Monday, July 28, 2008

Le Tour de France (2)

After 3 weeks of racing, 21 stages and 3500km Carlos Sastre was the 2008 tour winner by less than a minute! What a fantastic time trial he raced - bad luck Cadel, maybe next year.

Rugby...Lionel & Josh watched the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday morning and there was much shouting at the TV! Lauaki needs to catch the ball, Mealamu needs to throw the ball straight and the ref needs to open his eyes are some of the impressions of the game that I got from my boys. You Aussies don't need to gloat - we'll be back next week!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Le Tour de France

We have been enjoying following the Tour of France and generally watch the very good ITV4 highlights package in the evening. Mark Cavendish captured our attention and as a British rider he got a bit of coverage - he sure can sprint and with four stage wins what a great effort. He pulled out before the Alps (I can understand that, who would want to bike up those mountains!) to concentrate on the Olympics. We get the occasional mention of Julian Dean (the New Zealander) but only in passing and now everyone's attention is on Cadel Evans as we head into the final stage and time trial today. If a New Zealander can't win the race then an Australian might as well!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Big Wheel Bike Ride

Ready and waiting at the Start

This morning (Sunday) we took part in a local fundraising event for a Hospice here in Basingstoke. This is an annual event and we had heard that it was a great family bike ride.
There was three different circuits which you could take part in - 45 miles, 24 miles or 7 miles. We chose the the 7 mile circuit which took us out of Basingstoke along some country roads to a village called Oakley and then looping back into Basingstoke.
There were about 1500 people registered for the ride but most of them were doing the longer rides which left before us and so it wasn't crowded at all.

We were loaded up with water bottles and mini Mars Bars and headed off with quite a few other 'short circuit' bikers. Not far out of Basingstoke Rebecca was off and so Lionel went with her and Josh and I carried on at our own pace. At about the halfway point Josh and I stopped for a drink and Lionel came back to see how we were getting on - he decided to stay and bike with Josh and said that Rebecca wasn't too far ahead and so I went into top gear and took off to catch her up...I kept spotting Rebecca in the distance but it was only once we got back into Basingstoke and she was held up by a traffic light that I caught her!
We had a great morning out riding and everyone is very proud of their achievement!

Josh & Lionel along a country road Josh racing through Oakley

Farnborough Air Show

We went to the biennial Farnborough Air Show at Saturday. It was one of the things on Lionel's list of things to do and he said it was one of the best days he has had in the UK yet! This year celebrated 60years - the first Farnborough Air Show was held in 1948. It is a week long multi-national event which allows aerospace companies to show case their latest innovations and products. The final Saturday & Sunday are public days with a 4 1/2 hour flying programme.

The weather forecast wasn't great and we headed off in the morning in the rain, however the day cleared up and the rain had stopped by the time we had made it to Farnborough Station - we had decided to take the train to avoid the traffic (good decision!) In fact the sun came out and at times it was quite hot.

We looked around a few of the static aircraft displays before finding a spot to view the flying displays which started at 12.30pm. The flying programme started with a Spitfire which Lionel enjoyed since it didn't make it into NZ for 'Warbirds Over Wanaka'. Our absolute favourite was watching the 'Red Arrows Formation Display'. Their formation flying was incredible - tight formations at high speed and the use of the red, white and blue smoke to form 'pictures in the sky' was very impressive.

Josh was also very taken with the 'Eurofighter Typhoon', the 'F-16' and the 'F-18'.

Lionel, Rebecca & Josh went for a ride in the 'Typhoon' flight simulator (that was a wild ride).

How did it compare with Warbirds Over Wanaka...the setting in Wanaka is absolutely second to none and the length and quality of flight displays at Wanaka is also right up there. The thing which Farnborough has over Wanaka is the variety of large aircraft and modern jets which can land here and fly over the airfield. We didn't like the queues and crowds at Farnborough but it was a great day out!

The 'Red Arrows' were spectacular!

Josh had a great day!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rebecca's Busy Weekend

The Basingstoke Invitation 15 & under water polo tournament took place on Saturday afternoon at the Aquadrome. Basingstoke put in two teams and we fully expected Rebecca to be in the 'B' team since she is only 12 and has only been playing water polo for about 5 weeks. However, when we got there she was delighted to learn that she had been placed in the 'A' team! She really improved as the tournament went on (2 round robin games and a play off) and playing with the more experienced kids certainly helped her confidence, as they were always talking and telling her where to be in the pool. Basingstoke A finished the tournament with third placing (out of 6) and so it was very worthwhile and Rebecca had lots of fun.

Sunday night saw Rebecca head out for 'The Edge' youth group break up for the year. There were close to 70 kids there aged 11-18 and it sounds like there was lots of activity...The biggest bouncy castle in Hampshire, water pistols, Sing Star, air hockey, table tennis, pool, paddling pool and water pistols and a BBQ. That was the last night of youth group until September.

Things are starting to wind down now for the summer with most schools on holiday from this coming Friday and not back until the beginning of September.
The big talk over here seems to be how many people are cutting back on their summer holiday plans because of the thought of recession. Apparently not so many people are heading abroad for their holidays and are taking 'Britain' holidays instead. It would appear more people than usual are planning camping holidays as a less expensive option - as long as they don't all head to the Lake District!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What's coming up...

We've got a few things coming up so I thought I would just jot them down for you and then we can update things as we go along...

Saturday 12 July Rebecca has a waterpolo tournament
Sunday 13 July Rebecca has a 'beach' party for the youth group break up
Saturday 19 July Farnborough Air Show
Sunday 20 July Big Wheel Bike Ride
6-13 August Camping in the Lake District

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rebecca & Amanda in London

The girls have just had the weekend in London as part of Rebecca's birthday present. We took the train into London on Saturday and after checking in at the hotel we decided on a trip to Harrods... We saw only a small part of the store but what fun we had! It was the middle of Harrod's summer sale and so there were huge discounts, but we bypassed the clothing departments and went to the books, toys and sports departments. The toy department was amazing with a huge selection of all sorts of toys - as you can imagine the soft toy part was a huge temptation for Rebecca. There were Harrod's employees in the toy department demonstrating some of the toys and there were areas set up for kids to try out toys - you could spend all day there! We decided to buy some books and then head quickly for the exit. On our way out we went through the food halls - very hard to describe...much like a huge, exclusive street market. There was fresh meat with carcasses hanging, there was a fish department with a huge display of fresh fish (and it smelt like a fish market!) and best of all the chocolate department (very tempting)!

Following our afternoon at Harrod's we got our first ride in a black cab to the Hammersmith Apollo to watch 'High School Musical'. When booking the tickets I didn't realise it was the night of the London premiere and so we were surprised to see the red carpet out and heaps of photographers. There were lots of celebrities arriving with their children (but we didn't know any of them). We really enjoyed the show and it was great being in a huge theatre watching the live show - such a great atmosphere.

On Sunday we got the train back to Basingstoke and headed straight to church where they were having a BBQ lunch to welcome new people. This was great and we met some of the leaders of the church and got to know some others a bit better. Josh enjoyed helping his Sunday School teacher get the charcoal BBQ going and helped to get the burgers ready.

For those of you who watched the Wimbledon men's final you will know that our weather has taken a cooler, wetter turn and today is definately an inside day.

So, for those of you who want to hear some of the downers of our life...

# riding on the tube can be hot, noisy and smelly

# having an outside BBQ is proving impossible

# we miss the companionship of 'old' friends

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Rebecca has just had a fantastic few days with Zara (a friend from Dipton) who is over here visiting family with her mum & grandma. Zara came and stayed for the weekend and so there was lots of talking!

We took Zara back up to Birmingham on Monday morning and then Josh, Rebecca, Zara, Kim & I went down to Stratford to visit Shakespeare's home town. We thoroughly enjoyed our time here and it is great to be able to visit these places outside of the busy tourist times. After we had stopped for lunch at a canal side pub we went to Anne Hathaway's Cottage. This is where Shakespeare's wife grew up and is a thatched cottage with the most amazing cottage garden and garden walks. We sat out in a willow cabin listening to some of Shakespeare's sonnets.

Anne Hathaway's cottage

Rebecca, Josh & I then stayed at a B&B in Stratford and the next day we went to Mary Arden's Farm. Mary Arden was Shakespeare's mother and this is where she grew up. I thought this would just be another cottage to visit but how wrong I was... This was excellent and we spent about 3 hours here. There are volunteers who work here and they dress up and work the farm as in the Tudor times (15oo's). We saw them cutting up wood for the fires and the man told us about how they grow hedges and coppice the wood so that it kept in a sustainable way. Then around the front of the house was a man working up the garden to plant herbs, the vegetable garden provides them with most of the vegetables which they use at the farm. Inside we saw some women in the kitchen cooking the dinner - they were having a chicken which had been killed by a mink and they were cooking it over the fire. They had also prepared all the vegetables for the meal, baked the bread and made the beer.

We also saw a falconry display with a kestrel. These are quite small birds and would have been used to teach the Tudor boys how to train birds for hunting.

at Mary Arden's farm