Thursday, June 30, 2016

Day 9.172: Family, likeness

It was a grand reunion at my parents house this evening. My parents, their three children and six grandchildren all around the table together for the first time in many years. 

Also, am I the only one who sees a likeness here?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Day 9.171: Shire to shire

Yesterday, we visited an old friend in his countryside idyll in Oxfordshire. If there is one person in our lives responsible for bringing Exile #2 and me together it is this man - so he has a lot to answer for!

We went for a walk across the fields - scattered with stately homes and their follies:

Today, we traveled across the country to Cambridgeshire to spend some time with my family who are gathering here and to meet up with some of our friends from our time living in this area. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Day 9.170: The Doctor Who Experience

We had a great visit to the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff yesterday. After the initial no-cameras-allowed guided experience, we spent a hugely enjoyable hour or so looking at sets, props and costumes from every era of the show. Here are some photos (the girls took some of their own, but I haven't seen them yet).

It made us want to go and watch it all again!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Day 9.169: When in Cardiff...

...visit the outside of the still-impressive Millennium Centre:

...enjoy a view of the bay:

...and perhaps fit in a visit to this place:

More to follow on that when I have time to sort through a few photos.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Day 9.168: Cousin time

We have been a little preoccupied with this little chap today!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Day 9.167: Nephew time

We met our nephew for the first time today. We had a lovely time and a roomful of Welsh football fans had a tense but happy evening. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Day 9.166: Good friends

We woke to the shock news of the result of the Brexit vote and it cast a shadow over the first part of the day as we tried to soak up the news or avoid seeing any more news depending on our characters. Later in the day, we did a pretty good job of putting it out of our minds as we got together with our good friends B, C & D.

It had been just about two years since we last saw them (when the visited us as newly moved-in residents of Maine). Today, we were on their home turf in Abingdon where we enjoyed some outdoor dining (very European of us) and briefly visited the free museum (Abingdon County Hall Museum) - the three right and lower photos are of the inside and outside of the museum. We were sitting just across the square.

We had a lovely time, picking up - as the best of friends can - without feeling the intervening time, and were sad to say goodbye after a lovely but all-too-short visit:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Day 9.165: In the European Union

We're in the UK - which continues (for now) to be part of the EU - something that is very evident as you arrive on an international flight.  Whether that situation will continue will have been decided by votes cast today in a national referendum.

Meanwhile, we had an arrival mostly free of airport annoyances and a drive mostly unaffected by another night of bad flooding in the south of England to arrive at Exile #2's parents' house where we've enjoyed a visit to a park, a movie (not me), a run (just me) and a pub meal. 

Here are the young Exiles opening gifts (mostly justified by recent birthdays). 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Day 9.164: Interpreting nonsense - and apologising

When he gets hold of my phone but it is locked, E5N1 likes to talk to Siri. Occasionally he will say something intelligible, but often he just recites nonsense syllables until she attempts first an interpretation of what he said, and then a response.

I caught a screenshot of one recent exchange:

No Siri - I'm sorry!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Day 9.163: Father's Day artwork

Each of the kids had their own approach to Father's Day art this year - as you can see:

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Day 9.161: Exile #2's Sunday Column #112

Exile #2 writes...

After a busy day of dancing yesterday, we decided to snuggle down and watch Zootopia [a.k.a Zootropolis] together in the evening. It may have been a kids movie but it had big (and pertinent) things to say about diversity and prejudice and managed to be very funny whilst doing so. It got a thumbs up all round.

Getting up to celebrate Father's Day this morning was a bit of a struggle. Still, the young Exiles managed to present Exile #1 with cards, presents and breakfast in a slightly monosyllabic way. There was no time to hang around, however, because we had agreed to help lead a new song in church and needed some practice. But here is a picture of Exile #1 sporting his newest medal (courtesy of E5N1), one that he's been in training for for 14 years as of tomorrow (but more of that to follow...).

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Day 9.160: Dance recital day

Today was the day of Exile #3 and E5N1's dance recital. We went to the first of the two performances and it was a wonderful celebration of dance. It started with a short ballet telling of the Cinderella story (complete with tiny mice and even tinier blue birds - the youngest ballet class and the preschool pre-ballet class). This was followed by a great moment as Exile #3's hip-hop class walked on in their hoodies looking like they had come to put a stop to all the classical music and tutus, and that's just what they did. The rest of the night ranged from more hip-hop courtesy of E5N1 and his friends to a beautiful modern piece (Exile #3 again) with tap and jazz in between (the latter was an excellent number about youngsters and their mobile technology obsessions). The performance ended with the student company (Exile #3's third performance) whose floor-scrubbing 1940's-style piece that they have been performing for several months was looking quite polished (no pun intended).

After we dropped them back for the afternoon performance, we took Exile #4 to buy her belated birthday present. Actually very belated because we first intended to buy her a new bike two years ago, but she ended up with a hand-me-down instead. Yes that happened.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Day 9.159: Spring peeper

This little chap would have been almost completely invisible if he hadn't jumped to escape the lawnmower - he looked like a dry leaf among the low-green plants that pass for a lawn in places around our house (we are improving matters gradually).

Anyway, I was able to get quite close and take some photos. I guessed his identity by size, and sure enough he appears to be a spring peeper - usually heard but not seen, so this is a treat!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Day 9.158: There may be TRBL ahead...

We had a (planned) power outage at work today, which means we got sent home early - no complaints were heard on this beautiful day - also the first full day of the school vacation for the local kids (like ours). I was one of the last to leave and glanced at the alarm panel that was beeping:

The afternoon included watching the England vs Wales match in the Euro 2016 group stage. This is a difficult event for us - as I said to my Welsh wife as the game was starting - either one or both of us would be unhappy by the end. Sure enough, my prediction came true.

On a less conflicted note, there was flying:

which went rather well.

Now I have to remember that it's not the weekend yet and I need to be up for work in the morning.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Day 9.157: Mystery seed

At Scarborough Marsh on Sunday, I spotted this on the footpath. At first I assumed it was an insect cocoon of some kind, but as we discovered it was actually a seed pod.

We were not able to see where it had come from, nor have I been able to identify what it is since. I found various similar pods, but none with this kind of contents (unless its just an under-ripe one).

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Day 9.156: Bye bye middle school!

We're not done with middle school, but Exile #3 is. We had her promotion ceremony this evening - we're very proud of her, her honors medal, and that she was selected to do the program cover art for the ceremony.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Day 9.155: Vigil

I was in Portland this evening to stand in vigil with the LGBT community, faith leaders and the mayor for those in Orlando and all living in fear because of their identity. Sad but hopeful.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Day 9.154: Exile #2's Sunday Column #111

Exile #2 writes...

Exile #4's birthday celebrations continued today. We were a bit slow starting after Exile #3's late night (it was her 8th grade promotion dance - very glamorous she looked too), but we managed to make it to church, just in the nick of time. By lunchtime, we had all woken up fully, so we went back to Sea Dog Brewing at Exile #4's request. I had a very tasty lobster roll, my first of the year, but both of the young female Exiles amazed and horrified us in equal part by ordering chocolate chip pancakes, followed by a chocolate soufflé. Any other day Exile #1 and I would have raised a protest but on this special occasion we just shook our heads and left them to it.

This afternoon, Exile #1 and I left our soon-to-be high schooler in charge and went for a blustery and bracing walk across Scarborough Marsh. It is very pretty at the moment, with new grey-green grasses replacing the winter brown and a variety of spring flowers in the hedgerows. We saw plenty of egrets and what may have been a whole family of glossy ibis.

We didn't stay out too late, though, wanting to encourage everyone to bed at a reasonable hour. Unbelievably, we have just two and a half days left and then school's out for summer.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Day 9.153: Boom - birthday girl!

Exile #4 is twelve! We had a good day including a cake, a birthday outing, some relaxation time and some TV watching and game-playing - all seems pretty appropriate really!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Day 9.152: Gotta catch 'em all

It's Exile #4's birthday tomorrow. This (found on Google Photos) amused me today:

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Day 9.151: Nursery web spider

I spotted this nursery web spider when I nearly stepped on it walking across the work parking lot this morning. Also known as: Pisaurina mira.

"Mira" means wonderful or astonishing. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but I'm glad I didn't step on it!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Day 9.150: Fun

It's a slow news day here, which may be newsworthy in itself at this time of year when every day seems to be special for at least one of the kids in one way or another. Although calling a day newsworthy for not being newsworthy is a bit like the interesting number paradox.

Anyway, in an attempt to search for something fun to post I typed "fun" into the search on Google photos and this came up (from around one year ago in preparation for the end-of-year dance show) - enjoy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Day 9.149: Trails: wet again

When I first ran the trails in Clifford Park while Exile #4 was at her karate class, there was snow on the ground. That was six weeks ago. The next week it was very wet, and then each week after that it got a little drier each time.

I missed last week but today, after three days of sporadic heavy rain, it was definitely wetter again. That makes the trails a bit trickier for running, but does make the waterfall more impressive!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Day 9.148: Kennebunk Beach Classic 5K

Not much to report from my race yesterday. Conditions were close to perfect for this time of year - cloudy, a bit of sea fog, maybe 60 °F. The course is fast - a few small rolling hills during the second half, but nothing too drastic.

I was maybe 30 seconds off my ideal time but considering the short period of time I had to recover fully from the marathon and then start to get some training in, I'll call it a success. I was seventh across the line (5th male) - and fifth male in the age-graded results (after removing the three fastest overall). The age graded results were dominated by fast older people and fast teenagers, so it was good to represent for the not-too-old guys!

As I mentioned in my editor's note yesterday, I won a gift card spinning the lucky Dunkin' Donuts wheel. The young lady who was supervising it was a real ambassador for the company - keeping her enthusiasm and cheering every spin and every prize from young and old alike for at least two hours:

That job is not my idea of fun - I was much happier running the race!