Friday, 7 October 2011

I am a Biking Machine

I wish I knew how to make this one subtitled: How Georgina Became A Mummy. Remember waaaaay back, when Matthew became a Daddy? Well, I had a similar experience last night. But first: about the Longest Day on the bike.

First, Elizabeth and I went to Semillitas, the Spanish playgroup. It is on Ross Street, which is 3.0 miles away from our home. Not that far, but there is a big bridge that goes over the railway lines, on Mill Road. Mill Road is a very cool, very hip road with all these shopsy-shops, and international restaurants and independent cafes. The bridge is probably not very steep in real life, but in bike life, it's a little bit intense. Especially with a 20+ lb baby on the back - confession: I have no idea how much Eliz actually weighs. The last time I sneakily weighed her was at the kiosk at the post office when I was mailing something. Truth.

Here is what the bridge looks like:
This is the only photo I could find of the bridge - it's during a Christmas fair, so they must have closed it off to traffic.

Normally, there aren't people on it, but there are always cars. See how there's no bike lane? Yeah, so you're huffing it up this hill, trying to look like it's no big deal, and the cars do that 'hover and creep along' thing behind you until there's a gap in the other lane, then they pull out and go around you. It makes you really feel super slow, and a little bit worried that your baby is going to start dancing and moving, and in doing so, make your bike wobble around with the weight of her helmet, which in turn makes you look like a drunk biker at 10 am. Here is an accurate picture of what the bridge feels like:

So anyways. We got to Semillitas, and met our friends Helen & Amy there. Helen was going to take care of Elizabeth while I went to get my hair done (yaaaaay!!!). So I left Semillitas, went back over the bridge to Ainsworth street (about 1 mile) for my hair appointment. I had my hair done, yada yada, went back across the bridge to meet up with Eliz, Helen & Amy (so, another 1 mile - and, back over the bridge, obvs.)

Then Eliz and I went into town (1.2 miles, and yeppers, that stinking bridge again) to buy me a dress to wear to our friends Morgan & Regan's wedding next week. Boy, was that fun - shopping for a dress with a toddler = kind of traumatic. At one point, when I was trying to peel this dress off because the zipper was stuck, so my arms were stuck over my head, Eliz decided to crawl out under the curtain and start sticking her head into other changing rooms. Awesome. Anyways, we lasted for one store, and then abandoned that mission to go home (2.2 miles). (FYI: I think I found a dress. It's really pretty and blue-green.)

 Yesterday was Thursday, so I had my Spanish class in the evening - close to where Semillitas is. So back onto the bike I went, 3.2 miles and across that bloody bridge. Class was muy bien, and we learned to conjugate a few verbs, as well as the few pronunciation rules in Spanish. Example: "ce" sounds like "say", whereas "que" sounds like "kay" - as in cerveza vs. queso. For some reason, the people in my class had a hard time with that... ???

Yesterday was also my friend Rachael's birthday party. So after my class, I went into town to a lounge called Hidden Rooms - 2.1 miles, and the last time I went over that expletive-bridge. Oh, and guess what: it was raining. And the wind had really picked up - it went up to 47 km/h yesterday. I am not even joking: check it out. This is what the Mill Road bridge feels like in that wind:

When I got to the lounge, it was karaoke night... and guess what: karaoke is exactly the same in England as in Canada: every song is about 2 minutes too long, the audience and most of the singers only know the chorus, and the only people who listen to the singer are the singer's friends. But when your friends are singing, it's kinda fun. Rachael & I sang Twist and Shout - I was about 85% too sober for it to be truly entertaining, but we did our best. I was proud to have chosen a song that is only 2:30 seconds, with the shortest section with no singing. What are karaoke singers supposed to do during the guitar and drum solos???

And then, I got back on the bike, to go home (1.9 miles). Thank goodness: it was a flat ride. Just as I was leaving the lounge, I called Matthew to say I was coming home - he told me there was no milk. And guess what: it was 11:03, and every single shop on the way home closes at 11. Screw you, England!! I had no choice: I Mummy-ed up. The local pub was still open. I popped into the good old Milton Arms, still wearing my bike helmet, with my water bottle from class, and bought my baby a pint of milk!! Bahaha! Even better than that was the super drunk British dudes that said things like, "'Allo, 'allo, where you been all night, gorgeous?" as they stumbled over to me while I waited for my pint of milk.

I forgot to take a photo of the full water/milk bottle, but here is the evidence:

Holy cow - I cycled 15.6 miles yesterday! I only just added that up!! That is 25 km!! Who am I? And the most amazing part of that, is that I didn't even question it. It wasn't like, "Oh man, I have to bike all the way to _____??". What a change in attitude - when did that happen, I wonder?

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

I Want to Break Up with the Old Ladies

Today was the first Tuesday-Coffee-Morning-Thing with the Old Ladies from the University (aka the Newcomers Society). You might remember them from back in March. Well, Eliz and I went, because we did make friends there last semester, and I thought we might see some familiar faces, back for another school year.

It was a 50% fail. The successful 50% was not in seeing familiar faces, or having fun, or letting Elizabeth have fun, or even enjoying the coffee. The successful 50% was meeting a nice woman and her baby, and having lunch with them afterwards, and deciding to meet up again on Friday. The failing 50% was that I hate the Old Ladies Tuesday-Coffee-Morning-Thing!!

They have a section with toys, but you can't actually just let your kids play, because they put out the noisiest toys!! Eliz found a grocery-scanner toy, with a cash drawer that slid open and shut. You think she's going to stop opening and closing that drawer? Get in line! Think again! And then they come over and do the closed-eye thing and shush you! I mean, seriously, I was all trying to be nice, and meet other parents, and say good things about the Newcomers Society, but help me help you, Old Ladies!

The weird thing is, if you talk to one Old Lady, she'll be nice to you. It's only when they are trying to be Captain McOrganizey and Sergeant Shush that they're mean. The problem is, they are more often organizing and shushing than not!

They plan these outings around Cambridge, and in the brochure, they have a * next to the outings that are not appropriate for children. They had an outing tonight at 5 pm - to the Evensong service at Kings College Chapel, with no *!!! I was so stoked! I have always wanted to go into the chapel, but we never seem to get around to it (read: if we're in town together, on a weekend or whatever, we'd rather have a pint than go and tour colleges). I figured it would be a 45 minute or so service, and so, I packed a whole bunch of Eliz's toys, all her favourite foods and books, and we met Matthew at the College at 4:50.

Turns out, the service didn't start until 5:30. So we ended up waiting around outside for 40 minutes, in a line of regular tourists, Old Ladies, and other Newcomers. Since we were outside, we were letting Eliz run around, and squawk, and be a bit noisy, because we were outside. I didn't want to use up my arsenal of toys and treats before it all started. So just before we went in, Eliz was getting a bit hungry (it was 5:20 by this time), and a bit fidgety and grumpy, and this 'helpful' Old Lady looks at Matthew as he is wrestling her in his arms and she is arching her back to escape holding her and says, "Well, huh, she won't make it for a 45 minute service in the chapel," in that sort of one-eyebrow-raised, judgey way that Old Ladies have of speaking. Well, duh, lady, of course she won't, but guess what: we aren't idiots, and we are fully prepared for our baby to start getting antsy after about 20 minutes! We were totally prepared to leave whenever she started making noise, because we aren't stupid! Why do people think that young parents are all stupid? (Did you see what I did there? I called us 'young'. Ha!)

Ugh, I get so frustrated when people do that thing where they say one thing, but mean another, and it's about your child. See, that lady didn't say, "she won't make it through a service", she said, "you shouldn't have brought her here." To which I say: where's the *?? I came to an *-free event, Old Lady, and I'm going to enjoy at least 2 songs by the boys choir before my child starts to lose it, so give me a chance here!And another thing: if a 45-minute event starts at 5:30, don't tell me it starts at 5, because that half-hour makes a huge difference when you're 18 months old! Ugh!! Jeez, Old Ladies!!!

We did leave after 18 minutes. I heard 3 songs, all of which were ah-may-zing. We pointed out the ceiling to Elizabeth, we looked at all the stained glass and the pretty lights around the choir, and then she read the 5 books I brought her and did some colouring. And ate some cheerios. And played with her Little People. And drank from my water bottle. And then we left. Because guess what: we aren't dumb.

Here is what the inside of Kings College looks like:
It is pretty amazing. I'm glad we went. No photos allowed of the Chapel, sorry folks.

So, I think I'm going to break it off with the Old Ladies. I just can't take it anymore. I want to like them, but really, I don't think I do.

To congratulate you for making it this far in this rant-y blog, here is a super cute photo of Elizabeth playing with finger puppets. Yes, one of them is a Ninja Turtle. 

Monday, 3 October 2011

It's a Lovely Holiday With You

We went to Norfolk this weekend - to the seaside! We went to a B&B right on the water, called the Keswick Hotel. It turned out to be a fantastic gem of a place.
The view from the back of the hotel.
 It was all very non-Fawlty Towers-like. The best part was that they had a baby monitor, so Matthew & I had a great date at the hotel restaurant. The owner is a chef, and everything was sooo good, but I think all restaurant food tastes better without a baby at the table. You can savour every bite, as opposed to wolf it all down before Eliz gets bored.

The weekend got off to a bit of a rocky start. Matthew picked up the rental car and got home for 4:30, but somehow we didn't end up leaving until after 5:15. How does that happen, when you are so sure that everything is all ready to go?? No worries, we got on the road, and were about 30 minutes into our 2 hour drive when Matthew looked at me and said, "We forgot the stroller." Well, great. That sentence was followed by a great big "bllleeeecccck" from Elizabeth, and she puked all over herself. Well, double great.

We pulled into a gas station, and while we were cleaning her up, we debated whether or not to go back for the stroller. In the end, Matthew was fed up with weighing the pros and cons, so we just sucked up the hour & a half to go home & grab the stroller. As a result, we drove most of the way in the dusk & eventual dark. Also, we had decided to drive using the directions from Google maps and a regular map of England. No Sat Navs for the Hawkeyes!! So brave!! So dumb!!! Google 'cleverly' took us on these secondary roads, to avoid the major routes around Norwich which could be congested. There were some pretty bendy little roads, and guess what - only about half of them had sign posts on them, so we started navigating only by mileage. Exact conversation: 

Jammy (from the back seat, where I'm reading the Google instructions by the light of my phone, and 'playing' with Eliz who is post-puke-hungry-but-not-going-to-eat-anything): Okay, babe, this is Hare Road. We have to go 0.6 miles and then turn left onto Broad Lane. What's your mileage?
Matthew:  1124.3
Jammy: Okay, so when we get to 1124.9, turn left
(Keep in mind, there are no street lights, and Hawkeye is having to do that thing where you turn on your brights and then turn them off when another car is coming towards you - - - every 15 seconds they were on and off, on and off, on and off....).
Jammy: Okay, Elizabeth, would you like to read this book about puppies?
Elizabeth: No! No! No! No! No! No!
Jammy: (big breath) Okay, what book would you like?
Elizabeth: Puppies.
Matthew: Okay, well, we're at that mileage, but this road has no lights, and no sign.
Jammy: Babe, we're going to have to trust Google, because these roads don't even show up on our regular map. They just have names, not numbers. We are never going to get out of this neighbourhood.

I'm not sure how we got there without (a) fighting, (2) getting lost, or (d) Elizabeth puking again, but we did. And after that, the weekend was carefree. Seaside holidays are really the best with a little one. The sea was less than a minute outside our hotel, so after breakfast both days, we just put our baby in her swimsuit and hat, and down we went. She played with a bucket and rocks, she played in her own ocean that her Daddy made her (ie dug a hole and filled it with water), she ran into the ocean and then ran away from the waves, giggling and laughing.

At one point, Eliz and I were talking:
Me: "This is the beach, can you say beach?"
Eliz: "Beeeeetcch!!" (hahaha!)
Me:"This is sand, can you say sand?"
Eliz: "Ssssssaaaaaaaa!!"
Me: "These are called waves, can you say wave?"
Eliz: "Byeeeee!!", and waved her hands to the water. Seriously, so cute. Also, there were roughly 8 million dogs on the beach, playing and running and swimming. Now Elizabeth's definition of heaven is a seaside with dogs and a pail to put rocks in.


I had a total memory-lane moment when all these British families came to the seaside and made little forts with these wind breaker things that you hammer into the ground. My family totally had those. I also had cravings for ham and potato chip rolls. Mmmm...
This is what you get when you Google search "British Beach Wind Breakers". And this is what you see on every single British beach.
On Sunday, Elizabeth fell asleep in her high chair when we were having the Sunday roast lunch - adorable.

She played herself out at the seaside. (Hello, memory lane part II: the lunch was exactly the meal my Mum made for Sunday roasts. Cabbage and everything. Mmmmm...) And miraculously, she transferred into the carseat without waking up, so we went for a drive along the coast, and came back to Cambridge via a different route than on the Friday. I am so proud of my navigating prowess. Screw you, Sat Nav, and your £10 charge! We don't need you! We do need to bring extra clothes for Eliz and maybe even some kind of bucket in the car, because guess who puked on the way home too?? Poor baby! Poor Mummy, crawling into the back seat to clean up puke while we drove...

All in all, it was so fantastic to getaway to the seaside - and yes, seaside is the most British word I say now.