October 2012

With the new school term well underway, the kids are getting settled back into their various extra-curricular activities. Both of them are having a go at judo this term, Cassandra has switched from gymnastics to trampolining, both still have swimming lessons, both are in the school choir and whilst Matthew continues to enjoy Beavers, Cassandra loves her weekly Brownies. The Brownie Leader (Brown Owl) is a huge ice hockey fan so was keen to take a group on a Sunday evening to a home game of the Guildford flames. Cassandra and Matthew both went along and both enjoyed it for an hour or so but after that it failed to hold their attention as it was all a bit stop-start. Still, an experience all the same...

Back to Legoland next. We had planned to have a day out on a canal boat with our friends Linda and Richard but the weather and canal conditions caused us to postpone. Instead, they joined us at Legoland where at least the boats in the Fairy Tale Brook were still running...

Actually, neither Linda nor Richard had been to Legoland before so they had a great time going on all the rides - from the rather tame Dino Safari...

... to the somewhat more extreme log flume. Well, okay, Linda didn't quite make it onto the log flume but she certainly enjoyed watching Richard getting soaked.

We're also still pressing on with our Lego Mindstorms models of theme park rides and on each visit we find new inspiration. This month, we tackled the magic carpet ride - although the movement wasn't quite as smooth as the riders might have hoped for...

Mindstorms - Magic Carpet

And so we reach half term and a week's holiday with the extended family in the small town of Matlock Bath in Derbyshire. By sheer good fortune, we timed our arrival with the last night of the Matlock Bath Illuminations which included a riverboat display, some blackpool-style street lights and - most impressively - a firework display ... which we enjoyed from the balcony of our fabulous holiday cottage.

Over the next few days, we enjoyed lots of wonderful walks in the nearby hills - many with some very steep slopes and sheer drops. This photo was taken from High Tor looking down over Matlock Bath.

For those who can't manage the steep climbs, Matlock provides an Alpine-style cable car system known as the 'Heights of Abraham'. Unusually, the cars are grouped in threes so that when the changeover occurs, those on-route get to pause and enjoy the view from half way up or down.

It was really steep and sheer in places - these are reputedly the tallest inland cliffs in the UK - but that didn't stop inquisitive youngsters wanting to get a really close look...

Mid-way through the week was Halloween and whilst we dissuaded the kids from Trick or Treating in an unfamiliar neighbourhood, they still had a fantastic time dressing up and even put on a play which they spent most of an afternoon rehearsing away from adult intervention.

As usual, Cassandra was the Narrator in the play so didn't bother with a costume until later in the evening... by which time Matthew had dispensed with his and moved onto body art with the face paints.

We also had a few day trips out - but each one took us to Alton Towers. Firstly to the theme park itself - where the highlight of the day for Matthew was getting a free can of Fanta for taking part in a space hopper race. Actually, the forwards, backwards and vertical drop roller-coaster Thirteen was probably the biggest hit, closely followed by the (increasingly stomach churning according to Chris) Enterprise and Submission rides in the X-sector.

Alton Towers Race

Our second visit was to the Alton Towers Splash Landings Hotel and its Cariba Creek Waterpark. No photos from here but a fabulous time spent on the various flumes, slides and heated indoor and outdoor pools.
Our final visit was on the last night of our holiday which was actually in November. Photos to follow...