Monday, 31 May 2010

What can you do on a wet Bank Holiday weekend?

I am not quite sure how it happened, but I managed to let my friend Sam, talk me into taking Izzy to a gymnastics class this weekend.

"Nothing wrong with that," I hear you cry. True, the idea was ostensibly good, but the hour at which it was to be executed, was bad. Yep, the gymnastics class started at 9.15am on Saturday morning. 9.15! In the morning! On a Saturday! That's just rude.

You see, I'm not much of a morning person. Never have been and never will be. I mean, in the olden days I wrote most of my PhD between the hours of 11pm and 3am. That's how much of a night owl I am.

So instead of my usual leisurely Saturday morning with Izzy.... consisting of a chilled breakfast, getting dressed in no hurry and plenty of time for playing.... this Saturday morning had to be planned with the precision of a work/school day...... it was complete bottom.

"Izzy! You have 237 seconds left to finish eating those Cheerios."

"Izzy! You have spent 24 seconds longer than you should have cleaning your teeth."

"Izzy! Why've you got your pants on your head?" ......... you get the picture.

Despite the ungodly hour, Izzy and I managed to arrive at the Sports Centre on time - 9.15am (on a Saturday!).

Sam was already there with her three children, Honey, Joe and Luka. And she was looking as perky as ever, as she waved; "Yoo hoo! Over here!"

I sauntered over, and as I got closer, she looked at me and asked, "Bloody hell, are you ok?"

"Nope." I replied. "It's morning."

"Oh yeh, you don't like 'em do you?" she replied sympathetically.

"Nope."  I responded, staring blankly at the gymnastics that were unfolding in the Sports Hall.

So, the early start was bad. But Sam being Sam, she had arranged lots of interesting things for us to do after gymnastics...... way to go girl! So after the initial 9.15am shock had worn off, we had some cool things lined up, starting with a trip to Rectory Farm. 

"What the bloody hell is Rectory Farm?" I hear you cry. Well, Rectory Farm is one of the good things about living in the countryside. It is basically the place where all the local farmers sell their produce, and in addition to that, it has a large outdoors Marquee, where you can sit for a coffee and cake.

Pic.No.1. The car-park at Rectory Farm (you can see Izzy, Honey and Joe running inside - it was raining, unfortunately)

Pic.No.2. Sam outside the farm entrance

Pic.No.3 The Marquee in the grounds of the farm where you can quaff coffee and cake. It was shame it was raining pissing it down, because it is a pretty, rural place to congregate

Pic.No.4. Izzy in a fur coat in the Marquee scoffing an ice-cream

 Pic.No.5. Awwww..... Sam with her youngest child, Luka. Very cute he is too.... as you can see from the picture.

Probably the only flaw in the plan was the large outdoor sandpit at Rectory Farm. The reason being, that the heavy rain did not stop Honey, Izzy or Joe from wanting to play in it. So after an hour of lobbing wet, dank spadefuls at each other, they returned to the Marquee, covered from head to toe in the stuff, which had also permeated most orifices. [note to reader. Have you ever tried to wipe wet sand off a kid? It's awful, it just rolls along the skin, clinging on for dear life and causing minor abrasions in the process. And that's before you start trying to get the bucket of sand out their hair].

Sacre Bleu! Not being ones to allow set-backs like 'gritty children' to hold us back, Sam and I took the sprogs and headed for lunch at Cafe Coco in Headington. Yes....'twas all terribly civilised dahlink.

Pic.No.6. Cafe Coco in Headington

Pic.No.7. The lovely Honey and Izzy scoffing pizza

We all indulged in a long, languid lunch, chatting about stuff, and eating Cafe Coco's amazing pizzas.

So all in all, it was a very enjoyable Saturday morning... Thanks Sam!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Naughty George and the great shed challenge

It's good to have a bit of a sit-down, especially after a busy weekend which culminated in Naughty George stranding himself on the roof of my shed. Yeh, yeh, I don't know how a dog that small, managed to scale a seven-foot wooden structure either, but he did. And given the frequency of Naughty George's antics, I have ceased to be amazed by them; so when I walked into the garden and saw him at the summit vacuously woofing at some passers-by, my first thought wasn't "bloody hell, how on earth did he get up there?", it was "oh bloody hell, how am I going to get the git down?"

 Pic.No.1. The shed that Naughty George scaled

As I was pondering the situation, the same passers-by were laughing and pointing at NG, and upon seeing me, hollered; "hey missus, you've got a dog on your shed!"

"Ooh really? thanks for your help," I muttered under my breath.

I needed to get him down, but as you can see from the picture, the area was pretty overgrown (because the ground is too rough for my lawnmower), making it difficult to use a stepladder........ but really I had no other choice.

So, like most other people in the UK I imagine, I spent my Sunday evening up a rickety ladder at the bottom of the garden, with a barking mutt under my arm, whilst the passers-by gasped at every sideways lurch caused by the uneven ground. Hell, I even got a mini round-of-applause once I safely descended..... there's nothing like a bit of privacy in your own garden.

So Naughty George was safely back on firm ground, and whilst I put away the ladder, he showed his appreciation by vomiting a belly-full of grass onto the patio, in full view of the passers-by, who screwed up their faces in disgust and finally moved on.

Pic.No.2. Naughty George relaxes after his shed-climbing expedition

So with the dog firmly ensconsed in his basket, and disaster narrowly averted, I can continue writing the weekend's posts.

Hope you are having a great Bank Holiday weekend, what have you been up to then?

Saturday, 29 May 2010

It's cheese-tastic. It's the Eurovision Song Contest

Be-jesus. I have had a mad one today. Far to mad for me to sit down and write a proper post about it.... I am dead on my not-very-dainty size 4 1/2 feet ..... which, incidentally, aren't faring well because for some daft reason I decided to wear heels today.

So here I am, sitting at my laptop with bleary eyes and heavy lids, and the radio is on. To be more specific, the radio is broadcasting the Eurovision Song Contest. To those who live outside of Europe, let me explain exactly what constitutes the Eurovision Song Contest (even though it is fairly self-explanatory.... hang on, don't you patronise me Dickens!).

Pic.No.1. Eva Rivas from Armenia
The contest occurs annually, and every country in Europe submits a song (performed by an individual or band) that loosely represents their culture.

Then, all the countries involved, have to vote for whom they would like to win. The votes are allegedly compiled by 'phone-ins' in each country, but in reality, the results almost always (suspiciously) correlate with political allegiances. For example, France have never, and would never, vote for England.... and Norway would never vote for Sweden ...... and virtually none of Europe would ever vote for Switzerland or Greece. And that's before I start on Eastern Europe.

The whole thing is camp, kitsch and ludicrous, and yet it manages to pull in 120 million television viewers, making it the most watched programme in the world.

Vid.No.1 Another country submits their cheesey entry

But it's baaaaad. I mean, nearly every entrant could be categorised as a Cruise Liner singer.

Pic.No.2. Could I have double cheese on my cheese please?

So here is a question. Why don't we (in the UK), capitalise upon the fact that we are one of the biggest outputters of quality music in the world, and submit one of our powerhouses to the competition to make sure we win it?

Let's put it this way, if we bunged U2, Paul McCartney, Susan Boyle, or Take That into the competition, we would walk it. We would be triumphant. We could shout 'DO ONE' at every other European country and still be held in high regard.

Then it occurred to me. The country that wins the contest is obligated to host the Eurovision Contest the following year. Which is expensive. And a headache. And it doesn't generate much revenue. Yep, everyone participates via TV rather than visiting the host country, meaning that the money-making potential, is, quite frankly, pants.

So tell me again... why are all the entries Cruise Liner singers?!

UPDATE: The UK came last in the competition (the third time in eight years). Oh. 

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Kidnapping, passports and helmets

You might remember a few months ago, when I took Izzy on a Transatlantic flight to the U.S. via Holland?

As I was passing 'Immigration and Customs' in the US, I encountered an interrogation from a hard-as-coffin-nails looking Officer.

 Pic.No.1. "Ma'am, please put away the camera...... NOW."

"Is this your child ma'am?" he asked me, glaringly.

"She certainly is," I replied, wondering what he was getting at.

"Then why hasn't she got the same name as you?" he demanded (and even though he didn't say it, his gaze roamed from my brown hair, to Izzy's auburn hair).

"Because she's got her Father's surname," I responded, still not sure what he wanted.

"How do I know that you haven't abducted this child?" he added.

Crikey O'Bloody Reilly, it suddenly dawned on me; he thought I was kidnapping her! This could be serious.

He continued; "I need a letter from her Father, confirming that she is allowed to leave the UK."

"I haven't got one," I stuttered, "but I am her Mother, and all I'm doing is taking her on holiday."

He looked me up and down sternly, and then turned to Izzy; "Is this your Mother?" he said pointing at me.

"No," she smiled breezily as a thousand alarm bells started clanging in my head. DOOOHHH!

Izzy continued, "she is my Mummy." The alarm bells ceased as quickly as they started, and I heaved a huge sigh of relief. She had spared me from the latex gloves.

"Mmmmm ok," said Mr-Hard-as-Nails suspiciously. He thought for a moment and added, "you can go through."

We'd made it. But it wasn't at all pleasant. And then the same thing happened at Amsterdam airport on the way back. Just in case you have never been accused of kidnapping someone, I can tell you that it is extremely squirm-inducing, and as well as that, it's downright embarrassing. A whole queue of people behind you listening to the sordid details of your child abduction, and shaking their heads in disapproval.

Once I got back to the UK, I made up my mind that I was going to change Izzy's name by Deed Poll (which is the name of the legal process for doing so), to prevent further 'kidnap scenarios' from occurring.

In my mind, I imagined the Deed Poll process to be long-winded, laden with bureaucracy, and expensive. Not so! Blimey, I didn't see that coming.

All I had to do was fill in a form on the government website, pay £25.00 and bingo, her name would be changed.

The process was so easy in fact, that I got a bit distracted, and fleetingly thought it would be a great idea to change her name to something that would make her friends laugh..... like Tess Tickle, Izzy Upforit, Anne Chovie, or maybe even Faye Slift. 

Then, unusually for me (especially as I was still laughing at all the comedy combos I had created), I stopped to consider my idea a little further. Ummmmm ...... it was the equivalent of having a spider's web tattooed on your face: Funny for the first 10 minutes, but then you are stuck with the "joke" for life.

So in the end, all I did was add my surname onto her Father's surname with a hyphen. So yeh, she now has a double-barrelled surname, and at first I was a bit worried that it may sound a bit pretentious. But then I realised that nowadays, they are more associated with unmarried parents, than with the landed gentry of old.

Izzy's new passport arrived today, and since she got her little mits on it, she hasn't put it down. Yep, in her imaginary play world, that passport is now needed to get her into all the places she visits on a daily basis. Including the field where we take Naughty George for his daily drag.........

Pic.No.1. Izzy with her new passport

In fact, she only put the damn passport down once...... and that was so she could make sure that her bike helmet 'worked', which consisted of donning aforementioned helmet, and then banging her head on the patio in the back garden.

Pic.No.2. Izzy "testing" her bike helmet

Kids are weird............... If she had asked, I could have told her that it was far more efficient to test the efficacy of her helmet with a hammer, fixed size head screwdriver, and calibrated force application (thus replicating the key features of the Rockwell Hardness Test).

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

You did what? ....... camping?

Izzy was dropped off with me on Sunday evening after a weekend with her father. My head was still thudding a little from the reckless cocktail consumption on Saturday, but nevertheless I was pleased to have her back. 

"So Iz," I asked her, "what have you been up to this weekend?"

"Daddy took me camping, to somewhere called Studland Bay" she said with a big grin.

I turned to her aghast, "camping?! CAMPING?! Have you learnt nothing during our years together?"

Izzy looked at me perplexedly, adding; "it was fun."

I knelt down in front of her, took both her hands in mine, and stared into her eyes, "Izzy, you should never stay anywhere that doesn't have a Concierge. It's the golden rule."

"What's a Concierge?" she asked me innocently. 

That confirmed my fears. A weekend spent camping had virtually turned her feral. 

Tskkk. It was at that point that I heard the ping of an email arriving in my inbox. 

It was Izzy's Dad, and he had sent me lots of pictures of their weekend together..... showing them living on the floor under a sheet, and eating things that would make a billy goat puke. It was pure barbarism. 

Pic.No.1. They slept in that canvas thing. It has no bathroom or fully integrated Denon sound system

Pic.No.2. I am still not sure if this was the central heating or the cooker

Pic.No.3. They lived amongst trees like wild badgers

Pic.No.4. This is Izzy 'washing up', on the ground. OMG how did she cope?

Pic.No.5. Izzy sitting in her sand 'racing car'. That's gotta be gritty

Pic.No.6. Izzy playing ball with a chum that she met on the beach

Pic.No.7. Now we're talking - a fully pimped-up wheelchair with beach-ready wheels

Pic.No.8. Ugh, get out of the sea. It's brown and full of bits. Let's depart for St Tropez Dahlink

Vid.No.1. Ok this looks quite fun. But it doesn't mean that camping is ok

Pic.No.9. Izzy overlooking Studland Bay

It's all a little worrying. She seems to have enjoyed living off the land like a squirrel forraging for nuts. She made no complaints about the lack of convenient sanitation, high-speed wi-fi access, or a top notch sound system. And similarly, she seemed quite happy to sleep on the ground, instead of a hand-tufted pocket-sprung mattress with Egyptian cotton sheets. 

Without anyone concrete to blame, I am going to put the whole scenario down to 14 years of a labour government. Note to self: That gal needs to be retrained as soon as possible.

Monday, 24 May 2010

My sophisticated cocktail soiree - Northern style

I had my Saturday night all planned out. It was glorious sunshiney day, and I had invited my friends Sam and Clare over for some Pimms in the garden. How wonderfully British dahlink.

Not only did I have a plan, but I also had a recipe for Pimms. Me being this organised was rarer than hens' teeth, so I was pretty pleased with myself.

Pimms Recipe
Add half a bottle of Pimms to a jug
Add an equal amount of lemonade
Add fresh melon and strawberry chunks
Put loads of ice in
Shred some fresh mint, and stir into the mixture

Fabulous, all I needed to do was drive to Asda and pick up the ingredients.

When I arrived at the supermarket, it wasn't looking good. The place was heaving with people sporting sunburn, flips-flops and football shirts, and pushing trolleys packed to the hilt with charcoal, beefburgers and Diamond White.

I made my way to the alcohol aisle and that's where disaster struck. The Pimms shelf was empty. Crikey, I hadn't seen that coming - who'd have thought that the Asda regulars were the Pimms-buying type? (Ooh, did you see the Lady M come out in me then?)

I needed to improvise, and quickly, because time was ticking by. With hindsight, I should have considered that the fact that I didn't possess any knowledge of cocktails, and that my subsequent, reckless decision to invent one was probably a little ambitious. But hey! What the heck? I positively thrive on spontaneity.

Clare and Sam arrived at 8pm, and I poured them a glass of my concoction.

"Bloody hell," choked Sam as she took a sip, "this is quite strong, what's in it?"

"Peach Schnapps, Gin and lemonde," I replied adding, "but I wasn't sure how much to add of each, so I guessed."

 Pic.No.1. Clare (left) and Sam savouring my marvellous cocktail invention

Pic.No.2. That's just decadence I say, decadence

Suffice to say, once we had drunk the first glass, the cocktail ceased tasting strong enough to power a warship. This was not a good thing, and the peachy-flavoured lemonade continued to flow. 

Two hours later, my sophisticated soiree had descended into carnage; people falling off their chairs, hysterical laughter, and knocked-over glasses rolling around the table. Man alive, I seemed to have seriously mis-judged the Schnapps-to-Gin-to-Lemonade ratio.


The next morning, I was awoken by a thudding head.

"Aww man.... that hurts," I thought, rubbing my forehead.

I went downstairs to make a cup of tea, and saw my camera on the worktop. As the kettle boiled, I idly scrolled through the pictures on the tiny viewing screen.

"Bloody nora," I whispered under my breath, "at some stage last night, we appear to have made it to the White Horse Inn."

I instantly vowed to give up any form of cocktail-making in the future..... ad hoc cocktail making at least.

And just in case you were wondering........ here are the pictures that I found on my iPhone:

Pic.No.3. Clare and Sam in the White Horse Inn

Pic.No.4. Clare doing a 'moose'

Pic.No.5. Clare, Ali (centre) and Sam

Despite my dodgy cocktails, it was a rather fun night out..... thanks gals! 

P.S. have you ever accidentally done the same thing to your guests?

Update: I was taking Naughty George on his daily drag today, when I bumped into a neighbour who lives across the road. The neighbour gestured at NG and asked, "is he ok?"

"Yeah, thanks," I replied, "but why do you ask?"

"Because he was woofing late on Saturday night and we thought he might have been accidentally locked out of the house," he said.

"Oops. I actually had friends round and he probably got a bit excitable," I answered, cringeing, "I hope he didn't disturb you?"

And because my neighbour and his wife are lovely people, they assured me that Naughty George's late-night, vacuous woofings were no problem at all [note to self: get NG's vocal chords cut].

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Happy Birthday Pops ...... a flying visit

I was beavering away on my computer this week, when I heard the familiar 'ping' of an email arriving.

Hi Annie,

Dad here. I'm planning to come and visit you on Monday before we ['we' refers to my wicked stepmama, Dawn - the wicked bit is totally ironic] head down to the Mediterranean for the summer.

I should be there about 4-ish, ok? If you would like to tee up somewhere to go out for a meal (I don't know the area), we can take Izzy too.

Should be fun!

Love Dad xx

Cool, so Pops was paying me a visit, on his 59th birthday as it turns out. Any excuse for a celebration.

So before he arrives, let me tell you a bit about him, because he isn't exactly the most conventional of parents. In the olden days, he used to be a medical doctor (not a proper one like me!), and at the age of 30, decided that he was going to retire when he was 50. Which he did. So what's chap to do with years of retirement stretching out in front of him? Turn it into one bloody great adventure, that's what.

So he and wicked stepmama bought themselves a bloody great yacht to do the adventuring in, and for the last nine years, have spent six months of the year in the Isle of Man volunteering on the lifeboats, and the remaining six months bobbing on the oceans, seeing where life takes them. That's proper gnarly dude.

I have to say though, that his lifestyle has made our telephone conversations rather less than conventional.

Ring ring, ring ring.....

"Hello," answers Dad.

"Hiya, where are you?" I ask

"The Artic Circle," he replies.

"Bloody hell, what are you doing there?"

"Watching whales. One has just jumped out of the sea in front of me," he answered as though he was picking up a can of beans from the supermarket.

You get the picture. It also means that I get some cool holidays, like last year when I went sailing with them in Ibiza.

So Pops arrived at my house at 4pm, and we decided to have a cup of tea in the garden whilst waiting for Izzy to get back from school.

Pic.No.1. Dad texting like a teenage girl in my back garden

Once Izzy arrived, I decided that we were going to drive into Oxford and eat at a restaurant I have never been to before. It was called Branca and it was an Italian.

"I'll drive," I said as we left the house. 

"Nope, I'll drive," said Dad, adding, "I'm not getting into that thing, it's revolting." He motioned his hand towards my car. Admittedly, I hadn't cleaned it since....... actually, it was then that I realised that I had never cleaned it at all. And I'd bought the thing last July. Thinking about it, that is quite disgusting.

 Pic.No.2.We all jump into Dad's car. It's got leather seats. Far more civilised

Pic.No.3. The exterior of Branca, on Walton Street, Jericho

 Pic.No.4. Happy birthday, old fogey

 Pic.No.5. Branca is kid-friendly, supplying colouring books and pens to keep them entertained

Pic.No.6. Dad texting again........  "it's people wishing me happy birthday, I can't ignore 'em" was his defence

'So', I hear you cry, 'would you recommend this place Branca?' Well, first off the interior reminded me of Pizza Express, clean, modern and open plan which created a lively Italian atmosphere. The menu was also quite comprehensive, with a bigger choice of non-pizza dishes than Pizza Express.

 Pic.No.7. This burger's bigger than my head

And the food? It was good, not great, but good. Mind you, we didn't show much imagination to be fair. I ordered a rump steak and chips, and Izzy wanted a burger. Hardly staple Italian fare. The steak was cooked well, and was served with hand cut chips (a very good thing), but the chips were a little on the hard side.

 Pic.No.8. Izzy posing with a chip

Pic.No.9. Go on Iz, flash me a cheesy grin

I was half way through my steak when I realised something.
"Blimey Dad," I said, "I have just realised that next year is a biiiiiggg birthday for you. You'll be the big Six-oh."

"What about you then?" he replied, "your next birthday is the big Four-Oh."

Oh crap. I had forgotten about that.

After a very pleasant dinner, except for the bit where I realised that only a few months seperated me and middle-age, we headed back home.

Pic.No.10. Me modelling Izzy's hat. I am like a bloody clothes-horse / Zoolander

Pic.No.11.Gramps plays with Izzy in the garden as the sunsets

Once Izzy was in bed, Dad and I sat chatting about his plans.

"So where are you off to next then?" I asked him.

"Greece," he replied, "the yacht is moored there."

"How long are you going to be sailing for?"

"Probably until September," he replied, "it depends what we feel like."

I don't know, some people have a hard life.......

"But why don't you fly over to Greece and stay with us for a while?" he added.

Ah! now that does sound like a plan...... let's have a look a flights to Greece......

Where the hell is Matt?

I was moseying around some of the blogs that I follow, when I saw this video posted on Brummie Blogs and decided to nick it. Purely for your viewing pleasure you understand. Although I am a thief, I am a gentleman thief.  What ho!

Vid.No.1. Bloke goes dancing 

The theme of the video is simple. A blokes goes travelling, and at every destination, he does a little dance with the locals. But this guy has not only taken the theme, he has properly run with it.

Bring on the sunshine.......!

I had a bit of dilemma today. Firstly, I was suffering from 'Blirony', which meant I was way behind on my postings. Secondly, the sun was out and the weather was glorious. Yep, apparently the UK was experiencing hotter weather than Greece. Woo hoo! But therein lies the dilemma.

I didn't want to be sitting inside on my laptop whilst it was so lovely outside. What's a girl to do?

Pic.No.1. Set-up base camp in the garden of course

Pic.No.2. of iced lemonade.... check....magazine....check

Pic.No.3. The sun was proving too much for Naughty George

 Hell, I might even throw caution to the wind and have a barbeque later.... go girl, go.

Pic.No.4. My minging barbeque

After closer examination of the barbeque, I discounted that option. It appears that after its last use in dark, deep yester-year, I just closed the lid and left it to its fate. Oh well, toast it is then.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Bugs, Butterflies and Blenheim

So, here I am on a Thursday, still finishing the posts from last weekend. I'm a bloody disgrace. But I do have an excuse; yesterday I was struck down by a mystery illness, and you will be pleased to hear that I am tons better today.

Still on the subject of me being ill, Izzy arrived home from school today and contemplated me seriously.

"Do you still have a bug in your tummy?"  she asked.

"No, it's gone." I replied.

"Where's it gone?" she queried.

"Out of my body," I said.

"How did it get out?" Izzy persisted (grrrrrrrrr).

"Through my skin," I retorted, and then pre-empting the next question, "through the holes in my skin."

Izzy looked aghast, "through the holes in your skin? Don't the holes hurt?"

"Nope because everyone has holes in their skin, they are called pores."

Izzy studied the back of her hand intently and then looked at me, "Pores? oh ok. Once the bug has come out from your pores, where does it go?"

"Look, it doesn't matter where the flippin' bug goes," I answered in exasperation, and then, in an attempt to change the subject, asked "what did you learn at school today?"

She stared at me unwaveringly, "I learnt that birds like incest."

Classic. I didn't realise that our feathery friends had such a royalist streak.

Back to last Sunday. I decided to take Izzy to Blenheim Palace. After a previous visit to the palace with my friend Sarah, a month or two ago, I had purchased a yearly pass, meaning that entry would be FREE! Yay!

So, below is a bit of a picture-blog for you to look at.

Pic.No.1. Izzy at the gates of Blenheim Palace

Pic.No.2. My god! Who is this vision of loveliness?

Pic.No.3. Izzy mimmicking a parroty-type creature
Pic.No.4. Izzy's got balls 

Pic.No.5. On the train from the Palace to the pleasure gardens. Yep, the palace is so big, it has a train to take you to the various bits.

Pic.No.6. Izzy in a gazebo type place

Pic.No.7. The Butterfly House

Pic.No.8. Inside the Butterfly House. It was hot and sweaty and all the butterflies were black and shy, i.e. a bit rubbish

Vid.No.1. Inside the Butterfly House

Pic.No.9. Izzy at the model village

And so after all the excitement of the butterflies and train, Izzy and I finally arrived at the Blenheim Palace maze. 

I must point out that the maze at Blenheim wasn't a half-hearted, you-can-see-where-you-are-if-you-stand-up, kind of a maze. Nope this was a proper, get-yourself-lost-in-it maze. Awesome. Or so I thought.

Pic.No.10. The view from inside the maze
We threw ourselves into our exploration, and after twenty minutes of dead-ends and forked paths, we finally arrived at the centre.

Pic.No.11. Izzy surveying the maze from the tower in the centre (the view you can see is only probably 10% of the size of the maze in total... it was huge)

I turned to Izzy and smiled, "we made it, what do you think?"

"I need a wee," she replied.

Abso-bloody-lutely bloody typical. Izzy needed a wee, and the only thing standing between us and the toilet block was of course ....... silly me ....... a bloody great maze. Pah, one of those common parenting hazards.

So, with a sense of urgency, I dragged Izzy this way and that, and was met with dead ends, forked avenues and the occasional excitable youth racing his friend to the centre of the maze.

We didn't seem to be getting anywhere near to the exit.

'Surely it can't get much worse than this?' I pleaded some to unknown chap in the sky, as Izzy cried "I really need a wee".

And then the rain started. Proper rain that is.

Sacre Bleu. We ran this way and that, backwards and forwards, and I was just about to give up hope and set up base-camp until the morning, when I spotted the exit to the maze. 'Thank you unkown chap in the sky,' I breathed as we escaped.

We were wet, but we were free! Hurray. And Izzy just about got to the toilets just in time.... thankfully.

I bought Izzy an ice-lolly as reward for her stoicism, and then we sought shelter under an archway.

Vid.No.2. When I said rain, I meant rain

Pic.No.12.Once the rain eased off, we visited the adventure playground

Pic.No.13. Izzy digging for treasure

 Pic.No.14. Finish the day with a late lunch - Panninis all round

So I have just got back from putting Izzy to bed.

As I tucked her in, she stared at me earnestly, and asked, "does the bug come out of the pores on your head or your hand or your leg?"

Sacre-bloody bleu! That bloody bug needs a swipe with a sledgehammer.

"My hand," I replied, edging my way towards the door.

"Was it your left or right hand?" came the response.

"My left," I replied, adding a desperate, "goodnight" in an attempt to extricate myself from the bug discussion.

It didn't work.

"Do you have to leave a gap in the window so that the bug can escape once he has come out of your hand?" came the question [interesting - she branded the bug as a 'he', I didn't do that].

"Yes, and then the bug flies away, and I start to feel better," I responded.

"Does the bug have a mummy to go to when he gets out the window?" asked Izzy.

Bloody nora. Right that's it. This bug conversation was doing my head in. I decided to make a stance.

"No more talk about bugs, you have to go to sleep," was the best I could come up with. Lame, I know, but there is only so much a person can take.

I whispered goodnight, and slowly shut the bedroom door.

As I headed towards the stairs, I heard Izzy calling out, "what does the bug eat?"

I paused for a moment and contemplated answering her question...... but instead continued down the stairs to my bug-free zone.

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