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"Principal of 'universal risk': any transaction has risk associated to it and this risk is a function of the size, duration and complexity of the transaction. Risk can be transformed from one type of risk to another, commonly known as 'hedging', but never truly mitigated or eliminated. Trying too clever in the quest to eliminate risk, there runs a risk of creating new risks."
Home: Our favourite Chinese restaurant has gone out of business. It has been long time coming, but I meant that when we wanted to hook up with our friends, particularly those from the north side of London, we have lost a good restaurant in a good location. Thankfully, a colleague/friend helpfully informed me of another establishment by the Wandsworth riverside which he considered to be a good place for dim sum. It turned out to be a great place to meet. It was slightly closer for our friends from north London, which made the journeys just that little bit shorter. There was a public car park nearby. The food was great (I actually order too much which meant we had some leftovers to take home). And it was right by the river so we headed off for a short walk after consuming all the food. What a great afternoon! I could not thank my colleague/friend enough for his suggestion.
Home: There was a joint nursery/infant school summer fêté. There were many fun things to do which the parents helped organized which made it a happy afternoon for the kids. While the treasure hunt and shooting gallery was useful in getting 'goodies', the boys could not get away from the fire truck. Once they found it, it pretty much spend the remainder of the afternoon climbing up and down it. Nothing could really distract them to get them away from the fire truck - police cars was no comparison and bouncy castle was bouncy castle, not a fire truck... in the end, only the onset of heavy rain intervened to get the boys away from the truck to some hiding place from the rain. even on our way home, the boys were still taking about it.
Home: Owing to the horrible weather we suffered for much of the winter and spring, we have not really taken the boys out to the parks. So now that the weather improved, we were keen to take advantage of it and had a picnic in our favourite local park, Nonsuch Park. We were there a few weeks previously and the boys ran riot with their scooters and we were keen to avoid a repeat performance so the scooters were left behind. This time, it was just us, the picnic and the blankets. The weather was agreeable, the food was simple but good and we had a great time enjoying each others' company. Magical family time!
Home: The boys took part in a sponsored 'bounce-a-thon'! The idea was to encourage the children to participate in regular exercises and they were 'challenged' to keep bouncing in the bouncy castle for one whole minute (as if they need to challenged - we usually could not get them off those things). In the mean time, it was an opportunity to raise some money for the charity which ran the nursery. My colleagues were super-generous and the boys raised a total of £55 for their effort!
Home: We decided that visiting our friend of family once a year was probably not frequent enough so we made arrangements to go and visit Cheshire in June, before all the summer activities began. Our family friend offered us the usual warm welcome and hospitality. Moreover, she took us to a children farm for a visit. The boys got to feed some animals with the feeds which we bought for a small price. They loved the whole experience. However, even with careful planning of travel time, a weekend visit seems to be too short as we had to leave just after Sunday lunch to try to beat the traffic back to London.
Home: Now that we have been informed that the boys have been accepted in the infant school where they have been attending the nursery class, we were looking to them attending the reception class in the new school. One of the things the Ruler_of_spike and I were quite keen on finding out was the arrangements for the boys in the new class. The question we had was that given the boys have always been together, if they were to be split up when they enter the infant school, what were the contingencies in place in case if it was found that they were, for whatever reason, not settled owing to not being together. Short of not hearing any satisfactory answers to our basic questions, the Ruler_of_spike and I were keen to have the boys kept together in the same class. At the same time, we wanted to hear from the school about their arrangements which they claimed have been successful for most twins who have been through the splitting up processes. There were so many questions to be answered...
Home: The Ruler_of_spike has a friend who, owing to work requirement, moved to Swindon, a town (or was it a city) that was not too far from Oxford. They met while the Ruler_of_spike was taking the boys to play groups while they were younger as her friend has a son of similar age as the boys. It has been a while since we last saw her, we were invited for a day trip to Swindon. It was as much a reunion for the ladies as it was for the boys. While the boys were a little shy to start with, they soon got into the swing of things and they had a fantastic time playing with an old friend. It was great to see all the boys got on and played together. For them, the trip was a resounding success!
Home: After the great weather we enjoyed during the first long weekend in May, we were hoping that we would enjoy a repeat performance weather-wise. Alas, it was not to be - the weather was, in fact, horrible. So much for a long weekend... Then, same weather dragged itself out to the whole half-term week. the boys were house-bound and the Ruler_of_spike had the unenviable task of keeping the boys entertained. It was a losing battle from the get-go!
Home: The boys' birthday was spent in Brittany and while we organized a family celebration for them, they missed their friends from London. Although we were never going to invite their entire class from the nursery for a birthday party (that was just not our style), we nevertheless got their UK-based godparents to our house for a small celebration for their birthday. The boys were in heaven! What? Another birthday party!? They really were lucky kids!
Home: The boys have always loved their books. Thanks to the Ruler_of_spike, they have been having bedtime stories since forever and they have always been surrounded by books which were suitable for their age group. Both boys love their books! They almost fight to have their stories read before going to bed. Master Cheeky would insist on having some light to read his books, while Master Chill would pour through the books to look at the most minute of details in the drawings which accompanied the stories. We were so encouraged by the boys' enthusiasm.
Home: Taking advantage of the good weather over the long weekend, we had our first picnic of the year in Nonsuch Park. As the park was large and the boys have gained much proficiency in controlling their scooters, we let the boys on scooters in the park. They were zooming around so fast, it was luck that they did not have an accident. After finding a suitable tree to sit under, we had our lunch and we had a good bit of fooling around with the boys. It was just so relaxing! Every weekend should be a three-day weekend!!
Home: Now that the back garden has had it trim, it was time the front garden and the drive received some attention. Years ago, we have decided we did not want to do much with the front garden given the limited space we had and the fact that it was dominated by the magnolia. As a result, there was minimal amount we had to do. The drive, however, was a different beast. Being a brick-laid drive, there were plenty of little gaps to allow small weeds and plants to have themselves established over time. The fact that our car sat on the drive only prolonged my excuse for not doing anything. Getting rid of them was an exercise of patience, diligence and persistence. Anyone of these being missing would not have gotten the job done. Hours after I started, the drive was clean and free of vegetation. It was a pleasing sight...
Home: With the start of the summer term, the boys were back at Playball. This was the second full term the boys attended these play sessions and while Master Cheeky has shown much progress towards the end of the last term, I was looking forward to seeing Master Chill making the same progress. With a new term, there sessions were being held a different location. We were in a outdoor situation, to, hopefully, take advantage of the improved weather condition. The added advantage of the new location was that it was right next to a dedicated children play area where there were a number activities which the boys loved. So after the end of each session, we would spend some time playing inside the area before returning home, so to give the Ruler_of_spike a bit of a respite from them.
Home: The state of the back garden was a reflection of the unpredictable nature of the weather and how uncooperative it has been. Weekends after weekends we have had rain, yet, there were sunny spells during the week. These conditions were perfect for the plants. The back garden was in need of a tidying up. So with the good weather during the long weekend, I, with the 'help' of the boys, got down and did some lawn mowing. Things were expected tricky owing to the long grass. I had to empty the cut grass basket constantly and the lawn was uneven after the initial cut. Moreover, owing to its length, much of the grass was yellow near the ground. So after the second or third cut, although the length was even, there were patches of different colour all over the lawn. Frankly there was little we could do, it was a question of time and exposure for the colour to return.
Home: After the disappointing spring which we had, having a weekend with good weather was something we hoped for, but never dared to expect. So it was with genuine surprised that we enjoyed good weather during the first May bank holiday. It was amazing how much a little bit of nice weather made. Oh, how I wished we had more good weather...
Home: Before getting back to London, we arranged for one of my cousins and her family (husband and son) to come to our house for a visit. We have not seen each other for nearly ten years as we lived in different parts of the world. They were in the middle of an European tour which took them to all parts of the continent. It was hard work to get back to the house, unpack and then welcome guests almost one thing after another, but it was cool to have visitors. My cousin made us Chinese-style barbecue pork which was a revelation and the boys had a great time with their cousin, who was less than two years older. There was simply no-one in that age group in our family - all the cousins were older or a lot older than them. For days after seeing them, the boys were asking when they would see 'the boy' again.
Home: On our homeward-bound journey, we again had the night crossing via Caen. It was just so much more efficient for us to use this crossing compared to a day crossing via St. Malo. The latter seemed to wasting a whole day just to travel. However, we trip to Caen seemed to taken much longer. Then we realized the reason we were slower compared to the same journey coming back after Christmas was all owed to the roof box. There were probably two reasons - one was psychological and the other imposed upon us by physics. The psychological reason was due to the fact that we had a roof box, I was being more careful. However, physics played a much greater part in making the trip slower: the added weight of the contents of the roof box; the limitation on speed due to the aerodynamical changes made to the car as a result of having the box; and the changes in weight distribution and centre of gravity. The addition of the roof box made a great difference in the feel of the car and how I drove it.
Home: A week was a very short time, particularly when we were having such a great time. However, before we knew it, it was time to pack up to return to the UK. No matter how long or how short a stay it was, packing up was not easy. We were constantly being quizzed by the boys: 'Mummy, where going?' The great thing was that they now had concept of different locations and they understood that we were going back to London, which for them was another adventure. Isn't it great to be young?
Home: We decided to have a day out on a proper beach. After last year’s experience of the beaches near Erdeven, the Ruler_of_spike decided that we should venture towards Quiberon outside the summer peak season. Quiberon itself was a rock out crop with dramatic landscape which was best appreciated when the weather was wild and windy. Driving wind with rough produced the most terrific waves which crashed violently against the rocky shoreline. However, it would have been a uncomfortable place to have a picnic - wind, salty spray and rocky landscape did not combine for a comfortable dining experience. Quickly, we stopped by one of the fantastic beaches at the top of the peninsula, where the conditions were calm and we had plentiful of space and time to consume our homemade sandwiches and salads. Once we were ready, we moved on to the rocky stuff and we're rewarded with the expected drama. What a great day out!
Home: Having been away from the boys for two weeks, which was a long time for them, one of the first thing I noticed was that they were speaking really well. During that time, they have been attending the nursery in the village and it would appear they have had a great time. It was an all-day affair. They would attend the morning session and the Ruler_of_spike would pick them up to have lunch at home. After lunch, the boys were returned to the nursery where they would have their nap. Unlike the UK, taking nap is an integral part of the early school life in France. After their nap, they would continue at the nursery until they were picked up at school end. The boys certainly made themselves popular at the nursery and despite of the fact that they did not seem to be speaking much French, they understood perfectly well what they class was doing. While they only spent two weeks at the nursery in France, we were encouraged that they settled into a totally new environment with no trouble and we believed it was a really positive experience for them.
Home: It was time to go off to France to reunite with my family who I missed terribly. As I was travelling back on Good Friday, which was a bank holiday in the UK, I did not have the need to break up my travel by working in Paris between the two legs of the journey. I was checking on the website on the service update and saw that there were delays. Fortunately, there was no delay at all. I got to Brittany in good shape.
Work: After being very busy for a few weeks, I was hoping to finish up a few things, or at least leave them to a point that intervention was not required, before going away again. But the I discovered that it was not possible. Then the question was: what was more critical? Or to be more honest: the 'incompletion' of which piece of work would cause the least fuzz? The question was importance was not considered. Just a question of what would cause the least trouble. While it was a pragmatic and a necessary consideration, it was also a rather sad state of affairs I found myself in.
Home: One of the things I strived to do was to ensure the Ruler_of_spike came back to a clean house. The last thing anyone would want to do was clean the house as soon as you finished unpacking after returning from a long time away from the house. So I spent the last weekend on my own in London cleaning the house. While it was never an easy task, the addition of the boys' stuff made it harder still. In effect, I had to vacuum the room at least twice over - first by removing all their stuff to get to the floor or whatever that cannot be removed, then each piece had to cleaned and added back. It was a long weekend.
Work: After spending a weekend over in Brittany, I was again back at work. While the first quarter of this year has seen a steady flow of new business, there has not been too many spikes in activities. Then, suddenly, it became busy. Very busy! While the change of pace was welcomed, it took me a while to adjust to the new demand, having been effectively cruising for a while. Of course this change also put pressure on my colleagues who I coordinated and relied on to complete the tasks... It was not all fu and games.
Home: Since September last year when the shelves in the spare room had collapsed, the boys have been nagging me to fix them. Master Chill has been particularly persistent in getting me into action. Almost every day he would approach me to ask: "Papa fixie gigi shelf?' in the hope that I would do something and he could 'help out'. Master Cheeky was happy to tag along, but it was Master Chill's gig. Since September I have done a few bit of preparation work - cleaning up the debris, removing the wall plugs, cleaning up the holes in the wall and applying the filter, etc. These activities kept the boys amused from time to time, but it was not the real action they were looking for. Frankly, the actual fixing of the shelves was very boring. The filled holes were first sanded smooth, followed by several coats of paint to cover up the mended wall. Finally holes were drilled to refit the shelves. The most time consuming part of the job was actually the many coats of paint required to blend the patched up wall with the surroundings. So I was really pleased to be able to tell Master Chill that 'Papa has fini fixie gigi shelf'.
Home: As planned, I left our Paris office and headed over to the train station to catch the Eurostar to come back to London, thus completing my trip. Despite gaining an hour through time zone change, I only made home just before 10pm. It was a long day. On the other hand, in the grand scheme of things, it was a very good deal - I spent money on a taxi ride to the train station in the morning and one additional ticket for the Paris Metro, which in turn save a day of holiday allowance...
Home/Work: My day did not get off to a good start. I got up at some really unsociable time to get ready for the day. I was in my suit and had my backpack prepared when the taxi showed up. There was a mighty tearing sound when I bent to put on my shoes... The Ruler_of_spike informed me that there was a tear in my suit pants, but there was not the time to change. My Barbour just about covered the tear so it would be fine if I did not bend down. I made it to the Paris office where I had my first opportunity to check out what happened - there was a horizontal tear across the back of the right trouser leg. It was an unusal place to have a tear and there was no remedy for such a tear. It was lucky that I had a change of clothes and I quickly replaced the malfunctioning clothing item. What an exciting start to my unusual day!
Home/Work: I spent a lot of time waiting for and sitting in trains. There was the daily commute. Also, when I travelled to and from Brittany when my family was there. So, when my understanding boss suggested to me that I should explore the idea of spending a day working in Paris, it provided a way to save time and holiday allocation. After all, if I could spend a day working in Paris between my two legs of my journey from Brittany to London, and save a day of holiday, it would prove useful later in the year when holiday allowance came under pressure. I was to travel out of Brittany early in the morning so that I would arrive in our Paris office at a respectable time in the morning. The working day was spent there, breaking up my journey. Then, soon after 5pm, I head over the train station to catch the Eurostar back to London and completing my journey. It was a long day. However, it was productive. The time in the Paris office served well to break up the long and tedious train journeys and I had time to recover from a day in the office while sitting idly in the train. This could be a very useful arrangement.
Home: The boys spent their fourth birthday with their family in France. We loved our boys dearly and we would not think twice on things which we thought were beneficial to them or which they would enjoyed. However, lavish birthday parties were not considered so. On the other hand, the Ruler_of_spike and I did make an effort to make the day special for them. It was amazing how the downstairs of the house was temporarily transformed by simply putting up some decoration around the room and have birthday-themed balloons around the place. We did that the night before their birthday after they have gone to bed, so when they woke up the next morning, they were overjoyed. All in all, we thought the boys had a good time and enjoyed their birthday with their extended family.
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