J has wanted to do another exchange for a while now and decided that German was probably a more sensible option than Spanish, since he already has excellent French and a fair bit of Italian so Romance is fairly well covered. En Famille came up trumps. A little compromise was needed to determine the exchange length (H wanted a little longer and J a little shorter than we’ve ended up planning) and it will make J’s exam year… interesting… but we are very happy to welcome H into our family.

H arrived with his parents on 24th July and they all stayed here until 27th, when his parents headed home via a day in Cambridge. Just as they arrived the weather turned so we weren’t sure we’d manage punting but there was enough of a dry spell on Saturday afternoon to squeeze in a leisurely jaunt on the river and a picnic tea, then Bob and H’s parents went to see the Merry Wives of Windsor while all the children opted for going home to watch Celebrity Masterchef. On Sunday the girls and I went to church while Bob stayed at home with those who were rather later risers – it seems H shares J’s views on what constitutes a good time to get up! The intention had been to go to a big sports day at the local park, but torrential rain meant they baled soon after arriving and well before we could join them. We played indoor games and watched the rain instead.

On Monday, while H’s parents enjoyed their day in Cambridge en route to their flight home, the rest of us (eventually) went over to the Beans, where SB has also just started hosting an En Famille visitor. The children took swimmers in hopes of good weather, but it wasn’t great so we enjoyed pleasant company instead. In fact we spent Monday, Wednesday and Friday with the Beans, thanks to WedEd and then a HE teen meet and swim which didn’t quite happen as planned, for various reasons. In between we had a quiet Tuesday and Thursday, with the beginnings of some work (H was rather put out to find that we’re not in full holiday mode as he expected, since we spread our HE fairly evenly through the year and take holidays at random times as they happen; we started him off gently 😉 ) and a trip into town to return some books and sign the girls up for the library Summer reading challenge. I had hoped that H might like to take a couple of books out, but apparently he hates reading. We’ll see if we can change that while he’s here 😉

WedEd this week included Art (cubist cats, led by SB), Chemistry (working out Avagadro’s constant by burning stuff – always a winner!), Maths, cooking (monster marshmallows and cinder toffee) and, for the more hardy souls, swimming – with a side order of silliness, flirting and/or splashing for the too-cool-to-swim teens 😉 Toasting marshmallows round the fire was a good way to warm up again, apparently 🙂

At the weekend we went to a house-warming party for the Babs and co. which meant a Saturday afternoon and evening filled with games, chat and fun, then a stayover (I hesitate to call it a sleepover 😉 ) and another day of more of the same. Boris the dog being there too gave a good opportunity for a bit of extra fresh air and exercise, which was a Good Thing 😉

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  1. “165g demerara sugar

    165g caster sugar

    60ml golden syrup

    4 tbsp water

    15g butter, diced, plus extra to grease

    Pinch of salt

    1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda

    Put the sugars, syrup, water and butter in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan with a pinch of salt. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugars and butter have dissolved, then turn up the heat very slightly and bring to the boil. Simmer until it reaches 138C and is bubbling and amber (this will take about 10-15 minutes).

    Meanwhile, generously grease an approximately 24cm square tin. Put the bicarbonate of soda by the hob. When the mixture gets to temperature, take it off the heat and quickly whisk in the bicarb, making sure it is well mixed in.

    Pour into the tin and leave to set. After about 15 minutes, you can score it into pieces if you like and leave it to set completely. I prefer to wait, then smash it into shards with a heavy object once solid.”

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