Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Stake Fun Day (June 2012)

On Saturday 30th, we went to Stanwick Lakes with other families from church for a picnic.
We made a chocolate cake to take with us.
 Lucy in a fit of laughter (for reasons unknown...)
We got to the meeting-up place first. (Should have taken some 'after' photos when the place was packed to prove we weren't Billy-no-mates!) It was nice just hanging out with friends and chatting.
The cake looked a bit the worse for wear after being in the sun a while!
Tom and Harry enjoying the water area.
Jack and Tom playing with lots of church friends.

Tom at Burwell

From 27th till 29th June, Tom went on his first stay-away school trip to Burwell, in Cambridgeshire.
He and his friends stayed in dorm rooms, and did loads of different activities in the day times. He said the food was great, and that he had a brilliant time!
Tom with his friend William.
I have this random picture from 28th June... We had a load of plants on the path waiting to be planted in the garden. I had loved the flowers and scented air of Italy, and decided that I wanted lots of scented  plants in our garden too. I bought jasmine, honeysuckle, scented roses, lavender, geraniums, lilies (and snap dragons for fun!)

Stake Conference Weekend (June 2012)

On Saturday 23rd June, Harry lost his first tooth!! Here he is with his lovely gap (nearly as big as the natural gap he has between his top front teeth!)
On Saturday evening, Liz Knight and I met up at church, and I drove us to the evening session of Stake Conference, in Northampton. All the sisters were asked to come up and sing at one point, by Elder Larry Kacher of the Third Quorum of the Seventy, who was presiding.

On 24th it was the Sunday session of Stake Conference. Lucy, Jack and I were all in the Stake Youth Choir, who sang two variations of hymns during the meeting, 'Praise to the Man' and 'I Need Thee Every Hour'. (Actually we ended up singing two extra hymns on the spur of the moment, at the request of Elder Kacher again. I think he likes getting people to sing!)
This was a picture taken of our choir at a dress rehearsal, with Holly Carter our choir leader.
It was a great experience anyway - we all really enjoyed it.

Taking part in the Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival (Saturday 16th June 2012)

As well as the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Picnic, it was a pretty busy week - I had a meeting on Wednesday night, a Stake council meeting in Northampton on Thursday night, a choir practice on Friday night, and on Saturday, Scott and I took part in the annual Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival, as part of the AgReserves (our church farms) team.

Harry had gone to stay with Anna Conway for the day, and Lucy, Jack and Tom hung around our sponsor tent, (hoping it would stay up in the crazy wind!) with various other people from our ward.
Our team did three races in total. There were three boats in each. In our first race we came last, in the next race we came second, and then the team leader for our last race actually taught us how to row properly! We won our last race with a really good time, and though we were really proud of ourselves, we were gutted that we hadn't known what to do properly earlier! There were 27 teams altogether, and we came 10th, so didn't make it into the top 9 who went into the finals.
We were all really keen to do next year's Festival, and with our newly found skills, confident we could do brilliantly! (Our best time wasn't far short of the Army's team - pretty good seeing as we had some OAP's and a couple of girls on the team!)
Ben Conway and I were the pace setters in the front. Scott was in the 4th row on the far side.
(I didn't get pictures from anyone who we knew there, but these pictures were on a local newspaper's website.)
The kids all enjoyed themselves, and were pleased to be allowed to keep their AgReserves wooly hat and T-shirt. (Our team uniform wasn't really as exciting as those of the Pirate or Smurf teams...)

In the evening I helped run the Seminary Graduation Dance held in Bedford - with slightly achey arms...

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Picnic - Burghley House (13th June 2012)

Scott, Lucy and Jack went back to work/school the day after our road trip, and Harry and Tom went back on Tuesday 12th. 
The next day Scott and I took the kids to school, then headed off to Burghley House, near Stamford, to attend the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Picnic. We had been given tickets (invitation only) through Scott's work.
It was quite posh (in a British, Wellington Boot kind of way), and it was rather nice wandering through the park in a floaty long dress and glittery jewelry (me, not Scott!)
We had our picnic, then went off to look around. There was a big bandstand, and various other tents and displays.
We ended up near a barrier not too far from Burghley House, where there weren't many people, but it ended up being a great spot, as not too long after, the Queen's helicopter arrived and landed directly opposite us. We saw the Queen getting out (she is dressed in turquoise), and then walking to the House.
By then everyone had headed over to the barrier, and we realised the Queen would drive along past us. There was a really nice atmosphere - very cheerful and patriotic!
Scott took the picture below... I didn't get a picture directly of the Queen - I was too busy waving!
The Queen then went to the tented area of the park, and Scott and I settled ourselves in an open area of the park, ready for the Red Arrows, and The Blades, who were later on the programme.
The aerial displays were fantastic! The pictures below of are of The Blades - who are all former Red Arrow pilots.
I'm always a bit nervous when they fly so close to each other...
We decided to head home afterwards, and wandered back to the car park. We were in the sports car, with the roof down, and as we slowly went up the long stately driveway, a couple of beautiful old planes (a spitfire plus something else) were flying, and kept crossing right over our heads! It was wonderful!! Warm weather, car with a great view, exhilarating planes, just Scott and I, end of a pleasant day - perfect moment!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

European Road Trip Days 11 & 12 - Driving Home via Annecy & Paris (Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th June)

We set off from the chalet, and drove through some lovely scenery - hills, towns, winding roads, and tunnels, on our way to Annecy. It's one of my brother and sister-in-law's favourite places, so I wanted to stop off at the lake there, just for a little bit.
We didn't have any definite plan - I just hoped that we would find somewhere that was easy to stop off at, along the main road that skirts the lake. At lots of points you can see the lake from the road, but we eventually turned down a side road which we hoped would lead to a quieter, more picturesque spot. We were totally lucky and found the perfect spot!!
The kids at the end of the little pier. The water is just such a lovely colour here!
Happy memories of just sitting and enjoying the sunshine, and the gorgeous view.
(... and getting wet of course...)
There was a large grassy area too, where we had a picnic lunch. (Though couldn't find a toilet that was open.)
The kids trying to dry out quickly before going back to the car...
We then had the long drive to the outskirts of Paris and our last hotel. The journey was fine - pretty uneventful. We had been quite looking forwards to this hotel, as on paper it was posher than our other ones, and had an indoor swimming pool, and evening meal in the restaurant. We did look fairly out of place traipsing in with our 3 million suitcases and the usual rubbish, and our bad French, but it wasn't really anything that special, and our meal was mediocre (and we had some language barriers trying to figure out which items on the menu came in our 'package' etc.) The kids didn't show us up too much (!) - they were the only kids in the place, though by the end of it we were all feeling in a bit of a silly mood!
After dinner we all went down to the pool - the thing the kids had really been looking forwards to, though felt a bit daft running back to our rooms soaking wet afterwards!
I shared a room with Lucy and Jack.
View from our balcony.
The next morning, we had a great buffet breakfast - there was everything you could think of, then we got all our stuff packed back into the car for the last time.
It was strange to be driving so close to Paris and not actually stopping off there, though once you start to head home, you just want to get on with the journey.
We took the Euro Tunnel, and stopped off at a McDonalds for lunch once back in England. It felt quite odd to be back in England really, and I don't think we felt particularly at home... certainly not that glad to be back. We felt very united though - by a million new and brilliant memories of all the wonderful things we have seen and done this trip!

Friday, 22 March 2013

European Road Trip Day 10 - French Alps (Friday 8th June)

We were staying in the chalet for two nights, and had scheduled in more of a rest day for today, after the busy pace of the last few days. It was not that great weather, and we woke to clouds covering most the mountains.
We decided to go on one of the hikes starting from the chalet, which the chalet owner had recommended to us. I took this photo of a map on the wall, and we figured that we could use that to follow.
Setting off through the meadow... Our legs were totally soaked within about 30 seconds!
We followed a track up the mountain for quite some way.
After a while the path we thought we should take was cordoned off (and we weren't 100% sure we were in the right place anyway, and the cloud was getting pretty low), so we decided not to go any higher up the mountain, and went back to a stream we had crossed, and played there for a while, making a dam.
In the afternoon we drove to a larger town to find a supermarket to get food for tea, and for the next day. We'd seen signs to a Super U, but when we found it, it wasn't open - it had had a fire! When we stay in France in the summers, we always go to Super U, and never the Intermarche or other supermarkets... We had to go to the Intermarche now though, and the kids were very disgruntled about it! They reckoned that the evil Intermarche had plotted to burn down Super U...
Anyway, after we had shopped, the car wouldn't start!! It had done the same thing the day of the Youth hike in Bedfordshire, and after a while it had just started up again. Scott had taken it to a garage, and they hadn't found anything. So we left the car for a while before trying to start it again a few times, but no joy.
We ended up calling our breakdown cover people. While we were waiting for someone to come, we speculated about what would happen. Because our garage hadn't been able to find anything wrong, we wondered if the breakdown people would either, and getting it fixed at a garage here in France might take a few days if they had to order parts or anything! We were wondering if the chalet would be free to rent for a few more days... The other option would be to be recovered back to our house in England. (I was visualising us all in a breakdown truck travelling all the way back through France and England!) We had got resigned to these outcomes - saying that we were lucky to have had almost all our holiday before the car broke.
The kids waiting in the car!
While this was going on, another Chrysler Voyager had also broken down in the same car park! The guy who owned it had actually come across to us, to ask if we could come and jump start him or something... we had to explain we couldn't start our car either!! (Not a great advert for Chryslers! - though we do love ours...) Here was his car being taken away!
Anyway, after a while our breakdown guy arrived, and within about 5 seconds of having the bonnet open, had got the car started! He explained that a wire to the starter motor had got loose, and just needed wiggling into place a bit, and for us to get the connection replaced once we were back home.
That was an interesting supermarket trip anyway!
We spent the rest of the evening just chilling out in the chalet.