spikegifted.net - Archive Q2 2013
Home: While we were away, the boys have been busy. On one morning, the boys woke up and clawed under the gate on the upstairs landing. They knew that we were not there as they saw us leaving on Friday night before being put to bed by the Ruler_of_spike’s friend. In any case, they sneaked downstairs and went to the kitchen. For some reason, they thought it was a good idea to try to wash their doudous. What a strange thing to do, but then again, three-year-olds tend to do that were perfectly logical to them but baffled their parents, never mind their parents’ friends. In any case, the boys climbed up and turned on the taps, filled the sink with water and put their doudous in it. Clever as this might have seemed, they forgot to turn off the taps. So water was cascading down the cupboards and any cracks and gaps there were. Soon, one of the drawers was filled with water. That particular drawer had some of the heaviest items in there and the weight of these things were making the bottom of the drawer to bow and dislodging itself from the sides. By the time the adults appeared on the scene, the kitchen was properly flooded. Needless to say, it took a long time to mop up and dry up the place. Thankfully, the weather was agreeable and the easily assessable places were all dried up by the time we returned home. However, certain drawers and cupboard had to be kept opened for a while for the dampness to disappear.
Home: The next day, we went to a couple of places where did not have the time to go to visit on the first day. Some of them were very disappointing, basically, they were tourist attractions which the local council decided to exploit. So from the moment you drove near the location, we felt like we were being managed and asked to pay for everything. We would not put up with that! We then headed down to the Solent, which was a lot more pleasant, and it was free. As it was customary, there was a nice strong gust in the Solent. The sea breeze was invigorating - a deep breath of that salty air in my lungs was enough to make me feel re-energized. After a good walk around in the park in nearby area, it was time to head home. Having spent our first continuous 48-hour away from the boys, we were ready to re-engage.
Home: By the way we were counting, it was nearly six years ago when we visited the New Forest. The place was just as charming as we remembered and the weather has really cooperated - it was sunny without being too hot. We took breakfast in the hotel and then went off to Brockenhurst, village where we stayed the last time we went to the New Forest. The place has not changed in any way. We rented a couple of bicycles and went off some trails into the forest. At the bicycle hiring shop, the assistants there recommended a couple of routes to us, which, based our experience and fitness levels, were considered best suited for us. We went off in a leisurely pace, there was no point in tiring ourselves out in the first half hour. Being the New Forest, there were ponies everywhere, and there were times when we had to be really careful as they would just cross in front of just about anything. We actually went beyond the described route, but it was worth the trouble as we saw deer in one of the fields which we went past. In the evening, we went to the pub at Bank which we went to all those years ago to have dinner. The food and the atmosphere were just as we remembered. For the first time since the arrival of the boys, we were on our own and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!!
Home: We left as soon as we practically could, which meant after putting the boys to bed. By the time we had finished briefing the Ruler_of_spike's friend about our house, it was past 8:30. From our limited previous experience, we expected the journey to be between hour and half to two hours. It has been a short-coming of my driving as I tended to speed on the motorway when the opportunities presented themselves. So we were travelling down the motorway called 'M3' where the traffic was quite busy. Frankly, that was to be expected as it was a Friday evening, lots of people were probably getting away for the weekend and probably had the same idea as we did - travelled on the Friday night instead of wasting time on the road on the Saturday morning. The speed I was doing was quite civilized as there was this traffic. However, when the opportunity presented, I speeded up. In this section of the motorway, I was the only car on the road and I was traveling at over 90mph on the slow lane. As I approached other cars, I moved back out to the fast lane to overtake. Then, I noticed the car behind me was flashing blue light, I knew it was the police. At first, I thought it was on other business as wanted to pass, but when I saw it followed me on to the slower lane, I realized it was me they were after. I pulled over to the hard shoulder and stopped. We sat waiting in the car and I knew they were going to pick me for speed. In short, I was traveling well over the speed limit and I was issued with a penalty charge and had points deduced from my driving license. I was not impressed by myself and knew that it was entirely avoidable. It was of little surprise that the Ruler_of_spike observed that I was shaken up by that experience. It was not an ideal start to our weekend escape.
Home: Part of the 'deal' for having the Ruler_of_spike's friend's son was that the mother would come and join her son and they would in turn look after the boys for a weekend, leaving us free to escape for a weekend. Wow! What an awesome gift that was, particularly for the Ruler_of_spike who has not spend more than half a day away from the boys. Our situation is that we did not have anyone whom we could rely on. Other parents have their siblings, parents or in-laws to fall back on. Many grandparents would be more than happy to take care of their grandchildren for a short space of time. We did not have that luxury. For the Ruler_of_spike, it has been day after day of relentless grinding by the boys. It was not anything they did that was making her life difficult - they were behaving how two boys at their age would be doing. Anyway, we had this weekend away which was a godsend. We have been eyeing up on a return to the New Forest, but owing to late confirmation, and given that it was end of June, we could only find accommodation in Lyndhurst. Nevertheless, we were not complaining - we were just happy to be able get away for the weekend.
Home: Looking back, it was a long time since we have had dim sum. Thanks to our busy schedule, we seemed to find time to do things like going to dim sum. However, it also means that we appreciate the food and the occasion much more. Now. That we had a guest in our house, it was no better excuse to go for dim sum. We knew it would be impossible for us to get into the restaurant during Sunday lunch time as the boys would not wait around for long. So we decided to try our luck on the Saturday. While we had to wait, it was only ten minutes. The boys were keen to climb on to the booster seats, as they knew food was coming. I order our usual favorites as I paid particular attention to order multiples of things which the boys could (and would) eat. We had a great meal! Our guest was impressed by Chinese food, something which he has not had too many opportunities to have. The boys ate everything that was put in front of them and he knew what they liked and did not like. We left for home with full stomachs and feeling happy.
Home: It was around the time which things started slowing down in French schools. It also meant that we were receiving visitors. The first visitor was the mid-teen son of a friend of the Ruler_of_spike. The boys loved this boy - he was old enough to be strong to be little rough with the boys but not too old to have too many other interesting things to do so he had a lot of time on his hands to getting involved with the boys. Moreover, he was a kindly young man and he would be a perfect model for the boys to look up to in years to come. Anyway, he was old enough to fly on his own and I went to pick him up from London City Airport after work. We took the Docklands Light Railway from the airport to go back to central London. As it was above ground for most of the way, I managed to perform as a tour guide for the landmarks which I recognized. The rest of the trip was comparative uneventful. I was just happy to deliver him to our house safely.
Home: Now that I was a father, I got to celebrate Father's Day. To be totally honest, it was not that big of a deal for me. May be it was how my parents were like when I was a child, I was never the person who made a fuss about special days around the year and Father's Day was no different. The boys presented me with cards they made in the playgroup and then there were lots of big kisses and hugs. We went to a little cafe close to where we lived, which the Ruler_of_spike has taken the boys to a few times already. It was a friendly family-ran affair. The boys knew the place already and it was interesting to observe how confident they were going about the place. The food was great, notwithstanding the fact that it was just a little place and I think we all enjoyed ourselves. The boys were running around towards the end but they were behaving like good little boys. We had a great time. It was clearly a big deal for the boys and for the Ruler_of_spike, and that was all in the name of Father's Day. In the end, it felt like a big deal. So it was a big deal after all!
Home: While the Ruler_of_spike was out, I asked the boys a question which, with hindsight, would be considered too early for them. The question was in fact very simple, but required the boys to make comparison between locations. In short, I asked the boys if they preferred London or Brittany. Actually, I asked Master Chill as he happened to be sitting in front of me drinking water at the time. He lowered his cup, looked at me with his big eyes. After a short 'hesitation', he replied Brittany. I turned around to ask Master Cheeky the same question, I got the same answer. When I enquired further as to why they preferred Brittany to London and they both replied: 'beach'. I was surprised: not only did they have the concept of different locations, they actually, with a bit of thinking and reasoning, explained to me why they preferred one place to another. The Ruler_of_spike was equally impressed when I told her that.
Home: Just when we thought we were going to have some good weather, after one of the coldest and wettest spring in living memory, we continued with the bad weather. Originally we were planning on having a barbeque when a friend came to visit, we ended up making a Spanish stew. While normally a stew of any kind would be wildly out of place in June, it was just the right dish as the weather was cold and miserable outside. We kept questioning ourselves: When are we going to have some nice weather for a change? The weather forecasts were not giving us any good news though as they kept reminding us that the jet stream needed to be further north for the UK to have warmer weather. The trouble was that no-one could control the jet stream...
Home: Master Chill was getting good at reaching out to things which he should not be reaching out to. Couple of things really stuck out in our minds: the key for the kitchen door to the garden and the CDs and DVDs. We were actually generally impressed by his abilities. To get to the key for the garden was not straight forward. He had to line up the step stool and to find the correct key amongst a collection of over a dozen. Then he had to come back down and put the key into the keyhole (the right way). The CDs and DVDs were even more impressive. He had to remove the disc from the CD player and put it back into the correct box (which he did) before loading another disc into the player. At the same time, he did not mix up the CDs with the DVDs which he knew were for the DVD player (and not the CD player). Just how did he do all of that?
Home: While the Ruler_of_spike was out, I was hoping to listen to the latest studio album of Rush as I was going to go their concert in a week's time. Just as I have loaded the CD and pressed the 'Play' button, Master Chill approached me and said, "No, papa." There was a certain finality in his statement which made me stop on my tracks and paid notice. He then pointed up to the pale of CDs sitting on the shelf and motioned me to lift him up to it. As we approach the CDs, he reached out and pointed to one of the CDs near the top of the stack. I instantly knew what he wanted. It was one of my favorite pieced of classical music - a recording of Mozart's Requiem. Had he wanted any other CD, I would have carried on with the Rush album. However, this was Mozart. Moreover, it was the Requiem. There were not many pieces of music by anyone who would put Rush into second place, but Master Chill has picked the trump card. So, for a few moments, he and I sat down and enjoyed one of the greatest pieced of music ever written, while Master Cheeky wondered what all the fuss was about.
Home: If an alien has landed in our backyard and it has no idea what season this part of our planet was enjoying, it would be mistaken that we were in fact experiencing a winter. While it might have been right in the sense that the weather was so horrible that it was indeed more like winter than late spring. On the other hand, given that it was now late May, we should be forgiven for expecting better weather than what we have been enduring.
Home: What is it that attracts children to speakers, specifically the hi-fi varieties? I could vaguely remember being fascinated by the floor-standing speakers of a friend of my dad's when I was a little kid, but nothing really specific which I could put my finger on. Anyway, some years ago, I invested in a set of VideoLogic Sirocco 2.1 speaker set to cover my PC multimedia needs. The domes on the satellites, which had separate speakers to cover mid and high frequencies, were exposed. This set of speakers were considered the very best 2.1 speakers set for computers. For years, they sat on my desk, pumping out music, movie soundtracks and noises made by games whenever they were allowed to do so. In the past few years though I have had fewer and fewer opportunities as we spent much of time with the boys and our other activities got squeezed out. However, the speakers were still sitting on my desk and they proved tempting targets for the boys. The boys have learnt that there were lots of interesting things in the spare room - sharp scissors, metal rulers, table tennis balls, PC, mouse, keyboard, trackball, etc. were all within easy reach once they were in the room. And if they stood tip-toe they could reach the speakers with their speakers. I thought they must have gotten into some kind of competition to see who could do the most damage on the speak on his side. In short, the boys worked on the soft boundaries which connected the cone of the wafer to the casing of the cone. Over a number of weeks, they have managed to poke away three quarters of the soft material on one speak and nearly half of the other. So while the satellites were trashed, the rest of the set up was still in good shape. So I have to find myself a replacement pair of speakers to preserve my set up.
Home: The Ruler_of_spike had to spend a day in London, so I had a whole day with the boys. It was going to be a lot of fun. If left on their own, the boys were old enough to cause a lot trouble at the shops. Usually when we went to complete our weekly food shopping, the Ruler_of_spike and I would each take a trolley and we would each have one of the boys seated in the trolley. So, to do that on my own was a bit of a challenge. It all started well enough in the supermarket. I managed to keep the boys entertained. It was amazing how handy those free recipes were, along with the empty olive pots and free install magazines. Alas, I eventually ran out of things to keep them occupied. Instead they were find other ways to keep themselves entertained. Those things included shouting and making a lot noise, tearing up the recipes and discarding the rubbish everywhere, throwing their doudous, and messing around with the trolleys (like forming a train or pushing them away from the aisles, etc.) What really was not helpful was the fellow shoppers in the supermarket. They looked at me with disdain, as if saying how dare I disturbed their shopping trips with my kids. The hostility I felt was real and unbearable. In short, it was a very painful shopping experience for me.
Home: Master Cheeky's speech was developing nicely. One of the things which I was impressed with was him grasping the concept of 'dark'. While whether the condition 'bright' or 'dark' was relative, he was able to point out it was 'dark' in the house at dusk. In their room in France, there were blinds incorporated into the windows. As a result, when the blinds were down, it was near total darkness. In contrast, the roller-blind in London was leaking light into the room. Master Cheeky, wanted some proper darkness to help him sleep, said out loud: 'more dark'! For me, that was really impressive. Not only did he expressed 'dark', he also used the word which he already knew to express an idea which he did not know the proper words for. That was truly formidable!
Home: Unusually, we had a night crossing coming back from France. Typically, our return trips were day crossings and we usually would be rather busy running after the boys. They would be so excited that they would not have taken their naps. Even if they did, and even if they had slept for two hours, there was the rest of the trip which we had to keep them entertained. A night crossing was so much more agreeable was they would have spent most of the night sleeping. We only had to feed them and then make them fall sleep. The rest of the trip was relatively quiet. Easy!!
Home: Oh! What a change it was to have nice weather. While I have not experienced too much rain in London, it was just grey for extended period of time. Worse, it was cold for the time of the year. It was supposed to be 'spring time', but it did not feel very spring like. There was definitely a distinct wintry feel in the wind. So it was really refreshing to be able to enjoy some nice clear days, with temperatures reaching the high teens or even the low twenties. I was not seeking a heat wave, just seasonal weather. While it was a change for me to experience some pleasant spring weather, it was business as usual for the boys. In the few days when I was there, we took the boys out to the beaches every single day. They loved playing and running around in the sand. We also went to see horses in the fields. They were healthy and happy, and that made life easier for the Ruler_of_spike and I. After the horror of a first quarter, it was almost unbelievable how well the boys were. Long may it continue.
Home: We took the opportunity to catch up with developments in the family and, of course, the boys. The previous day, my father-in-law went round to the house for lunch. As per usual practice, the Ruler_of_spike gave the boys their lunch at the usual time and put them to their naps after my father-in-law arrived. This way, they would be resting while the adults were having the lunch. Anyway, the nap did not happen. May be they were too excited with grandpa visiting. The boys ended up eating the meal (lamb cutlets) for the Ruler_of_spike. If that was not enough, the boys proceeded to put away half a Camembert and half a baguette between them! Goodness knew where they hid all that food, but they were on a mission to consume. Their grandpa was mightily impressed. And so was I!!
Home: I was off to France again! Yes, I was leaving London behind and going to join my family. The inter-change was at Lille Europe again and I patiently waited for my connection. Just like my previous trip going back to London, it was a train full of old carriages. To make things interesting (long train journeys could be a little monotonous), either the climate control or the thermostat for the carriage was broken and the carriage was sweltering! Lucky that I have brought along plenty of fluids. Throughout the trip, a number of SNCF employees (mainly ticket inspectors) attempted to bring the temperature down but it was still very hot. It was an uncomfortable trip and it was relieve to get to my destination. As it was late, the Ruler_of_spike has arranged for a taxi to bring me to the house. The boys have gone to bed long before my arrival, but I had the company of the Ruler_of_spike, something which I have missed.
Home: Many years ago, I used to suffer from migraine extensively. At its peak, I used to have it three or may be four times a week. It came on suddenly, and, despite having been referred to different specialists, no-one could provide any medical reason which caused those migraines. That, like I said, was many years ago and I have not really had any problems for many years. Of course, I have had the occasional migraine, but owed to my past experience, I knew how to deal with them, most of the time. Then, all out of the sudden, I woke up one day with a hint of things to come. As it has happened many times in the past, it started with a bit of pressure on bridge of the nose when I woke up. I knew what the drill was so took some ibuprofen tablets which often prevented the symptoms from developing. However, that did not work this time. This pressure spread upwards to my forehead. Usually, at this stage of the migraine, I would lay down in a dark room and hoped it would go away. It seldom worked and it did not work this time either, but at least being away from daylight relieved some of the discomfort. I then felt pressure on the back of one of my eyes. From experience, I knew there was no point in trying as the only solution was to try to sleep it off, which was what I did. I lowered the blinds and threw the duvet over my head and managed to find a position which was sufficiently comfortable to drift off. I eventually woke a few hours later with a hint of a headache (note: not a migraine) which went away soon after I got up. There was no hint of the struggle I had hours earlier...
Home: The weather has been so bad that I did not have an opportunity to mow the lawn at all. In the single weekend between my visit to France, I took the opportunity to give the lawn the first cut of the year. Unfortunately, after less than ten minutes, the heavens opened up and I was forced to pack up. Nevertheless, I took the opportunity to vacuum the house. Lately, this was something that the Ruler_of_spike has been taken care of and this just reminded me how difficult it was to clean the house. The task of clean would have been made more complicated if the boys were around, as they would have 'helped' throughout the process. That was what the Ruler_of_spike had to deal with. I really should count how lucky I was given that I could do the work without the boys around.
Home: After a fantastic weekend over in Brittany with my family, I was back in London alone in the house. On the other hand, I really did not spend that much time in the house as I was spending a lot of time at work. And most of the time I spent at home was actually spent sleeping. It was a reminder that without the people, a house was just a house, not a home. I missed my family!
Home: For this trip, the train would travel through to Lille Europe where I would wait and catch an Eurostar train over to London. I guessed I have been spoiled, but I have never been on an old TGV carriage before this trip. Suddenly, I was thrown back to the mid-1980s. Compared with the modern carriages which I have been used to, the old ones were distinctly uncomfortable and low tech. It was not a comfortable ride. After sitting in the train for five hours, it was glad to be off it. Even the Eurostar's outdated 1990s carriages were considered an improvement!
Home: As usual, time flied when we were having fun. Just as we were finding our rhythm as a family, it was time for me return to London. Unlike my previous trip, the timing of my train more favorable in the sense that the Ruler_of_spike was able to drive me to the station. Doing that brought another dimension to the preparation before leaving as we had to feed and dress the boys before getting everyone in the car. The original plan was for me to say the goodbyes in the car. Given that it was relatively early, we locked the car and took the boys with us to the ticket office to collect my tickets. That, in itself, was an adventure for the boys, which I believed they thoroughly enjoyed. Then it was time for me to get to my platform. We said our goodbyes, with lots of hugs and kisses all round. We explained that I had to get to the platform on the opposite side, but Master Chill wanted to accompany me. While that was an appealing thought, the train platform was simply too busy a place for the Ruler_of_spike to be on her own with the boys. When I got to the alighting point of my carriage, the Ruler_of_spike has moved the boys along so we were standing opposite sides of the tracks. By then, she was holding Master Chill as that was the only way to stop him from running back down the platform and the steps. Master Cheeky was thorough confused as all the commotion was a little much for him. As the train arrived, there was even more activities. I was busy getting on the train and finding my seat. Having set my stuff down, I returned to the door of the carriage and waved my goodbye to my family. Aside from the Ruler_of_spike, I did not think I got the attention of anyone else. May be it was a little more excitement for the boys.
Home: The weather had been very agreeable. We were out every day with the boys: to walk on the beaches, to look and feed the horses, and generally having a great time together as a family. I could not imagine how much I missed them, particularly the Ruler_of_spike. We were able to go out and enjoyed lots of very nice weather. We also went on ferry to Île-aux-Moines, the largest island in the Golfe du Morbihan. The weather was good without getting too hot and the ferry trip fascinated the boys to no end. It was a fantastic day and a fantastic weekend. I had the Ruler_of_spike to thank for making it so special in such a short space of time.
Home: All too quickly, nearly two weeks had passed and it was time to go and join my family in France for a long weekend. The train departing from London was an early one and my arrival time was near the end of the boys afternoon nap. The Ruler_of_spike made a massive effort of waking the boys from their naps, got them ready and drove to the station to meet me. As the TGV slowed after entering the station, I could see her and the boys on the platform. I was overjoyed as it was totally unexpected. They were suppose to be in the car park and I was going to go and find them. How exciting it was to be met by family after not seeing them for nearly a fortnight! I practically pushed my way off the train and rushed down the platform to unite with them. The boys appeared to be a little shaken. Although they were very keen to come to the platform to see the 'big chochoo', the size of the TGV, the speed which it approached the station and all the commotion on the platform have unsettled them. Despite the long journey, I was fully energized. I really have to thank the Ruler_of_spike for her thoughtfulness and effort she put in to make that a very special day.
Home: Having the opportunities to spend time in front of my PC invariably lead to me tweaking the rig. If you have had a chance to look around this site, you will no doubt notice that I have done mild overclocking in my time. I was never overly aggressive as I was not brave enough. With my current set up, I have previously pushed the Core2 quad with a factory clock of 2.4GHz to 3GHz. It was certainly not massive, but I would not argue with a 16% performance boost on the CPU. Then, a while back, I noticed that my rig was actually running at stock speed. That was unheard of. The last time a PC of mine which ran at stock speed was back in 1997. That was not acceptable. However, I have forgotten all the different BIOS settings which allowed me the modest overclock. However, I decided that I might need some time to tweak the settings, so I waited. Now that I had the time to tweak, I went back into the BIOS and proceeded to try to get my rig running at 3GHz again. For some reason, I just could not get my rig to be stable for more than 30 minutes. The rig seemed to fall over when I was just surfing the internet. After a couple of hours of frozen screens, blue screens, random reboot and clearing of CMOS, I suddenly found complete stability at 3GHz. Nirvana! In short, my motherboard and memory combination was only stable when the front side bus was running at multiples of 66.67MHz. So at stock speed, the FSB was at 266.67MHz and it was at 333.33MHz when it was running at 3GHz. At the same time, the memory bus was running at the right ratio relative to the FSB and within spec of the memory modules. In the old days, my friends and I used to talk about the 'art of overclocking', which was true in the sense that there were no hard and fast rules. There were methods which came with a small amount of understanding of how electronics work, but there was no one-size-fits-all solution. My little adventure has just proved the case.
Work: Alone in the house was understandable as that was the arrangement we had, but alone at work was different - I have never signed up to that. "How did that happen?" you might ask. My team leader was a full week training course, I did not get to see him at all. Then my neighbor was on vacation. Then the remaining two members in London were taken ill on the same day. So I was the lone member of my team for the day. When realization dawn on me of that I was alone, it was a daunting prospect, particularly as we were not immediately familiar with each other's work, I would have almost exclusively from the notes left by my colleagues. Fortunately, there were relatively few queries which were truly taxing. Somehow, I managed to get through the day without causing too many problems. So, while it was unpleasant, in the sense that there were no colleagues there for support and as sounding boards, it was manageable. I guessed that was about as good as it could be under the circumstances.
Home: It has been a constant feature every time the Ruler_of_spike and the boys were in France and I was back in London, but it did not make things any easier nor was it easier to accept. I was talking about being alone in the house in London. The most important aspect was that there was no-one to talk to after coming back from work. On the other hand, the Ruler_of_spike had an even more difficult time. She had to pretty much look after the boys on her own 24/7 until my return nearly two weeks later. That was a huge responsibility and a really draining existence. The ones who benefited from these stays in France were the boys. The weather invariably was better than the UK. While they lost out on some of the organized activities that they would normally attend, there were similar activities which were suitable for them. Additionally, they were easy access to the beaches. Within walking distance, they could visit and feed the horses in the fields. The whole lifestyle was different for them. I was hopeful that they enjoyed themselves, and, as they grew up, come to appreciate how fortunate they have been to be able to enjoy such lifestyle.
Home: While the boys were away, I concentrated on doing a few things on my PC. To be totally honest, the opportunities of really spending time in front of my rig since their birth has been rare. While I was grateful that there were more interesting thing to engage me in my spare time, I really missed spending time in front of my rig. It might not have been much that I was doing, but not having spending the time meant I was not as familiar with my rig as I would otherwise be. This was my initial reaction to my rig when I was getting started. I upgraded my rig to Windows 7 Professional edition last year. While our machines at work had Windows 7 Enterprise, I nevertheless felt I was not moving around the interface as smoothly as someone who was more familiar with it. However, with the arrival of the boys, I had to (needed to) have a different relationship with my computer. The very fact that I was unfamiliar with my rig was a strong indication that I have succeeded. Anyway, sitting in front of my PC, trying to get a couple of things done, it was proofing difficult as I was unable to get the desk to feel 'right'. It was another reflection on little time I have spent at my desk. It really took a good few sessions in front of it make myself fully comfortable. On the other hand, there was limited amount of time to spend just in front of the rig. So it was a frustrating computing experience.
Home: Before we knew it, a week was over and I was preparing to return to London after delivering my family to Brittany. Owing to the timing of the train, it was difficult for the Ruler_of_spike to take me to the train station, so a taxi was booked. As the boys were now older, we spent time to explain to them that I was leaving to go back to London to work and I would be back with them before too long. I gave my family some big hugs, and I was on my way. Train trips were rather tedious. While some TGVs have power sockets by the seats, I happened to be on a carriage that did not have them, so I while listened to music for the most of the trip, I was careful not to drain my mobile devises too much by playing demanding games on them. Luckily, I had my bedtime book with me and I also acquired some French computer magazines to keep me occupied. Between reading, sleeping and listening to music, the whole trip just slipped by, including the Metro interchange in Paris. Thanked to the early start, I was back in London and had time to stop at the supermarket to complete some food shopping.
Home: Langoustines were priced according to season and around Easter time, prices could be rather volatile, owing to them being in season but in high demand. Prices fluctuate according to supply and demand. Just before Easter, the Ruler_of_spike checked out the prices and they were high as people were preparing for the festive meals. Then, in the middle of the week after Easter, she found some bargain. While the langoustines were below average in size, there was no issues with the quality of the animals, so she grabbed half a kilogram just to whet the appetite. They were so fresh that they were moving. After quickly cooking them, they were cooled and ready for consumption. Since the boys have not had langoustines before, I removed the shell of one and halved it between the boys. They were not sure what to make of the new food. They both chewed the seafood and explored the new taste and texture of the langoustines. At first there were two puzzled faces, wordlessly asking me what was going on. Then, as they registered the flavors of the seafood, and liking it, their little faces gradually turned from puzzlement to joy. What a sight that was! They have just found a new taste which they liked. Master Chill was the first to react, there was only one word: 'more'. There was no smile, no humor, just a straight forward instruction: give me more. His older brother followed suit, again just that one word. We quickly stopped the langoustines or we would have nothing left to eat. We needed to be careful what we introduced to the boys, or feeding them would prove very expensive.
Home: The boys' first two birthdays had been very eventful affairs. This time round, for their third birthday, it was much quieter. First off, their birthday was on a weekday, so we celebrated with their cousins after the Easter egg hunt. The cake chosen by the Ruler_of_spike was beautiful. Then, on their birthday itself, we went out for lunch at our local crêperie with their grandfather. In a way, given the festivities that went on in their first two birthdays, their third birthday was less eventful. However, we had some quality time in a little local restaurant. The boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves with galettes and crêpe; and us adults were entertained by them.
Home: Although full of interesting features, our garden in France was not really large enough to have an Easter egg hunt, so we went to my brother-in-law's house. It was great for the boys as they got to spend time with their cousins who were all very keen to encourage the boys during the egg hunt and were keen to entertain them afterwards. While the boys started hesitantly, they soon got into the spirit of the hunt. It was all new for them: egg shape objects wrapped in colorful shiny foils. The Ruler_of_spike has thoughtfully acquired a couple 'egg baskets' and the boys were soon filling them up. I guess they were still a little young to really appreciate the Easter eggs, but they soon forgotten the eggs, and started filling the baskets with other things they found in their uncle's house. The best investment turned out to the 'egg baskets'. The boys would not go anywhere, including to bed, without them.