Friday 27 May 2011

Two weddings and a boat

Well that was quite a (unintended) break from blogging. Things just seem to be so busy and I'm somehow not getting the chance to write up many of the things going on.

It's funny how themes ebb and flow on this blog - at the moment, it's very much going out and doing stuff, in between working, of course, during these challenging times for universities (yes, we declared at £9k tuition fees too, at my 'anonymous' university). The politics muse will have to return another day (others are doing it so well - though I did see Messrs Clive Efford MP and Cllr Spencer Drury, AND the Greenwich mayor at a primary school event today), but for now, a catch up...

Since our Horniman's jaunt, we've:

- been to the Planetarium (the Peter Harrison Planetarium, part of the Royal Observatory complex in Greenwich Park) and learnt about the phases of the Easter moon (I had to concentrate very hard!). It was easy booking up the tickets online, though you still have to queue to secure your unallocated seats. There's some good stuff showing over the May/June half-term. Then some football with the kids in Greenwich Park on the day when twitter (well, Grant Blowers) was reporting that there were two streakers about! We managed to miss them though.

Battle Abbey
- for the long Easter weekend we decamped to Crowhurst, near Battle, near Hastings. After watching the Starkey video in the admittedly quite good Visitors Centre, we spent St Georges Day walking around the battlefield at well, Battle, with our audio tour guide clasped to our ears, hearing about how William the Conqeurer defeated Harold there in 1066. It was gripping because even my 9 year old daughter was shushing me when her audio was on! Battle is an interesting little town where there must be some kind of ban on chain shops on its cobbled high street. We had lunch there at The Bull - though nearby there was a pub offering set lunches for, you guessed it, £10.66.

- then we had the AV referendum. Everyone seems to have forgotten about that. I must admit to finding both sides of the argument persuasive, each time either side made it! While instinctively, it seemed like a good and liberal idea which all proper-minded people should go for, I couldn't grasp how it would actually play out in terms of the results. If a BNP voter wanted to spend their one vote in that way, I didn't really want them to have a second stab at it by having their second vote counted. And one thing that sticks in my mind from the days of being taught the British Constitution at Birkbeck, by the late Ben Pimlott, was how delicate a beast the conventions of the current arrangements are - would AV upset that?  On the other hand, many of the institutions and people I usually agree with were going for the 'yes' vote, and did I really want to vote 'no' and keep the same company as the BNP and David Cameron? Anyways, I voted 'yes', secure that it wouldn't win out but that signals would be sent (even though I wasn't quite clear which signals!).

Upnor Castle at Rochester
- then the first of two weddings this year.  This first one saw us at Upnor Castle on the Medway river at Rochester ("...a rare example of an Elizabethan artillery fort was begun in 1559 and redeveloped in 1599-1601, to protect warships moored at Chatham dockyards. Despite a brave attempt, it entirely failed to do so in 1667, when the Dutch sailed past it to burn or capture the English fleet at anchor" - who knew). It was a glamorous wedding in novel surroundings. We stayed at a local hotel overnight (I recommend the King Charles Hotel's adjoining family rooms, though the rest is rather, well, a bit motel-like while being perfectly efficient) and thought we'd take the opportunity to give the kids a bit of 'kulture' the next day. And so we set off for Dicken's World in Rochester. What an expensive and grim place, with few interactive activities for the children. What there was felt half-heartedly done. I won't be asking for 'some more please sir'. C'est la vie. We'll stick to the musical films (though I admit I bought some 're-told' Dickens novels for the kids in the inevitable gift shop..).

- and very shortly we shall be off to the Norfolk Boards, taking our children to live on a boat for a few days, hoping that that they will enjoy something that hubby and I used to do before they were born (though without the copious wine, the oil painting easels and a few other things...). I think it's going to be a bit different this time round! From there we shall go straight to our second wedding of the year which is being held at a Barn which was originally built about 1650 (not our own dear Eltham Tudor Barn though).

.. that's all for now...more to follow when we return.