one of the Arts Blast events (you’d have to ask Hannah for information on what that was). In order to go and pick up my new phone, and as Hannah had the car, and as the weather was quite good, I thought that Ella and I would have a walk down the cycle path to Newport (where the parcel office is). The walk to Newport took about an hour and a half. Ella didn’t walk all the way, indeed, she was in the buggy for most of it because I was on a deadline to get to Medina Quay for lunch with Hannah. She did have a couple of short stints powering herself; the first when we got the the start of the cycle path, and Ella was definitely full of energy, doing quite a bit of ‘chasing’; and then later on as we neared Newport and I was less worried about the amount of time left. In truth, in the whole journey, the thing that interested her the most was the noisy cement/aggregate works on the edge of Cowes; apart from the packet of carrot stix crisps she ate.

We met Hannah for a nice lunch, though Hannah had to dash off, as she only had an hour. After which we stopped briefly at a swing park, before catching the bus home. It wasn’t a very tiring adventure for Ella, as she was pushed most of the way, but it was for me. She did get a good sleep when we got home, and I got to play with my new phone. 🙂

New Photos

July 6, 2009

I’ve uploaded some photos to Facebook. The first set are a few of ours from Ella’s birthday party. They show how much fun Ella had that day, enjoying some of her presents and cake! She definitely does know what presents are now, showing a great deal of interest in the ones Hannah gave out to the Choir.

The second set is from yesterday, when all three of us went to the Choir’s beach BBQ at St Helens. It was excellent weather, and everyone had a great evening. It was a shame to miss out on a thrilling Wimbledon final, though. I was doing the barbecuing for ourselves, Barbara, Brian, Petra (a friend and choir member who lives across the road), and a couple of other folks. I don’t believe anyone is unwell today, so that must have been okay, despite some items being dropped in the sand and ‘recycled’. Ella had a great time socialising, or alternatively doing her own thing. When the folks who stayed on late were having a sing-song Ella had a good old dance along with them, and once armed with a maraca she helped beat out the rhythm very well. She was most impressive.

Thank You for the Music

July 4, 2009

On Thursday, Hannah’s choir, Medina High Community Choir, whuch I sing in, had our in Medina Theatre. I’ve sung many times with Hannah’s choirs, and while we’ve had sell outs before, this is the first in the Theatre. This is an impressive feat for the choir, and I think a lot must have to do with the bullying tactics persuasive powers of some members of the choir. One disadvantage of having a big audience was the big heat in the theatre – it was sweltering. Just standing on the stage, without singing led to a sweat; looking like a tit doing ‘Does Your Mother Know’ was even worse. Everyone was in the same boat, so it wasn’t particularly embarrassing.

Overall, the audience seemed to enjoy it, and the Choir too. It’ll have been a great experience for the folks in the Choir who haven’t performed with us before to have stepped out onto the stage and see a full house. Watching it back on the video that was filmed on my behalf by one of Hannah’s Year 10 students, the big numbers are all good, and indeed it sounds better on the video than it did live, which is unusual – it’s usually the other way round. Also, the Choir was more disciplined than we’ve been before, getting on and off stage quicker. The standing plan helped (not seating, because we didn’t have seats), so everyone knew who they were stood next to. During Let It Be we all wandered around the stage, to return to where we started, and without a fixed seating plan, that wouldn’t have worked because we’d have ended up in a jumbled mess with people concentrating too much on remembering where they started.

There are a good set of pictures on Facebook (which I can’t link), taken by the sister of one of the Choir members. The couple that I’m in don’t do me any justice, I was smiling all the time, honest.