Friday, September 10, 2010

A to Z Year : July 16th - August 12th : letters O and P

So here we are again, with another very overdue A-Z report.

We’re more than half way through the year now, and I’m already wondering how on earth we’re going to amuse ourselves next year, because this has been so much fun!

We began O fortnight with a trip to Wales to celebrate Connor’s “octobirthday” – he turned 8 this weekend :)

We had a lovely oriental meal on our first night, and also found a geocache in the dark, overlooking Saundersfoot harbour:

The next day, we went to the brilliant Oakwood theme park – the main reason for our trip. It was outstanding! ;)  some might even say out of this world!

None of the rides started with O, sadly, but our favourite, MegafObia, at least had an O in it somewhere. And it did kind of make you go OMG! :)
On the Sunday, we visited a very old house in Tenby (a Tudor merchant’s house owned by the National Trust), and some even older dinosaurs:

 And then the boys did some off-roading, which they loved!

And then we set off for ‘ome (groan!)

Oh - and before I forget - while we were in Wales, Jay gave me a brilliant pressie – an Ohio State University hockey jersey!!! The OSU Buckeyes are my favourite college team. I already have a musical OSU bottle opener that plays the team song, plus a pair of OSU socks, so it’s cool to finally have the jersey to match :) I will be wearing it proudly during the upcoming hockey season.

The following weekend, we were all singing School's Out by Alice Cooper, to celebrate the kids breaking up for the summer :)

On the Saturday, Connor went for a sleepover at his friend Oliver's house, which left the evening free for Jay and I to go to the movies and watch the (excellent) film Inception, starring LeOnardO di CapriO! :D  We also went on a "grown ups only" geocaching run - it's much quicker and easier without anklebiters :)

On the Wednesday of the next week, I had the day off work, and we went on a day trip to Oxford.

Because Reece was away (down in Dorset at his Granny's for the week), I told Connor he could invite Oliver along for the day out (no, not JUST because his name begins with O :) )

Oxford was great. First we went on a tour of Oxford Castle, which was brilliant. The tour guide is in character – ours was the 17th century prison governor (the castle was used as a prison from that era up until the 1990s, before then it was a military castle, with parts dating back to the 12th century), other available guides were a highwayman and a woman who murdered her husband. The tour itself was very entertaining, it kept all our interest, even the kids :) And I really enjoyed taking photographs there (except when I got left alone in the haunted crypt – eeeeeeek!!!)

We’ve done a couple of prison tours recently, might be doing another soon in Lincoln, I find them absolutely fascinating, not sure why, maybe I was an inmate in a past life :)

After the guided tour we explored the grounds of the castle for a while – including the motte (hill) from its original motte and bailey formation, and also the very posh hotel that has taken over the West Wing of the Victorian part of the prison – the bedrooms are the old cells and they still have the original cell doors! (but slightly comfier beds :) ). I’d love to stay here one day, but it’s outrageously expensive (£280 for one night!)

So, having worked up an appetite climbing the hill, we went to the Oriental Buffet in the castle grounds for lunch (the second time this fortnight we used O as an excuse to have a Chinese feast :) ), and then had a wander around the town, passing a number of the world famous Oxford University colleges on the way.

I think that pretty much wraps up O fortnight, although I have a niggling feeling that I’ve forgotten something – omitted something, even :)  That’ll teach me for blogging so long after the event!

So – on to P fortnight.

Annoyingly, I finished a CJ entry in a pink themed CJ, titled Pretty in Pink, based on the song by the Psychedelic Furs, the day before P fortnight started – bad timing!

But we did loads of other P-related stuff actually in the correct 2 weeks, so we more than made up for it.

First we went down to Dorset to pick up Reece after his week down by the coast.

We didn’t just grab him and run, of course, we like it down in that part of the world far too much for that, so we stayed for the weekend.

On the Saturday, we visited Poole, and the fantastic Poole Museum which has recently opened. It was really interesting in there, and we saw all sorts of fascinating things, including this recreation of a Victorian pharmacy (I loooooooved all the little shelves and bottles (and the drawers underneath that you can't see in the photo....), they would make brilliant storage for all my arts and crafts stuff!).

From Poole Harbour we got a boat over to Brownsea Island, which is famous for being the birthplace of the scouting movement, as it’s where Lord Baden-Powell held his first ever scout camp. It is also famous for its peacocks, which are really tame and happy to pose for photographs, and for its red squirrels too, but we didn’t see any of those. We did see a pheasant though :)

 We loved the island and spent three happy hours there exploring, paddling in the sea, collecting pinecones and geocaching, before the last boat back to the mainland.

We arrived a little early for the boat in the end (we were paranoid about missing it and being stuck alone on the island all night!), so we had a mooch in the National Trust shop by the dock, where I bought some postcards, and the boys bought pornographic shortbread!

The boat was very appropriately named for P fortnight, as you can see, plus we saw a yacht called Pollione and a floating petrol station during our crossing.

Back in Poole, we found a nice little Italian restaurant for dinner, where the kids and Jay had pizza, and I had pollo fiorenzina (bad lapsed veggie!)
In the evening back at Lulworth where Jay's mum lives, went for a nice walk up to Stair Hole to find a geocache (just in time, it was permanently archived about a week later), and then retired to the pub for a nice pint (or two) of cider.  I would have had Piddle beer, as the name always makes me giggle, and they did serve it in the pub we went to, but I've never been keen on real ale.
The next morning, the boys had a hearty breakfast of pig products (sausage and bacon baps) then we went to Corfe Castle, deep in the heart of the Isle of Purbeck.

And of course we had our tradional Purbeck ice cream from Jay’s mum’s ice cream parlour before we set of for home - yum!

On way home, we spotted this rather daft postbox, set so high up the wall, that even standing on a chair, Connor couldn't reach it.  I wonder how little old ladies were expected to manage?!  (It doesn't appear to be in service any more, maybe one of the diminutive pensioners complained :) )

The following Wednesday, as with every Wednesday in the summer holidays, I had the day off, and this time so did Jay, so all four of us took a day trip to Paulton’s Park, near Southampton (2 theme parks in 2 weeks!!! and we went to Legoland shortly afterwards too, but you'll have to wait for the letter Q to read about that).

This day out was yet another example of the A-Z Year pushing us to do something we probably wouldn’t have done otherwise, and coming up trumps. I’d written Paultons off in the past as looking a bit tacky and just for pre-schoolers. But I looked back into it in more detail as a result of looking for “P” things to do, and decided it looked worth a try. And as it turns out we all had a lot of fun.

Yes, this theme park is mainly aimed at younger children, but sometimes it’s fun for big kids (and adults) to play like little kids for a change :)

We met Percy the owl, then we went on some rides, then we grown-ups went on a nice walk through the grounds while the kids went on even more rides, we got soaked in the pouring rain, then had nice warm pasties and pies in the café for lunch as we dried off, we saw Peppa Pig world being built (opens next year), then played mini golf, and visited an unfortunate penguin in prison (he was later released by the trainer, not sure what he was in there for, quarantine maybe as he wasn’t allowed to swim at the same time as the other penguins). Oh yes, and we saw a poledancing bear, no really :)  And a pair of passionate parrots :)

Despite the on again off again precipitation, we had a great day!

It was pissing it down again the following Saturday (sorry for the language, but I'm running out of ways to describe rain that start with P! :D ) - so we did some indoor activities :

Firstly the kids did some painting at home, Connor started on his paint by numbers poster that he got for his birthday, and Reece painted and stamped a papier mache "R" that he had had for a while but hadn't yet got around to decorating.  Connor still hasn't finished his poster, but it looks good so far, and Reece's "R" turned out brilliantly (I'll be using a pic of it to head up the letter R blog post) .

Next we went over to Pick a Pot in Cirencester - which is one of those paint your own pottery places.  The boys each chose an alien mug, and I painted a little dinosaur ornament that I have since given to Darby.

 Here they are once they had been glazed - they look great don't they?  It was fun!

On the way home, in a break between downpours, we paid a quick maintenance visit to the Preston Pennyfarthing, our letterbox cache, which is holding up to the weather just fine.

And when we got back, the boys played with “magic balloon paste” in the garden:

On the Sunday we did a series of caches on the Thames Path – and we managed a personal best of 14 finds (and one DNF) in one day.  We had a lovely picnic half way round (as thankfully the weather today was much nicer than the day before!).

And a few days later, we went swimming with Connor's pal Callum, and then onto the Chinese buffet (without O as an excuse this time! :) ), where Callum demolished a pile of profiteroles (he had this amount about 3 times over!!)

I was really hoping I might receive a Postcrossing postcard during this fortnight from a P-country, so I was overjoyed when, near the end of the 2 weeks, a card arrived from Portugal :)

Connor bought a new Pokemon teddy from ebay with his birthday money:

And of course, I listened to Pearl Jam :) (the official bootleg from the gig we went to in Dublin)

and that, I believe, is that for the letters O and P

I'll be back soon (ish!) with an update on Q and R.....


Sid said...

loe that pink card, so much going on too !!

Michelle S said...

Gr8 read! go go go as ever!

Unknown said...

I could n't sleep and have just spent a very happy half hour reading your blog ... totally fabulous and your final description of the rain ... made me laugh out loud ... what a fabulous time you all have! Thank you for sharing it!