Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! This year has been the first that we've been able to get Lara excited about the whole Santa Claus thing, but also she went to sleep tonight without any great hassle. She understands that he'll come down our chimney tonight and leave her presents she's left him and Rudolph presents too.

We had to take Lara to work today, as her nursery was closed, but we were expected in work. Olga and I are in offices on opposite ends of our building, and Lara occupied herself running from one office to the other, or watching DVDs under a desk in my office:

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The shortest day but a busy one

Yesterday might have been the shortest day of the year, but we made the most of it. Lara's cold and cough gave her a disturbed night on Sunday night, so on Monday night I slept on the floor in her room to save us all waking up as Olga or I got up repeatedly to supply sips of water, tissues and hugs. After a dose of nurofen at 4am she slept through until we woke her at 9.15 to go and see another nursery, this one at the bottom of our road. In the meantime I had taken the boys to the vets for their "procedure".
Lara looked very poorly during the nursery tour, so after that we took her to our office rather than her nursery, and almost immediately got an appointment with the GP, so we headed back to Wycombe, where she was given a prescription for antibiotics. Back to the office, and she spent the afternoon lying on the sofa watching DVDs whilst we decided which nursery to choose out of the two we'd seen. With the choice made (we've opted for the one that is a mile or so from home rather than the one at the bottom of our road) that meant more forms to fill in, then it was back to Wycombe to collect the dogs. The operations had gone well, they were both fine, if a little dopey from the anaesthetic, and both of them struggled to get used to the big collars they have to wear to prevent them from licking and chewing their stitches. In order to give them some peace and quiet (that was our excuse) we headed down to the pub with Lara, now feeling a bit brighter, to have drinks with an ex-colleague who was in town for the night.
So, we're hoping for a quieter few days now, we're just keeping an eye on the weather on our route up to Radcliffe on Saturday. There seems to have been a dump of snow overnight in the Midlands and Cheshire, but so long as they don't have another one on Friday night, we expect to be able to go up to Grandma & Grandpa's as planned (get peeling those sprouts, Grandma!!)

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Spare a thought for the boys on Tuesday!

Yep, we've finally come to the decision that the boys are just too hard to handle when they encounter other dogs out on walks, and the best thing is for them to pay a trip to the vets. We'd always hoped to breed from Mishka, he is a pedigree Airedale after all, descended from a Champion, and to be fair to him, he's not the bad one. Jackson, who has pedigree parentage but is a cross between a border terrier and welsh terrier, just goes mental when he sees another dog, and this sets Mishka off too, and the only fair and sensible thing is to have them both "fixed". To make it easier on them, they're both going to be operated on on the same day, Tuesday, so they'll both be feeling sorry for themselves at the same time, and there won't be a case of one of them wanting to play while the other just wants to feel sorry for himself! They should be fine within ten days, so they'll have a few days at home this week to recover from the op, and then a few more days being pampered at Grandma and Grandpa's house, so long as the weather doesn't make driving up there a pain in the bum.

The poor lads!! But it's for the best...

New nursery time

Tomorrow we're looking at two nurseries in High Wycombe, as once we start working from home, it won't make any sense to drive the 5 miles to Marlow just to take Lara to nursery. One is at the bottom of our road, so that's a big plus, but the other one gets a better Ofsted review and would be closer to some other activities we'd like to take Lara to, like dancing and gymnastics. It'll also be interesting to see how Lara copes with moving nursery, and how she settles in. It might teach us a few lessons about how to handle it when she moves up to starting school.

6" in 2 hours

I went to Uxbridge yesterday morning to pick up some furniture for our new home office, and finish my Christmas shopping. The journey there took 25 minutes, the journey back took more than two and a half hours. It was lovely to walk around the shops laden with bags and with heavy snow falling, with christmas music playing (there is a time when it'a OK!) but I hadn't thought about how it would affect my journey home. At first I tried to avoid the M40 but after covering 200 metres in 40 minutes on the A40, I turned around and risked the motorway, and it was pretty easy. At least for those of us not in German rear-wheel drive cars. I passed one uphill section of the M40 with at least 30 cars parked up, and the vast majority were BMW and Mercedes. There are times when an eight year old Japanese 4x4 can prove useful.
Today we didn't bother risking the drive to the supermarket, we just put Lara in the sledge and dragged her there, then put the shopping in it on the way back while Lara was in the back-pack carrier. It sounds silly, but it's something I've always wanted to do, dragging my child along in the sledge, listening to her really enjoying it.

For Olga it was nothing special, it's normal procedure for parents where she grew up.
It didn't snow at all today, so we'll be going to work tomorrow as usual, so long as Lara is OK. She had a high temperature on Friday afternoon and would have been sent home from nursery had nursery not closed at 4pm because of a bit of afternoon snowfall.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Nativity 2010

It was Lara's nursery nativity play this week, and Olga and I went to watch this afternoon. The costume for her room was Angels, and she really did enjoy dressing up, much more than you might think from this photo!

 If you've got a spare 2 minutes and 47 seconds, this video compilation shows that she did enjoy it!

(There's a smaller version for slower internet connections here)

 And finally, here's a "team" photo:
Lara's friend Chloe (with the dark hair and gold tinsel) must have spotted me taking the photo and pulled her best pose.

Couple more from the Lakes

Another photo and video from the Lake District that I have found on my phone... this was before we even got to the cottage on Day 1.

Here's the proper use for a pet dog in snowy weather:

Lara, 3 years + 6 days

It was Lara's 3rd birthday last Friday, but I'm only just getting round to mentioning it. We had a little family party at Grandma & Grandpa's house on the way home from the Lake District, then Anton & Becca brought Eve and Tess over on Sunday to play and go for a pub tea. Eve gave Lara a great little monkey that Lara has named "Nina" (quite imaginative, not sure where the inspiration came from), and they have been inseparable since.
Lara has understood what her birthday means (presents!) and she knows that she she answer "Three" if someone asks how old she is, rather than "Two".
Here are some pics..

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Warmer today

It was a positively barmy 5 deg C today, and more cloudy, so we had a quiet morning in the cottage, then went on a 5 mile walk in the afternoon, as the snow was melting. It wasn't as photogenic a day as yesterday, so I only took one while we were walking:
And another one once we were back home, where Jacksie kept an eye on Lara while she had a makeshift bath:

Tomorrow is a big day, Lara's 3rd birthday, so we'll be packing up from here in the morning, and head back to Grandma and Grandpa's house for a small party in the afternoon. Lara appreciates that it's her birthday, but I'm not sure she knows what's in store tomorrow...

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

-18 is a bit much

We woke to a shortage of water this morning; the -18 deg C overnight temperature froze the water in the supply pipe to the cottage. The owners supplied a large container of water for us, and by the time we came back in the afternoon, the temperature had risen enough for the water to be flowing again. This evening we have had problems with the boiler, as the overflow pipe froze, but this was fixed with a kettle full of hot water and a tea towel round the pipe for insulation. High technology!

In the meantime, we drove over to Keswick. The weather was amazing, clear blue skies, with temperatures hovering around -7, and this made for some great photos. The drive along minor roads was a little hairy in places, but the lack of traffic on a December Wednesday morning meant trundling along at 30mph maximum wasn't a problem. It just gave us more time to admire the scenery.
Once in Keswick, we headed to Ashness Bridge. It's one of the most photographed places in the Lake District, and if you have a look at the updated Web Album, you're bound to recognise the view up to Skiddaw. We didn't have it all to ourselves, but it was certainly quieter than during August Bank Holiday weekend. The boys were able to run free for a while - Mishka had his saddlebags on, which prevents him for sneaking through small gaps as well as saving me from having to carry our flask of soup, amongst other bits and pieces. We spent a couple of hours there, enjoying the view, playing with the sledge, and watching four RAF fighters zoom past up the valley, not much higher than us.
After a quick trip around the shops of Keswick, we headed back to the cottage, where Lara demolished a huge tea and hit the sack, probably for another good night's sleep.
Check out the updated Web Album for today's photos, and here are a couple of videos to give you an idea of the conditions...

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Sledging (and not the cricket type)

We arrived yesterday afternoon at the cottage we're staying in this week, just north of the Lake District. The roads were mostly clear, apart from one side road which was blocked by a tractor, and the farm hand driving it suggested that the road would be impassable, so we had to find another way. I had to smile, he bore more than a passing resemblance to the bad guys in the movie Deliverance. I'm quite glad we turned around, I wouldn't have wanted to get stuck at his farm!
The cottage is lovely, Lara has her own room at one end of the building, complete with an en-suite and even a Freeview TV so we can put Cbeebies on before bed if necessary. The lounge, with christmas tree and woodburner, is at other end, next to our bedroom. Right outside are fields where we can take the boys (on their leads, there are sheep around) and where we took Lara yesterday afternoon for her first proper go on a sledge. She absolutely loves it, not scared at all, and can't get enough of it.
It snowed again overnight, and today we didn't venture very far, just to a field that the cottage owner suggested is the best local sledging place. We had it too ourselves, and could even let the boys off the lead. We couldn't resist the chance to attach the sledge to their leads, and when we had a go later in the afternoon back at the fields next to the cottage, we got more adventurous and had both boys pulling Olga and Lara. Mush!!!
We hope Lara sleeps as well tonight as last night - nearly 14 hours, from 6pm to 8am. She's had a more active day today too, so there's every chance we'll all get a lie in.
Anyway, here is a new Web Album with some photos and videos, and I'll update it as the week progresses (Click once on the photo to go to the Web Album page, you can play the videos there).

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Russia 2018

Russia were clearly deserved winners of the race to host the 2018 World Cup. Why the BBC decided to annoy FIFA 3 days before the vote with their Panorama programme puzzles me. Clearly FIFA are a corrupt organisation, but expose them after the vote, not before. We have no right to host the competition just because it's "our turn", and it's fair to allow countries to host the Finals who haven't done it before. It was rather arrogant to assume that sending Prince William and David Cameron would be enough to convince the voters.  I thought the Belgium/Netherlands bid would be a good choice, but FIFA don't like "joint bids". As for Qatar, they will dismantle many of the stadia they will build for the Finals in 2022, and reconstruct them in Third World countries, which seems to be a great gesture.

Hot in Oz, Cold in Wycombe

It's going to be in the low 30s (centigrade) in Oz for the 2nd Test tonight, whilst it was 14C in our house when I popped home to check on the boys today at lunchtime. No-one cared what the temperature was when Australia were 2 for 3 after 15 minutes though. I like to think Olga is the lucky mascot, she only got home from 4 days in Oslo an hour before the game started, and look at the result. Since she went to bed, we've not taken a wicket.

We've only had a sprinkling of snow here, which has been just as well really, as it would have made the mornings a lot more complicated this week while Olga was away, as the boys still need walking before Lara can go to nursery. We got the routine sorted this morning, just in time for Olga to come back! Olga's likely to travel more with her new job than she does currently, so I had better get used to it, although at least then I'll be working from home so I won't have to worry about the commute to work.

It seems I'll get my wish of snow in the Lake District next week, which is good. Hopefully the roads will be fairly clear, but the car has been serviced 2 weeks ago, and I had the tyres checked today, and it's been given the all-clear, so I'm happy that we'll be able to deal with most things Mother Nature will throw at us. I really hope we can go on a few nice walks where we can let the boys run about in the snow with no-one else around, then head back to the cottage, fire up the woodburner and cook a lovely dinner.

Lara has recovered from a cold she developed over last weekend. I had to stay home with her on Monday, which was interesting when I had to have a video call with my soon-to-be-boss whilst sat in the car on our drive while Lara had a lunchtime nap after we'd been for a quick drive.  She made me laugh today when I came into our lounge this morning wearing my Russian-style hat that Olga's mum bought me in St Petersburg last year, she smiled a lovely smile and cracked: "Nice hat, Papa", followed later by "Cool dude".

Where does she learn these things?!

48-3 now. It's all Olga's fault for going to bed. I joked with her that it could be 311-3 by the time I wake up in the morning....

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Breaking career news!

Here's some big family news.....
Both Olga and I resigned from our jobs today!
In case you don't know, we work at the same company, indeed it was where we met. I've worked there for 12 years, and Olga's been there for six, so this was a very big decision, but we were approached by an old colleague from my first job with IBM, way back in the mid 90s, who offered us both exciting new posts with his company. It's a bit daunting, leaving a comfortable job with people you get on well with, but it's time to try something that's challenging and new, and the fact it's with people I already know made the decision to leave Tigress that bit easier.

It'll take some time to sink in - we'll be working from home, so the first thing is to convert a bedroom in to an office!


Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

I hope the snow lingers in the north of England for the next 10 days until we head off on holiday, at least on the hills, then the roads can be clear. Snowy mountains but blue skies, that would be ideal.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Some recent photos

In tidying up my phone I found some photos from the past few weeks that I thought I'd post up. Lara liked baking cakes with Mama, helping Papa in the garden to pick up leaves and apples, and then going for a long walk with the boys in the Chilterns.

Then a couple of days ago Lara wanted to have a shower rather than a bath, and who are we to refuse? When asked if she wanted a bath, the reply was "No, can I go in the big shower? I won't cry":

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Getting ready!!!!

In case you hadn't noticed, the Ashes series starts tonight. Just as snow is falling across northern England too!
I'm going to stay up and watch the build up and the start of the match, it begins at midnight. Quite how late I stay up depends on what's happening before the lunch interval, but I'll have a few beers and some popcorn ready. I suspect Olga will have an early night, her excuse is she's working in London this week at a trade show and has to get up early (I do too!). I don't know why, I'm sure she had a great time when we went to Day 4 of the 5th Test at the Oval in 2005...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Friday, 19 November 2010

Pudsey Day & Curry Night

Firstly - Happy 3rd Birthday to our friend Eve for yesterday, and we're looking forward to the party tomorrow!

Today is Children in Need day, and the nursery has suggested the kids go in wearing fancy dress, or something spotty, for the price of a small donation. Lara actually hasn't got any fancy dress outfit at the moment, at least not one she can fit into, so Olga made a Pudsey top for her:

I'll not be able to watch the main TV programme tonight (including the Eastenders / Coronation Street mashup, I hope it'll be on iPlayer!) because we're having the Littlewick Green Cricket Club 2nd XI Annual Curry Night (LGCCSEACN doesn't trip off the tongue, does it?) in Hounslow. By a handy quirk of the Club rules, I won the Batting Averages Trophy (averaging 34.67), and tonight I'll be handing out the Bowling Trophy, and trying to give a rousing speech about how we'll not finish bottom of the league next season... 
It's a nice trophy, I can't keep it, it lives in the pub at The Green, but Lara and I had to pose with it:

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


It happens to all kids at some time, and now Lara has taken to running around with her coat dangling from her head, pretending to be Superman. Not bad since she's never seen the film or comic book - the things they learn at nursery these days....

Writing of nursery, it's Lara's Parent's Evening tonight...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Bucks Little Stars Children's Photography Competition

The local paper round here, the Bucks Free Press, is running a free-to-enter competition that is effectively a kiddies' beauty contest, and we couldn't resist entering Lara. As much as anything else, it was a chance to have some professional photos taken of her for free, and why not enter her in the competition while we were there. The photographer took about 30 photos, and a few days later we had to pick one from the best 6 that they had printed out, and this has been entered in the competition. The kids' photos are in the Bucks Free Press this week, and here she is...

We did buy four of the six best shots, on one of them she looks sooo grown up, we had to look twice to make sure it was really her. It wasn't that she looked 12 years old, but it made me think that that is how she will look when she's 12, it was wierd.
The public can vote by phone or text between the 5th and 12th November, and the top 5 kids in different age groups go through to the final, and the winner in each age group will be chosen by the photographer's company. The winner gets a framed print worth £150.
Not that we'd try to influence the vote, but if you've nothing else to do and 50p burning a hole in your pocket, text LSTARS [space]2266 to 80360 or just call 090 1159 2266 (50p from a BT landline) Surely better than voting for someone on The X Factor or Strictly!!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Guitar Heroine

Lara made me laugh this weekend when Olga was on Skype to Baba Luda - we were demonstrating Jackson's singing ability, when Lara went and got her guitar, and started to play it for me. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that "You can't have a go, Papa, it's too tricky for you." I had to record her in action, so got her to play again for Olga & Luda...


Jo Jingles Party

Last Saturday Lara went to her nursery friend's birthday party. It was our first chance to see her play with those friends she spends all day, 5 days a week with, and it was great. Both Olga and I can be shy in group situations, and I did worry that Lara would be quiet and clingy to us, but she joined in all the games without any fuss, and really enjoyed herself. I don't know why I was worried, we always hear about how much fun she is at nursery, but it was just nice to see in person.
There was a children's entertainer and then they all had a nice kids' tea party, here are a couple of photos:

When we showed Lara the top photo, she went along the line and named all the kids for us, which helped us, we didn't know all of them. The lad in the second picture is James, the birthday boy.

Strange Dreams and Time Changes

Lara surprised us on Monday morning (I had a lie in on Sunday morning, so didn't notice what time she woke) and this morning, by sleeping through until we wake her up around 6.30am, which would be 7.30 for her body clock. Not that we're complaining! We had a couple of trick-or-treaters visit on Sunday evening, but only after she'd already gone to bed.  She was a bit spooked by our pumpkin, but only a bit and Peter Pumpkin has hung around for a few days since then, and now Lara likes seeing him lit up.
She also delighted us by telling Olga about a dream she had yesterday morning, although the subject wasn't quite so nice - about a frog who was sick after eating strawberries! But it was interesting to know that she can remember her dreams.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

"When's December?"

It's properly chilly now, and Lara's new hat and gloves have come out, which doubles the time it takes to get her out of the house in the mornings, while we get each finger into its own "house" in each glove.Other than a runny nose, she's fine now, all over whatever was bothering her last week. At the moment she's obsessing about her birthday party - fortunately Olga and I are invited, but she's asking the awkward question of "When's December?" - answers on a postcard to me about how to respond to that! It'll only get worse after Saturday, when we're going to the 3rd birthday party of one of the boys in her nursery class (her former beau, James).

Last Saturday was her first trip to the cinema. Olga took her to the Kiddies session in the morning, where she could play with toys (I believe she drove a ferrari) before watching Space Chimps 2. It didn't seem to matter that she'd not seen Space Chimps 1, and it was only 75 minutes long, which was just about long enough for her to concentrate on a film at the moment. Whilst she still loves Peppa Pig, she has graduated up into watching Toy Story 1 and 2, although she's seen them both a few times now and it'll occupy her for half an hour before she gets bored. We've taken to putting The Simpsons on while we eat tea now, and she loves that, so the makers can feel vindicated that they've created a cartoon that appeals to all ages!

Mishka didn't escape attention last weekend, it was time for his quarterly strip. It's a pain (for us and him) but everyone feels better after it, although he might not be so grateful at the moment when it's zero degrees outside in the morning when he goes for his walk:

It'll be Jackson's turn next, but at least his strip won't take all day.  Mishka did provide enough fur to stuff a large pillow, or make a medium sized jumper, but we just threw it out.  Perhaps I should save it and use it to lag the loft? It'll keep a lot of heat in.

Finally, here's a photo I took from my office window on Tuesday afternoon, before this cold, clear snap hit. It' a good sign for Waitrose - those portacabins at the end of the rainbows house the workmen building a new Watirose next to our office:

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Under the weather

Obviously that's not Lara, but it represents how she was on Monday morning. She's had a bit of a cough over the weekend, and on Monday wasn't quite herself, but she went to nursery anyway. Olga got a call before lunch that Lara had been sick, and she dashed there to collect her. The poor luv was sitting on the floor on her own in her room , still wearing her sick-stained clothes, hugging a bucket the staff had given her. She just burst into tears when she saw Olga and went for a big hug. At the time Olga didn't question why the staff hadn't cleaned her up and given her some comforting, but we'll be asking that tomorrow. Anyway, it seems to be nothing serious at all, and Lara was her normal self by Monday afternoon, but has had to stay out of nursery until tomorrow afternoon.
Olga herself isn't on tip-top form after having some back teeth out on Friday, so it's TLC all round on Deeds Grove at the moment.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Lara had a restless night, interrupted by an annoying cough, although Tixylix helped. She woke at 6.30 but didn't do enough over the monitor to convince me that she was ready to get up - if she's ready, she'll shout "It's morning! I want to get up!", but this was more of a mournful, tired "Paaaaappaaaaaaa", so I left her alone and indeed she went back to sleep. After letting the boys run about in the garden I went in to wake her up at 8am, opening the curtains and window, and turning on the TV, and this was the result:

Sorry about the brevity but my ancient phone only allows me to shoot 15 seconds of video at a time.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Postponed cricket, so shopping instead

My cricket match at Lords was postponed because of the weather, and should be rearranged for next summer, so this gave us a family weekend to enjoy. On Saturday we went shopping in Uxbridge, just missing the chance to see Peter Andre selling his new fragrance in The Perfume Shop there by 10 minutes, oh dear never mind. Olga had promised to buy Lara a trumpet to go along with her guitar, drums and keyboard, and we've found that Jackson responds to a couple of the notes with howling and barking, it's quite funny. Bizarrely Mishka doesn't react at all, I guess all dogs are different.
Then yesterday, to give Olga some time to get ready for her trip to Norway, I took Lara to PlayTrain, close to our house. It's an indoor kiddies play centre, and it was nice to be able to sit down and drink a coffee and watch her play without hovering over her, like we had to the last time we were there, when she hadn't been walking for long. She ran around in there for 90 minutes, working up quite a sweat and an appetite; she demolished a roast lamb dinner and a strawberry cornetto for tea.

Single Parent this week

Olga's away working in Oslo this until Thursday, so I'm in charge on my own. The boys will have to cope with shorter walks and playing in the back garden, although they will be spoilt with the pigs trotters I bought from Morrisons yesterday. Tomorrow morning might be rather hectic, what with 4 breakfasts to get ready. The boys might only be dogs, but they still need feeding!

Lara's latest passion is to ask "Why?" in response to anything she's asked to do or told about, it can get quite annoying after the 6th "Why?" in a row; she didn't like it when I did it to her in the car on the way home from nursery today - "No, Papa, be quiet. Don't ask why!"
Toilet training is going well still, she's been able to tell us in advance when she needs to go for some months now, but she can also hold it when she has to, like this morning in the car on the way to nursery, she was quite desperate but held it until I could find a place to pull over - she's not shy about tinkling on the grass verge if necessary!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Another busy week passes

It's been another busy week for all of us. Today's big event was Olga taking Lara to Clarks to have her feet measured and buy a new pair of shoes. I thought it better to leave the shoe shopping to the experts, and went to walk the dogs. This photo is of the results of the shopping, Lara picked them out of a choice of three, and by the time we went to pick her up from nursery at the end of the day, all the staff new about her new, flashing, shoes (there are impact-activated lights in the heel). She's a size 7, which took me by surprise, but that's how quickly she's growing. 
Lara's enjoying being back at nursery full-time, she's always happy to go into her room in the morning, but is equally happy to see us at the end of the day too. Her verbal skills are very good, and I've found that I can ask her to do something, and she'll go off and do it, like putting her pajamas on in the evening. She certainly hasn't been a badly behaved two-year-old, but she has her moments when she tries to test her boundaries. We've found that just leaving her to her tantrum is the quickest and least tearful way of dealing with her, although there are times when it's necessary to accept there will be tears, but Lara soon gets over it once the next distraction comes along.
The boys are fine, they probably get bored each morning and afternoon now, stuck in the hall and kitchen at home while we're at work, though one of us comes home at lunchtime to check on them. Lara's getting to the point where she thinks she's big enough to control Jackson, but we're not so sure, so she's only allowed to hold his lead so long as one of us is holding it too - he's stronger than he looks!
This Sunday I'm playing cricket at Lords - but not at the "main" ground, but at the Nursery Ground right next door. We'll wait and see how the weather will be - I've never played cricket in October before...

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Happy Birthday Olga

Happy Birthday to Olga! I've cooked dinner, and we've popped the cork on a bottle of bubbly, and before all that, Lara sang Happy Birthday:

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Party on the Green

It's indicative of the busy time we're having at the moment that it's a week or more between blog posts... tonight Olga and I are off to Littlewick Green for the Cricket Club's Bicentenary Ball. It's a black tie do, in a marquee with 250 guests. It also marks Luda's last night of babysitting, as she has to return to Russia tomorrow (but not for too long I hope!).

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Those immortal words for the first time...

Lara's gone and said it... here's a transcript of a conversation in the car this morning on the way to nursery:

Lara: "Papa...."
Me: "Yesss darling..."
Lara: "Mama..."
Olga: "Schto, doycha?" (roughly, "What, my little girl?")
Lara: "Are we nearly there yet?"

The first of many I imagine.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Dr Lara

More on the funny things Lara comes out with. This morning Olga was feeling under the weather with a cold, and when I told Lara this, she went up to Olga and said "Mama, are you sick? You should have some syrup if you're sick." Syrup is what we call nurofen and tixylix, and the concern in Lara's voice was just so touching. She seems to be very caring about others - one of the mums at nursery, who works here in our office with us, said she saw Lara and her friend Sophie running around a corner on the way to the toilets, and Lara knocked Sophie over by accident, but seemed really concerned about her, helping to pick Sophie up and asking "Are you OK? Are you OK?".
This week is Lara's last in the "Dolphins" room, from next week she'll move to the next room up - "Sealions". She's already been spending some time in there over the past few weeks, and doesn't seem phased by it, but the change from her keyworker of the past year or more, Emma, to her new keyworker, Catherine, might be a bit of a trauma. Recently Lara's wanted to take new toys to nursery "to show to Emma", so she's become quite attached.  Perhaps this change in one of the regular people in her life might be good practice for when Baba Luda leaves in a few weeks, which will be another shock to Lara, I'm sure.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Chatty Lara in English and Russian

Lara's language skills are coming on in leaps and bounds, and just so we note down things she says that make us laugh, we thought we'd record them here.
She made us laugh on the train yesterday on the way into London..
the train goes into a tunnel, Lara's looking out of the window: "Oooooohh, where's the sky gone?"

Another train passes ours, and Lara pulls a scared face and draws her hands up to her cheeks: "I'm scared of the choo-choo!" Then burst into a big, cheesy smile - she was only joking.

Then, in the aquarium, it's about 2pm, we're halfway around the tour and when asked if she wants to see whatever's next on the little map: "No, Mama, I'm finished. It's lunchtime."

Earlier in the weekend she rattled off a sentence in reply to something Baba said to her, and Olga giggled, and I had to get it translated; it seems Lara had said, in perfect Russian, "We'll go for a walk, but we'll not play". Olga reports that Lara's Russian is very good, and whilst she speaks more in English, she obviously understands what Baba is saying to her, and can reply. Today when Olga and I came home from work, Lara and Baba were playing in the lounge, but Lara shouted to Olga "We're working" in Russian, so good that even I could understand it. She seems to know that she needs to talk to me in English, although sometimes she does say things in Russian, but my puzzled look seems to remind her to say it in English too. Tonight she said goodnight to Baba in both Russian and English.

We're still here!

Wow, 2 weeks.. it's obviously been a busy time. Firstly I was away in Banglasdesh again last week, that was just work, work, work, but we did get chance to test out my new laptop, using Skype to chat with Olga and Lara. Lara's getting good at grasping the concept ("Make Papa big, Mama" meaning show the webam pic full screen, for example) and understands that it's almost as good as me being there, and she can show me her new toys, or a new dance she's learned. Seeing as she knew I'd been away, I did feel I ought to buy her a present when I came back, so I spent most of my 2 hour stop in Dubai on the way back finding her something. She's just started watching the Toy Story films, so I found her a big, cuddly Buzz Lightyear:

She knew straight away who it was when I brought him home, although she called him "Robot" to start with, but now he's "My Buzz". He's big, around 2 feet tall, and she insists on going to bed with him, but we have to move him out of the way before we go to sleep or he'll wake her up anytime she rolls over. 
Then it was Bank Holiday weekend, with LGCC losing their last game of the season, and me finishing the way I started the season, with a duck, but with an overall batting average of 34.5 runs, with a bonus 8 wickets and 10 catches on the side.
On Sunday afternoon we went over to Anton and Becca's house for a party, and Lara had a great time playing with Eve and Tess, and demolishing sweetcorn cobbs.
Yesterday we went to the Sea Life London Aquarium on the South Bank.  Olga and I had been before, but Lara loved seeing the fish, and even touched a starfish (she was allowed to!). She was kind enough to have a 90 minute nap whilst we popped to the pub for a bite to eat and a drink, then as we headed to the tube station, walking past Trafalgar Square, Lara saw the lion statues and waterfalls and we had to go for a closer look.

Sorry the photos are shakey but I wasn't allowed to use the flash in the aquarium

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Another Sunday walk

After the heavy rain of yesterday that caused our cricket match to be abandoned without a ball being bowled (lucky for Denham, our opposition!), today the weather has been warm and dry. We went out for a walk at Dorney Lake, the venue for the 2012 Olympic rowing, and I'll be firing up the barbeque in the back garden once I finish this post. Here is an updated webalbum for August:

Monday, 9 August 2010

Ahhh, gay Pahreee!

I put "Paris" into Google tonight and this was the #1 image returned, so I'll use it to represent the wonderful city. Olga is off there tomorrow morning on the first Eurostar of the day to meet a friend of hers from Lesnoy. She's coming back on the last train on Wednesday, so it's only a quick trip, but Olga's very excited about it. Their hotel is close to the Tour Montparnasse, so they'll be going up there to the observation deck, apparently it's better than that fake Blackpool Tower they have. Tonight we've spent 20 minutes going over some essential phrases she might need, such as "I don't speak French", "I'm married", "Leave me alone", "A bottle of house red, please" and "Please stop trying to surrender, I'm not invading".  I've tried getting across to her that now she's British, she should understand that "we hate the French, we fight wars against them. Did all those men die in vain on the fields of Agincourt? Was the man who burnt Joan of Arc simply wasting good matches?" but she still wants to go.
So, we're leaving at 4am to drive to St Pancreas (sic) for her 5.25 train. Bon chance et bon voyage!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A Riverside Walk

On Sunday we decided that no matter what, we would go for a long walk with the boys, we've hardly done this at all since Luda was here, and it seemed time to correct that. We parked up at Bourne End station and walked along the Thames Path to Cookham and then onto Maidenhead. Lara walked (well, trotted) the first mile to Cookham, where the path is through open fields along the riverside where we could keep a close eye on her, and she loved it, always trying to catch whomever (whoever?) was out in front. At Cookham we stopped for a picnic and took some photos, then Lara was happy to climb in the backpack carrier and we walked the next 4.5 miles along the Thames path to Maidenhead, and on to the railway station there. Lara napped for 30 minutes en route, but was really happy to be on the train, whilst the boys were just glad of a lie down. We took a quick detour once back in Bourne End to the Bounty pub, which is right on the river, for a quick refresher before going home for tea. The outing took five and a half hours and everyone really enjoyed it. It made a nice change to do a flat walk, as most of the longer walks near home involve hills. And Lara's not getting any lighter when she's in that carrier! She did make us laugh when we first set off from Bourne End car park, she was in the carrier for the first 5 minutes as it was raining lightly, and we had her waterproof cover over the carrier - she was pretending that she was in her domik and she was looking out of the windows. As soon as we crossed the river the rain stopped and the sun came out and the weather was lovely. Must be a Berkshire (South of the river) thing!
It's a real shame we can't let the boys off the lead on a walk like that, we saw so many other walkers with their dogs off-lead, but it's really not worth the hassle of trying to prevent them from running off and playing with every dog that comes along (or worse if it's a pretty lady-dog!). Mishka on his own might be OK, but Jackson is just too hyper and once he starts with other dogs, it just sets Mishka off too. Oh well, one day, when they're much older, we might be able to let them off....

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

My Birthday Party

Last week was very busy at work, and I didn't get chance to look at the photos from my party last Saturday. It was a great day, the sun shone most of the time, it certainly didn't rain, and I got our new barbeque assembled in the nick of time. Lara, Eve and Tess seemed to have a great time playing, and I don't recall there being any tantrums either. Lara stayed up long enough to wave off those of us who went down into High Wycombe at 9.30, but this didn't stop her from waking up at her normal 7.30ish the next day :-(

Here are the pick of our photos....

LGCC v MCC 25th July 2010

Sunday was the big day as far as the Littlewick Green Cricket Club Bicentenary celebrations went, a match against the MCC. The standard of players the MCC use is a good deal higher than anything we're used to playing, especially in the 2nd XI, and it was a pleasure to see their batsmen show how a cricket ball should be hit! They scored 278-6 before declaring, although everyone's performance dropped a little after a heavy 2-course lunch including wine! If only it was like that every weekend... We scored 197-8 in reply, so we didn't lose, although clearly the MCC did take their foot off the pedal a little, but their "part-time" bowlers were still better than anyone I'll face at 2nd XI village level. I did hit 14 runs, including 3 fours, all of which were proper shots, so I'm happy with that, and Olga managed to get a couple of action photos, although the one I've published is of a more defensive variety. You can almost read the maker's name on the bat!
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Thursday, 15 July 2010

Happy Anniversary Us

It's our busy party week this week, with it being my birthday on Tuesday and our fourth wedding anniversary today. We're off out for a meal as soon as Lara has settled down - it's Spanish tonight, given their World Cup success.

Lara has been spending some time today in the next class up at nursery, she'll be moving up properly in September, about the time that she'll go back to nursery 5 days a week once Luda has gone home.  She was quiet to start with, but after five minutes she settled right in, and once the dancing starting, they couldn't stop her, she was bustin' some moves and cuttin' some shapes, I believe the terms are.  Potty training is still going well, with more days of her having no accidents than days with them. She even asked one of the nursery helpers for a book to read today during one potty trip. Can't think who taught her that one!?! ;-)
Well, she's quiet now, so time to go and put my posh dinner clothes on.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Sorry about the rain

I owe an apology to anyone who has got wet this morning - the rain falling in the South East has been caused by me using the hosepipe and sprinkler yesterday evening on our parched back garden, in an attempt to return a little green colour to the grass before my party on Saturday. The weather gods obviously noticed this and decided to help out - see the photo from my office, taken this morning. Oh well, this will save me from having to water the top part of our garden tonight. Every cloud does have a silver lining!
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Sunday, 11 July 2010

Lara's party weekend

Lara has had a very social weekend. On Friday we decided to make the most of the lovely weather and went for food and met some friends in pubs in Marlow after work, then yesterday Olga and Lara came to Littlewick Green whilst I played cricket. Our match was drawn, and it went on quite late, only finishing at 8pm, and by the time we'd had some drinks afterwards it was 10.30pm before we got home. So this morning she was still pretty tired and overheated, so she had a lazy morning on the sofa, cooled by a wet flannel:

Come on Holland!

I'm cheering on Holland tonight, they're the underdogs, we had a lovely holiday in Holland in June (although we also went to Spain!!), and I've got a Dutch friend who's not very well at the moment, so I'm cheering them on for him.
I've decided to settle on ITV's coverage for the build up, I like Adrian Chiles' cheeky approach, but for the game itself, I'll be watching BBC but switching the commentary to the Radio FiveLive audio, as I like Alan Green's no-nonsense attitude.

PS - oh well, never mind, the better team won, and I'll not blame Howard Webb, if he'd sent off two Dutch players in the first half he'd have been slaughtered for ruining the Final, although the de Jong karate kick probably should have been red..

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Girls in the pub

Just a couple of photos from the pub this afternoon, the first is blurry but we love Lara's pose. The second is just a clearer one of the little poseur.
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A sunny week



The weather has been lovely this week, and today was a sunbathing afternoon for the girls, before we headed down to the pub for a meal.

Olga found a website that shows when the ISS is passing overhead particular locations, and this week it's been coming right over Wycombe, so we popped out at the right time to see it last night. It looked like a very fast-moving aeroplane, but without the flashing lights, and of course it was moving much faster than a plane. It's passing overhead twice tonight, so I'm hoping to get a photograph of it. The website is here:

Oh, and happy Independence Day to any Yanks reading...

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Monday, 28 June 2010

A quick trip to Radcliffe

There was no league cricket for Littlewick Green this weekend, so we took the opportunity to go to Radcliffe and see Grandma and Grandpa. We're getting good at packing now, and Lara needs less "stuff", which meant we were able to get Olga, Lara, me, Luda and the dogs into the car with our stuff and I could still see out of the back window. The weather was lovely, and we had a trip round the famous Bury Market on Saturday morning, stocking up on loads of BBQ food, and finding a curtain salesman who spoke some Russian as well. Handy really, as we needed some blackout lining for Lara's curtains..
On Sunday we left Lara with Grandma and took the boys for a walk up Holcombe Hill to see Peel Tower, then it was back to the house in time to fire up the BBQ again before the big game. Oh well, the less said the better, but it was the right result in the end, England were rubbish, although I agree with the rest of the world that it could have been vrey different if that Frank Lampard "goal" had been given. Surely FIFA cannot resist using technology for at least goal-line incidents for long.
We took a more scenic route home though the Peak District for a change last night, it made a pleasant change, and was only 10 minutes longer than the usual M6/M40 route home, so I'll use this route again in future, plus there was no motorway toll :-)
Here are some photos...

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

What a match! (Wimbledon, not England)

I'm a loss for words about that match that is going on at Wimbledon. Play was suspended in the 5th set at 9.10pm after 10 hours of play with the score at 59 games all. We first noticed the score around 6pm when it was merely 30-30. Olga dragged me off to have some food in Marlow at about 36-36. When we left after 2 courses, it was 48-48. When the Germany-Ghana game finished at 9.15, play had just been suspended with the score at 59-59! I can't wait to see how it finishes tomorrow. I really hope the Queen asks to meet the players, they certainly deserve it. I can't think of another sporting equivalent to this game. Atherton's 185 not out in South Africa in Johannesburg in 1995 must come close, but he had numerous lengthy breaks for trivial things like food or sleep. But then again the South Africans could rest their bowlers...

The Barcelona Photo Album

I've put the Barcelona photo album here on the left of the Blog, it's fairly brief. We had a lovely time, arriving on Sunday at the hotel at lunchtime. We had a lazy afternoon, catching up on a bit of sleep then going out for tapas. Monday was our main sightseeing day, it was humid but overcast, but we did a lot of walking, and saw some the main sights. There was an "icebreaker" reception at the conference at teatime, where Lara was a polite and charming (and mostly well-behaved) star attraction on the Geotrace stand. Olga was working from Tuesday until Thursday, which gave Lara and I plenty of time for lazing in the "hot bubbly pool" (the jacuzzi) and touring the shopping centre which was just next door, complete with a Primark so we had to do some shopping. In the evenings we tried out different restaurants that were part of this shopping centre, with Lara seeming to enjoy paella. We were at our baggage limit with Ryanair, but there were just some things we saw that we had to have, like the kiddies' sunbed and a pair of training rollerblades, complete with helmet and pads, that we arranged to be driven back to the UK in a lorry with our Geotrace stand (the computers, tables, chairs etc..) so we'll pick those up from Geotrace's other office in a day or two.
It was an early start on Friday morning to make our 10.15am plane from Girona to Bristol, but we made it OK, and really the whole travelling to and from thing was rather easy, if time-consuming. Well worth the effort for a few days in a nice hotel in Barcelona though!

Where to watch "The Game"

Today's big decision is where to watch the game this afternoon. The Boss has insisted that there should be no drinking in the office, and so everyone must go to the pub next door with its beer garden and big screens. He goes on..."no-one should return to the office drunk, so they must stay in the pub after the game". You see why I've worked here for 12 years!! The employees are actually revolting a little, we're suggesting getting some beer and pizza in the office and watching it on a big screen in our meeting room (streamed over the internet, thus breaking two corporate policies of no alcohol in the office and no streaming TV on the company's internet line). Either way, Olga and I have made the sensible decision to get the bus to work, leaving the car at home, and Aunty Lucy is coming over today as well and will help Baba Luda with Lara while we're "working".
Come on Ennggerrrrrrrlaaaand. I'm predicting a nerveless, straightforward, "what was all the fuss about" 3-0 win. I need to say that as I've got a fiver on England making the Final and am growing a goatee for as long as England are in the tournament.

In the beer garden next to my office, they've turned the TVs on already (11.50am) so I can listen to all the build-up!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Back from Spain

Just a quick post to say we've arrived back from Barcelona, after an early start this morning. I'll make a new web album soon enough of the photos and videos, but in the meantime, here are a few of Lara - on the pool terrace watching Charlie and Lola DVDs, in the hot tub with Olga and wondering what things were included as part of her paella!
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