The bloke’s parents with their heart-shaped homemade cake. The chalkboard next to them colourfully reads: “Welcome to Lodge 106. Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary! Have an excellent holiday. 😊”

A couple of weekends ago, we went to a Center Parcs with the bloke’s family to celebrate his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Each family stayed in separate lodges, and we joined together for lunches, activities, tea and evening meals.

Going to a big resort-type thing in a forest in the school holidays seems to be a rite of passage for English children. Everyone else in the family (actually being English) had this innate understanding of how things were going to work and what was going to happen. I, on the other hand, was completely in the dark. I didn’t know that the “swimming pool” was going to be a massive indoor waterslide park with separate areas for children of all ages, for instance. Or that bringing our bicycles was not just so we could get some exercise, but so we could pop out to the shop for some milk for five minutes rather than have to walk for half an hour. The place was gigantic and – it being the start of the summer holidays – completely full.

The wildlife, being accustomed to the presence of humans, was very nearly tame. If you left the sliding door to the patio open, the ducks would waddle confidently inside in search of whatever food you had foolishly left out. The squirrels would take nuts from your hands. The muntjac deer would walk up to the patio door and stare in, and not run away until the toddler came outside and tried to pet it.

We had a truly typical British summer holiday experience in that it rained nearly the entire time, so we spent a good amount of time in the water park. Humuhumu was, at first, slightly afraid of the water slides. Subsequent to our first trip to the water park, we bought her some goggles and that flipped the switch. We couldn’t get her off the water slides after that. She went round them so many times that when we went to the changing room to get back into our clothes, she could barely stand, she was so exhausted. I only got the chance to try the water slides once for about ten minutes (during which Keiki apparently screamed for me the entire time), so I went for the biggest one (twice): the Cyclone, which you went down on a rubber raft in a group. I got to go with my niece and her mum, aka the bloke’s sister. I shrieked like a banshee the whole way down. It was fantastic.

Despite the filthy weather, we managed to sneak in some outdoor activities. We played boules. We climbed around the adventure playgrounds. I took Keiki to the pond, where the nearly tame baby moorhens nibbled at his wellies, to his boundless delight. We also found a peacock, with whom Keiki had a half-hour conversation. I turned my back on him briefly and when I looked at him, he had moved close enough to the peacock to stroke its tail feathers. The peacock held itself very still, almost as if it didn’t want to frighten him, when really it should have been the other way round.

The wedding anniversary celebration came off very well indeed. There was a huge, heart-shaped and delicious sponge cake, baked by the bloke’s sister, and a “cheese cake”, which was a mountain of stacked cheeses. The bottom layer, an enormous squishy brie, had to be served separately because it would have collapsed under the weight of the wheel of harder cheese above it. This was not a problem because we devoured it over the course of two days. Most importantly, the bloke’s parents had a wonderful time being surrounded by, but not in the pockets of, their children and grandchildren.

Further photos below the cut, including a series titled “Keiki Points at Things”.

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In case you’re wondering why there aren’t so many photos of Humuhumu, this is because (1) she wanted to go to the water park pretty much every waking moment, (2) you couldn’t take photos in the water park and (3) Keiki did not want to go to the water park more than once a day, so someone had to stay with him.
Christmas Kisses
My apologies to the requester that this photo doesn't include Telstar, but I thought it was a cute one, and it fulfills the prompt for a photo of two family members touching noses. This is Humuhumu and me during the Great Present Unwrapping on Christmas Day.

One of the other fun bits of our Norfolk days was that Granny and Granddad decided to watch the first two Harry Potter films with the grandchildren. This led to the following conversation.

Me: "So what houses do we think everyone is in?"
Nephew (younger): "I'm a Slytherin!"
Nephew (elder): "I'm Ravenclaw because they're the coolest."
Niece: "I'm definitely Ravenclaw because Ravenclaws are smart."
Nephew (younger): "I'm Slytherin!"
Niece: "Humuhumu is Gryffindor because she's brave and Keiki is Hufflepuff because he's just soooo cute."
Nephew (younger): "SLYTHERIN IS THE BEST!"
Niece: "Oh, and Auntie Nanila, you are DEFINITELY Gryffindor. Definitely."
Me, internally: "...I am?!"
Bauble mania
Restraint was not exercised during the application of baubles to the Rectory tree. The bag was emptied!
Keiki is very excited about daisy-picking.

And now, a Very Important Waffle question, triggered by disagreement in waffle perception between myself and my British partner.

Poll #17498 Important waffle question
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 58


View Answers

They're mostly a breakfast thing
15 (25.9%)

They're mostly a dessert/pudding thing
12 (20.7%)

39 (67.2%)

The coronation of Princess Humuhumu
The Coronation of Princess Humuhumu. Daisy chain by Daddy.

Princess Humuhumu
Happy Princess Humuhumu in her favourite dress & daisy chain crown.
I've had an epic few days. I went to London on Thursday, worked my butt off getting stuff done for the Friday deadline, did an outreach event (including a talk and three workshops) in Wimbledon for 60 detached-but-then-totally-excited teenagers on Friday afternoon, raced back to college to drop off my kit and then got on a train to Norfolk to meet the bloke & the children at the out-laws for the weekend. Fabulous weather in East Anglia meant we spent nearly all of it outdoors.

We drove back to Worcestershire on Sunday afternoon (a 3.5 hour drive). After turfing everyone out of the car and re-packing my overnight bag, I got back into the car and drove 1.5 hours to a beautiful venue in Oxfordshire to attend an ex-work-colleague's small but perfectly formed wedding. The other work colleague in attendance and I were surprised to find ourselves in the company of mostly-relatives. I feel very privileged to have been invited. There was a band and dancing and wine and laughter, and it seemed to be a memorable and happy occasion for all.

I drove back this morning, arriving home at noon, and worked the rest of the day before going to meet the bloke at the station and pick up the kids. Also, I made supper. Can I have my Supermum badge now please?

Trowel-wielding toddler
Trowel-wielding toddler.

Helping Grandpa flatten molehills
Grandpa flattens molehills with a rake. Keiki supervises.
[Me, wearing my black-framed glasses, pushing back the hood of my black wool coat. Keiki is strapped to me in the grey sling with the stars on the straps. We're both looking at the camera. The sea froths behind us.]

[personal profile] fred_mouse asked for a portrayal of the weather on the solstice. I apologise for not fulfilling the brief exactly. I had to go Christmas shopping in Birmingham on solstice and I didn't have my proper camera with me. I attempted to get a decent shot with my phone's camera, but it didn't really work out whilst laden with a heavy rucksack and several large shopping bags.

However, the weather today was remarkably similar to that day - filthy: dark, windy, wet and weirdly warm for the season. We went to Southwold to eat fish and chips and then walk along the beach, as apparently a trip to the beach is the thing to do when the weather is awful and you're English, because dammit, you're on holiday. Anyway, lunch was fantastic, and perhaps that was what put us all in the mood to spend an hour running around on the sandy beach in the mist, chasing the waves and getting soaked from the waist down. The bloke snapped this just before Keiki decided he needed to experience sand with all his senses and stuffed a fistful of it in his mouth. (He was not pleased with the outcome of the experiment.)
Making bird boxes with Granddad
[Humuhumu peers through a bird box. Granddad in the garage pondering making roofs for the boxes.]

The weather was fine today after days of dismal wetness. Humuhumu and I spent it outside making bird boxes with Granddad and running around the garden.
Small tortoiseshell, yellow dahlia
[Small tortoiseshell butterfly sitting on a yellow dahlia]

[personal profile] redsixwing asked for a bug photo or a combination bug/selfie photo. I couldn't find one of the latter in the archives, and it's cold/wet/horrible outside today so I'm choosing instead one that I took at the height of summer. We were visiting the bloke's parents in Norfolk, and up by their swimming pool they have a spectacular collection of roses and dahlias which were all in full bloom and laden with butterflies. Its bright colours cheered me up on this dull grey December day.
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
( Jul. 17th, 2015 09:56 pm)
The weather's been lovely in Norfolk and that means the pool had been awakened for our week's holiday at the bloke's parents' place.

The bloke dives in.

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