Daily Archives: April 3, 2007

A delightful day

At Dad’s funeral we made a solemn promise as a family to make sure we saw more of each other, such of us as are left. To my delight, my cousin stayed with his promise and came down to the Island for a few days and today he, his wife, and their grandson (which we worked out with pleasure was Smudgelet’s second cousin twice removed) came to spend the day with us. And what a wonderful day it was.

I’d never really known my cousin that well when I was a child, him being of an age with my sisters and brother rather than with me, but I’d always rather liked him and today I feel that we have become friends in the same way as he is friends with my siblings. An added bonus is that their grandson is currently living with them due to family circumstances which give him a lot in common with Smudgelet – more than simply being the same age – and gave us as adults a lot of chance to compare notes. But the greatest thing was the chance to spend the day together doing lovely things….. despite the bitterly cold.. no, I ought to say “bracing” and “cobweb-ridding” … no, bitterly cold wind that had us wishing we’d worn our thermals.

Stage one: well, visitors from the Midlands just have to go to the beach, don’t they? We chose St Helens. It’s a wonderful place – every type of beach rolled into one, with places to walk and a rather lovely cafe for the adults to hide in. It was so lovely to watch the boys play on the beach, being chased by the waves, getting sand in their shoes, throwing stones, writing in the sand and having a generally good time (while we shivered!)

Stage two: You Midlanders think you know what a castle is – well let’s take you to visit Carisbrooke and enlighten you with the most amazing castle in the world. We were all entranced. We lost the boys quite quickly as they were up on the walls and away at great speed, circumnavigating the battlements and racing up and down the steps into the keep at breakneck (almost literally) speed as though no use of leg muscles were required at all. Typical, the boys managed to get into the wellhouse to see the donkey wheel demonstration and the door closed, leaving us adults outside and donkeyless.

Stage three: A rather lovely meal at the Blacksmith’s Arms – slightly later in the day than normal but hey, we were having too much fun.

Stage four: On to Fort Victoria at Yarmouth. It was too cold by this time for the beach, the countryside walk, or to climb the ramparts, but we did have an amazing time in the aquarium. Most of the fish in there are from local waters, although there is a lovely tropical bit at the end. It was fascinating, especially walking over the ray/shark pool and watching the rays demonstrating their vertical backwards chassaying. One tank appeared emtpy. The assistant came in and asked us if we could see anything in there. He furked around in the sand with a stick and eventually a fish shot out, apparently one of four weaver fish that were in there. No wonder the first thing that many people notice of this poisonous fish is when they step on it while paddling. It was completely hidden, and its three companions remained so.
We watched crabs and lobsters, shrimps and pipefish, bream and butterfish, seahorses and pufferfish and were in there for ages simply enjoying the quiet and relaxing atmosphere (though not the draught!). Smudgelet was ever so slightly disappointed not to go in to see the model railway too, but the prospect of taking his second-cousin-twice-removed home to play for an hour or so soon compensated for that and very soon the two small boys were scarily silent as they became engrossed in building with lego and other construction toys. Whoever would have thought they would become such good friends. As for me, I think I too have two new good friends. My cousins are keen to come back in the summer and I am really hoping they do.

Digress…. slightly

How did you spot that I got distracted from the housework yesterday? Do I care? Not a bit of it! I suddenly remembered that, if Smudgelet’s football happened to be cancelled, then I was already a quarter of an hour late for picking him up!!! Hmmm.. guess what! Still, he was remarkably forgiving… once I agreed to take him shopping. What? Shopping? Smudgelet, what is wrong with you, my child? Aha… to the shops in Ryde… that wouldn’t by any chance include the Hornby train shop, now, would it?

He was rather flush with money, having received a gift of £12 from me selling his special ride-on digger which he’d outgrown, and also having a financial reward for the rather glowing report that came home from school the other day. It suddenly began to burn a hole in his pocket. But oh, the torture of decision: buy something that was less than what he wanted but was in his price range and could be purchased NOW or wait six weeks until his birthday and be able to afford not only what he really wanted but also to come in for their special offer of 10% off if you spend £25. But of course that meant waiting. What an unbearable dilemma for a nine year old! Luckily we ran out of time on the car park before he made his decision, which meant I was able to suggest he sleep on it and we return next day if we chose or he could wait and take his birthday money with his train-mad uncle D when we visit in May and make a more informed decision in good and knowledgeable company. Two birds with one stone – a bonding experience for Smudgelet and Uncle D who have finally found something they have in common.

I, fortunately, temporarily escaped the swim that I had promised Smudgelet that afternoon when I discovered (fortunately before I got in the pool) that my swimming costume had suddenly reached that rather… er… “revealing”… stage of disintegration. Unfortunately I promised to buy a new one during the afternoon so that we could swim on Wednesday… and the only one that fit was hideous, bright blue with massive flowers on. But a promise is a promise. The things I do for my kids. The only plus was that it was reduced in price from £35 to £14 – I wonder why!!! – so at least I won’t feel too guilty when I rush to BHS and buy myself a replacement at the first opportunity.