Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Rain, rain, go away

It is raining.  Again.  It rained yesterday, it will rain tomorrow.

The cricket is off.  Chester-le-Street is under so much water that the Twenty20 international with South Africa was called off yesterday evening.  This means that we won't meet up with my dad, who was going to return the various objects we'd left at his house a couple of weeks ago, but instead have an extra 24 hours of husband at home and dozens of boxes to unpack.  And nowhere to put everything: we desperately need storage space, bookshelves and a kitchen twice the size of the one we've got.

So no travel today.  Just boxes.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

In memorium

We are on the train home to Newcastle and get a moment of internet connection.

Zambia's President, Levy Mwanawasa, has died.  He was taken ill at the AU congress in Egypt a few weeks ago and died this morning.  He was 59.

I am sad for the country and its people.  He had been ill a long time, but his stand against corruption was admirable.  He was also one of the few African leaders who spoke out against Mugabe.  He wasn't perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but I suspect he left a better, more stable and economically strong country than when he first took office in 2001.

There will have to be an election.  There was a prophecy at the time of the last election in 2006 that he wouldn't survive the term, that a new leader would have to be found.  It has come true, unexpectedly saddening the end of our family holiday.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Summer? Where did that go?

The husband has two weeks off.  We've moved house, can't afford a proper holiday so visit the grandparents.

My father graciously lets me borrow his car, firstly so we can go to a friend's wedding and then to drive around York.  We visit Beningborough Hall (in the rain) which my sister assures me we went to as children, but I'll be blowed if it is at all familiar to me.  We visit my Gran (avoiding rain: she's indoors) and somehow manage to catch her arm as Number2 child jumps down from her knee.  A gaping hole appears, blood rushing up, a large flap of skin on her forearm.  The lady at the home comes and slaps a plaster on it (no cleaning the wound, I note) but the most noticeable thing to me is just how thin a 95-year-old's skin really is.

We visit my oldest friend, in years known rather than age (and in the rain, of course), who's just had a baby and probably my second-oldest friend (we went to the park and saw hot air balloons: perhaps the only moment it didn't rain?).  We go to have a professional family portrait taken (studios suffering from water leakage following storm damage).  Husband criticises the whole event: I'm prepared to hold my tongue until I've seen the pictures.

Then on to the in-laws.  I cannot even begin to criticise them because they kept my children for a whole week whilst my husband and I went to Edinburgh (it rained).  For the first time in ages my mother-in-law made one of her special jellies: it was milky green so I guess lime and cucumber and milk. Grannie and Grampa survive the week well, but we get the impression they are glad we came back to take the children home again...

We did get time for a guided tour of Norwich's elephants on Daddy's birthday.  Great-Uncle John was visiting from the US so our children merrily skipped around the city, snapping as many of the decorated beasts as they could.  We saw the cathedral area for the first time and were impressed: it is quite a beautiful, quiet place.  As evensong was already beginning we didn't venture inside but it is on a 'to do' list.  We made do with tea and biscuits in the refectory instead.

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