Friday, 26 October 2012

Smiley Kids

 Just a quick post to show off some photos we took of the kids this week. Lara wanted to see if her and Danil could fit in her carrier, and Olga bought Danil his suit for our Winter holidays, which is 12-18 month size and he pretty much fits it well now at 7 1/2 months....
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Thursday, 25 October 2012

Holiday Plan #2 - France

We've not got one holiday out of the way before we go and book another!

Since the skiing has been going so well, we really wanted to have a trip to Europe this winter, as much so Olga could enjoy the scenery as so we could try out our skiing skills on some proper slopes. I'd hoped we be able to tag along with my sister's annual family ski trip, and she must have read my mind, as she suggested exactly that a couple of weeks ago.

So, we're all off to Put St Vincent in France, close to the border with Italy, during the Easter school holidays in late March. Lara will be in ski school with her cousin Elizabeth, and there is a creche for Danny, so the grown ups can have some quality time on the piste. Yes, I said piste.

The holiday company is called Snowbizz, a family run English enterprise, and it's totally geared towards English families, which takes the stress off us having to sort out childcare in a foreign country. We'll be staying in an apartment block which is advertised as "ski-in, ski-out", which removes another hassle of long walks or buses to and from the lifts. It's the block to the left of this photograph:

We'll be flying to Turin from Manchester, and Catherine, Nick and the kids will be driving. With another special guest - our mum is coming too! Not to ski (famous last words!) but to enjoy the sights and fresh mountain air, and maybe the odd glass of vin chaud :-)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Busy Saturdays

We don't seem to have much "down time" at the moment, there always seems to be something to do. After bringing the last of our stuff up from High Wycombe over two weeks ago, we've hardly touched those boxes. Whilst work is keeping us nicely busy in the week, we're making sure we go skiing at least twice a week in the evenings, and then there's Saturdays... so far October's Saturdays have been hectic to say the least. Lara has had her Stage 1 skiing lessons for starters, which she has passed (all six children passed, so long as they can stand up on their skis, they pass this level; it's Level 2 when they can be failed, they need to maintain a proper snowplough...), then we had our trip to Wycombe. The Saturday after that Olga and I took the dogs to a dog trainer for some one-on-two coaching to see if we can't improve their behaviour around other dogs. They weren't completely useless, and gave us some hope that one day we'll be able to let them off in a park, they can go and play with other dogs, and come back when we call them. The weather that day was lovely, and on the spur of the moment I decided to whisk the family off to Blackpool to see the illuminations. It's only a 45 minute drive away, we did all the important things - we saw the Tower, some trams, we went onto the beach (we didn't paddle, the tide was way out), Lara soaked herself in pools, I took some photos, Lara had a ride on a donkey called Paddy (£2.50 for anyone wondering what the going rate is for a donkey ride on Blackpool beach is these days), we had fish and chips in a cafe, Lara had an ice-cream despite the rapidly-lowering temperatures, I got fleeced in an amusment arcade trying to grab Lara a new cuddly toy, we got fed up of the crowds on the prom on a Saturday evening and we came home. In a way I'm glad Olga saw it on a Saturday evening, just as the stag parties and hen do's were getting started, it made me glad I never took her there for a romantic weekend, it's just not that kind of place. Anyway, we came away with some nice photos:

Then this last Saturday, after Lara's skiing, it was a quick trip into Manchester's Trafford Centre, my first visit to this huge shopping centre. We set a personal best, being in and out in under 30 minutes, with only a random pair of jeans for me, and our new camera, which was the whole point of going in in the first place. My old DSLR is on its way out, giving me errors when I really need it to work; I've had it for almost 10 years, so it's done a great job, but it's been replaced by a "bridge camera" - not an SLR as such, but more than a compact camera. It's a Sony DSC-HX200V, and it's brilliant. I can take 3D photos, it has GPS logging, and can even take photos automatically when it detects a smile (a normal smile or a BIG smile, I can set its smile-sensitivity!). Anyway, I'll not go on about it, but the photos below are taken with it. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, dashing out of the Trafford Centre before we bought anything else. Then it was straight onto Chester, where there is a sports clothing shop that had a ski jacket we wanted Olga to try on. Plus I wanted to see what Chester city centre was like, and it's lovely. Then back to Bury, for a bit more shopping (still can't find Olga the perfect ski jacket) before heading in Bury in the evening for the annual "Festival of Light" show. We didn't know what to expect, but it was busy. Some fairground rides, some market stalls, firebreathers, fire throwers, plenty of Romanians hawking battery-operated torch toys for the kids (yes, Lara got one, it was impossible to say no).
So far we have no plans for this Saturday. We've booked Lara's Stage 2 skiing lessons for Sunday mornings now, so we can have the odd night out on Friday without having to get up at 7am on Saturday! We're up early tomorrow morning to try out "pre-work skiing". The slope opens at 7.30am on Wednesdays, so we're going over there to see what it's like to ski when the snow is fresh...