Thursday, 26 April 2012

Son's Travel Diaries - aged 10

After sharing my rather earnest and slightly prissy travel diaries with you this week, I showed them to my son Rory. He roared with laughter and then reminded me that he completed a travel diary during our Mediterranean cruise in 2006. He has happily given permission for me to share some extracts with you.

What strikes me about them is how much more punchy they are; no unnecessary words. I also get the distinct feeling from some sentences that he has been listening to his father and picking up some choice language. But more than anything there is a great sense of humour. And see how he begins and ends each entry with the same words.


Mediterranean Cruise - Rory - Aged 10

At Sea

Get up, have breakfast. Go kids club, do playstation, deck detectives (me and a boy called carl won it), basketball and table tennis. Had lunch, had circus juggling workshop. I learned how to juggle with three balls! Played shuffleboard with dad. Dad 72 Me 60! Relax at pool. have din, go to kids club to play a game called night at the races, I won the most money! Then we went to see a magician called Manuel Martinez who was really funny. He used some swear words. Then we went to see some karaoke.


Get up, have breakfast, went to Genoa aquarium. There was sharks, penguins and dolphins and other weird fish like the ugliest fish I've ever seen, the ocean sunfish. It was bigger than a shark.  It looked a bit like this [ see picture]
Went back to ship, had lunch, watched batman begins in cabin.  Relax on pool side, play gameboy. A boy helps me and wants to trade with me.  Had dinner, saw MOON show. It was wicked with amazing acrobats and singers and jugglers. It also had loads of lasers.


Champions League Trophy, Nou Camp, Barcelona
Get up, have breakfast, go and visit church that had a really wacky design. Went to Barcelona F.C. Stadium.  Had fake photos done with cardboard cut-outs of ronaldinho and eto'o and with a replica champions league trophy to impress my friends.  I saw the real champions league trophy and saw the pitch.  Got back to boat, played gameboy at pool, played shuffleboard, it was first to 200 and I won by 55 points! Had dinner, saw Robbie Williams tribute, he was really good, he got one of the waiters to be a member of Take That!


Got up, had breakfast, saw ruins of Pompeii.  They were really fascinating, they were so cleverly designed, it's amazing that the buildings were preserved after Vesuvius erupted.  It was really hot.  Dad nicked a piece of rock from Pompeii which stunk of 2000 year old piss! Had lunch at La Luna.  Played gameboy at poolside.  Me and dad did a quiz, we didn't win.  Had dinner, did games at kids club, I won the bingo! Saw George Michael tribute, he was really good.

Son holding up Leaning Tower of Pisa, 2006
Got up, had breakfast, saw Pisa and I climbed up the tower of Pisa.  Me and Mum got really dizzy because it was leaning! We saw the huge baptistry and the huge church. Got back to boat, had lunch, I hardly ate it because I was exhausted.  Had sleep in room, played gameboy at poolside.  Did quiz, we came second but mum and dad had a fight.  There was the first rain of the holiday but it came with a thunderstorm.  Saw chat show hosted by Fogwell Flax talking to Colleen Nolan! He was really funny and so was she.


Monday, 23 April 2012

A 'Mum's Gone To' travel post, aged 12

You might think I've only been at this travel-writing lark for a few years but take a look at this scanned page from an exercise book and you'll see that in October 1976, aged 12, I wrote a travel diary of our family trip to Italy.

Mum was fond of booking trips organised by our local Newcastle newspaper, the Evening Chronicle. I have great memories of visits to Norway and Denmark but the group trip to Rome and Sorrento was the only time I managed to complete a holiday diary. I came across it at the weekend and thought I should share it with you even though it does make me cringe and laugh in equal measure.

Here are a couple of entries from our time in Sorrento. I won't change any incorrect spellings, grammar or odd adjectives and adverbs, I promise. And no laughing at the back, please!


Holiday Diary of Italy, Oct 76. (aged 12)

October 29th, Friday

After breakfast we took a masaides Taxi down to the harbour to catch the Ferry across to the Isle of Capri. It was a picturesque little island and the crossing was very smooth.  When we landed our family took a fernicula (little railway) to the higher parts of Capri then we stopped to look around the shops.  At 12.00 we stopped at a cafe for ravioli, piazza and cannelloni. Finished, we caught a bus for Anacapri which winded swiftly through the mountains until it arrived.  We then walked to a special chair lift which would take us to the top of the mountains.  The chairs were steel and wooden and we were chucked in, bar put down then pushed away up across the fauna of trees, plants, forests until we reached the top.  After looking around we came back down using the same transport as before.  It really was a terrific ride, with a beautiful view to be seen.  We then took the bus back and the fernicula railway back to the harbour.  It was here we saw the back of Max Bygraves walking by.  At 3.15 the ferry left over the choppy Mediterranean until we reached land.

October 30th, Saturday

After a 7.30am call we went down to breakfast ready to go to Pompeii and Vesuvius.  It was a very windy day and cloudy too.  We boarded the coach and soon arrived at our first stop, Pompeii.  We entered the famous city and were astounded by the marvellous structure and plan of the place.  Although the Sirocco winds were blowing, it was a great trip.  We visited the House of the Vettii Brothers who were the richest family in the town and when entering we saw the rude picture explaining that this Roman man was worth his weight in gold.  We saw the rooms of the house including the atrium, peristyle, triclinium, impluvium and bedrooms.  We also visited the House of Faun where in the large garden the lucky, dancing faun statue stood.  This faun was half man and half animal.  It is also lucky to touch his tail and have a photograph taken of this movement.  The whole trip was extremely fascinating but the most impressive part of it was to realise how the town must have looked before the eruption.  One other thing we saw were the baths which were marvellous and also bodies of people living at that time in plaster casts.  When we finished our party were taken for a meal which is too revolting to write about.  Vesuvius was the next visit but there was fog at the top so we could not travel to the crater.  What we did observe was terrific and for a momento we took some lava home in a polythene bag.  We dismounted from the bus at the Piazza (square) and bought a musical sewing table, a gondola music box for me and an ordinary music box for grandma. That night they put on a party with a raffle and dancing and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Maureen and Joan's table won all the prizes so it was a fabulous night for them.



Sunday, 22 April 2012

Review: Paul Merton, Out Of My Head Tour, King's Lynn

It's always a bit ominous when you set off for an evening to see a show knowing it hasn't been particularly well-received by the critics and the general public. I'd bought tickets for us to see Paul Merton's new Out Of My Head Tour , for Rory's 16th birthday: he has always loved Paul on Have I got News for You and Dougie and I have long been fans, since the days of Whose Line Is It Anyway? 

We'd been looking forward to the show at King's Lynn Corn Exchange but now I was starting to doubt our decision as some people were suggesting it wasn't really stand-up, the jokes were dated and that the show, where the audience would 'discover the bizarre workings of Paul Merton's brain, as he muses on the mighty behemoth that is his noggin' was ultimately disappointing.

Well, I'm happy to say that my family and I really enjoyed it. There were times when a belly laugh was appropriate, other times a good old chuckle was the order of the day and, on occasions, a wry smile was called for. It was quite old-fashioned in style, with a music hall atmosphere and content reminiscent of a university revue: Pythonesque flying bunnies, ventriloquism and some very silly sketches made for a great evening's entertainment.

Paul is joined on stage by his wife, Suki Webster and old friends Lee Simpson and Richard Vranch. Whilst Merton recounts life-changing moments at school, his first forays into television and a stay in a psychiatric hospital, his team bring the stories to life with music, magic and improvisation. Some parts work better than others but the overall content is fun, warm and engaging.

As a family we've seen a lot of stand-up comedy over the last few years: Rhod Gilbert, Ross Noble, Russell Kane, Dave Gorman, Micky Flanagan and Milton Jones. Paul Merton's show isn't a typical stand-up performance. In fact, he sits down for a fair bit of the evening. But standing up, sitting down, or floating on his bed up to the moon, he proved to be a very likeable, funny man.

If you want to see for yourselves, the tour continues across the UK until the end of May.

Note added after publication: I did write that I felt most of the audience enjoyed it, judging by the applause, but comments below  suggest this wasn't the case, I have removed that sentence so my opinion is my opinion alone. 


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Yes, your highness

When I bring supper to my son, Rory, I usually pop it on a lap tray and make sure I dodge out of the way of the telly for the little prince, muttering to myself, "What did your last slave die of?"

Seems I was right all along to touch my forelock and be subservient to my darling child, and his father for that matter, as it would appear that royal blood runs through their veins.

For the last few years, Dougie's uncle has been looking into the family tree and has uncovered some very interesting ancestors. He has been sending all the information down to my parents-in-law who have kept it all in large brown envelopes in a cupboard.

This weekend we decided to have a proper look through it all. If you're sitting comfortably, I will begin and try not to make your head hurt, like mine has over the past few days.

Dougie's great grandmother was Emma Hawthorne (Edinburgh); Emma's father was William Hawthorne....his mother, Sarah Brooksby...her father, James Brooksby. The parental line then goes up, supposedly, through the Prentice and Latimer families (Suffolk and a short time in Connecticut, USA). 

Assuming the research hasn't taken a wrong turning somewhere, it becomes even more interesting when we reach John de Botetourt (born around 1262) who, we are fairly certain, was the illegitimate son of King Edward I. Of course with that royal connection, the tree moves through Henry II, King John, Henry I, Matilda of England, Henry I, William the Conqueror, then a few more generations up to Rollo Ragnvaldsson, a Viking leader expelled from Norway who invaded and settled in what became Normandy. Rollo's grandfather was Eystein Glumra Ivarsson, a 'Jarl' (Earl) of Norway. And there the line stops in 800 AD.

This is only one line of the tree. There are other branches to take, depending on whether you follow the maternal or paternal branch. For example, if you follow Matilda's mother rather than her father you reach the Scottish kings, Malcolm and Duncan. This little nugget was particularly well-received by Rory as I was able to tell him that when he does his GCSE English paper on the Scottish Play in a few weeks' time,  he can say with confidence: 'Macbeth killed my grandad.'

Of course, as Rory pointed out, as we are going back 35 generations, 30 to 50% of the inhabitants of the UK can probably link back to royalty. Trust him to spoil our fun, talking about pyramids, exponential numbers and suchlike. However I still reckon it's fascinating to be able to trace the lineage back. And, of course, the boys are only linked to royalty via a bit of illegitimate rumpy-pumpy.

Dougie, not sure whether to now wave a Scottish or English flag outside the house, has decided to stick with his ancestors north of the border as we have also seen what I think is a more reliable link back, via his grandfather, to David, King of Scotland. I suspect that's why he gets tearful when they play Flower of Scotland at rugby matches.

There is a wealth of  detail which I could share with you but I'll leave it for another day. In the meantime, I'd like to introduce you to a relative of my husband from 1043:

Fulk the Rude Count of Anjou

and his son

Fulk the Younger Count of Anjou

Try saying that quickly if you dare.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Travelling with the Scandinavian Detectives

It wasn't our intention to plan a summer holiday which takes in the locations of popular Scandi-thrillers but we do seem to have created a fly-drive itinerary which may well require me to adopt a mean and moody attitude, a few distinctive tats and the odd piercing just to get into the spirit of the trip.

It all started with our visit to Copenhagen last Easter when I was oblivious to the fact that The Killing was soon to grip the nation and we'd all be coveting Sarah Lund's sweater. Steve, from Bloggertropolis, can't get enough of  'supercool, supersexy actress..Sofie Grabol' and would dearly love her woolly jumper which she seems to be giving away to uber-fans (Camilla Parker-Bowles for one) but unfortunately, not Steve. Take heart, my friend: it's probably a bit scratchy anyway.

All fired up with the trendy, chic, gorgeousness of the Scandinavia we got a sniff of last year, our unintentional crime trail will be taking us first to Stockholm, where Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy is largely based. We have booked the Nobis Hotel, our splurge choice for four nights, on account of its central location, inter-connecting rooms and because of the interesting history of the hotel: it used to be the bank where a hostage situation coined the term 'Stockholm Syndrome'. It was only when the booking had been made I discovered the hotel had been used by the cast and crew of the US movie version of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'. Is Daniel Craig's room available? I want that one.

Another stop on our trip is Ystad, home to Kurt Wallander, another Swedish detective. I've been encouraged by Kate from The Five Fs Blog, to read the original books by Henning Mankell which place the action in the bleak winter months in Southern Sweden. I shall certainly do this, Kate, but I'm hoping the weather will be more like that seen in the sunny BBC adaptation with Kenneth Branagh sauntering around this pretty seaside town. Fingers crossed.

This weekend I learned that there is a yet another Scandinavian thriller about to hit our screens, in the shape of The Bridge. A collaboration between Danish and Swedish TV companies, the plot centres on the body of a woman found in the centre of the Oresund Bridge which connects Denmark to Sweden. I caught sight of this magnificent bridge last year from the air and had already planned to see it a little closer from the Swedish side when we visit Malmo in July.  But now I have one more Scandinavian cop to emulate. This one is a strong, slightly awkward loner; the blonde, booted and leather-clad Saga Noren. Am I never going to get a chance to wear a floaty dress and flip-flops?

Of course, this Scandinavian detective fervour has been fuelled further by Norwegian author, Jo Nesbo: my husband is currently devouring his books at a rate of knots. I'm now wondering, as we will be travelling along the west coast of Sweden during our holiday, shall we take a quick diversion north to Oslo, pop in on Harry Hole and then we'll have done the lot?


Friday, 13 April 2012

Keeping blogging in the family

Today, over on BritMums, you can read the bizarre story of how I became reacquainted with a member of my family, Toni from Expat Mum, via blogging: Blog is thicker than water

Many of you may know this tale already when I wrote the post, We are Familybut do pop over to read the story from both sides and learn a little about the family history.

Find Me @ BritMums


Friday, 6 April 2012

#FriFotos - Balls

An unusual theme for this week's #FriFotos theme on Twitter, organised by @HotelPRGuy, @EpsteinTravels and @TravelDesigned: Balls.

Here's a few balls from my travels:

Oskar Schlemmer Reina Sofia madrid
Madrid - Museo Reina Sofia
Found in the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid, this is a ballet costume designed by Oskar Schlemmer, a German painter, designer and choreographer associated with the Bauhaus school. It is part of his most famous work, "Triadisches Ballett," 1922, in which the actors were morphed into geometrical shapes and danced like puppets. This particular costume translates well into English as "Ball Gown".

Copenhagen - Kongens Have
This was exactly a year ago today: Good Friday, the King's Garden in a very warm Copenhagen. Teenage son having a rest: must have got up too early.

Barcelona - Nou Camp 

My son, Rory, in 2006, at the Nou Camp in Barcelona. Posing in between Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o. Unfortunately the two players were just cardboard cut-outs but, admit it, you were fooled for just a few seconds?

Penis Museum in Iceland

Husavik, Iceland - Outside the Penis Museum

Regular readers will recognise the photo above as it's a favourite of mine from the Penis Museum in Iceland, hence the big smile on my face.

So there you have it from me: a load of balls. No change there, then. 


Monday, 2 April 2012

The day Alan Shearer proved to be a thoroughly good egg.

egg decorated like Alan Shearer
I came across this photo recently; evidence that on very rare occasions the Burgess family can turn their hand to craft activities. It was in 2005, an Easter egg decorating competition held in a local bookshop. Rory was 9 years old and his Alan Shearegg (Alan Shearer, footballer) won him the prize for his age group.

I'm sharing it with you now in case you're stuck for ideas for egg decorating themes which are suitable for boys. Alan was very easy to make and required very little adult assistance (honest!). I did the egg-blowing bit and I have to say I was so brilliant at it that Alan Shearegg still survives to this day, albeit a tad dusty and a bit cracked. Rory gave him black and white Newcastle United stripes and provided him with rather more hair than the man himself now possesses. I thought the boot was from an Action Man but Rory tells me it was a toy in a cereal packet. The ball was from a Subbuteo set and the green base from a pack of cards. Egg was attached to boot with Blu-tack. Simples.

It got us thinking yesterday about current footballers whose names could be similarly altered for egg-decorating purposes. It all got rather silly.

For eggs-ample:

Fernando Torres................. Fernando Torregg
Ryan Giggs..........................Ryan Geggs
Jamie Carragher..................Jamie Carreggher
José Enrique........................José Eggrique
Jermaine Easter.................. Jermaine Easter-egg
Benoit Assou-Ekkoto..........Benoit Assou-Eggoto
Jonjo Shelvey......................Jonjo Egg-shell-vey
John Terry...........................John Terry's Chocolate Orange Egg (ridiculous, but indulge me)

Please feel free to steal the idea and add your own sporty names. Doesn't have to be just football: I'm sure a Roger Federegg and Andy Murregg pairing would work just as well.

Note added 4/4/12: Pippa at 'A Mother's Ramblings' is gathering together everyone's Easter Egg photos under the Twitter hashtag #ShowYourEasterEggs. Have sent her the link to Alan.

Can I also send a cheer to @SchoolforCool who added a suggestion on Twitter: Gabriel Eggbonlahor. Genius.


Latest travel round-up on BritMums

BritMums - Leading the Conversation

My round-up of recent travel posts is now live on the BritMums blog. If you want some inspiration for holidays then you can have a taster of Venice, Paris, Cyprus and some beautiful locations in the UK.

If you blog about any Easter trips let me know for next month's selection.

While we're on the subject of BritMums, you may have noticed the Brilliance in Blogging Awards badge in my sidebar. I was delighted to hear I had reached the shortlist for the travel category, Go! Bloggers and non-bloggers alike can vote for their favourites in lots of categories and you have until the end of April. Have fun casting your vote.