J and K were both very keen to do Gamelan this time, especially as there was an Advanced Gamelan for J and a New to Gamelan for K, so we sent the applications in within a day of getting the email. Even so, K was bumped to standard Gamelan as New to was full! That left him doing Music Games, Gamelan and 7+Choir, while J was doing Advanced Gamelan, 7+ Choir and Recorders. The day before HO started Chris phoned to say he was very poorly and could we take SB in too, if Helen dropped her off, so I had 3 musical children and 2 hangers-on on Tuesday 🙂 SB was with K for first session and then with J for the others, so at least there was always someone around to make sure she knew where to go, but we hung around in any case, as K was a little worried about doing two things with nobody he knew. Of course it was fine in the end, and Gamelan left him ecstatic :mrgreen:
Meanwhile L, A and I played and chatted with Gina, E and S, went for a wander through Newnham College gardens (lovely to see old familiar buildings and new additions in keeping) and came back via the Sidgwick Buttery, tea and flapjacks 🙂
SB came back with us and Helen picked her up, stopping for a cup of tea and a chat too. Perhaps not much achieved in terms of house-straightening, but lots of soul food in a day like that.

On Wednesday I dropped the boys off and went to do a sling demo/coffee morning, expecting to need to take L and A with me, but Gina mentioned that she, E and S were off to a soft play place and asked if L would like to go too. L didn’t have to think for very long! She did have to borrow a pair of trousers from E though, as her floaty dress was not really suitable attire. A and I headed off to the sling shop, where we played with the owners’ daughter, I got shown how to open up the shop, work the till and other useful things and finally, right at the end of the morning, a customer came in who happened to have a sling with her which she was not quite comfortable using…
After HO pick-up Gina managed to persuade me (with offers of house-sorting help on Thursday) to go along to Milton CP for a cuppa, a walk and a chat, with plenty of play opportunities for the children as well as a wander round the sensory garden trying to work out how many different flavours of mint we could distinguish. There’s lots of really good play equipment which wasn’t there last time we went but offers great scope for future trips 🙂 We picked up a leaflet advertising the Fenland Country Fair, which sounded promising too.

On Thursday we had SB again, this time because both Chris and Helen were ill. I dropped all the musicians off and went to do Tots, which was odd without the older ones, but nice. We even managed to get the percussion out, although both Gina and I dried up a bit when we tried to think of things to do with it at song time. I think we need a list! Old Macdonald had a band filled a gap nicely though 😉 We also did a bit of French, Susan made not-clay pots with L and E and they did a bit of piano. Big Alice came along to Tots and then came with us to do HO pick up and eventually home. By the time we got to HO Gina had already met the children and half of them had decided to go to recorder trio concert, which J tells me was fab. He has now managed to persuade me to agree to buy him a tenor if he gets distinction at grade 3 as well as a nice wooden recorder (suitable for use at Kentwell) if he gets a good pass at grade 4 recorder – the idea being to show me he is serious before we spend serious money! He’ll have to save up for a contrabass recorder himself, I think!) Gina and hers came home with us too, and we sat the children down with a video while we juggled K and L’s room, turned L’s bed round, sorted and shelved books, moved chests of drawers and generally sorted out all those things you can only risk letting a good friend help with (thank you Gina!) – stray children were either grabbed and drawn into the work or sent out to play with Alice 😉 At some point Chris phoned to see when he should collect SB and we suggested it might be easiest for her just to stay over rather than be collected and then dropped off again early the next morning. SB, having established that we could find her a toothbrush and some pyjamas, thought that it sounded like a great idea 🙂 She was especially pleased at the idea that she could then leave the toothbrush here for next time…
Gina left at about 7, I think, although with a rather scraped E 🙁 and we managed to get the 4 older children into bed by 8-ish and all asleep by 9, ready for another early start on Friday. How on earth we would cope with a school run I have no idea; by the end of this week of early mornings we were all pretty much on our knees!

Friday was presentations day, with a few timetable changes to allow for dress rehearsals, one of which necessitated J being in two places at once for two different “priority” activities. In the end, it seemed, Dress Rehearsals took precedence over everything except Gamelan, so K and J each missed a rehearsal to do Gamelan. L was entranced by their presentations (the advanced group did a sampan and then a really impressive piece they had composed themselves, while K was clearly enjoying playing a drum as big as himself) and begged to go to the Jazz presentation at lunchtime too. Gina was being a parent helper, so we got to see her a bit, but E and S were with Dave, which meant A spent a lot of time asking about them. We had intended to go elsewhere that morning, but realising how many presentations and timetable changes there were it seemed more sensible to cancel those arrangements and just stay, even though that meant A was wearing just a T-shirt and pants (having totally soaked her skirt with juice) and we had just the one small box of jigsaws to keep her busy. Each friend we saw (Gina, Dave, E, Emily W-S, SB, the girls from the Cott) was asked to do the puzzles with her and she seemed never to tire of them, as long as there was someone to do them with her 🙂
The lunchtime concert was the jazz presentation L had wanted to see, so I agreed that she could go as long as one of the others wanted to as well. J and SB both did, so they all went and sat in the concert hall. After about 20 minutes I decided I really wanted to be there too and A had run out of friends to do the puzzle with her so K, A and I went in too. It was really good! The conductor was a show by himself! Distinctly hyperactive, he made conducting into a full-body experience, bouncing around the stage, pulling his hair, syncopating with a shaky egg and playing the tambourine as I’ve never heard it played before! The musicians were excellent too 😉 The half-hour concert didn’t finish until nearly 2 though, which left us really very little time to get home, grab something to eat, pick Bob up from work and get back for the evening presentations. Where we were parked made it seem the M11 was a slightly better route – bad move…
Eventually we gave up on trying to get home, looped back on ourselves and went to the supermarket near Bob’s office instead. Thinking it was bit early to eat we bought food for later instead and then went to the cafe for that long-overdue cup of tea. Embarrassingly grumpy few minutes ensued, then I managed to drink enough to get over it, fed the children mini chocolate biscuits and matching cups of tea (milk pots dipped into my cup to fill) to give me cooling down time and phoned Bob to let him know we were there. We picnicked in the car and again when we got to the concert hall, checked the children knew where they were going and went in to find seats, but it was so full that despite being early we still ended up only a few rows from the back. It was a good place, as it happened, because we were next to HE friends, in front of old Roundabout friends and behind one of Bob’s supervisors from Uni. Just across the way was an imaginary friend I had been meaning to email about Catholic churches and whether she might be able to take M with her family sometimes and behind us was another Catholic family who were able to tell us about mass at another Catholic church in the same city. Very useful positioning then, really 😉
The concert was fun. We knew at least one person in all but one of the groups, I think, which always helps. I asked an HE friend to video it for us and we’re fairly sure we saw his camcorder come out at appropriate times, so hopefully Helen and Chris will be able to see everything they missed (and the boys might be able to see themselves too) including the special guest appearance from Trevor the Traffic Cone, who has apparently spent three years at music school in London 🙂
Afterwards we ate strawberries and cream and chatted to people, then headed home, but got so snarled in traffic again that in the end we took SB straight home and came on from there.

And today we made a bed. No really – it was jolly hard work and it took far too long, but it fits in the gap in the fitted wardrobe in our room, so we’ve gained a couple of feet of floor space – yay! Also helped J to complete his move from children’s room to J and M’s room, incidentally teaching him the “this room”, “another room”, “sort out”, “bin” method of getting through a large pile of tut – a useful life skill, surely? I just need to apply it to my room now…

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5 thoughts on “”

  1. thankyou, thankyou and more thankyou. would be offering to help you in your house this w/e as recompense if could get off darned sofa. sb loved it sooo much, and we are sooo greatful that with your help she did get to go.

  2. Yes (eep!) – M comes here for 6 months from this Saturday (double eep!), goes back in February and then after a week or so we take J out there to stay with his family for 6 months. One 20 minute phone call allowed each week – total immersion is the aim!

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