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Today marks the end of Nasa's Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn. I wanted to mark this day with a blog post as this mission is a little special to me. The reason being that it is the one I most remember being launched and subsequently when it finally first reached Saturn I remember being shocked that it was something like 7 years since launch - by then I was in university looking back on the launch day, a day in my senior school when I was being taught by the frankly amazing physics teacher - Rob Crack. I remember being in the physics classroom and thinking forward about this launch to Saturn which would take so many years (an incomprehensible span back then) before delivering it's payload probe/lander to the moon of Titan, before sending back all this new information about Saturn. And today, that mission has finally ended after 20 years - a span which increasingly seems somewhat fleeting. Literally how time flies, even more so in the field of interplanetary space exploration. Thank you Cassini.


Out on a Limb

This evening, as the sun was setting on a Friday evening I took the opportunity of being back home in Cheltenham with the little guy naked and splashing happily in a paddling pool to pick some of the last few remaining damsons left on the tree. As I did this, initially up a ladder, then half climbing up the tree and finally climbing on top of the fence, I remembered quite viscerally how I used to do exactly this as a child. Picking damsons was my formative fruit picking experience. I'd forgotten how much I used to enjoy doing it, plastic bag slung over my arm or hung off a handy stump, I'd scramble between the twisted boughs receiving piercing stabs from the spiny branches often balanced on the high fence stretching out to reach the farthest purple fruits. Eating them too, this time of year the last of the fruits become just palatable to be able to snack on while picking, but not delicious enough to gorge yourself. Many wonderful memory feelings swept back over me. It was just divine. Then, as I was about to pop on a Hello Internet podcast and take advantage of the solo time, I was called out of the tree by my little boy. He's had a great day playing cup-of-tea in a tent in the garden, the paddling pool, pram bear, slide, and of course the endless fascination of Nana and Grandpa. He also had a superb day in regards to toilet training, waking me up at half six to ask to do a poo, and then four more through the day. Quite impressive. In the evening he even tried on his first pair of pants, and I think he enjoyed it. He's certainly growing up.


Sunset Walk

Due to a late nap, late working by me and thus a late dinner we decided to go for a little walk after eating to help digestion of a massive quantity of watermelon. We walked past the church and to the secret Elm wood catching the last rays of the sun. I made a mad climb of the ancient tree which was nearly a mistake before we emerged into the freshly ploughed fields to the west of the village. In the end we walked all the way round the field and then home with the little guy also walking the entire way (other than a few swings on the arm). We were amazed and well impressed. As we reached home the stars were out and the calm evening cooling. A lovely time.


Bedtime is Changing

His bedtime behaviour changed tonight. This time, rather than coming out and waiting for me to walk him back into bed (from where I'm sitting which is on the chairs on the landing) he came out, told me to read a book and that he was "planning" (whatever that meant), then he walked back into his room. This happened a couple of times, first time he brought me Horrible Histories to read, and then he selected Noma Chomsky's Power Systems. But each time he wondered back into bed on his own and eventually didn't come out after his last time popping his head round the door just to confirm he, or possibly I, was definitely doing the "planning". It is so glorious to watch him grow and develop like he is, even though each of these little steps is tinged with sadness.


Ten Years Barefoot

I see my blog from 10 years ago today and I was recovering from a migraine on a Sunday evening and decided to go for a wonder on Southampton Common. Today, a decade later I was wondering through Histon hughstreet making my way to the park with my son. Both of us were barefoot. Lovely.


Village Funfair

I'm not much one for funfairs. Not sure what it is about them, but I find them faintly creepy places. But this weekend the Histon Green has been given over for a funfair which routinely visits the village.. The little man has been seeing it slowly erected over the past few days and calling out its presence, in particular the "roundandround" which he loves. So this afternoon, when he returned from a friends birthday party, I took him off to have a look round. He walked there really well - certainly improving in his walking now - and he was quite excited to see the round and round up close. Actually that was all he wanted to see, so 2.50 later I sat him in the tiny emergency vehicle and off he went, up and down and round and round. He did the same waving and saying "bye bye" that he did on his birthday when we went to Willows Farm which gave him his first experience of merry-go-rounds. Afterwards I managed to distract him from his persistent call for more roundandround by taking him on the dogems. Perhaps that was a mistake, but for the first half of our ride he was loving it and doing most of the steering. Then things got a bit rough as we joined the fray of other cars. At this point we had our first bump, hitting another car square on the side. The collision resulted in a face-on-wheel impact and left the little guy clutching his upper lip and crying (largely obscured by the general noise of the fair) plus a dab of blood. Sadly we only just regained composure as the ride came to an end and it was time to head home for tea. He moaned most of the way home to go again on the roundandround, but I managed to ignore it and we enjoyed a dinner of garden veg spaghetti outside in the garden. Later, as we recounted our visit to the fair, the mention of the dogems was immediately described in terms of the pain caused. Oh dear, it's another case of the helmet clip when talking about Berty the pony.



10 years ago I dug up my first potato in my newly created Kitchener Allotment patch. That was during the early part of my PhD - they were the halcyon days. Now I'm living in Cambridge with a family, that's quite a change and while they are still good times, there is a small sense in which part of my longs for that past. Perhaps, on reflection, I've always been like this. Maybe I'm just one of those people. It doesn't help having less garden space these days and living in the heartland of nowheresville (i.e. East Anglia - the arse end of the UK, literally and figuratively).

I shouldn't complain, I guess. For one thing the soil here is SO much better than Soton. Gone are the plateau gravels which were the bane of my existence then. I gave up completely on a spade as it just didn't work (even when it came to digging the graves of my rabbits which took some effort). And life with a 2 year old is simply smashing. His joy and energy are a thing to behold (and then put down when I realise I am definitely not as young as I thought I was - where does he get the energy?). Watching him learn is fabulous, and something about which I keep meaning to write least I for get my experiences. Which, of course, I have. Can I remember what he was like only last year? Barely it seems.

So this post is mostly to break the silence of the past few months. Work is busy and life is busier, which is partly an excuse but also true. I'd like to promise I'll post some photos soon, but my backlog there is growing each week. So much to do.



So today was the first in a slight change to routine. I'm trailing a four day week to give me more precious family time and also potentially offer Dr K a little more opportunity to do some additional Pilates instructing. We all went out together in the morning to visit Anglesea Abbey with some other village mums. The weather was glorious, with a coolish start becoming quite warm with almost pristine still conditions. We visited the Lode Mill where we watched the things go round and round. We love round and round. Then had a picnic amongst the grand avenue of lime trees allowing the boys to wonder off for quite some distance to explore and find sticks. Just before we left I was attacked by a masonry bee which thankfully for me stung my t-shirt rather than my neck, but left me sad that it was then going to die (a passerby commented that there were plenty more and so I should't be sad, but that's not really how it works for me). Then in the afternoon we had lunch and played in the garden and walked to the village duck pond. All rather splendid and helped enormously by the favourable weather. Back to work tomorrow.


Holiday End

I've had this past week off and it's been a joy to spend time with the little guy. He's growing up so fast now and has changed so much just over this last week. Thankfully there is still lots of his delightful gibberish but far more often now there are words used to communicate. Sometimes repeated with interjections of gibberish like the scene in Frasier where we see the world from Eddies perspective. It's quite adorable, though I realise its an acquired taste whereby you have to be related to find it adorable, otherwise he just looks like an crazy little old drunk man. There is also his insatiable appetite for tractors, lorries, road sweepers, bin lorries, motorbikes and frankly anything remotely industrial. He bloody loves them. Recently we've been fortunate to live on the main thoroughfare for a succession of tankers transporting sewage around a broken section of the sewer. They are passing through the village three or four times an hour, every hour and he loves screaming "liquid lorry" as they thunder past. It's got to the point where the drivers recognise us and wave. Simple things.


One Today (but only just)

It was the tractor book which had me in tears tonight. Right from the first dig-dig-digging. I think he suspected something was odd as he kept looking up to see why daddy was speaking oddly. It has been a gorgeous day, sunny and warm (not filled with a thunderstorm), two play dates (one home and one away with lots of sand), we had a bit of toy shopping, greengrocer shopping (sadly now in a neighbouring village), a compost run, the sight of a bright orange rescue helicopter, dinner alfresco, and even a chiminea fire. Pretty full on joy and a lovely celebration of his oneness. Tomorrow, two.