Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

The pre-Christmas logjam of activities

We were tootling along quite nicely with our various regular activities until a week or two back but now it’s getting to the point that we can barely fit everything in.

It’s mainly down to the Christmas activities that the school seem to be throwing at us almost daily which are difficult to fit into what was already a reasonably full though doable schedule. Thus we have school photos to deal with, school calendars to come in the next day or two, the school Christmas fair this week, the school play next week, the school Christmas pantomime the following week and, no doubt, many more Christmasy things that we’ve forgotten or not been told about yet.

Naturally, there are also things like Christmas cards to write, Christmas presents to be bought, the Christmas markets to be seen and lots more besides.

And, of course, there are the non-Christmas things to be done which, for me, seems to be largely taken up with assorted course assignments though there’s lots of non-course things to be done too.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

A free creche

You’d think that the free creche within IKEA was aimed at those shopping there who don’t want to drag the kids around the shop with them but it isn’t really.

Although I’m sure that they originally intended that, what’s happened since is that it has become too popular, at least in the afternoons. Thus when you turn up at the shop your creche slot (it’s for up to 10 year olds) is generally a couple of hours later so you either drag the kids around and then plop them in the creche or you go to it specially.

Our little guys thought it was better than Indiana Land so have added that to one of the play areas that they’ll be asking to be taken back to. What I think we’ll do next time is to book a slot in the morning and drop them in for the 45 minutes after school.

I wonder how long IKEA will continue to fork out for it now that it’s effectively become separated from the shop?

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Another piece of news from France

It’s been a long time since we’ve mentioned anything of consequence about France.

The main reason is that there’s nothing much of note happening. Having said that, over the past few months we’ve had a growing level of interest in Mas Camps with three or four more interested parties having a look at the place. The latest one is offering a mixture of cash and a house which seems interesting if a little complicated financially and legally.

Alongside that we’ve had the usual run of bills from assorted arms of the French government who don’t seem to be able to fully grasp the concept that we’re no longer living in France. One particularly interesting one is for a tax that’s only payable if you’re living in France for which they’ve managed to change the address to an “interesting” (read: barely legible) version of our home address here ie they know that we’re not living there yet still sent a bill for a tax that would only be payable if we were!

It appears too that the rumoured bypass of the village is going ahead with the new road to be finishing up not too far from our front door.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Back to school for Wendy

Yesterday morning saw the presentation on what courses the local tech (OK, Belfast Metropolitan College) can offer in the school for the parents or at least those participating in the community group anyway.

It turns out that English was the most popular option with 18, followed by computing with about 15 and with maths trailing at 11. Those numbers appear to reflect the perceived difficulty of the three courses although I suspect that particular perception could turn out to be somewhat flawed if comments by the prospective tutor for the English and computing courses after the numbers were collected are anything to go by. What it also reflects is the almost exclusively female nature of the group which is why English had no trouble getting the numbers whilst maths had problems even getting to 11.

Anyway, Wendy’s signed up for maths and English which’ll keep her busy in the mornings ’til sometime in June.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

The Connswater greenway: a meandering route from the Titanic Quarter to the Castlereagh hills

The Connswater greenway is a project which will, over the course of the next two or three years, link up pretty much all of the existing smattering of parks and walkways from the Titanic quarter through to the Castlereagh hills.

Although it’s an area that I’ve been in and around for most of my life their booklet highlights a whole bunch of things that I never knew existed. In fact, it comes across as a much more interesting area than you would expect, picking out as it does interests ranging from George Best’s home and Van Morrison’s home and haunts through to a 400 year old bridge in what it a fairly compact area.

That bridge is the most surprising for me as I went to school right beside it yet never knew of its existence until Wednesday morning! To be fair, it doesn’t look that impressive these days but then ancient footbridges rarely do and this one crosses the river at a point where the flow tends to collect a whole heap of junk ranging from fallen branches through to the Tesco trolley which seem to get everywhere these days.

Whilst the majority of the open spaces exist already, many of them have seen better days and the walkways have generally fallen into disuse over the years. Thus one of the major tasks of the project is to spruce up what’s already there which is no small task given the span of the greenway. This will include re-routing some of the stretches of river to both create a more typical meandering look and to sort out the flooding problem that arises along some sections of the rivers. In addition to all the prettying up the playgrounds scattered along the route will have their numbers increased somewhat and upgrades to those that are already there.

One of the most staggering figures that was quoted in the presentation on Wednesday was that over 50% of the population in the area is “economically inactive” ie there’s a very high level of unemployment. Whilst this project won’t directly change that, it should help to pretty up the area substantially which may in turn attract more businesses to move to what was once an area with close to 100% employment thanks to the shipyard, aircraft factory and all the supporting businesses which they drew in.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.