31 May 2012

third spring birthday

This is the third time I've celebrated the anniversary of my birth in the northern hemisphere and it was a lovely day. Usually, being from Australia, my birthday is in autumn and being so close to winter, it's usually also fairly cold. This year it was a rather warm day. Not as hot as the last couple of weeks but still early 20s. It started early. I was up at 6:30am--daylight wakes me up early anyway--to head down stairs and prepare the icing for the cake the boy helped me make the day before. I had to let it cool so it would go thicker and be spreadable; the plan to decorate it before we left for nursery. Obviously not quite ready by the time we needed to do it but certainly was delightful putting all the m&ms on top. The boy woke well (I'm helping with the get up and get ready this week) and was excited about helping me finish the cake and also buzzing with anticipation of helping me eat it. I was wonderfully surprised with thoughtful presents. The boys gave me a Jubilee mug which is cool coz that's happening while I'm here in London. The card with it's lion and kangaroo on a cricket ball--the way up it should be--included a note from my boss saying they'll help pay for a hot air balloon ride for me. Sweet. That's on my list of things to do. They also gave me the bangles in the aussie sporting colours. I also got some presents from the maternity nurse and my boss' mum who dropped by. I spent the morning doing a quick shop for shoes (I've had multiple pairs fall apart on me at the same time) and came back with a bag. He he. And then I chatted to family and read other birthday wishes until I had to go pick up the boy.
He was a bit tired and not listening around lunch time was a little turbulant but he pulled it together enough to have cake. I wasn't going to get away with no candles on my cake so I found some and they sang me happy birthday and we all shared cake. Sooo delicious. Lovely rich chocolate cake. Mmmm. I had two pieces. The afternoon was spent at a tennis lesson and then hanging out at home. Quite casual and relaxing. Bit of turbulance around tea time again as we needed him to hurry up so I could give him a quick bath before I finished early. We made the time frame and I readied myself, dressing up a little and wearing my new dress.
I trotted off to meet some friends and go see the musical Singing in the Rain. It was great--apart from a few boring songs and getting a bit lost with a performed explaination (what he was describing was acted out). The acting was great. Lena was amazingly annoying with her shrill voice, Cosmo was funny, the dancing was splendid and it was a delight to see it really rain on stage while the theme song was performed and a laugh to see the people in the stalls get splashed multiple times. The song was performed at the end of each half and the final one was with everyone. I think people half way back in the stalls got wet even. Ha ha. We were on the second balcony. Right at the front for the first half with super squished legs and moved back a row for more comfort the second half. I enjoyed it. Then I went home and snuck a bit of cake before getting into bed just before my birthday ended for another year.

21 May 2012

en garde

Today I had my very first lesson in fencing.

Quite random really. I just came across a voucher a few weeks back for a discount on four beginner lessons and decided I would try it. Now I know very little about fencing having only seen the tiniest amount on tv. But that was part of the draw. Try something completely different. So I arrived at my group lesson at Fighting Fit Fencing today not really sure what to expect.

After a bit of warming up we started with some foot work; en garde position and how to step forward, backward and lunge. Then we donned the smelly shared safety gear and began to bout. I felt a bit pathetic. I still felt I had no idea what I was doing. After a bit of a go our instructor talked us through some of the scoring. You need to get your priorities right. He he. That is, you need to understand who has priority. In the case of a dual touch, the person with priority gets the point. I'm going to read up on how to score before I go again next week. It was a struggle to get it all straight. But after he explained the priority and scoring it began to make a little more sense and gave a little more focus to our bouts. He also explained how to parry (knock the foil--aka. practise sword--aside) and then we did a few more bouts.

Hot work but I'm eager to head back next week to understand it better and give it another go. And it's fun to do something I've never even considered before.

16 May 2012

weekend sunshine

Last weekend was sunny! Can you believe it? We've had so many wet days lately it was a treat to see the sun--and on a weekend! On Sunday afternoon I decided I simply must get out and enjoyed it so I headed off to Regent Park. It's quite large but I enjoy simply walking around in the sunshine looking at all the green, the spring flowers, the landscaped gardens and the people enjoying the weather. I walked all around Queen Mary's Gardens and was impressed with a couple of lawn areas filled with deckchairs for anybody to use. Great idea. Then I walked on around the boating lake passing by an area that looked snow covered. The daisies must be loving this weather. I walked across the bottom of the recreation area where people were out kicking footballs (aka soccerballs) around and playing other such games. Then back down the Garden Avenue full of flowers where I had started. After enjoying a long stroll I found a plot of grass for myself and soaked in the sporadic sunshine while listening to my ipod or reading. Eventually it started to get too cool for me to sit still and I headed home again.

Remember you can click on the pictures for a better look.

10 May 2012

my date with robin hood

After realising I had a long weekend coming up I quickly decided I'd head off and visit some place outside of London. So last Saturday morning I caught the bus to Nottingham where I'd booked into a B&B. When I first arrived I trapsed around the city, browsing the shops, finding the tourist information centre and stopping by Frankie & Benny's for lunch. (Good food and great old classics playing.) Then I thought I better check in with Nottingham castle. It's not an ancient original but it stands in the same place. Below you can see the main gate and the Robin Hood statue that stands outside. Inside is now a bit of a museum and mostly an art gallery. I then walked a little way out of the city centre and found my room, got some food and hung out in my room watching a re-run of Merlin.

On Sunday I started slow and spent most of the day wandering slowly around town, shopping as I pleased but mostly just browsing. I stopped by the Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem which is England's oldest inn. It was actually fascinating inside. It's half dug out of the cliff so the rooms are quite cavelike. I had a half-pint of Olde Trip ale in the Museum Room. All the rooms are named and the one I sat in had old chainmail, swords and sheilds on the wall. On my way back to my room I stopped by the cinema to buy a ticket and then ate some tea and chilled out for a while before walking back in to town. I stepped into the crowded cinema and found myself a seat and let Avengers Assemble entertain me. They did well. I had quite a few good laughs.
On Monday mid morning while Nottingham slowly awoke (Bank Holiday) I checked out and snuck off to Sherwood Forest where I planned to spend the remainder of the day. It was nice being out in nature again though it's a pretty public place. Sadly there's not that much of Sherwood Forest left and you can skirt the entire thing on foot in just a few hours. I wandered slowly along the paths first visiting the Major Oak which a massive, old tree. You can tell it's old coz it's all saggy, been patched and has supports to help it stay upright. They had a few activities there, one which was archery. I wondered about having a go and in the end decided I'd come back later. Out the other end there was a medieval festival going on. There was some archery competitions (more on the side of entertainment), a bunch of stalls, a few non-medieval rides and a stack of tents that people, dressed in medieval wear, seemed to be camping in. I also spent some time looking through a Robin Hood display back at Sherwood Forest Tourist Centre and the shops. I had a few hours til the next bus still so I had a late lunch in the cafe and sat reading a book on my phone for a good while. Finally I decided I better head back to the Major Oak to have a go at archery.

When I got back there, I was the only one around. The guide ran through some instructions with me--mostly just refreshing my memory from backyard play but I did learn how to hold the bow properly so the string doesn't flick you as you shoot. I loosed six arrows and decided I wanted to do some more. The guide decided to increase the fun. He called over two other guys who were hanging out with them and set the competition. Nine arrows each. If I beat either of them, the loser paid for my archery fling. The guide carried on with each shot as we took turns which hightened the buzz and had a nervous giggle going on inside me. I managed to score with every shot and even better...I won. Significantly. Ha ha. So my archery in Sherwood Forest was free.

Shooting to the back target and counting up my score. I then walked the long way round coz they had closed the gates to the public part. My bus didn't come for another forty minutes so I sat in the rain and read some more. Back in Nottingham I walked straight across town to the other bus stop to head out of town before anyone could question where I'd been. Can't give away Robin Hood's secrets. ;)

03 May 2012

umbrellas up

I have a new perception of April showers. I heard the term long ago and even though we do get rain in April in Australia, it's autumn and we are preparing for winter. Spring rains seem different; a preparation for things to get growing. Here in the northern hemisphere that's just what it is: spring rains. April in particular was a wet one. Loads of pouring rainy days. I don't particularly mind. I quite like the rain, especially when you're all warm and cosy inside. It's very soothing. It was nice laying in bed at night, silent inside listening to rain pelt the buildings on the outside. Not so nice when you have to venture out in it. Honestly, though, I didn't even mind that too much. I bought myself a good umbrella and it's nice to use. The worst part of all this rain has been trying to get two boys with two scooters to the bus stop for our ride followed by another foot journey to music class at the other end. And then reverse that to make the journey home again.

The weather, however, is warming. The days aren't quite so cold even if they are wet. And we're starting to see a bit more sun. Last year was pretty warm I thought. I wonder if this year will be a more typical British summer with less heat and not so much. Guess I'll find out soon enough.