Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Water Weekend

For the past few weeks, the boys and I have had a routine of going to the Traiteur Deli to buy some snacks, some running & sliding at the SHAPE park, geocaching and finally a visit to the Imagipark indoor soft-play. It's a chance for the boys and I to hangout while Siobhan did some homework.

To change it up this past weekend, we went to the beach at Ostende for a splash around and a dig in the sand on Saturday. It took us about 90 minutes to get there and although Brendan wasn't very keen at first, he was totally in his element once we arrived.

On Sunday, we went to the older pool in Cuesmes which we haven't been to in a while. The thing I love about this older pool is that there are not many distractions so the boys love playing and making things up in their own little world.

Tadhg in front of the mural making 'noise'.

Our little Octonaut.

"Hey Dad, watch me jump"!

The splash zone.

Diving for rings.

Trying to get a 2yr old to wait until you're ready with the camera is impossible.

If anyone is looking for a decent camera for around the pool or lake, I can highly recommend the KODAK Z3 Sport. Great quality for the price. Thanks for the good steer Paul.

So all in all, is was a great weekend of splashing around while Siobhan got herself prepared for an interview with her first potential client as a doula. Good luck.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Cloudspotting through car windows

An evening at Paradisio Park including a picnic supper.

Messy Monday

Speaking to Daddy on the phone

Rainbows after a storm

I was totally absorbed in reading about Mirella Ricciardi's fascinating life this morning when I looked up and noticed that a suspicious quiet had descended on the house. I went upstairs to find Tadhg in the sink having a whale of a time. I had to run for the camera :) He snuck away with an unopened bottle of shampoo the other day and managed to open it and squirt it around the living room. What fun to be two!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Garden Update

Yesterday was a 'significant' afternoon for us. It was the first time we had used several different vegetables from the garden to make our supper and not just one or two types of vegetables as a side dish or ingredients.

So here was the menu... Siobhan and the boys picked 5 ears of corn which we ate off the cob and were delicious. Tadhg sneakily picked some green tomatoes when he was supposed to be watering so I found a recipe for fried green tomatoes. Siobhan harvested our first kohlrabi and whipped up a white sauce. And the main dish was vegetable rissoles made with onions and courgette with a little carrot and potato from the cupboard. There might be potatoes soon but the carrots are still no bigger than a crayon.

Here's a picture from last week. Finally, all our effort is starting to pay off.

A few of Siobhan's notes from the garden...

-grow courgette (zucchini) again, it's wonderful and they taste great raw in salads.
-find out how to grow salad leaves without a bitter taste.
-the rooster is crowing in the mornings, he'd better not get too much louder or he might make it back onto the dispatch list.
-find summer squash recipe ideas- there is a distinct glut in the kitchen supplies here.
-and start giving them away
-get more jars, there are going to be seriously huge numbers of tomatoes soon (we have about 25 plants)
-buy bottled water (arghhh) or try sterilizing jars in the oven- the amount of calcium in the water is beyond belief (not that we mind, we drink it, but it sticks to the jars and looks horrid)
-next time pay attention to avoid planting bush beans for a tipi, you can't just will them to grow upwards.
-don't discard squash plants with broken stems- I discarded one when transplanting but experimented with a second and just stuck the two ends together and planted it deep- it's now the strongest and most productive of the lot!

All these strawberries are not from our garden, surprisingly enough, but from a local farm. We made two batches of jam and frooze the remainding strawberries. After processing/canning, we made 15 jars.

The "Sky Buzzard" Takes To The Air

Two Christmas' ago, Siobhan and the boys gave me a 24" scale balsa wood model of a Laird Super Solution to build. It was supposed to be a relaxing venture with the idea of the finished model becoming a hanging display once completed (6 months tops).

Well, here I am... 19 months later and it's done. Framed and glued, tissued and doped, painted and decaled. And raring for a test flight... or at least I thought so.

During test flight No. 1, the wind picked up, she winged over, but I managed to catch her. Obviously too much lift. With some elevators (from a butchered cereal box) installed and pitched down, test flight No. 2 went okay. Going with the old saying, 'third time lucky'... she tumbled to the ground and crunch! The spar cracked, tissue ripped and a flying career devastated.

Okay, a bit dramatic but I'm sure I had visions of it flying gracefully amongst the white puffy clouds and blue skies.

All said and done, it did take a while but it was relaxing, plugging away at it 1-2 hours nightly here and there. So now my 24" Sky Buzzard is hanging (in one piece) above the computer in all her glory.

As a point of interest, the Laird "Super Solution" was designed and built for the Cleveland Speed Foundation in the 1930's as the sport of air racing entered its Golden Age. Piloted by Jimmy Doolittle, it had a top speed of 265 mph and raced in several events such as the 2450 mile Coast to Coast and the Bendix Trophy Race.

Here's a picture of a replica Super Solution flying at the 2002 Oshkosh. What a beauty.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Uncle Paddy

Brendan and Tadhg love having Uncle Paddy here. And he's been great help, when he isn't sleeping. He's working in the Irish Bar in Mons and seems to be enjoying it, despite the all nighters and lack of sleep. The money is good and he has someone else paying his rent in Glasgow so he's saving a bit for his forthcoming trip to Greece and Italy.

Here they are watching a movie.

On a walk in the woods. We had to wait by the train tracks for the next train.

The huge crater in Bois de Ghlin- we don't know how it formed but we have a couple of theories. When googling in french, it's very hard to zoom in on the exact information you are looking for!

Paddy staying up late to build with lego. Such fun when you haven't done it for years.

Uncle Paddy will be missed when he goes :(

He's also a handy babysitter:) Steve and I are off out tonight on a surprise date. (Surprise for him that is, my idea.)

Buxom Mamma

Coming home from somewhere the other day I had a hard time keeping my eyes on the road because there were some spectacular cloud formations around. As I drove over the (relatively) high ground towards home I had a great view in all directions and could see a few mighty thunderstorms in the making. I stopped the car on a quiet road at one point and watched a lovely big cumulonimbus growing at some speed. I did think "oh, I wish I had my camera" but quickly stomped on that thought and resolved to take a memory photo instead. Anyway, as I got closer to home I drove under one of these big clouds and as I stepped out of the car I looked up and saw these mamma clouds right above the house. I ran in, grabbed the camera and called the others to come out and have a look. I love the way the boys react sometimes when I get excited about something natural. Sometimes I overdo my excitement on purpose, hoping to instill in them a deep, unshakeable love and respect of awesome natural things, but on this day I didn't need to fake it. I WAS in AWE. WOW! Of course, the photo doesn't do it justice at all.
I have seen big storms like this before, most notable in the Sri Lankan monsoon and that huge storm that rolled over me while on a beach in Vietnam that I will never forget. It was not long after Granny died and I was travelling around in a daze, looking for adventure to give me a kick in the backside. The storm was so powerful and kind of scary but I stood rooted to the spot and didn't run for cover with everyone else until it was too late- I was soaked but totally invigorated. That was a serious spirit lifting few minutes. Anyway, this one was slightly less wild but the mamma clouds were particularly impressive and the fact that they surprised me by how close they were and that my kids were with me made the feeling all the more intense.

Here's another shot in the other direction- just a tiny hint at the views I was seeing on the road and the way the light was playing in the sky.
Just looked up mamma clouds in my cloudspotter book. Mamma is from the Latin for 'breasts' and they look like a "field of smooth, globular udders". They form on the underside of different cloud types but are at their most impressive "when wed to a mighty cumulonimbus". Funny, I used the word mighty too. It also says, "the more powerful the cumulonimbus, the more buxom the mamma." Obviously written by a man :)

Hoping for more storms over the hot summer months.

First stop on a European adventure

Good friends but not enough time. But we'll take what we can get! Lindsey and Matt are in Europe for a few weeks and we were their first stop. It was lovely having them here-we were so busy just being and chatting together that we took very few photos.
The kids having porridge in the morning.

We went to Parc Paradisio one day. We didn't do anything touristy and maybe we should have, but I think it was a nice slow intro to their European adventure, that I hope set them up for the next couple of weeks of travel and hotel living.

And here are a few photos taken by Brendan.

Lindsey is starting midwifery school in September. We snatched a few hours here and there to share our thoughts about birth and midwifery. I'm a tiny bit jealous but can't wait to hear how it's going when she starts. She is going to be the most wonderful, calm and caring midwife and I love thinking about all the lucky women who are going to have Lindsey around to help them have empowering, gentle births.