We still don't have the laptop functioning - even though David spent 20 minutes on the phone with the Apple support chap, the power supply sent isn't the right one. Some time in the next few days, David is taking a train trip to Birmingham or Milton Keynes to replace it in person, accompanied by said laptop. So this post, truncated because of either the vagaries of the iPad or my lack of nous with it, is the best I can do. And I cannot seem to sort out photos on the iPad or phone. So the post ends abruptly - but I cannot get to see the last stuff I typed when in draft or edit mode, dammit!! Ah well, more later and you won't mind a short post for a change, I am sure ...
The week with both the grandsons was full of fun and activity, and it was a close run thing re who was first into bed each night at 7pm - Karol the five year old or me ...
Finding places to moor was a bit different with two active kids on board - it was important to have running space available, and preferably space to play with a ball. The latter wasn't always possible, so on at least one occasion, Karol was given the task of running ten times past seven moored boats. Needless to say, there was excess energy to be burned off.
We tried not to exceed our daily three hour quota of boating as there is a boredom threshold that sets in for kids. We may find it endlessly fascinating and restful, but when you're 5 that is not the case. And we were on a mission for no TV or computer access for the week - just as it would have been if they'd been at the bach at Tongaporutu back in Taranaki. So Karol did lots of drawing and colouring in - poor kid had to use pieces of cardboard from cut up cereal boxes, biscuit packets, teabag boxes etc, and because we had no colouring pencils, until we got to Banbury, everything was in blue or black biro. Now what would a child psychologist make of that?
Olek is a prodigious reader and is currently reading the first volume of Lord of the Rings. Pretty good going for a ten year old. So when he wasn't up on deck, and sometimes when he was, he read. Easy.
We did break the no TV but only once and only for an hour, when the 5 year old was torturing the 10 year old. A dose of coloured patterns going in to the brain seemed calming and soporific. There was one occasion when he was allowed to watch the blue screen with the bouncing No Signal notice ... He had to count the times it hit the side of the screen. Ok, we are mean, we know it.
Both boys helped at the locks. Olek is very lock savvy and amazingly strong for his spare lean frame. I remember the South Oxford locks from back in 94 when I boated this with my cousin Viv. Some of the paddles are extraordinarily hard to wind up and some of the gates are a trifle heavy given their diminutive size. Karol assisted as much as a five year old can. His top trick was being able to use the middle rope to pull the boat. He is little but extremely strong!
Banbury was our destination with the boys before their mum and dad arrived - for a number of reasons, not least of which was to get some coloured pencils so the monochrome days were behind us. Also we wanted to go to a swimming pool complex. Both boys are like little otters and at home in Dalry, they are taken down to the river pretty much every day in the summer. No swimming in the canal, so a pool it was. People in Banbury are extremely helpful and we found info about Woodend Pool and Spiceball Leisure Centre at the I-site, and info about the bus we needed to take to the former from an M&S staff member who was returning from a break as we were considering bussing rather than walking. Two local teenaged girls were helpful in making sure the selected bus route actually would deliver us there and the bus driver was great in sorting the cheapest fare - £5 for 24 hours unlimited bus travel for the four of us. Being seniors rocks!!
We found the pool and the bus trip was lovely as it took us on some roads we were familiar with from living nearby back in 2006/7. We found the pool, and there the pleasantness ended. Lovely pool complex, nice setting, very popular, lovely sunny day. But the five year old couldn't go in as neither David nor I had brought our togs - we had read the terms of admission but misinterpreted them. We were there to supervise him, but that wasn't enough. One of us had to be in the pool with him. But not to worry, he could play in the splash area and he could go down the tube slide as long as we were at the top and the bottom to see him on and off. No worries so £10 handed over (a bit steep we thought) and in we went. Olek was in and Karol was coping but not 100% happy. So we took him to the tube slide. Ah no! Not allowed as David and I were not allowed poolside in clothes ... AAARRRGGGHHH!!!! So we left. I did ask for our money back but that wasn't possible, although they would give us a token for free admission next visit. Yeah right, like we would dcoming back.
So back to the boat, and a short walk over to Spiceball pool. This time I was prepared with my togs as well and in the three of us went. David was blabbing back onboard