nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
( Mar. 18th, 2014 09:59 pm)
I felt the urge to rewrite my introduction so I thought I’d use it as a starting point for a Subscription Meme, as I haven’t seen one going around for a while.

I’ve made a template, which I’ve filled out very wordily below. Please feel free to adapt it to your wishes, and please link this post wherever you like. (Please participate or share? I'm going to feel very sad if this entry sits here alone with 0 comments...)

Subscription Meme template:
<b>People in this journal</b>
<b>About my job</b>
<b>Some random facts</b>
<b>Things I like to do</b>
<b>Social media usage</b>
<b>>Subscriptions, access and commenting</b>
<b>What I’d like to get from my participation here</b>

My responses! )
I’ve not been about much this month. My apologies for not keeping up with responding to comments and posts. This is because the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. For one thing, we finally got our act together and began work on the house. The first big job that needed doing was the roof.

The roof was a cheap and nasty MDF slate affair. The original tiles that covered the cottage, which would have matched the neighbouring cottages and houses, were lost. The roof had not weathered the years well. Repairs had been bodge jobs, and it leaked, so the walls on the first floor suffered from damp. This meant that we couldn’t plaster or paint them, because they’d be ruined in six months by water damage.

We decided to replace the cheap pseudoslates with the real thing, and to have the front porch and bay window fitted with proper mini-roofs as well. (I think of the bay window roof as a hat.)

The scaffolders arrived at 8 AM on a Monday morning.

The old roof, from the back, post-scaffolding and pre-roofing.

+12 images showing the transformation )

Now that all this is is (almost) done, we can feel confident about redecorating and repairing the interior of the house, as well as repainting the exterior. And once we’ve recovered from paying the bill (yowch), we can think about Phase 2: Converting the conservatory into a livable room.

In conclusion, responsible home ownership is ruddy exhausting. Also, expensive. Also also, why was it so exhausting even though all I did was organising the contractors, make a lot of coffee and answer questions about what I wanted?

At least it looks nice! I think? Reassurance would be most welcome.
For the past eight months, I have been practising to take the UK practical driving test. I've spent over 100 hours behind the wheel - not an easy logistical feat when you cannot drive unsupervised, your partner works full time, you have two children under the age of three and you're breastfeeding. I've had one supremely unhelpful instructor and one very helpful instructor (whom I didn't even have to pay, because he's the bloke).(Re-)learning to drive has been stressful, time-consuming and expensive.

But lo, it has all been worth it, for today I passed my UK driving test with four minor faults.

Let me repeat that in my American voice. HOLY SHIT I PASSED MY UK PRACTICAL DRIVING TEST!!!11!!11!!!ELEVENTY!!! YESSSS \o/ \o/

It is almost exactly 19 years to the day since I passed my US driving test. If there be any non-Brits amongst you who are scratching your heads about why I needed to take the test again, please know that the UK driving test is one of the toughest, if not the most difficult, in the world. They do not accept that you know how to drive in the UK if you can drive in the US. And, having been through both tests and driven extensively in both countries, I can say that they are 100% correct about this. I'm a far better - more attentive more flexible - driver now. I can drive on either side of the road, as appropriate. I can drive a manual (petrol or diesel) or an automatic car. My clutch control is good and will hopefully improve further in the coming months.

Right, so. Enough of this; I'll write more about the exam itself later. I have had a celebratory lunch and it's almost time for a celebratory evening drink. TO THE PUB!

[Keiki and me in our hotel room after a visit to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C. Please note awesome new hoodie (grey, zip-up, with "Blackbird SR-71" embroidered on it).]

Keiki and I returned yesterday from a four-day trip to the States, during which I ate and drank All The [American] Things. It occurred to me, during my third root beer* float, that I have a very specific way of consuming a float. First, I use the long spoon (there must always be a long spoon) to eat the foam created by the initial contact between the ice cream and the root beer. Then I use the long spoon to poke the scoop of ice cream around, scraping off the bits that are melting into the root beer. When I'm finally bored of that, I stir the remaining ice cream into the root beer until it's well blended. Only then do I drink it through the straw (there must always be a straw).

So now I want to know, how do YOU consume your ice cream soda?

* Root beer, for UK persons who have not had the pleasure, is a bit like dandelion & burdock. Except sweeter, of course.
The resort we stayed at in Turkey on our recent holiday was one of these all-inclusive five-star jobbies. The bloke and I are not normally “all-inclusive five-star” sort of people. We’re more “tent in a field”, “youth hostel” or "self-catering" types. I can't claim this is due to any high-minded moral sense. If we stay somewhere fancy we can afford two days, whereas if we camp, we can afford to stay a week. Since having tiny children and decent salaries, however, we’ve (with varying degrees of reluctance) discovered staying in hotels.

When the opportunity came up to have a beach holiday in a country where we could actually afford “all-inclusive five-star”, though, it seemed a good time to try it and see what the fuss was about.

We arrived late at night, because that’s how these things work with package deals and charter flights. Humuhumu dealt with it admirably well after having fallen happily asleep on the plane and subsequently being woken multiple times for the bus journey from the airport to the hotel and finally when her parents insisted on raiding the late-night buffet ten minutes before it shut because they hadn’t had any dinner. The buffet was pretty amazing, given that it was almost 1 AM. We were given wristbands that allowed us to wander freely around the hotel eating and drinking All The Things (and there was a hell of a lot on offer everywhere), and our room cards.

We slept until late morning. This was one unanticipated bonus of travelling two time zones ahead of British Summer Time: it meant Humuhumu was time-shifted two hours later than usual. We could, therefore, have leisurely evening meals, walks along the beach and drinks at the outside bar before we went to bed. Unlike the other parents of small children who were staying at the resort, we’d not had the foresight or ability to bring along siblings with no children of their own and/or grandparents. The time-shift allowed us to claw back some of the disadvantage of not having any babysitters. (The minimum age for babysitting services offered by the resort was four years old.)

Breakfast was our first opportunity to observe the other occupants of the resort. I’d say at least 75% were retired couples, which had the unfortunate effect of making me think constantly of Jeremy Paxman’s crack during the UK’s recent general election: “My generation has blown our inheritance on Mediterranean holidays and is refusing to die. If you want to be rid of us, pray for cold winters, or vote.” Judging from the languages on the signage and menus, most were either British, German or Russian. The remaining 25% were couples with very young children and their grandparents, or couples having a romantic getaway. And there were four very tanned, very tattooed, very fit young men from Essex who’d clearly made a terrible misjudgment of the tenor of the place. They were quite sweet and seemed to be making the best of it, which couldn’t have been that difficult when it’s 35 C and you can bounce between beautiful swimming pools and the crystal-clear Med and drink beer and eat ice cream all day. Still, we felt a little sad for them. But not for long as we were too busy enjoying all those things ourselves.

The food on offer was pretty spectacular, and you could eat surprisingly healthy and delicious meals without much effort.

You could also eat a lot of pastries afterward, which we did.

I revelled in having no cooking or washing up to do, although I don’t find those tasks as onerous as I did a few years ago.

Still, it’s not an indulgence I would want on a yearly basis, even if I could afford it, which I can’t. I feel faintly uncomfortable with a level of service that includes fresh towels every day (honestly, we’re not that filthy), although I’m fully on board with a minibar that gets restocked daily. It was also very loud with thumpy music every night and we had to keep the balcony door closed until 3 AM or so. Our resort had evening entertainment that only went on until midnight, but all the five-stars are on the same strip of beach in the town and cater for different clientele so the late-night partying can be heard by everyone. That wasn’t so bad on the first night, when it was only 28 C during the day, but it went up to 38 C by the end of the week and it got pretty stuffy even though the humidity stayed pretty low. I’m not fond of air conditioning, having grown up in the tropics where you’re constantly going from “dry frigid arctic” indoors to “wall of sweaty heat” outside in the summer, so not being able to have fresh cool air wafting into our room all night caused a little bit of resentment.

I might like to try it again when the children are older and we could take advantage of the child care on offer. Then we could use more of the resort’s facilities, like the spa and the restaurants, and perhaps go out into the town at night. But I wouldn’t be that fussed if we never went “all-inclusive five-star” again.

Photos: eating drinking napping sea pool )
nanila: (kusanagi: aww)
( May. 22nd, 2015 09:00 pm)
Disclaimer: I must emphasise that I didn’t take any of the photos in this post. They were all taken by [ profile] melissa_maples, who kindly rescued us from our magical ability to get lost even when given very specific directions, and led us to cake and culture in Kaleici. Not only is she a great tour guide, she is also a fantastic photographer and regular blogger and is pretty much directly responsible for our location choice for this holiday. I’m over the moon that we have her photos to remember this trip into Antalya (we were staying at a resort in Kemer, about an hour away by bus) and that there are several lovely ones of all of us together.

First stop, Güneş
Once Melissa had found us, we determined that the first order of business should be cake. We stopped at Güneş to eat tiramisu. The Turkish formula for tiramisu seems to be as follows:
  1. Remove alcohol, substitute additional chocolate
  2. Make cream filling as light and fluffy as possible
  3. Serve pieces nearly as large as baby’s head
  4. Profit

I can confirm that we cleaned our plates.

+lots of words & photos )

Overlooking the old city
Tourist family shot overlooking Kaleiçi.

Everybody together
Everybody smiling in Kaleiçi, except for Keiki who was pretty adamant about looking the other way.

Having admired the bay from several angles, we decided to start the hour and a half journey back to Kemer. We’d had a grand time and we figured it was best not to push Humuhumu too hard. She conked out almost immediately, clinging to the bloke like a baby koala, so we’re pretty certain that was the right decision.

It was terrific to spend facetime with an LJ friend I’ve known online for over ten years, and to be treated to such a tour of their city. I’ll treasure the memory of this day out. I’m so grateful to have these pictures to remind me of everything we did (and ate, yay fooood). [ profile] melissa_maples: <333333333!
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
( May. 20th, 2015 03:20 pm)

Me, standing in the cool water of the Mediterranean Sea and lifting Keiki over my head.

Our feet in the sea.

In case you've been wondering about the week-long silence - and even if you haven't - we returned home from our beach holiday in Turkey this morning at 4 AM. I've had about four hours of sleep in the past 48, so am a bit *stare*y.

It was pretty great, though, and I have a gajillion photos to share, and I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone's entries. But first, SLEEP.

[Photo of Humuhumu concentrating very hard on wielding a screwdriver on Rita, my old red bicycle.]

The bloke sent the above photo to his father. Father-out-law's reply? "It looks like she's loosening the brake cable. Are you sure she hasn't taken out a life insurance policy on you?" Ah, thank you, sir, for stoking our fears that we are, indeed, raising a Stewie.

(She decided to work on this bicycle unprompted. The bloke went off to fetch something from inside the house and when he came back, she was tinkering with the screwdriver, copying his actions.)

+1 )

In other cognitive development news, Humuhumu has been playing with an app called Toca Mini for over a year. The characters start out completely blank - solid white, with no features. About six months ago I asked her to start taking photos whenever she finished a design, and she almost always does it. The photos automatically back up from my phone to my Google account.

She designed a character this morning and it struck me that she'd made a sudden leap in understanding the symmetry and positioning of facial features. I mean apart from the fact that she always gives her characters four eyes (the maximum permitted by the app), she now deliberately puts them all on the same horizontal line, and spaces out the nose and mouth beneath them. There's a marked difference between the characters she produced a month or two ago, and the one from this morning.

[Toca Mini character designed by Humuhumu, May 2015]

+2, from March and April )

Humuhumu snuggled down in a sleeping bag in the tent, gazing up adoringly at Telstar, who is lording it over the pillow.
This post is where I don't talk about the General Election because I'm still too horrified about the outcome.

Instead, I present you with Day 5 of Five Days of Black and White, featuring baby and nekkid!toddler. Day 4 is behind a cut because it's mildly NSFW and contains an adult.

Day 5: Humuhumu showing off her dirty feet. Keiki still not impressed with being in front of a camera lens.

+1 )
I've set myself a little photography challenge, and completed the first three days of it.

Day 1: Ohana. Me with Keiki and Humuhumu on my lap, smiling at the camera. (Photo taken by the bloke and processed by me.)

+2 )