Thursday, 31 December 2015

Cambridge (Saturday 19th September 2015)

Before the summer, Tom had been invited (via his school) to go to five Saturday maths classes at Queens College, Cambridge. One other kid from his school was at this particular set of classes - his friend Eddie (who turned out to be Lucy's English teacher's son, we realised on the very last session!) We took it in turns with Eddie's parents to take the boys.
This was their second class, and Scott and I dropped off the boys, then had a morning in Cambridge by ourselves. (Lucy was looking after Harry, and Jack had gone gliding.)

I was emailed the photo below, by the organisers. Tom said he really enjoyed himself.

It was gorgeous weather, and Scott and I started off with a little wander round Queen's College itself. Here's Mathematical bridge, built originally in 1749. It was made with all straight timbers, built to an unusually sophisticated engineering design, which is where it got its name.

The place is just gorgeous.

We walked into the main part of Cambridge after that, and were asked if we wanted to go on a punting tour for half price (£10 each). It was still quite early, so they were trying to fill the first tours of the day. We paid, but there was still a bit of time to kill before the tour, so we went and had breakfast in McDonalds.

We met back up with one of the tour guides, who walked our group of 12 down to the river, and after waiting around for a bit, got us into our punt.
The tour was great! We went through all the beautiful bits of Cambridge, and our guide was an A Level kid who was very amusing, and told us loads of interesting stuff about Cambridge.
The place is just so lovely, and posh! Part of me would love to be a part of it all!

The Bridge of Sighs!

On our way back to the starting point, it began to get busier - I think we timed our tour well!

Scott and I then went for a walk along the river in the opposite direction for a bit, then came back to Queen's College for another look around. It was nice just being allowed in through the porter's lodge, because we had kids doing the classes!

There was a wedding going on too!

Picking up the boys afterwards and heading back to the car.

Tom with his head out the window going down the hill on the way home!
What a really great morning!

First Half of September 2015

On Wednesday 2nd September, Scott was at work, and I went to Tesco. While I was away, I'd ordered a couple of vegetarian and vegan cook books, to try and increase the amount of vegetables we eat. I don't think Scott had eaten particularly healthily while he was at home on his own either, so I bought rather a large amount of fruit and veg!!

Harry went back to school on 3rd September, and the older kids went back on Monday 7th. Lucy had to let the school know on 3rd September which subjects she would be carrying on with for her A Levels. She chose Politics, History and Biology, dropping English. It was also Lucy's 3rd Diabirthday - her 3rd anniversary of getting diabetes.

Wednesday 9th September - bought myself some gorgeous flowers.

Also on the 7th I gathered together all my new craft stuff... I had ordered quite a bit of stuff while I was in France, so it was like Christmas when I got back! I'd also got some dies and stamps from Karen Burniston.

Also on the 7th, I tried out something I'd seen on Pinterest - baked pears - they were pretty good!

On Tuesday 8th September, I met up with Jo Blackhurst at her Mum and Dad's farm, for the auction of all their farm equipment. They recently sold their farm to our Church Farms - saw Ben Conway there too. I had a chat with Jo's Mum who was a little emotional. It must be strange to see everything being sold.

After the indoor lots, we went out into the fields for all the large machinery. Jo wanted to bid on a drive-on lawn mower (I think her parents had offered to give it to her, but Richard said they'd bid.)
Me perusing the catalogue! (I clearly looked the part, because someone asked me if I was married to a farmer!)

Jo and I hovered by the lawnmover, making jokes about scaring everyone else from bidding on it! She ended up being the only person to bid on it! I left not long after that.

On Thursday 10th September, Jo and Donna came round for a while with Donna's puppy, Loki.
We had milkshakes in my lovely new little milk bottles, then sat in the sunshine in the garden, while Loki went nuts.

On Saturday 12th, we used my box maker to make some boxes for Harry to colour in and make into a Minecraft character. He was very proud of it!

In the evening, I took Lucy and Jack to Cambridge for a Multi-Stake youth dance. Keely Watling, Scott's cousin was there, and she got all the Cryer/Watling girls together for a photo.
I spent most of the dance chatting in the Chapel with Grant, Keely's husband. He had applied to be a Fire Fighter when he was younger, and got through to the final interview, but had ended up arriving at the interview late, so didn't get in! We had a really good chat anyway.

On Sunday 13th September, Tom was set apart as the Deacon's Quorum President, with responsibility for looking after the other 12-13 year old boys at church. I'm proud of how he has taken his responsibilities seriously.
Also after church on 13th, Lucy, Scott and I met with Patriarch Wade, and after having a talk with him about Patriarchal Blessings, Lucy received hers. It was a lovely blessing, which meant a very great deal, and will continue to throughout Lucy's whole life.
In the evening we had a youth Fireside in Northampton, and I was the final speaker. I think the talk went well. I wanted to speak to the youth about my experience with the Book of Mormon over the summer, and also other aspects of my testimony. One of the Malzone twins came up to me afterwards and said he had enjoyed my talk, but it made him cry!

Harry's school friend, Henry Wakefield, came for tea on the 16th September.

Travelling back to England (1st September 2015)

On Tuesday 1st September, we got up early, packed away our bedding, covered the beds, took care of the last few things, then drove to St. Malo to catch our ferry home.
It takes just under two hours and went smoothly. It was a bit cloudy in places, but the light was really gorgeous and made everywhere look pink. Lucy and I said we should get up early more often in France and drive around taking photos.
We got through the ferry check-in fine, much to my relief after last year's turning-up-a-day-early fiasco!
It's still a big deal for me to do all this stuff on my own, including driving onto the ferry, but it was all easy enough, and we were soon in our first class cabin for our 8 hour journey.
They had left macaroons and fruit for us again!

I absolutely love this view of St. Malo.

Lucy and I left the boys watching telly in the cabin for a bit to come and read on deck.

I started reading 'All the Light We Cannot See', which has St. Malo on the cover! It's so much better reading about a place when you have been there and can visualise it!

One of the telly channels shows the camera view out the front of the boat. Here are the kids, with Lucy waving, right down at the bottom of the screen.

The journey is pretty easy with our own cabin. I even had a bit of a nap. As we neared Portsmouth, we left the cabin with all our stuff and went on the front deck. We looked at all the battleships, and I got chatting with a woman coming back from holiday with her family too. We stayed on deck for as long as possible, and had to get in the car quick, as we were next to drive off!

We just drove straight home from Portsmouth, and met up with Scott at McDonalds, and had a nice tea together!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Last week in France (23rd - 31st August 2015)

On Sunday 23rd August, we went to church for Sacrament Meeting, then managed to find the little lane which we had seen at the end of one of our Sunday walks in May - the furthest we had reached on our walks out from Auray. Jack looked at maps on his phone and worked out which road he thought it was, and directed me - we were pretty chuffed to find it! Everyone felt quite tired and didn't want to walk very far, but I said we should keep walking to the next road, so we could start our next walk from that point. It ended up being miles, right round a whole bay!

Looking across the bay area.

There were lots of gorgeous wooden walkways, which are so nice to walk on! The kids perked up a bit as we walked.

Another beautiful house just tucked away.

Finally reaching the road on the other side!!

...then heading back again!

The kids waiting for me and Tom, near the lane. Good progress made on our walk!

It had been lovely weather on our walk, but back at Bel-Air it started to rain.

I let the boys stay out!

On Monday the 24th, we mainly hung around the house, and while I was browsing books on Amazon, I saw this one, on the front of which I recognised one of my cards! (The bottom right-hand one...) I realised that the book by Stephanie Barnard of Sizzix for which I was paid to make a load of cards last year, was finally published! I'd just thought the book wasn't going ahead, as I'd never heard any more about it, so I got a real kick out of seeing it on Amazon! It was due on sale in September.

Also on the 24th, the kids I were driving to Super U, and decided to stop off in Josselin on the way for a quick run up the bell tower. We thought we'd be brave and navigate the one way system through the town, guessing our way to the square next to the church. (We may have gone the wrong way down one of the one way streets!)
Our car from the top.

The 25th was another quiet day, again not great weather. Here's Harry playing on my phone in my room, listening to classical music which I downloaded to my Kindle.

On Tuesday 26th it was still raining, but we decided to go for a picnic anyway. The idea was that we would just drive randomly, and try to out-drive the rain!
Stopping off next to the sign in Radenac (or Radeneg in Breton), so the kids could be 'rad'!!

After driving for ages (and not recognising any of our route), we realised it was basically raining everywhere, so we began the search for a nice spot to park and have our picnic in the car. What a laugh! We ended up driving for ages more, because the lanes were either too narrow to stop, or we would be stopping on the edge of a junction or somewhere not very scenic.
In the end, after having to reverse back down someone's private drive, we stopped in this boggy field in the middle of nowhere!

No wonder the car is a total crumby mess! The best 'worst picnic' ever!

The next day (Wednesday 27th) was the Poulton kids' last day in France. Bev was taking them home. It was still raining, so the kids played indoors, and we worked on a jigsaw we found in Mum and Dad's room.

When it was time for them to go, there were very fond farewells! I can still picture Hollie shouting 'Jack!!!' at the top of her voice and flinging herself, arms outstretched, at him!

Annabelle's turn.

All the kids.

Waving them off...

Then Harry, who had been strongly resistant to doing the puzzle, got stuck in and helped finish it off.

Finally a red sky at night, making us hopeful of better weather the next day.

On Thursday 28th, the weather was wonderful at last, so we took advantage and headed of the bouncy castle place. We made sure we got there pretty early to beat the crowds. We enjoyed seeing all the additions to the park, including this new hill! It was great fun going down it in tires!

During an enforced no-screen time, Harry had made this Minecraft figure, and bought him along.

The boys spent ages on the go-karts, as usual...

Me lying in our usual spot, enjoying a new book.

This slide was new too!

Me having a go.

In the new goat enclosure. I found that the goats liked eating acorns, so gathered a load up for them.

After the bouncy castle place, we decided to stop off in Auray for an ice cream. We ended up on the other side of the river from where we usually go, and luckily recognised where we were (up near the sports stadium), and quickly pulled in to a car park there. Again, I was really chuffed at our bravery to do scary new French stuff!
We went for a quick run up the tower near the sports stadium.

We then walked down the steep zig-zagging path to the river, and got some ice creams.

My best flavour combination so far - Brownie and Passion Fruit.

Walking up the other hill to the car.

Saturday 29th August was another very happy day. Although it didn't look like ideal weather we decided we'd like another day at the beach, and the kids all agreed we should go to the same beach as last time - at Sarzeau.
We arrived fairly early again, and set up camp. We had another lovely day, with the kids splashing around for ages, and me reading and looking for sea glass.

We liked watching the groups of 'sea walkers' going past, and I was tempted to tag onto the back of one of the larger groups!

Lucy made my packed lunch baguette... 'M-Dawg'...

Afterwards we went for a walk round the Chateau de Suscinio. The kids were quite happy to stick with tradition!

I love seeing the kids all in a lump together like this!

That night I watched a film on my laptop, and then saw the most enormous spider on the floor near the window. I couldn't manage to catch it and it went under the bed. I'm not normally bothered by spiders, but this one was enormous. I waited with the lights on for a while hoping it would reappear so I could catch it, but it never did. I messed around taking pictures on my phone while I was waiting.

Sunday 30th September was our last time at Vannes Branch for church, and Ken was giving a talk. It was a good talk, but it amused me that there was an Englishman who had prepared a talk in French (though he wanted to speak for a bit in English at the beginning and had to get the English speaking French Branch President to translate), so there was Ken speaking in French, and we had to listen to the talk translated back into English again by an American missionary!!

After church we managed to find the road which we had walked to last Sunday, by a golf course. We parked up, and had lunch while the kids looked for little crabs.

Then we began walking again. Jack had been looking at maps of the coast line on his phone, and said that at the rate we are going it will take 20 years to actually walk all the way out to sea! (Which is my goal, and which I keep thinking will happen around each corner!)
That night on Facebook, I told Scott about the conversation the kids and I had afterwards about the walk:
''Jack says we could do our future walks on the other side of the estuary. It should only take 4 years that way. We did a family vote on it, and they all voted for the long way except me, then they all burst out laughing and said they're going on missions, and it was just a vote to make you and me have to do it all... Unless you pay them, or something (I'm dictating from Lucy here) for emotional damage, for teaching them poor life lessons such as not going the extra 60 miles, and giving up at the first hurdle, and it wasn't a democracy first time round, and I'm trying to impose dictatoral values on them, and Lucy's reading 1984, so she should know. I'm the Big Brother of this family apparently, and they are the Lower Party members. (She is now monologuing on thought crime etc. I think we should stop her from doing A level politics, or reading anything ever again.)''

Scott's reply made me laugh!
''Helen Flinn Cryer, tell Lucy Cryer that as the head of this particular anarcho-quasi autonomous commune, I've taught her an important life lesson by painting the inside of the cabin red, white and black and putting posters of Wayne Rooney everywhere. If she wants it changed back she's going to have to table a motion and get a two thirds majority at a public vote, held at our next bi-weekly meeting of the People's representatives.''

Anyway, we had a nice walk, seeing new places again.

We walked through some woods, some boat yard areas, then out to a wide open area.

We reached this little beach, and saw that we wouldn't be able to get any further next time. Not sure where we will pick up the walk next year!
Harry fell in love with this little area - he liked the houses on the opposite shore.

Heading back.

I loved this boat yard!

Figs growing next to the path.

On Monday 31st August, we spent the day cleaning and getting everything as packed up as possible, with all the cases etc in the car. It wasn't too bad, and the kids were good.