Monday, 16 July 2007

good intentions gone to pot - but who cares really?

Since I started this blog there have only been so many blogging hours in the day and inevitably I have missed writing about trips taken, friends seen, experiences had. Luckily (or anally) I keep a spreadsheet to track what we're doing on which weekend, sounds very sad doesn't it but it is actually very useful, especially at times like the present where we don't know what we're doing from one weekend to the next. A large part of this is down to our jobs - mine in particular is shaping up to be a lot more time consuming out of the office than my previous one. I'm off to Munich next week for 3 days of financial planning for 2008, followed with a bit of light relief with some team bonding when we hike up the Alps to a log cabin, drink lots of Bavarian beer and traipse back down again. Good stuff.

Anyway, thanks to the wonders of home_calendar.xls, here's some highlights of the past 4 months or so:

In March we had Jenn to stay and we spent a great day out at Woodstock and Blenheim Palace wandering around the gardens and taking pictures (well Ali and Jenn did) of pheasants and lots of nice plants. Jenn is over on secondment from the US (she works for Urban Outfitters) and has stacked up more travelling within Europe and Africa in the past 18 months than I have managed in my lifetime. She also has a penchant for antique shopping so Woodstock was ideal, lots of little curio shops and a good pub lunch to boot.
We did a return visit to her grand apartment (on Sloane Square, if you please) a month or so later and took a trip to Kew Gardens, which I had never been to before but really enjoyed. Cue more snapping, this time of a very relaxed and gloriously iridescent peacock having a nice sit down near a Japanese garden.

Towards the end of April we went down to Matt and Nickiy's for some cheese, the first Pimms of the summer (expertly made by yours truly if I may say so) and a slide show of Nickiy's photos from her trip to Nepal earlier this year. A smashing early summer afternoon, the product of which was the first draft of a periodic table of the cheese elements. You don't want to know.

In May and June we seemed to stay closer to home, and the weekends round and about our wonderful holiday in Tuscany were variously spent on a pilgrimage to the Shoulder of Mutton in Wantage; a boozy Saturday in Oxford with Mum and Dad (lunch in Carluccios followed by some enthusiastic consumption of ale and Addlestone's cider in the White Horse, then back home for a meal and yet more booze); and a barbeque at Keith and Nikki's new house in Didcot. On that weekend it was absolutely peeing down all day - so we got soaked on our way there from the bus stop - however a strategically placed gazebo ensured that the afternoon went off excellently and our sausages were dry. I don't recommend chucking an empty cardboard Stella box on the smouldering embers of the barbie though.

Finally to the past few weekends - first off, watching Le Tour de France in London and Kent. Saturday we went down to London and as a surprise for his birthday, Matt and Nickiy had organised this for Ali. I don't think it made the news in the end but there was a police escort and a helicopter involved at one point. Susan and I were having a nice time mooching about on the South Bank and then stuffing our faces in Wagamama as it was all happening - much more sensible. Then we watched the time trials from Parliament Square and made our way back to Streatham for a late curry. A criminally early start the next morning ensured that we got to the previously staked out prime piece of grass verge somewhere deep in the Kent countryside before the hordes arrived, thus ensuring a trouble free breakfast picnic, while cheering on any and every car, bike, or trailer that came past. When the peloton came past it was actually quite stunning - we were at the top of a small hill and could see them straining their way up it for quite a while (though clearly nowhere near the heights they've recently climbed in the Alps stage of course) and visually it was fantastic. Matt and Nickiy and Susan between them had done an amazing job getting it all organised and keeping all the planning secret. Three cheers!

Last weekend was a little bit quieter but no less enjoyable - to Hitchin to see Cameron and Elaine and their 15 month old baby Sholto. The weather held out, the company was great (lots of parents and other 15 month olds from Elaine's NCT classes) and the kids angelic. Well, mostly. We ate well, drank well, and managed to get to bed by 10.15 on Saturday night (there's a song in there I'm sure). Totting up the points (more of which another time) I managed an impressive 96.5 points exceeded over my weekly allowance last week. Hurrah for cheese and cider and barbeque food.

So that's me up to date. This weekend we have the Brown family coming en masse to stay and I'm really p-ed off that I can't get to Legoland on Friday due to some long range planning thing at work. Still, expect a pretty knackered blog post some time next week...

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