April 2014

After somehow managing to get through March with almost no memorable activities, April seems to be chock-a-block with all sorts of activities at home and away.
Talking of 'home and away', Matthew was very pleased with his new sports kit having recently joined the Aldershot Cricket Club's Under 10s squad. Here he is in the garden modelling the training kit on the left and the match-day kit on the right.

'Home' again for this couple of videos showing how the kids have really started to make the most of the new larger garden. Without any supervision, instruction or advice, they created a series of elaborate assault courses and then raced around. To be honest, the creation seemed to be more appealing to them than the taking part - but it isn't quite as interesting to watch...

Garden Games

Garden Games

Next, its an 'away' activity - and a trip up to Southport over the Easter weekend. The weather was mixed. The first couple of days were glorious and the kids joined hundreds of others at the newly opened Kings Gardens playground which is a really decent size and well equipped for children of all ages.

Unfortunately, by the time Clare and Martin and the family joined us, the weather had taken a bit of a turn for the worse and our choice of destination for a Sunday afternoon walk - the sand dunes and beach around Ainsdale - left us feeling decidedly windswept.

We actually headed back down south on the Sunday evening to avoid the Bank Holiday traffic but the kids had an extra day off school on the Tuesday which provided an ideal opportunity for a special day out. After thoroughly enjoying the books and then all the films, we spent a very pleasant afternoon at Harry Potter World - the studios in north London where the films were made. We got to walk around the sets, see many of the real costumes, props and costumes used and saw how many of the special effects were created. It was really interesting - but the gift shop at the end is quite extraordinary ... probably the largest themed gift shop we've ever seen and it was almost impossible to think of a product tie-in that hadn't been brought to life.
Anyway, here's just a selection of sights from the tour...
Cassandra at the main entrance doors into the Great Hall...

... and on the back of the triple-decker Night Bus.

Hagrid's motorbike and sidecar...

... and then Cassandra treating herself to a rather sickly butterscotch-cream-soda representation of the fictional Butterbeer that features regularly in the books.

They'd even recreated part of a housing estate, after the residents of the street used in the first film got greedy and asked for too much money for the sequels.

Enough? Well, okay two more. Here's the rickety bridge that forms part of Hogwarts Castle...

...and finally, a representation of the wand shop, Ollivanders in which each box had been labelled individually with the name of one of the cast or (extensive) crew. A real testament to the attention to detail shown throughout the whole film series.

With all the goings on over the Easter weekend, we postponed Cassandra's birthday outing to the weekend after and took her and a couple of friends out for a nice meal before a sleepover.

For some inexplicable reason, Matthew had been keen to get dressed up for the meal out - which is most uncharacteristic - although he did end up looking fairly grown up.

Finally, evidence of Matthew's dedication to the scouting movement - being prepared to turn out in the drizzle for a St George's Day Service and Parade past some local dignitaries including the Aldershot Garrison commander, the local Mayor, our MP and the bishop of the Cathedral Church of the Army.