nanila: nellie kim is awesome (purple nellie)
( May. 25th, 2017 06:21 pm)
Back story: The garden behind our house is a very peculiar shape. It is quite wide at the back of the house for about 10 metres, then narrows abruptly to a very skinny path alongside the canal towpath hedge. It goes along like this for about 5 metres and then ends in a round, fenced-in patch about 4 metres in diameter. The round patch has a concrete pavement in a pretty circular pattern.

We’ve been trying to work out what to do with this odd space since we moved in. It’s a fair way from the house and not visible from the back door. Jacuzzi? Too much maintenance, plus it’s too far to trek on a horrible winter night. Bike shed? Functional but boring, and also bike sheds are ugly. This is a pretty space, ringed by climbing roses and vines.

A few weeks ago we went to the garden centre and found a display of cute playhouses with trimmed roofs and windows, and an interior upper floor reached by a child-sized ladder. The 6’x6’ models were on sale. As we had to carry the children away from them, literally, we thought, perhaps this is the optimal use for that round patch.

Thus far, we have been proved entirely correct, and the expense has been justified. Since it’s been installed, both children come home from nursery, dash through the house and out the back door into the playhouse to draw, play on the tablet or just run up and down the steps and in and out the doors. (There’s an adorable toddler-sized door out the side in addition to the larger front door.) The only things that brings them back to the house in 15-20 minutes are the requests for drinks and fruity snacks, which are then carried back up to the playhouse.

tl;dr version We got the kids a playhouse for the garden. Photos below!

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[Keiki on a wooden chair outside the playhouse. “Oi* shut da door on moi sister!”]

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* The Black Country is strong with this one.
** There is a whole separate post brewing about how I simply do not understand Danger Mouse.
...so here, have a photo from yesterday evening instead of hearing me moan about that.

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[Humuhumu and Keiki in their swimming costume & swim nappy respectively, eating ice creams in the paddling pool.]
Here is Keiki with our first radish harvest from our garden:
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He ate all of his. Humuhumu found them too peppery.

Here are Keiki and Humuhumu eating ice creams. Humuhumu is dressed as a pirate princess (outfit concept all hers). Keiki is dressed in one of the two shirts that don't cause him to start screaming as soon as you put it on him, holey black trousers and a single croc.
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And here is Telstar defeating a stick whilst lounging in the porch of the tent in our garden.
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Our day of brilliant weather in Vienna happened on the Tuesday, which was nice as it was the one day that the bloke had off from the conference. We took advantage of it to go on a boat ride down the Danube. Granny, Humuhumu and I had done this together a couple of years before, but the others had never been before. Keiki loved it. He sat upright and alert on my lap for two straight hours, watching and commenting on everything and occasionally bursting into song.

Most of these photos were either taken by the bloke or Humuhumu.

[I had meant to add more commentary but this entry has been sitting half-finished in my documents for weeks so I figured it was best to just post it before it got any more out of date.]

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[Me smiling at the camera, with Keiki on my lap, riding at the front of the boat down the Danube. Photo taken by the bloke.]

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On disembarking from the boat, we discovered that one of the city’s fountains had been turned on in honour of the nice weather.

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[Humuhumu in her green Kenyan dress, shrieking as she runs through the fountain.]

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I've had a heck of a week. Keiki was off nursery Tuesday and Wednesday. I looked after him on Tuesday. I flew from Birmingham to Noordwijk on Wednesday and the bloke looked after Keiki. I was at an all-day meeting on Thursday at ESTEC (ESA centre in the Netherlands). I flew to London on Thursday night. This morning (Friday) I went to a four-hour meeting (at which I gave a presentation) and then ran over to another building to give an outreach talk to a large group of teenage girls about what it's like to be a spacecraft engineer.

At least I did it all whilst looking rivet af.

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[Me in my Noordwijk hotel room, wearing Docs, purple tights, my black wool coat with the fluffy collar and my engineer dress from Svaha.]

My week in photos )
nanila: me (Default)
( Mar. 5th, 2017 09:21 pm)
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Keiki and Cookie Monster, conked out in their car seat after a cookie feast.

Those cheeks tho.
tags:
[continued from here: DW/LJ] After a rather bleary start to the morning, the adults having stayed up a little too late companionably drinking wine together in front of the fire, the out-laws returned from their room over the road at the Shoulder of Mutton to pick up Nephew, who had slept over very nicely with Humuhumu. Sufficient coffee was poured into the grown-ups to get them motivated to drive to Richmond to see the castle. (North Yorkshire is not the place to be if you have an aversion to ruined castles.)

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Walking down the very steep hills of Richmond. I had Keiki on my shoulders and he was crowing delightedly over his excellent vantage point.

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We strolled back down into town after a trip to the gift shop. (Nephew: Knight outfit. Humuhumu: large purple feather quill pen. Keiki: Squishy purple dragon, which he now sleeps with.) We were all a bit peckish but the out-laws needed to head back to Leeds, so a quick stop at a Greggs for some pastries and a sit-down in the middle of the town square by the clock sufficed to revive everyone for the drive home.

As mentioned previously, I had carried Keiki around on my shoulders as much as possible all morning. It was the first time I’d tried it. The bloke talked me into it since I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to carry him in my arms. It worked a treat and I was able to do it much more easily. After lunch, though, I definitely needed a lie-down. Fortunately, so did everyone else, and we cuddled up together for a luxurious two-hour nap.
[continued from here: DW/LJ] Once we were done perusing the church, we hopped into the car for a short drive to Barnard Castle, which is not just a castle but also the name of the town. On the way in, we glimpsed an amazing stone ruin perched on a hillside so we stopped to have a look.

It turned out to be Egglestone Abbey, founded in the 1190s.

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This is the bit we could see from the road to Barnard Castle. From the floor plan on the sign, I believe it’s the church. Those windows must have been spectacular with the late morning light streaming through them, given that they are even in ruin.

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Having worked up an appetite with all that jumping, we resumed our journey into Barnard Castle for a quick lunch. The caf we chose was off the main high street. I picked it when we were searching for a parking spot. It had a hand-drawn sign advertising hot chocolate out the front. Also, a full English with double servings of everything for £5. What’s not to like?

It wasn’t a large place, but it fell completely silent when we walked in and the occupants subjected us to a long hard stare that let us know you are not from round these parts; what are you doing off the high street, interlopers? The server, clearly anxious to compensate for the stony greeting of the other patrons, bustled around us smiling, and brought Humuhumu a hot chocolate with a pile of whipped cream on top that doubled the height of the mug. Breakfast was good too.

The children and I went back to the car and caught some Gen 2 Pokémon whilst the bloke ran in to Morrisons to pick up supplies. We returned to The Old Grammar School to meet with the out-laws. We strolled around the church again and had quick drive out to Ravensworth Castle, a lovely ruin which we discovered was inaccessible due to being firmly surrounded by barbed wire. Eventually we twigged that the automatic gunfire we were hearing was not from the start of the zombie apocalypse, but from the MoD firing range on the other side of the valley. Deciding not to argue with the logic of preventing inattentive ramblers from wandering into live fire, we retreated back to Kirby Hill and went down the pub.

Up next: Richmond Castle.
[continued from here: DW/LJ] Since the church was about a thirty second walk away from The Old Grammar School, we stopped by on Saturday morning before heading out and were pleased to find it unlocked.

My perusal of the visitor’s books (which stretched back to 1975, the lengthiest set of log books I’d encountered on our LT holidays) on the previous evening had told us that there were more Thompson mice to be found in the church. We went on a mouse hunt, but could only locate six of the eight that were allegedly hiding there.

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Humuhumu found the first mouse near the altar.

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And the second, behind the pews.

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Bonus photo: Our local, the Shoulder of Mutton Inn, was just over the road from the church. You know that feeling you get when you walk into a pub that’s been done up just a bit too much? Where you want to shout, like Bernard Black, “Why does everything have to be fancy? I just want sausage, mash and a bit of cake, not twigs fried in honey or a donkey in a coffin!”

This place was exactly the opposite of that. We stopped in on our first evening and every night subsequently. Worried about whether or not they took cards, we scraped together £7.40 in cash.

“That might not get us a round,” he said.
“This is Yorkshire,” I replied. “If they try to charge us a tenner for two pints of booze and two halves of lemonade, I’m leaving, because we’re clearly in the wrong place.”

As it happened, £6.40 got us a pint of very lively cider (crisp, citrusy, refreshing), a pint of tasty ale, the aforementioned lemonades and a packet of peanuts. And lo, we were grateful not to be in London.

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Humuhumu and Keiki enjoy lemonade, while the bloke & I enjoy our pints of ale & cider respectively.

Up next: Egglestone Abbey.
Since this was our fifth stay in a Landmark Trust property for the bloke’s birthday, I think I feel safe in calling it a tradition.

On Friday last, we gingerly loaded up our newly repaired car and crossed everything in the hopes that it would make it through the 200-odd mile drive from our house to North Yorkshire to stay in The Old Grammar School.

Kirby Hill is a beautiful grey old stone village, set around a green. The Old Grammar School [TOGS] was such from its establishment in 1556 to its closure in 1957. An average of 30 local boys aged 10 to 18 were taught there, though many departed aged 14 to go to work. The ground floor schoolroom was converted into the village hall, while the first and second floors were converted into the flat that one can now book through the Landmark Trust [LT] for holidays. LT properties are carefully furnished and kitted out with libraries that are specific to the property and to the history of the place. For instance, I read Goodbye, Mr Chips, which is a heartwarming fictional biography of a schoolmaster, while we were in TOGS. LT properties also deliberately don’t provide televisions or WiFi. In fact, my phone signal was so bad that I couldn’t even get the 3G to work.

We arrive late in the afternoon and were pleased to find that the previous occupants had left us sufficient firewood for that evening.

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Our first thought on entry was “tea”. Thoughtfully, the housekeeper had left a complete tea service ready for us and a small jug of milk in the fridge.

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The bloke pouring some milk for Keiki, who’s standing on a dining chair. The window seat, which features in subsequent photos, is to their right.

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Up next: visiting the Kirby Hill church (St Peter and St Felix).

Quick note about the photos: I have come to rely on Aviary in Flickr to do colour correction on my photos. It’s quick and convenient and its algorithm seems to be pretty good. Except at the moment, it’s not working. To those who care about white balance, my apologies.
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