Sunday, March 29, 2009

What a week...

After a great weekend last weekend we have felt a bit flat this week with a letter from the landlord terminating our contract as he is coming back from Dubai. He would like us to move out on 13 June, but we have requested an extension until 25 July which would take us to the end of the school year for the kids. We have had a verbal agreement to this but are waiting for the official paperwork. This came as a real shock to us as we really were not expecting it...however it has helped us to make some decisions.
The work situation is really tight and it doesn't look like Lionel will get his contract extended past the end of April (we are still praying) and it is proving very slow finding other work...he just needs something until 25 July and we will be happier.
At this stage we are planning on leaving the UK on about 26 July and heading to France with the car and our tent (free camping is legal in France). We will find some nice rivers and beaches and camp our way around France until we meet our friends in Italy on 16 August, where we have villa accommodation paid for until 5 September.
I am going to book our flights back to NZ this week and you should see us mid-late September!

Apart from that we are enjoying life - Vanessa came and stayed the night on Wednesday and we went down to Salisbury on Thursday and visited the cathedral. Salisbury is a lovely city and the cathedral was very impressive. We were going to do something outside in the countryside guessed it - the weather was wet and cold!
Rebecca is off to London tomorrow on a school trip to St Paul's Cathedral and she is also getting ready for her ski trip which leaves on Friday. She had a disappointment this week when her best friend had to pull out of the ski trip because she broke her wrist. Rebecca will still have a great time but it is more fun skiing with a friend (I'm looking forward to more ski trips Cindy).
Josh is counting down the days until the holidays and is off to Legoland with a friend next Saturday - this is something he has wanted to do for months!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

London Irish 'St Patrick's Day Party'

On Sunday afternoon we went up to the Madejski Stadium in Reading to watch London Irish play their St Patrick's Day game. (I will let Lionel write the rest)
For the rugby aficionados among you, the game featured two former All Blacks. For Northampton was winger Bruce Reihana who is their captain and goal kicker. On the London Irish team is No 1 Clarke Dermody, former Southland Captain (in the photo above).
The rugby was not too bad - Irish won 32-27 in the end, with ill discipline costing Northampton as they gave away too many kickable penalties and Irish's 18year old fullback, Tom Homer, just kept slotting the goals. There was some quite good play at times, but it did reflect that in some positions both teams are playing quite deep in their squads. Clarke Dermody had a strong game on his side of the scrum, but the tighthead side was a mess. Dermody also distinguished himself with a great catch and pass during one attack. The Irish back play wasn't great, if it had been better they would have made the game safe much sooner. The closeness of the result made up for the less than stellar quality of some of the rugby. The game ended with Northampton attacking for the last two minutes, trying to gain the try that would snatch the win.

Scrapheap Challenge

Josh's school organised a scrapheap challenge family day, based on the popular TV series, and so Josh got a team together and along we went. We were presented with a pile of scrap, a set of instructions and 4 hours to complete the challenge.
Our pile of scrap

Our pile of scrap consisted of bike frames, chains, bike wheels, bike tyres, wood, rope, nails, screws and some plant pots.
Our instructions were to create something which would turn the turbine we were given, the only rule being that it had to have both a horizontal drive and a vertical drive.

The destruction phase
Josh, Trevor & Lionel drew up a plan and got building. Rebecca & I did what we were asked to and Finlay had a great time creating all sorts of other things. Josh had a great time with the wood, nails and tools - he has really missed being able to build stuff!
Construction begins...

We created a great machine which worked!

Josh explains to Andy how it works

The challenge was judged by Andy, who was a member of the 'Cops & Bodgers' team from the television series.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring is here...

We are really enjoying the feel of Spring in the air with warmer temperatures (double figures most days) and longer days. It is now light when we wake up at 6.30am and I didn't need to have the car lights on when I took Josh to fencing at 5.45 last night.
Lionel gave the lawn their first mow of the season last night and we have some daffodils out in the backyard. I have also managed to hang some washing up on the outside line, and it even got dry.
I love the feeling of Spring, especially after the bleakness of a long, cold, dark Winter.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Our weekend...

Another weekend has passed us by...
On Friday night Rebecca had waterpolo training at the Aquadrome and then it was a 20minute drive to Tadley for swim training.
Saturday morning Lionel took Rebecca into the town centre pool for swim training at 8am, and after that they went out for a hot chocolate (coffee for Lionel - he has discovered Muffin Break always does a good coffee).
On Saturday afternoon Rebecca had a waterpolo game for the 14&under team, down in Winchester. I took her to that and we dropped Lionel & Josh off at Intech on the way. Rebecca played a cracking game of waterpolo and was in amongst all the action. Lionel & Josh had a great afternoon with lots of different science equipment and also went to two shows at the planetarium.
Lionel & Rebecca went to church on Sunday morning and then in the afternoon we went to visit the Evans family. The kids had a great run around outside (good to have a big back yard to play in) before watching a James Bond movie. The adults watched England beat France in a six nations game.
A great it is back into the weekly routine!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral

I (Amanda) went into London today to have the day with Vanessa - a Christchurch friend who has come to live in London. We decided to visit St Paul's Cathedral as the weather dictated an 'inside day'. St Paul's is still a working church and they have four services Monday to Saturday and five services on a Sunday, also during the day (on the hour) they have a brief time where they encourage everyone to take the time to stand or sit quietly and join with a brief prayer.
It is quite an amazing building and incredible to think that there has been a cathedral on this site for 1400 years - this is the 4th cathedral to be built here and was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built 300 years ago.
Vanessa & I took a tour through the cathedral and were very impressed with the lady who took us around - for only 3 pounds we spent about 90 minutes with her and got a huge amount of information. After the tour we climbed the 257 steps up to the Whispering Gallery and then more steps up to the Stone Gallery which allowed us to look out over London.
It was a great day visiting an amazing place, and it was good to be able to do it with Vanessa.
Vanessa & Amanda at the top of St Paul's

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

St Michael's Mount

Several people have asked us about St Michael's Mount, so here is our brief historical guide to the Mount....

St Michael's Mount is an island which is about 500m off the coast of Cornwall and is joined to the mainland by a causeway at low tide.

During its long history the Mount has been a church, priory, fortress and private house. After the Mount became a private home belonging to the St. Aubyn family in 1659, a large part of the former quarters of the monks and military garrison were converted into the present living areas. Members of the St. Aubyn family still live at the Mount - in 1954 the family gifted the Mount to the National Trust with a 999 year lease to live there.

350BC to 56BC (approx) - The safe sheltered bay was a tin port

around 1070 - linked with Mont St Michel (France) as part of the Benedictine community

1587 - Mount beacon signalled Spanish Armada
1642 - Mount defended by Royalists in the Civil War

1647 - Colonel John St Aubyn nominated Captain of the Mount

1659 - Colonel St Aubyn purchased the Mount and it became a private home

1954 - Gifted to the National Trust with a large endowment

From the mainland it is certainly a great landmark and the stone causeway is amazing. From the top of the Mount you can see why it was such an important military site as you can see for miles out to sea for any sign of enemy ships approaching.

We thoroughly enjoyed our week at Marazion looking out at St Michael's Mount.

Looking along the causeway out the St Michael's Mount