Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A to Z year : February 12th-25th : the letter D

D is for.... dead tired!

We certainly were by the end of this fortnight, as we did loads - so this is going to be a loooooong blog post, get yourself comfortable :)

I started the D fortnight with a few days off work, which was nice, I didn't have anything in particular to do with them, I just needed to use up some holiday time before the end of the financial year. But it was nice to have time to do things I can't usually fit in to my stupidly busy schedule, like dying my hair (picture to follow...)

Also, thanks to the wonders of Freecycle, I had a massive de-clutter over the two days that I was at home but Connor was in school. I got rid of tons of stuff that's been taking over my home, and it felt gooooood! My hallway actually looks like the entrance to a house now, not a timber yard :)

Once the weekend arrived, our first day out was to be a deer spotting expedition....or that was the plan :)

We struggled out of bed on the Saturday morning (just :)), and jumped in the car and headed towards Bath, where we were due to meet Michelle, Tracy & co at Dyrham Park:

The others already been up and out adventuring for hours, they put us to shame, but then again we do enjoy our lie ins at the weekend :) When we were just approaching Dyrham, they gave us a call with some bad news...Michelle had been chatting to the park keeper, and his assessment of our chances of seeing a deer was "less than zero". Oops. Apparently they don't come out in the cold weather. Pah. I thought that was tortoises!

But what the hey, we were nearly there, so like the stubborn mules we are, we decided to have a mooch around the grounds anyway, and see if we could spot a rare winter loving deer or two...

We saw empty field ...

...after empty field ....

....after empty field

....and we were just about to give up when Michelle called out excitedly, "I've found one!"

"Look! it's just over this wall!"

And she was right!
just over that wall.....
was Bambi!

OK...OK...that's not quite how it went :)

In reality, the park ranger dude was spot on, and we saw diddly squat.

Oh well, at least we tried.

We left the rather badly named deer park was a long way to drive to look at empty fields.

Finding a little cake shop nearby helped lighten our moods - sadly it didn't seem to sell anything at all beginning with D, but it was still in the village of Dyrham, so hopefully that counts. The lack of the magic letter certainly didn't stop us stocking up on delicious treats - plain and caramel shortbread and chocolate brownies, yum!

Then as we came out of the bakery, Tracy spotted our redemption - just across the road - dirt bike races!!!

Perfect :) We all went over to watch for an hour or so....and to be honest, the bikes were a lot more fun to photograph than the deer probably would have been:

Out in the fresh air, it was also my first opportunity to get someone to take a photo of my new hair colour, so here's that picture I promised you:

After all that excitement and fresh air we all needed a bit of a sit down :)

So we headed back to T&M's place to chill out for the afternoon, and play a bit of DJ Hero

It was so much fun :)

It's basically just the same as Guitar Hero, which in turn was just like a dance mat game really, but you hit the coloured buttons with your fingers not your feet. About as much like playing with real decks as Guitar Hero is like real guitar playing, though, according to our resident superstar DJ, ie not much :)

The following day, we had a decadent lie in, and then a nice lazy rest of the day (it's got to be done from time to time). The boys were in the mood for some arts and crafts, so they made some funky dragons, with card, paint, paper fasteners and drinking straws.

The design was Reece's idea, based on something he did in school a year or two ago. They turned out great!

The following day, Monday, was one of those very welcome rarities - a day off in the week for both me and Connor at the same time :) I let him choose what we would do on our just-mummy-and-Connor day out, and his first choice was to go back to Cosmo, the Chinese buffet, for lunch.

In the spirit of 'D' fortnight he tried duck in a pancake for the first time:

After lunch we went to Butterfly World at Blooms garden centre (about a month too late! :)), and had a good look for things beginning with D, but all we found was a bearded dragon and some ducks (I resisted the urge to point out he had just eaten one of their relatives):

All was not lost, though, as we had a brilliant time there anyway, if largely letter-D free. Connor particularly enjoyed having a snake draped around his neck (do you think that counts? :)). He also had the privelege of hand feeding Iggy the iguana, who, according to the keeper there, has never accepted food from anyone before who doesn't work there. So that was pretty special.

I'm pleased to say that we redeemed ourselves on the alphabet front by going to the Paint your Own Pottery shop – and I know you’re thinking we’ve mistaken our Ps for our Ds, but no, we were still on track, because Connor painted a dragon, and I did a dinosaur, so there :P :)

And then after all our hard work painting, we had a delicious dairy treat - blackberry ice cream, yummmmmmmmm

Our next letter D? Connor having a lesson on Jay's decks - maybe he'll be a superstar DJ too one day :) He really enjoyed his session - he learned how to slow down and speed up the records, how to fade from one deck to the other, and even how to scratch. I was too chicken to try it myself, in case I broke something :)

One week down, another to go, are you still with me? :)

So....the following Saturday we had another fairly lazy day....our partners in A-Z crime were down in London seeing the sights, but we weren't due to join them until the following day.

The boys were getting cabin fever by the afternoon, though, so in an effort to economise we took them to the local reptile shop. It's like a free zoo :) It has a crocodile and snakes galore and all sorts of lizards.

And most importantly, they had a huge tank with about 10 bearded dragon babies. Oh they were so beautiful! This little fella in particular was really friendly. Jay had to physically drag me from the shop to stop me buying him and taking him home :)

I called him Joey Beard after the Swindon Wildcats #15

On the picture below, you can see Joey's brothers and sisters bottom left, and also, nowt to do with the letter D, a very cool Australian Water Monitor called Elvis who is allowed free run around the shop, and a suicidal cricket who kept taunting a tarantula.

Our only other D-related activity for this day was trying, and largely failing, to get the family to pose for photographs in a dreadlock wig:

At least I had fun, so much fun in fact that I didn't want to take it off :)

The boys preferred the coloured wigs, less itchy apparently.

I love the way that Reece, in the purple wig, inadvertently looks just like Connor's monster money box :)

The following day, the Sunday, was our big day out to the big city.

We got up at dawn – well about 7am – which is horrendously early for us :) - and drove down to London.

The plan was to park up at the park-and-ride out in Osterley and get the tube to the Natural History Museum, but I somehow overshot, and we ended up just driving directly to the museum, where we were lucky enough to find a space on one of the free parking meters, right outside the building.

And a very impressive building it is too, I never fail to just stand there and admire it for a while before going inside (not that we stood and admired for TOO long this time, as it was raining cats and dogs and we didn’t want to end up looking like drowned rats)

Once inside, we had no trouble discovering tons of stuff beginning with D:

(to explain the two rather dubious inclusions – bottom left is me and “dem bones” , and at the top right is a display of tiny stuffed hummingbirds. You can’t see it for toffee in that tiny photo, but trust me it was amazing)

We also had a look round the brand new, and very impressive, Darwin centre, which is a huge exhibit devoted to bio-diversity. There were interactive exhibits for the children and lots of interest to the adults too. Unfortunately we didn't have time to go down to the vaults where they have preserved specimens of something like 17 million species of animals/insects, and 3 million species of plants. That would have been fascinating, another time...

We had a late (and expensive - one could almost call it daylight robbery ;) ) lunch in the museum cafe, and then caught the tube to Chinatown, in the (fruitless as it turned out) hope of bumping into Michelle, Tracy and family.

Why Chinatown, in D fortnight? Well, they were having their annual new year celebrations today....and what does that mean? Yes - Dragon Dancing!....

and decorations all over the streets....

and, ummm, crispy duck :)

It was really crowded, but the atmosphere around Chinatown was electric, well worth a visit when the new year celebrations are in full swing.

Here are a couple more pictures, as you can see by the blue sky and all the bright colours, by this afternoon the rain had stopped and it was really sunny (if still a little chilly):

None of the rest of today's activities were really anything to do with the letter D, but just for completeness, this is what we did next:

We managed to get hold of M&T on the phone, who by now were hanging around Covent Garden hoping to see somebody famous as it was the Bafta awards weekend, and arranged to meet them down by the London Eye.

We were going to get the tube there, but as we walked from Trafalgar Square (where we had been watching some traditional Chinese dancing, and posing for pics outside the Canadian High Commission, like the true hockey fans we are) to the tube station, we saw Big Ben in the not too distant distance:

So we decided to walk down Whitehall instead as it was a lovely evening for a stroll (the kids didn't agree, but to be fair we had been walking constantly since 10am, only sitting down once to eat)

We fancied doing a night flight on the Eye, but when we got there it was still fairly light.

So we ducked into the London Aquarium to pass an hour until it got properly dark, and that's where we finally bumped into our pals.

We were particularly pleased to see a replica Easter Island statue in one of the big tanks, as anyone who has seen and enjoyed the movie Night At The Museum knows he is called Dum Dum, which begins with D :)

When we emerged from the aquarium it was suitably dark, and we thoroughly enjoyed our night flight:

And here's a rare piccie of the whole gang together, taken by a kind fellow tourist:

After all that excitement, there was nothing left to do but limp back to the tube station, collect the car from outside the (now beautifully floodlit) museum, and drive home to collapse exhausted in our beds. What a great day that was!

There was even more excitement the following day - as it was a Teacher Development day at Connor's school and so we had another trip out, to the fantastic @Bristol science museum, but it was fairly devoid of Ds....we did animation (too late), went to the planetarium (too early), and all sorts of other wrong-lettered activities:

But never mind, it was fun anyway :)

So that's my D fortnight all wrapped up....E next (which so far we have found pretty tricky, so you can expect a shorter blog post next time :D)


Michelle S said...

We have some real great fun! I love being ur partner in Crime ! lol x Amazing write up!

Nicole Maki said...

Wow. I want to be adopted by your family. You put our D's to shame and them some.

Funniest bit:

"I resisted the urge to point out he had just eaten one of their relatives"


Thanks for a very enjoyable coffee break.

monika said...

Whoa you have been busy. I must say you look fab in that wig. It really suits you. LMAO