Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Lego Years

Although I adored my children throughout the baby and toddler years and marvelled at them during the preschool phase, when we held a birthday party for for my son on Sunday, I couldn't help but enjoy just how clever, well-mannered and sophisticated they are now that they're big kids. His party had a Lego theme - hence the birthday brick-cake efforts above - and we took a bunch of his friends to the cinema to see, you guessed it, The Lego Movie. To top and tail the party we simply put out all our Lego bricks and let the guests make what they would. This worked out brilliantly; everybody wanted to make something. It's safe to say we have entered a new phase of parenting - the Lego Years; it really does seem to be my son's go-to toy at the moment. It never fails to lure him in to some wonderfully imaginative, construction-based play. Our mantra of the moment is definitely: if in doubt, get the Lego out.

To find out whether he feels this is true, and to see what else he really likes, aged nine, we decided to interview him just as with our daughter here when she turned six. The interview took place during a sunny bike ride round the park when we talked about a whole lot of other interesting stuff too - lively conversation seems to come easily when we're pedal pals.

Yummiest food: cheese and ham omelette
Favourite word: 'basically' and 'deny'
Pudding choice: chocolate fudge cake
Best toy: new cuddly minion, old pink hippo and Snowy the bear. Lego comes second after soft toys
Pattern preference: tartan (any clan)
Favourite music:YMCA (minions' version)
Coolest outfit: kilt, with sporran, worn with Olympics 1948 T-shirt
Best film: Tomorrow Never Dies, Despicable Me II and The Lego Movie
Favourite book: Casper Candlewax and the time-travelling toaster

Happy Birthday to my gorgeous curly-haired boy.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The reluctant ramblers

The big news on Sunday morning was that, for once, it wasn't raining. So I hatched a plan to get us out and under those blue skies for as long as possible; to meet Daddy at King's Cross station where he'd be arriving on the 14:02 from Edinburgh. If that doesn't sound like we'd be getting much sunshine, well, let me tell you the cunning nature of this little outing - we were going to get there on foot. It was to be an urban ramble, if you like - but with a goal, a purpose - and the reward of seeing Daddy. This concept seemed to sell the idea to my children anyway. That and showing them some of the delicious snacks in my backpack and the promise of a hot chocolate once we got there - I'm not stupid.

We set off a little after midday, snug in our walking boots and winter coats, ready for all the puddles, pavements and tow paths we might encounter  - and headed towards the New River. This took us right into the heart of Islington but kept us pretty nature-orientated for the first part of our ramble-with-a-mission. We saw a frog, two squirrels, a cat and three wood pigeons, and spotted snowdrops, smelled some crazily early jasmine and tested out a mini-waterfall feature for the fairies by sending down leaves like little rafts into the 'rapids'. There was also the best tree in N1 to be climbed. We never miss that one.

We left the green and pleasant New River path at Essex Road station and cut across to Upper Street past  the Little Angel Theatre. When we got to Screen on the Green we made our way to Liverpool Road via The Old Royal Free residential development. Cloudesley Road took us to Copenhagen Street and then we picked up the Regent's Canal. We wanted to find out more about the history of these places - and made a note to 'Google' them later; it was all very intriguing round there. My children loved checking the map with me as we made our way back to the water - it was rather unfortunate that the entire route seemed to fall right on the ring-binder between pages 48 and 49 of our London A to Z. Why does that always happen?

Once on the canal's tow path, we stopped for snacks and a drink then completed the final leg of our journey with renewed energy - all the way to Granary Square. We rewarded ourselves with a well-deserved sit down and watched the wonderful water-fountain displays - which were really quite mesmerising and  most relaxing. With mere minutes to spare, and very tired feet, I encouraged my now slightly moaning and reluctant-to-move ramblers along the pedestrianised boulevard and into the newly refurbished King's Cross station - just in time to meet Daddy. I thought it had been a fantastic walk and, as you might predict, those hot chocolates went down a storm.

On the bus home, we calculated the length of our urban ramble. I turned to my daughter and proudly told her, 'Wow! Do you know, we walked three miles today! Isn't that amazing?' To which she replied, 'Whaa...? three miles? That's TERRIBLE! I can't believe I walked three miles.' And she placed her head in her hand, her hand on the bus window and closed her eyes.' Still a reluctant rambler then.