Things to do over the Easter holidays, #1

Okay.  First off, you’re going to need a map and an idea of how far your kids will cope in the car without complaining (too much).  Second, you’ll need a pair of compasses.  Draw a circle of, say, 2 hours radius, centred on your home.

In our case, that goes as far north as Ripon in North Yorkshire, as far south and east as Dinosaur World in Norfolk, as far west as you need to go…

First up this week was an aborted attempt at going crabbing.  I’m reliably informed that all you need is the right spot, the right bait, the right conditions.  And to know that the phrase “I think we’ll go crabbing today” is a trigger to summon the worst weather you can imagine.

We’d got the bait – pig skin works like a charm, apparently.  We’d got the location – I’m not going to reveal that, suffice to say you’ll need rocks for the crabs to hide in, and somewhere you can drop the bait straight down to the water and pull straight up and out again.  We’d got the right time – the tide was just coming up to high, on it’s way in.  There was a pot of gumbo sauce all ready to receive fresh crab meat.

When we arrived, it was a bit blustery.  Not so much as you’d worry about, certainly nothing to stop the event.  So we started filling the bait bags…

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By the time we’d filled them and tried our first cast into the water, they behaved more like little pigskin kites.  Never got anywhere near the water.  And then the rain started.  The wind picked up, the rain increased, we retired to the cars.  The God of Crabs wasn’t satisfied – we were, after all, still there.  So He summoned hail.  And thunder.  And lightning.  Finally, we decided to call it a day, bailed out, headed for home.  And for every mile we drove away from the crabbing spot, the weather improved.  By the time we’d reached home, it was just mildly very windy (that’s on the Shetland Wind Scale).  And we had to use the backup fish for the gumbo.

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Day 2 saw us get rid of Thing1, delivering her to her grandparents for the week.  And that’s an interesting thing you’ll notice when you’ve got a big family:  Remove 1 and the whole dynamic changes.  Suddenly it’s a lot easier to do almost anything.  The rest seem to pull together and play together better – okay, so it’s 4 boys and there are the inevitable punch-ups, but even they seemed less serious.  And apart from having an adventure in the car with Thing5, and discovering a wide array of things that the Halifax won’t accept as a suitable form of ID (fortunately, another customer’s problem, not mine), that was that.

Day 3 was another foul day – someone must’ve thought about going crabbing.  So we explored Peterborough’s Showcase cinema.  I’ve got to admit that I wasn’t holding out high expectations here.  I’d read the reviews on Google+ when I moved down to Lincolnshire and they were a litany of “Thou Shalt Not!” – grubby, dirty, sound out-of-sync, just generally shit.  Well, they’ve clearly turned things around since those were written.  The worst thing about it – absolutely the worst – is the parking.  Thanks to the wondrous idiocy of the town planning, the cinema is tucked away behind several large car dealerships, all of whom have new cars parked on both sides of the road, narrowing a reasonable road to a single track with few passing places.  We were lucky when we drove in, took us almost 20 minutes to get out.  Also, the only way to find out what’s showing is to consult the website, the signs aren’t visible until you’re well into the car park, and the screens inside above the ticket desk are smaller than my TV.

It was a toss-up between Shaun the Sheep and Big Hero 6.  Shaun won.

My favourite bit.

Day 4 took us to Kirby Hall, over near Corby.  This is a cracking English Heritage site (so free entry for us) that’s only open during the spring-summer-autumn.  It’s devoid of furniture, so the scope for haring around like mad things, playing hide-and-seek, rolling down the grassy banks, performing somersaults, walking on hands, admiring the peacocks…  Fabulous.  And the audioguide is (a) free, and (b) excellent.

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Day 5 was Good Friday.  Baking, gaming, relaxing.  Woke late to the smell of fresh hot cross buns courtesy of my wonderful wife.  After breakfasting on them, we, the family, made bread, banana loaves and a Simnel cake.  And made a start on them after a quick game of Release the Hound, played while walking the dog.

The afternoon was Tsuro (a game definitely fit for everyone from age 4 upwards), dominoes, and a made-up roleplaying game loosely based on a cross between Lego Ninjago, Skyrim, and The Strange.  More of which in a future post.

Finally, for this week, Snozone at Xscape.  So, snow.  Not seen a great deal of it this year.  Or, indeed, since we moved south.  Didn’t see a lot of it in Shetland, to be honest, but at least we used to get a few good sledging days a year.  So, the lack of snow and the lack of hills here in Lincolnshire made a sledging session pretty damn tempting.  The fact that it was convenient for the grandparents to return Thing1 to us as well made it a sure-fire winner.  Broke out the kids’ “Forest School” kit – saloupettes, super-suits, wellies, the whole nine yards, and had a fantastic time sledging and using the ice slide in big rubber rings.  Brilliant fun.  The staff dealing with us were friendly, fun, and clearly enjoy their job.  Only downside to Snozone is that it’s expensive and there’s no option to buy sessions using Tesco Clubcard vouchers or Nectar Points.

Round it off with lunch at TGI Fridays (a restaurant my parents actually enjoyed, amazingly enough!), and a superb goat curry waiting for us when we got home…  What a day.

Basically, it’s been an epic week.  And I bet, if you sum it up like I’ve just done, yours has been, too.

Oh, and Happy Easter!

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