Katy was in the shop on Friday, to cover for someone else. This was fine in the morning, but in the afternoon it clashed with an activity organised by the people who run a very nice toyshop (who we know through the local HE group). So I took the afternoon off and took the children to a local community centre where it was happening. J, JBiff and M were in an over-8s room, and the others were with me in an under-8s room. Both rooms had loads of toys, games and puzzles that helped with maths skills – J really liked Hive (the pieces are lovely, like hexagonal pebbles) and Tipover. Plus there were books to read (so A was happy) and an enclosed play area (so they could all give their brains a rest). It was very nice, and then we finally made it to a violin repair place in the village nearby.
J’s violin that we got fairly cheaply off eBay had trouble staying in tune, so Katy found an advert for a local repair place. I found the place, which was a lovely thatched cottage which looked gorgeous inside, but had a tiny workshop squeezed into a room about 12 feet by 5 feet. It had violins hanging up all over the place, a row of cellos and some double basses, and a workbench with all the bits and pieces you’d expect. The lady makes from scratch as well as repairing, and was very good with the children (she said she was one of five).
Fortunately the children were all very well behaved (and I was holding A) as standing in the middle with a bow you could damage tens of thousands of pounds worth of instrument just by turning around. One bass was from the 17th century but unfortunately run over in the 21st century and still in lots of pieces. Another had been flown from South Africa unaccompanied to be repaired! Yet she was very down to earth, explained to the children what she was doing and happy to do a quick, cheap repair to J’s violin. (The holes that the pegs go into were oval rather than round, so she filed them into shape.) She approved of K playing the cello, as she was a professional cellist from the age of 15 (and so still has one side of her back stronger than the other). Also, she’s French, and so had a quick chat to M in French. A home ed. trip in itself – for instance violin makers use rabbit glue so that it can be undone with heat. (Photos on Flickr.)
Back to the shop to meet up with Katy a bit late. The shop owners had dropped off the Stompa mattress they’d promised to us a while ago, but we had the big car full of children, and the little car was err… little. Katy did her excellent packing and managed to squeeze the mattress into the little car with it being just about safe to drive (in the dark and rain, along the A14 in rush hour – nice).
On Saturday Music School resumed, and that was its usual good self. In the afternoon J and M helped me to get some of the rolls of loft insulation up into the loft, and I spent some of Saturday and Sunday laying them out. It’s amazing stuff – a foil and plastic bag containing fibrous stuff made from recycled glass. When rolled up it’s about 3cm thick, but it expands to 20cm thick. The bags make it a doddle to handle, plus the fibrous stuff is nowhere near as itchy as the old stuff (that I suffered from in our last two houses).
Today the boys were all on Remembrance Day parade. Fortunately the weather was good – not too cold and no rain, and the boys put extra jumpers on under their uniform to keep warm. This all went well – we got to the rendezvous place on time, the march to the war memorial went OK, and the police stopped the traffic apart from during the hymns. During the 2 minutes’ silence an ambulance went by – it had lights and siren on and then when it got to the stream of stopped traffic it turned them off but kept going. Respectful and appropriate, I thought. It was better than last year, when the cars kept going nearly all the time.
L, K and M helped chop vegetables for a lunch that turned into tea, and then after lunch there was some playing while I was up in the loft. I took the children apart from J to the bottle bank and then feed the ducks on the way back, which we managed just as it was getting dark. A lovely tea (cauliflower and brocoli cheese, followed by apple and blackcurrant pie – I love autumn and I love my wife’s cooking skills) and then bed.