Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Duncan @ 7

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Coco @ Duncan's BirthdayI’ve been telling people that my children are seven and nine for some months now but Duncan has now actually reached the first of these milestones. His party was this weekend and, having spent the past month or so engrossed in Asterix books, that was the theme of his party (despite most of his friends having no idea who Asterix is!). The class teddy was brought to the party and is featured here in his Obelix plaits. The other attendees seemed to prefer the lively party games that Christine had contrived, from hunt the Roman to newspaper snowball fights and stuffing the balloons in to Obelix’s XL thermal tights!

Duncan @ 7Shield CakeWhilst the internet is full of Asterix themed birthday cakes, I wasn’t keen to embark on the necessary sugar craft to recreate any of the characters. We eventually settled on a Roman shield – a job made easier by large quantities of coloured icing. We got away with just one cake this year as it was sufficiently large to last the couple of days until his actual birthday!

Duncan opening presentsDuncan’s doesn’t like to set his sights low and suggested two ideas for presents: a drone and a metal detector. He actually ended up with two of the latter although I don’t think either is going to allow him to find any Roman hoard. The drone was also probably not what he was expecting as it’s all of 2-inches across. First attempts suggest that there’s certainly some skill (that neither of us possessed) required to fly it!

Start of the season

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

Emma and Duncan at the finishThe orienteering season got under way for us yesterday with a SOC event on an area called Salisbury Trench (east of Janesmoor Pond). Christine was saving herself for the Hursley 10K on Sunday so just took the children round the yellow course. (Actually, the children plus the pictured bear which Duncan has on loan from school as ‘Star of the Week’. It’s slightly concerning that he’s been awarded this in only the second week of the school year as normally it seems to go to those in need of some encouragement at school! Anyway, I digress…)

I went round the blue course which was quite fun, particularly given that the paths had been (deliberately) left off the map. The bracken needs a little longer to die off properly but the area was still pretty runnable although, as Pete Bray demonstrated later in the day, it was actually runnable at a lot faster pace than I was doing! The controls had been hung fairly high for which I was grateful as my compass-work was a little rusty. My ankle was also playing up a bit – a reminder not to get too carried away. The one event a month that SOC puts on is about the right frequency without having to stray further afield.

Summer Holidays: Act Three

Monday, September 5th, 2016

This final instalment is mostly taken up with our actual summer holiday. Taking a holiday in Britain at the end of August can sometimes be testing the definition of summer and, as we set off for Pembrokeshire, we were heading in to gale force winds. To be fair, this kept the roads fairly empty and, when we arrived at Broad Haven, meant there were some impressive waves breaking against the sea wall. We were staying in a ‘lodge’ at the same place we’d stayed six years earlier when Duncan would have been about 9 months old.

St David's CathedralSurfBy the following day, the wind had died down enough that Christine and the children could test out their new wetsuits body boarding in the sea. Unfortunately the rain returned before too long and we had to test out the selection of board games in the lodge. Things weren’t much better the following day and we tested out the swimming pool in Haverfordwest before taking a trip to St David’s for a look round the cathedral.

Pembroke CastleEmma body boardingThe sun finally made itself felt after that and we spent two pleasant days at the beach. Duncan has thankfully learnt not to eat sand in the intervening years! On another day we visited the privately owned Pembroke Castle which was a trip down memory lane for me having been there during a junior school trip to Tenby. We fell in on a guided tour where there was a good selection of gruesome stories to entertain the children. It was also, slightly randomly, circus skills day, and the children greatly enjoyed the Punch and Judy show.

Marloes PeninsulaSealsWe also revisited Martin’s Haven where the martins are still in residence in the toilets! We debated a trip to Skomer Island but it was too late in the year to see puffins. Instead we just wandered the cliff top path, looking down on the seals and their newborn pups below.

Llyn IdwalAs with our last trip to Pembrokeshire, it was followed by a drive up to north Wales. In an unfortunate reoccurrence, Emma was once again car sick on that journey. We stayed a couple of nights in Caernarfon to be close to Christine’s cousin and extended family who were staying on Anglesey. We took the children for a walk round Llyn Idwal which was unfortunately shrouded in damp mist. Christine and her cousin did a run/walk up to the Glyders and such was the visibility that they managed to descend on the wrong side of Tryfan!

Dave in the seaNewboroughIn contrast, we had glorious sunshine for the following day’s visit to Newborough Sands, scene of the British Orienteering Champs in 1995. While the others set off along the beach to the island (at least it’s an island at high tides) I had a run round the 10K+ Commonwealth Trail Champs route which is signposted.

We relocated to Bryn Gwynant Youth Hostel for the next couple of nights but met up with Cath and family again at Pen-y-Pass for an assault on Snowdon. Thankfully, unlike our last Snowdontrip along the Miner’s Track, no running buggies or baby carriers were required and this time the children made it all the way to the summit of Snowdon. Unfortunately the cloud never lifted as forecast and it was pretty miserable on top, not helped by the café being closed and Emma was heartbroken that she wouldn’t be able to spend any money in the shop! We descended back down the tourist track in to Llanberis for the traditional refuelling at Pete’s Eats.

Wilderhope ManorChristine had a grant interview in Swindon on the Thursday so we departed Wales and spent a night in the rather grand YHA Wilderhope Manor on Wenlock Edge. The stay was even more grand for the fact that our ‘en-suite room’ turned out to be the bridal suite! The mere presence of a bridal suite is a good indication of why we have never been able to book a room here at the weekend when orienteering in Shropshire.

Whilst Christine attended her interview, we amused ourselves at the nearby STEAM Museum of the Great Western Railway. It was billed as being an excellent way to pass STEAMa few hours and so it proved to be. There were a relatively small number of locomotives on display but this meant there was plenty of space to stand back and appreciate them. There were also lots of diversion for the children which meant that I could actually read some of the material on display. I hadn’t appreciated the extent to which Swindon owed its existence, or at least size, to the presence of the railway.

Paultons ParkThat brought us back home but, with Christine working a weekend open day at the University, I still had some child-minding to do and we decided to tick one more item of the children’s bucket list for the summer: a return trip to Paultons Park. The answer I posed at the end of my last blog post on this subject was 5 years, although Emma has managed a trip there with school in the interim. The children’s tastes have certainly matured and we only had one ride in Peppa Pig World (although this was possibly my worst with Duncan attempting to spin our cabin as fast as he could!). Thankfully the queues are somewhat shorter in other parts of the park, including the new rides in the Lost Kingdom. Emma demurred at some of the rides but this only spurred Duncan on and sadly he was the one who still needs to be accompanied by an adult on many of them! In the end, Emma caved in and joined us on everything. The only ride we didn’t do (although Duncan was definitely eyeing it up) was the Edge.

Summer Holidays: Act Two

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

Dyrham ParkWe returned to pick the children up from Monmouth the following weekend, stopping off at Dyrham Park on the way back. Quite apart from it being a convenient place just off the M4 to stop for lunch, the children had last been there when the roof was in the process of being replaced following a fire and were keen to see how it now looked. The scaffolding that they had previously ascended to look down on the roof was all gone and, at least externally, the property was once again looking in fine form.

Emma runningChristine and Duncan runningOn the Sunday Christine took Emma along to the Junior parkrun in Southampton. Emma must have enjoyed it as she was persuaded out their again the following weekend where, despite getting a lower place, she managed to beat her previous time. Duncan also decided that he would go round this time with Christine. Thankfully he managed to maintain a respectful distance behind is older sister! All of this now means that I’m the only one in the family never to have run a parkrun despite being the first to register for a barcode! Duncan climbingI ran home whilst Christine and the children went to investigate what turned out to be an open day at Woodmill Outdoor Activities Centre. This gave them a chance to test out their climbing skills yet again.

Spinnaker TowerChristine and I took it in turns to mind the children the following week. I took them down to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on the train for one day. We went up the Spinnaker Tower first which, to be honest, was a bit of a let down. Other than a view out over the Solent to the Isle of Wight there really just isn’t much to see. There was quite some queue to get in to the dockyard itself but we can return on our ticket at any point during the next year and won’t have to suffer the queue again. After a stop for lunch we headed over to see the Mary Rose in her new dry state. Mary RoseIt’s very well done with the skeletal remains of the one half of the ship on one side and the retrieved contents was laid out on the other in decks as it would have been found on the ship. Unfortunately I think the sheer age of the ship and the remarkableness of the fact that any of it actually remains today was lost on the children.

HMS WarriorEmma had been to see HMS Victory before with school and Duncan will go this year so we then took a look around HMS Warrior. Despite the fact that pretty much only the shell is original, the children still got much more out of out this. Later in the week we took a trip out to Mottisfont to check out the Beatrix Potter trail. On what was a sunny day, it was absolutely heaving and I think the children may finally be starting to outgrow some of the activities (although not the ice cream at the end!).

Howzat!Excitement for the following weekend consisted of a trip to the Ageas Bowl, this time to watch women’s Twenty20 cricket. It was every bit as exciting as the men’s game and the home side of the brightly clad Southern Vipers played a convincing victory over Loughborough Lightning. It was then back to work for Christine and I with the children attending summer camp at their school for the next week.

Summer Holidays: Act One

Saturday, August 6th, 2016

The Summer school holidays began with an event of mixed emotions as I coaxed the ailing (flightless and quite possibly sightless) juvenile crow that had occupied our back garden for the past month or so in to a cardboard box. Whilst I was out at work, Christine and the children deposited it at the local vets. What its fate was there we don’t know. It does, however, mean that we are no longer woken early by its cries for food and that we can hang the washing out unmolested!

Go ApeThe fun started in earnest at the weekend when we took the children to Junior Go Ape at Itchen Valley Country Park. Emma has been angling to go for some time now. They are both old enough/tall enough to be able to go round on their own so Christine and I could watch from ground level. Go APeUnlike the adult version, you’re attached permanently to a wire from start to finish which places some limits on what you can do but means that there is no chance of them falling and there is no faffing around with clipping and unclipping the whole time. They also get to go round the two loops on offer as many times as they like in the hour slot which, in Emma and Duncan’s case, was lots!

ExburyExburyExburyI looked after the children for one day the next week and we took a trip down to Exbury Gardens. The gardens are probably not at their best at this time of year but I was still taken aback by quite how deserted the place was. ExburyWe went round the family trail which was educational for all and then took a ride on the train. We’ll have to return again in the autumn or spring.

Camping PodFor the second half of the week, Christine and the children were checked in to a ‘camping pod‘ at South Downs Youth Hostel which they all seemed to enjoy, even if they did spend rather a lot of time waiting for Southern Rail.

Bristol ZooBristol ZooThe children were staying with Christine’s parents for the second full week of the holiday. We drove them up and met up with Christine’s brother and family at Bristol Zoo on the way there.Climbing It’s amazing how much they pack in to such a small area and it’s certainly the equal of Marwell.

Whilst away, the children enjoyed some more high altitude action with a return trip to the climbing wall at Llangorse Lake.

Climbing and Cones

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Emma ClimbingEmma’s had a prolonged birthday this past week. Last weekend was her party with Emma and seven friends from school heading to the climbing wall at St Mary’s Leisure Centre in Southampton. (The traffic getting in to Southampton was a nightmare. We’re not sure whether it was the presence of the world’s largest cruise liner or Peter Andre that was pulling in the crowds!) After the initial briefing Emma scampered up to the top of the wall without too much difficultly. If we’d placed bets on which of the other girls would be slightly more reluctant then we’d have made a healthy profit! The instructor was very good though, encouraging them on but not pushing them if it was clear they just wanted to come back down. Everyone enjoyed the last part spent in the bouldering room.

Emma's Birthday CakeThe shape of the cake was a clue to the second destination for the party: Sprinkles Gelato. Unfortunately we weren’t treated to the same glorious weather we’d had the previous weekend when we’d walked the route but there wasn’t too much complaining about the rain. We had a table booked and eventually managed to get everyone to decide what they wanted to eat. Having seen the size of a two-scoop cone the previous week, we limited them all to a single scoop and toppings  which made it quite a cheap visit! They shop was also very good in helping us navigate the various allergies of one of Emma’s friends so the EpiPen wasn’t needed.

Emma and CakeEmma’s birthday itself came round later in the week. Her school lets pupils wear non-uniform on their birthday which meant Emma could try out one of her new dresses. It’s a nice way to make them feel that extra bit special. One of Emma’s other presents from us will take slightly longer to get any use from us. The crystal growing set suggests using a well ventilated basement room for the experiments! The biggest smile on Emma’s face though was when she came back from gymnastics that evening having passed her badge 2.

British Birthday

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Christine @ Brown Clee British ChampsFor the Bank Holiday weekend we headed to the British Orienteering Champs at Brown Clee in Shropshire. We arrived in glorious sunshine on Saturday morning but this soon turned to hail as we climbed up the hill to the assembly area. We were very grateful that a club mate had already erected the club tent as the hail came and went for most of the afternoon.

I had an early start and it has to be said that I had a pretty poor run in my first year at M40. Although 7th place in the results doesn’t sound too bad, I was over half an hour behind Georgie Best with ten minutes of that loss being attributable to just two controls. (With 27 controls in 9.2k there was plenty of opportunity for losing time!) Christine failed to repeat her W16 win at Brown Clee, faring marginally better than me but still ending up ten minutes down on her course winner. Emma had the best result of the day, coming third on the white course in a time that would have netted her a win on W10B if she had the confidence to go out on her own.

With rain forecast for most of Sunday, Christine and I returned for the relays without the children. I’m glad to say that we both had better runs. Christine returned first on the Women’s Short just as I set out on first leg on the Men’s Short. I ran alone for much of the course being caught just at the end and finishing just a few seconds down in second place. The commentary team had been primed to wish me a Happy Birthday as I came down the run-in! My team finished in fifth place whilst Christine, sadly, did not have a complete team.

On the Monday Emma ran again, completing the hilly 2km at Devauden XC races in 11:16. Christine and I were happy to sit the 10k out this year and watch her Mum run instead!

Active Weekend

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

Emma RunningDuncan RunningIt’s been an active weekend in the Currie household. On Saturday morning we made the trek over to Staunton Country Park for the second in SOC’s Solent Summer Series. Buoyed by just receiving the SOC Junior Women’s trophy for 2015 (although she was quick to point out that she didn’t have much competition, Emma was happy to go out on the yellow with Christine and a grumpy Duncan in tow. I went out on the light green which was more than a little muddy in places. Rob Finch managed to turn the tables from Fleming Park pipping me to first place by 14 seconds.

Christine after half marathonFrom there we headed in to Southampton for the ABP Southampton Fun Run. Christine set off on the 1 mile course with both children but Duncan got a stitch and Emma ran off and left them towards the end. The field was smaller than I had expected given the potential catchment area for the race. Christine then ran again in the half marathon on Sunday finishing in a chip time of 1:40:54. Not bad given the lack of training she’s done due to injury.