Christmas and New Year 2017

A write up of Christmas and New Year 2017. Alfred and Robert are 3 and 5; a good age for Christmas.  This is diary type post – probably of interest to family. Pix only if it’s a bit tl;dr?

Friday the 23rd

Finish work at lunchtime on the 23rd. Then D&I go on a pre-Christmas road bike trip – out to Ely – 35 km or so. We were riding with a strong tail wind for an hour. Chocolate and coffee in Ely and our best discussion in a while. Its often the way after a run or bike ride. Train and cycle back for 5:30 and dinner. Afterwards we teach R to play Rummy: I have high hopes for his career as a card sharp – he’s a natural.

Saturday 24th (Christmas Eve)

5 k parkrun. Very slow and I forget my barcode. Alfred runs a 1 km loop with me after the 5 km. Christmas hat on and panting for the last 6 minutes. He is remarkably determined and ridiculously cute.

A little last bit of food shopping and an attempt to get the kids Christmas stockings: there are none left, oh dear. Bit worried that Santa’s presents might not all fit in their actual woollen stockings. Lunch, games. Then R&I go to the bike shop. New winter cycling togs for me – and helmets for R and D. I have also been promising to take Robert to the climbing wall for a while. So we go. I forget my wallet. Have to talk my way in, it takes a while, but once eventually there, R loves it.

Get home and retire to bed for a few hours. Write up some blog text. Kids and folks go to a Carol service. I would have gone – am not a big church-goer – but I do like singing Carols. However I’m feeling kinda under the weather.

After dinner kids self solve the stocking problem by deciding they will both hang their blue and green rucksacs for Santa.  I go back to bed and sleep for 2 hours. Wake up, wrap presents. Bed.

Sunday 25th (Christmas Day)

Very excited kids up and bouncing on me at 6:30 am. Its a little early, but a 3 and 5 years olds pleasure at Santa’s visit is hard to beat – its fab.  I do however have a 6:40 am wobble when R asks me about why the new swim goggles that Santa had brought looked just like the ones we tried on at the swimming pool last week… um, well Robert…

Swiftly on to breakfast and then presents. One doesn’t wait for the Queen round here. A 49 years old rocking horse is the star. A&R both love Henry (the horse).

Still a bit under the weather, I have a rest whilst the others head off to a park for a bit. All back for 12 – then we make Christmas lunch for about 3. Afterwards I go with the kids and Charley (the dog) for a 30 min walk. More games: esp Monopoly, Dominos, and Rummy.

Monday 26th (Boxing Day)

Still a bit under the weather. Others visit the park besides the river. Robert takes his new bike to the skate park. I manage a little tidying and weeding in the vegetable garden. And we attempt family xmas pics:

Tuesday 27th

My folks leave. I take the kids to the garden centre to get some fruit bushes for the garden. I also wanted to get asparagus crowns, but they are not in stock yet –  should arrive in a few weeks. More digging and tidying in the garden, lunch then we drive into town. Swimming and Christmas Fair with the kids. The tiny rollercoaster at the fair is apparently the best. And lots more games at home. R is now totally addicted to card and board games, and sometimes cries a bit before bed if we haven’t played enough. Its sort of cute. Sortof.

Wednesday 28th

Feel a little bit better today. Cycle to the Library then do clothes and present shopping at John Lewis. Lunch back at Library. I am still not totally well, so cycle home after that. D takes kids back, on request, to the Fair. I do a little bit more gardening. Then sleep some more.

Thursday 29th

All up at 4:50 am, dress kids, drive to airport for 6 am, second breakfast, fly to Cologne for 10 am, Aachen by 11:30 am. Smooth and well organised. Lunch with Opa and Oma, and then we go to the Ponyhof. Alfred demands a pony but is a bit too frightened to ride it. Robert loves his.

Friday 30th

Take kids out to park. Both want the tiny little cars rather than the (I think) cooler pedal models. They work out together how to attach the tiny cars together, and are really rather pleased with their new ‘car train’. Lunch, then David’s nieces arrive M(10) and P(13); both are wonderful with A&R. With them all playing together I restart on one of my two current proposals. I have had a full 7-day break from work, which I had hoped might have helped. But, no not really, I am struggling with this proposal.

In a way it’s a good problem. Somewhat astonishingly every single one of the four proposals that I wrote last year was successful. Two large and two small. But it complicates the writing of the current quite large grant proposal – that has an end of January deadline. I had intended to base it on the second large one that I submitted in Summer 2016. By way of explanation, I did not expect that large one to be funded. Whilst it got two great reviews – there was also one rather negative one – which is usually enough to sink a proposal (the funding success rate is 8 %). Anyway, apparently my relatively robust response was enough. TBH, I was really quite proud of the response doc, as well as the proposal. But still it was a major surprise (and lovely Christmas present) to find out it was funded.

Anyway. I digress. The issue is that I now need to find a way to write this new proposal. There is a lot of really exciting and important stuff to be done on the topic. But for a proposal finding the right pitch is always key, and (for me) not an easy thing to do. It takes time and slog.

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Car train!

Saturday 31st (New years Eve)

Breakfast, then take A&R for a glorious walk round the frozen wood. I am still under the weather, but the walks around here in the woods and in the sun could not help but put you back together. Lunch, currently 9 round the table. After coffee D&I take an hours walk out up to his brother, Opa, and Oma’s resting place. They are in a beautiful woodland spot. Back around 4 for more procrastination on my proposal. OMG. I am finding it really difficult to find a good way into this. [I write most of this blog post instead.]

Raclette, fireworks, melting of lead (it is tossed into water, and the shape divined to find out what 2017 will hold), as usual. But I don’t make it to the bells this year! Am asleep by 11:20 pm. But it is my best night’s sleep in a long while.

Sunday 1st

We drive to visit Corinne’s utterly gorgeous horse zooria. And hour of so of the kids grooming her, then we take her inside to ride. P and M have been having some lessons, and aren’t bad at all. Robert looks good. He is not afraid to get up on a full sized horse. Mind you zooria is beautifully well behaved. Alfred decides she is a little too big for him. I get a chance to ride her too. Yes please! Apparently I sit well – a nice compliment :-). C watches me for a bit, then decide to gradually persuade z into a canter – she is rather fabulous. And perhaps C’s less worried about me falling off than the kids? Guess I have longer legs to hold on with –  would also love to try riding her outside. (Ta C.)

Head over to Corinnes for lunch. Jurgen comes back 30 min later having broken D on a 80 km 800 m 3 hour cycle; so he decides to take me out now. Lovely lovely ride. We only do 25 km and 300 m (1 hour). He’s actually pretty good at gauging riders’ strengths, and he has also been prewarned that I have been off colour this last week.

When we get back Christine has taken the four kids back to Oma’s. So, shower, tea, and waffles and with C&J, and Corinne talks a lot about us riding together in the forest next visit. Apparently horse hire is not so difficult. I’m totally up for that. I really enjoyed the riding today; cantering through the Aachen woods sounds fab. The woods are lovely here.  Drive back for dinner with all the kids.

Monday 1st

3-5 cm of snow last night. We wake up to a white Aachen – yay!  Take the kids sledging after breakfast. Loads of fun with many many other little kids sledging on the same slopes. R&A can just about manage to steer their sledges after 90 min. A is a more natural at this than R. Games and lunch. D&I head off to Carolus Thermen after lunch. Lovely. Meet everyone else for dinner in town. Buy some good French wine for C for tomorrow.

Come back to the house. Talk to a UK friend, who is struggling, for 3 hours on the phone. I am apparently good at listening to problems, but I find some of it so sad. Write and post blog comment to cheer myself up. Bed rather late.

Tuesday 2nd

Allowed again to have a sleep in. Ta D. He has been looking after me these last days. My sleep levels have gradually recovered and my appetite came back properly some days ago. Altogether feeling better. Kids all out together – I read for an hour or two – then go for first run of 2017. I run 9 km plus a few hills in the forest slow  – 6 min km – but snowy and gorgeous.

D takes kids sledging in the Eifel area.

Then I finally manage to  make some actual progress on my proposal. Phew. Still a huge amount to do. But I think I may have finally broken some of the most significant problems. We’ll see. I am not sure if there is time to get it finished now. But I feel more positive about it.

Dinner with C and others around 8.

Wednesday 3rd

P and M leave. More games in the house in the morning. Then leave to visit the swimming pool at 11:30 am. 90 min playing with A&R in the pool, mostly in the little Kinder `river’ that runs down the side of the main pool. Its lovely – but about 4C colder than it needs to be! I end up doing planking exercises for half an hour to try to keep warm. Eventually I go shiver under a warm shower instead. The temp doesn’t seem to bother the kids at all.

Back for lunch at 1:30.  Some of D’s old school friends (with more kids) come round in the afternoon. Kuchen, coffee and lots of playing with all.

Then supposedly an hour or two to do some work. But I get distracted by fb again, and fret a little again. After dinner, and games and kids baths, try again to focus on work. Its our last day. We fly home tomorrow.

BTW after more practice, in the Eifel eventually Robert got much better. Both R & A are now pestering rather a lot to be taking both sledging and skiing again. The Black Forest in Feb next is the plan..

roberts

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