Sunday, 26 August 2012

Unpacking, Potter and pompoms

We were picking up a few groceries from our local shops when the heavens opened. We made it home just before the real show began though; a huge and prolonged storm with spectacular lightning, great monster-roars of thunder and persistent, heavy rain. The children, clearly shaken by its ferocity, retreated to their bedroom. Once I'd established that they had each found some cosy occupation to distract them from external goings-on, I had no other choice but to begin the arduous task - which I'll admit I'd been putting off since our return to London - of unpacking.

Resignedly, I emptied our suitcases, listening to the rain pouring and the thunder rumbling. But then I tuned in to another thunderstorm - one that was being described by Stephen Fry - and it was coming from my children's bedroom:

"As night fell, the promised storm blew up around them. Spray from the high waves splattered the walls of the hut and a fierce wind rattled the filthy windows...The storm raged more and more ferociously as the night went on. Harry couldn't sleep."

Buddy and Daisy had found a great way to block out the noise of the rain - by listening to the audio book of JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. As I peeked into their room I could see two very happy children busy and playing as usual, but in total silence. They were clearly immersed in the world of the wizards, and oblivious to the angry weather outside. 

Once I'd finished the unpacking, I joined them - I love Harry Potter - and I brought with me our little pompom-project bag, which I'd put by for such an occasion, but which hadn't been touched for weeks. They found the sight of me happily working on my pompom irresistible, and soon they joined me in a bit of wool winding while we listened to Harry's adventures.

So, not only did no-one get scared by the storm yesterday, but I got my unpacking done and we finished our rainy-day craft project at last. Here are the super-soft and wonderfully tactile Pompom Pets.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Our Olympic games

Here's how the London 2012 Olympic Games have influenced our adventures at home this week:

On Thursday we went to see BP's Olympic Journey: The Story of the Games at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. The exhibition explores the sporting and cultural history of the Olympic Movement with a marvellous mixture of multi-media, medals and artefacts, and although photography was prohibited, as we left we were given a glossy and well-produced souvenir brochure packed with fantastic Olympic facts and photographs. My children were particularly taken with the huge display of Olympic torches and, once home, my youngest wanted to make her own. She requested a cardboard tube, some tin foil and tape, some red, yellow and orange tissue paper and referring to the brochure's photograph of her favourite - Athens 2004 - she made a fine torch for herself. She was delighted with her efforts as you can see from the torch-bearing  garden dance below:

My son has been particularly interested in the TV coverage of the fencing - so much so that not only did we find ourselves at the Olympic Journey's exhibit about the multi-medal winning Edoardo Mangiarotti for about half an hour, but I've since had to become good at making paper foils at home. And I've signed Bud up for a taster fencing session here in September. He is thrilled.

                                               File:Edoardo Mangiarotti.jpg
                                                   [Image from Italia Wikipedia]

We stayed up late to watch the men's 100 metre Olympic final last night, and were hugely impressed with Usain Bolt's performance. Today, my children were amused and impressed by the attention to detail of this lovely Lego animation of the race.

                                             [video clip from YouTube by Brick by Brick]

And last but not least, with friends round this afternoon, I eavesdropped on some brilliant Olympic-themed play. From an imaginative/fantasy adventure with themselves as penguins competing in the Games to actual sporting events like beanbag tin can alley and a pompom 'hammer-throwing' competition, I had to keep well clear so as not to ruin their flow and to avoid being hit by the improvised projectiles. My son even asked to have his face painted - a very rare request these days - and he knew exactly what he wanted. I was happy to oblige; printing coloured rings on his face was a doddle compared with the meerkat I had to produce just moments before Bolt's race last night. I think I deserve a medal for giving it a go.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Anyone for tennis?

What do you do when you have two children; one who wants to play tennis with you - properly, on a court, and everything - and one who is simply too young to see this as anywhere near being a tempting activity?

Here's how we worked it out:

Daisy (my youngest) said she would only come along to the park if she could bring a pair of scissors, some string and a piece of paper - to make a mask - while Bud and I played tennis. Naturally, I agreed to her brilliantly specific request, and for the first five minutes she was happily occupied with some on-court making. I do love her style. But when a rogue tennis ball landed in her lap, she surprised us both by picking it up, hopping onto her scooter and delivering it to me in a kind of drive-by fashion, gliding effortlessly like an ice skater on the smooth tennis court surface. 'I'll be your ball girl!" she announced.

And so she was. For the rest of the match she swooped in graceful curves to scoop up the errant tennis balls and then passed them on to whoever was 'serving'. She stored our spare balls in her little scooter bag - perfect. And to top it all - and this was totally by chance - she was wearing her little blazer today, making her look like a proper Wimbledon official.

I don't know if Daisy will be interested in actually playing tennis with us one day, or whether Bud will ever be able to get the ball over the net more than once in a blue moon. But this was a truly happy hour spent on the sunny court this evening; playing by our own bespoke and somewhat curious rules. And as you can see from these snaps - they had a marvellous match.