Sunday, December 9, 2007

Tara has arrived

Well the kids (and adults!) wait is finally over and Tara came to stay with us as of late this afternoon. She whined a bit as we drove away from her old home but she seems to have settled in very well so far - as I write this she is fast asleep in her basket and we are trying to decide whether to put newspaper down on the floor or get up in the middle of the night for a toilet break!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The latest member of the family

Tara is coming tomorrow - we were hoping it was going to be today, but she was a bit off colour and they felt she needed wormed so it has been postponed for 24 hours. The kids however can hardly wait - they have been running around playing at puppies for the last 2 weeks

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Our new addition

Meet Tara - our new puppy (although she won't be coming to stay for a couple of weeks yet). She's a cross between a Gordon Setter and a collie.

Now and then

It's a bit of time since I last posted (funny how you start things and then they sort of gradually fade). Maybe I'll get to fill in the gaps someday but for now here is how things are.
  • Our extension is nearly finished (short of tidying up a few things)

  • Beth has finished her 2nd transfer test yesterday so all she (and we) have to do now is wait for the result

  • We're going off this afternoon to see some puppies with the aim of getting one! (it's a long story but we were sort of lined up for a labrador cross from a rescue centre -Pippa- but that fell through so we're not sure how the kids will take the change)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

All fall down

Have been watching the back of the house being systematically destroyed by the builders over the last week or so. The initial plan had been to clear the boiler house and build up to roof level and then knock through the wall of the study and upstairs toilet when the walls were up, but as always the best laid plans go awry and we discovered that the joists were rather dodgy above the utility room at the back. This necessitated knocking everything down to the level of the utility room ceiling (well actually it looks as though it went down to well below this!) in order to replace the joists. So a considerable amount more destruction was called for and bearing in mind the walls are stone and about 2 foot thick that's a lot of rubble. However we have plans for a patio at the back of the house so the rubble is being used to fill in there rather than being carted away - recycling in action!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lots of changes

Well- after preparing the scene yesterday by moving our hot tank to the upstairs landing, Gerard and his team have finally got down to the major work of knocking down the back of the house! They have removed all the interior walls between the bathroom and the toilet on the middle landing floor and most if not all of the tiles on the back roof are off. Tomorrow, if all goes according to schedule, the roof will come off and some of the back wall may very well be knocked down. We now have a very small landing halfway up the stairs with a large panel of plywood separating us from the builders (and in the near future a large hole in the house!)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Today the job of setting up to remove the back of the house started. Much concern over the last few days, as we suddenly realised that knocking down the back wall meant that the hot tank wouldn't be there any more - and we wouldn't have hot water!! Fortunately the builders were aware of this and have plans to move it. Hence a delay of a couple of days until the electrician and plumber were available to do the wiring and pipework. They went to work today - and unfortunately they seem to have affected the phone line, as we are without a phone connection (although the internet connection still exists albeit as a rather narrow rather than broad band)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Busy weekend

Gerard the builder suggested on Friday that they could start working in the utility room and study - seeing as they couild be easily separated off from the rest of the house by closing the doors into the hall and the kitchen. So Lyn and I spent the weekend clearing out the study and utility room - a big job considering that we had used the "study" as a storage facility and over time it had got rather full to say the least! - Now our dining room is over full with all sorts of boxes and other miscellaneous objects. We finally threw a pile of things out into the skip outside

Monday, July 23, 2007

The builders arrive

Well finally the builders have come - initially the schedule was due to start at the beginning of June, but between having to revise the plans and the holidays, everything got delayed. But they are finally here and have started knocking everything down! I had cleared out the old boiler house at the weekend and it's just as well because by the time I had left to go to work this morning the roof was off and they were starting to demolish the walls. I returned home to find that a significant portion of the rear of the house was in a pile in the back yard. Still it's good to get things finally started. At least the weather is good at the minute - (unlike the South of England with floods) - last week it was still wet and I'm sure it would have interfered with the work.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

It's raining

The builders are due to start in just over a week - and I hope the weather changes!!
It's been bucketing down for the last 3 or 4 weeks - some summer so far and if it is like this when the builders are working it will be one big mud pile!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

New job!

I have in my infinite wisdom encouraged the creation of a website for the school - so I have been burning the midnight oil in setting it up - as yet it is pretty empty but it has been an interesting intellectual diversion - for those of you who are into web matters it is created using a content management system called Joomla! - for those of you who aren't - well here is the website!
Click here

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Today we signed the contract for our house extension! - we started this process over 18 months ago, but due to various factors it is only now coming to fruition. We will get 2 more bedrooms out of this and a new living area next to the kitchen. Initially the work was due to start in early June but we had to redraft the plans as the first tenders were way too much - now work will start in mid July and may last 18 weeks (we have hopes it will be less seeing that that was the time on the first workplans when we had more building work to get done.) It remains to be seen. I will probably use this blog as a running commentary on the work - both for info to anyone out there and also as a mechanism for ventilating any frustration!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The School Play

Ben and Bethy were both in the school play (Jack and the Beanstalk) this evening - well Ben was in the chorus and Bethy was a chicken! They also are in the school choir and the orchestra which were performing as well. The kids (by that I mean all not just our two) did really well - there was a lot of work put into it - not least by Mum who supervised and to a significant extent participated in the manufacture of 85 hats for the costumes! Here is Beth in her starring role!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Erins gym competition

Erin who goes to gymnastics every week (along with her sisters) took part in a competition today - her sisters didn't want to but Erin was really keen. And rightly so too - she came 2nd in the vault and floor exercises (there only were the two disciplines!) and 1st overall. Not bad eh! Here she is with her medals and cup.

Click here to see the slideshow in full size

Saturday, June 2, 2007

N vs S rugby games

Didn't see it but picked up the scores of the rugby matches this weekend. France, England,Wales and Ireland all beaten. And all the N hemisphere teams were beaten last week too. Still the only saving grace is they were all ? 2nd string teams. Roll on the rugby World Cup in the autumn!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Another hope for the choir!

Well - the BBC moved the goalposts - and it was almost certainly the right thing. In view of the fact that the voting was so unclear, between the site crashing, being down and the accusations of tactical voting, it has been decided that the whole 842 choirs are now to be judged by an independent panel. So they will be busy, and I don't envy them - some of the choirs are easier on the ears than others!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Joseph choir search

The older two kids are in the school choir and the choir submitted an entry to the BBC Joseph choir search competition (although Beth and Ben weren't in the actual choir that was videoed). So the last week has been a hive of frantic activity as we checked where the choir was in the rankings. They started the week at 490 - by the closing date they were up to 198 (although the rankings didn't change over the last 24 hours because they were locked.) The results are out on the 31st - the top 20 go forward to a final - so there isn't a lot of hope that "our school" will get through.
However the whole process has been an interesting insight into the lengths some parents will go to - there has been suspicions of nefarious practice in block voting and deliberately voting down your rivals. It also has left egg on the face of the BBC who completely underestimated the interest and demand - the site was suspended for a while after it got 250,000 votes in 24 hours!!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Portadown tournament

Cooke was playing at the Portadown tournament today and Ben was on the P5 squad. They had 4 games - Lurgan (won 4-3) Lisburn (drew 2-2) Portadown (lost 0-2) and Banbridge (won 3-0). Unfortunately Lisburn won 2 and drew 2 so they won. Still the boys came a clear second so that's played 4 tournaments won 2 (Bangor and Lisburn), second today and third (equal) at their home tournament at Cooke 2 weeks ago. The mini rugby season now stops, although Ben is looking forward to training at Summer Scrummage before returning in September.

Click here for a slide show of pics from the tournament

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cooke Tournament

Ben was on the squad for the Cooke minirugby tournament today. The weather was fantastic with sun for nearly all the time - several rather red faces, as I among others didn't have any suncream. Still, the important bit was the rugby. Cooke P5s played well, unfortunately being just beaten by Coleraine in the pool stages and so coming second in their pool group. They got into the semifinals but were against Harlequins, who were the form team (and we had hoped to meet in the final). Anyway they lost 2-0 (although this was the best performance in the tournament against Harlequins who went on to win). The boys were bitterly disappointed but they did get a trophy and certificates for being in equal third, so they didn't come away empty handed. Some pics from the games are on this web album.
Cooke Tournament

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Next year booked

Well after the success of our last skiing holiday we have booked again for next year - same place virtually same time. So next March (the 8th to be precise) we will be back in Alpe D'Huez and hoping for the same weather we have had for the past 2 years with lots of snow and some sun.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Day 6

Erin and Caitlin didn't have any lessons today so we skied as a family all day. Caitlin and Erin had been down part of a red run the previous day so we decided to try that one again and we skied down to Oz via the red run for the first part and then a blue. We stopped for a drink at the bottom - it was lovely and sunny before going back up in the Oz bubble to find somewhere to eat on the mountain. We found a lovely restaurant at the halfway point called Le Perce Neige - (see right)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

day 5

Another good day - the snow is still in good condition and the skies are clear. The kids are looking forward to the tobogganing this evening - seeing as the snow on Tuesday meant we couldn't do it then. Also last day of ski lessons for Caitie and Erin - they managed to achieve the Crystal Rouge which we are reliably informed is one step up from their grade last year (Marmotte Bleu). Bethany and Ben are skiing really well - they were leading down a red run to Oz and we only stopped because Lyn was left so far behind.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Day 4

Woke up to sun shining today - and lots of fresh snow from the last 2 days so we managed to catch the earlier bus to try and get more skiing in.
You can see some of the pics from the hols here
Link to web album

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

day 3

Still snowing today when we got up - not quite as heavy as yesterday. We caught the bucket lift up to the slopes as we weren't sure whether a bus was going to come after yesterday - maybe they don't run if it is snowing !! Skied together as a family for a while in the morning - then because we were unsure about the buses I nipped back down to tell the grandparents not to come up if the bus wasn't running. Then after the younger two were despatched to their lessons, we skied across to the midstation above Les Bergers and took the Marmotte 2 gondola. I had the mistaken impression that there was an easy run as an option down from it, but once we looked at the piste map, it became apparent there were only black runs! We decided to go on up and see, and the visibility cleared so we decided to give it a go - although Beth needed a bit of persuasion. The snow was in good condition and Ben and Beth skied their first black run without too much problems.
After that we skied back down to pick up the other two from lessons and I took Erin back down in the bucket lift, while the others got a run in.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Day 2

Woke to a covering of white over the resort - lots of snow overnight and still falling - hooray. Well, except for the fact that the visibility wasn't great and it was a good deal colder than yesterday.We skied around but took an early lunch in view of the conditions. Caitie and Erin had their lesson at 12, and Beth and Ben were packed off at 2, as it got colder and windier. I regret to say that mum and dad then wimped out and went back to the chalet with the younger 2 leaving our older children skiing around in a blizzard (admittedly with their instructor). I traipsed back up to the ski area to pick them up at 4, and we then had an interesting wait for a non-existent bus, before walking home to the chalet. Beth and Ben had great fun however playing in the snow at the bus stop - making snow angels and snow holes.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

day 1

Out on the slopes for the first time this year! There was enough snow around to ski - it was pretty warm which made for pleasant conditions and the start of a tan, but did make the snow a little sticky. Ben started back as though he had never been away, although his sister looked a bit like a duck initially until we found that her boots weren't buckled up, which explained her drop off in ability - once that was fixed she was skiing well again!
All the kids had lessons today, so we spent the morning practising before their afternoon lessons, and then headed back to the chalet in the late afternoon. And then it started snowing!!

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Well - after an early start(up from after 4am!) we have got to Alpe D'Huez. First task - see if we can find out the rugby score between Ireland and Italy - so a bit of frantic twiddling on a radio in the chalet and finally get a French station which intermittently gives a score (we think - our French isn't good enough to understand very much). Ireland seem to be winning so off to get our ski equipment.
After we return to the chalet we tune in again and by dint of listening to a rather worked up French commentator who is screaming as France score a try in the last minute, eventually discover the France/Scotland score is 46-19 and France won the Six Nations (later we discover that the last score won it and Ireland were very nearly champions)
Anyway what about the weather for skiing - isn't that why we are here? Sun is shining and there doesn't seem too much snow around in the resort but we are assured thaere is plenty to ski on and snow is expected on Monday.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Looking good!!

Checked up the snow report today - this is from the Ski Club of Great Britain

Snow News for France - last updated on 15 March 2007. The weather has been amazing throughout the French Alps this week and conditions are generally excellent. The Portes du Soleil has had beautiful sunshine all week and the best riding can be found in the Avoriaz area. The parks in Avoriaz (110/170cms) are also in very good shape. In Alpe d’Huez (119/250cms) there is great riding through the entire Grand Rousses area. All but one lift are open and the pistes are in lovely condition. 30cms of new snow is expected to fall on Monday, which means it could be a powder week next week!

So looking good!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Nearly there

3 days to go until we set off to France. There is a fair bit of snow - only slight problem is that the sun is shining this week so it may have melted and frozen again a few times - so making for a hard and fast piste. I would prefer if it was a bit soft (and soft from new snow rather than slushy snow too!) Still can't complain too much if the snow is there - it's a lot better than Christmas anyway.
On another front Ireland won their last rugby match against Scotland - it was a bit of a struggle and ended in a bit of controversy, when Ronan O'Gara got choked at the bottom of a ruck (well that's what Ireland are saying and looking at the video he was pretty blue and it looks a bit suspicious.) And France lost to England throwing the whole 6 nations championship open. Ireland can win if they score by a winning margin of 4 more points than France on the last day - St Patrick's day - which is of course the day we head off skiing so we'll miss the match. I'll record it maybe

Monday, March 5, 2007

Not long to go to France

12 days and counting - the kids especially Ben can hardly wait - nor can I! Everything is nearly ready - we have the tickets, ski school is sorted, the insurance is organised, the ski equipment and lift passes have been ordered through the tour company (hopefully they have done as promised and our hire shop is close to the slopes) - and it is still snowing. Hooray!!!!
On another point - Ben had a minirugby mini tournament last Saturday - I was unfortunately working, and they didn't win everything - the actual score seems a bit unclear as Ben thinks it was won one drawn one lost one, but Lyn thinks it was 2 losses - anyway he enjoyed himself and scored a try.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

More snow please

More good news - it has been snowing in France over the last couple of days and in good amounts - 50cm or so in the last 24 hours from the snow reports. Provided it doesn't suddenly strike a heat wave things are looking hopeful for the trip on March 17th. I still have a belief that it may continue to dump down especially over the week before we go so here's to powder snow for St Patrick's day (well the day after - we are travelling on Paddys day)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ireland victory!

Spent yesterday evening watching Ireland play England at Croke Park - lot of symbolism and a lot of political rubbish in various rugby blogs beforehand, but for all that Ireland came out the winners on two counts. First I was proud that there wasn't any protest over the "English" national anthem (God Save the Queen), and second Ireland showed their true class and whopped the English by 43 to 13. Roll on the World Cup! (and we will wreak revenge on the French who stole the match 2 weeks ago in the last minute)

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Just been trying to tidy up my PC, by organising the photos on the hard drive (i.e. cutting them from thousands to a manageable number). It's really interesting looking back on old photos - and here is a pic of the family from 5 years ago, so you can see how we've grown - for a start Megan wasn't around back then! The pic is from a day trip to Strangford, and this is the family on the ferry crossing over to Portaferry (or the reverse)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Ben's minirugby

Ben was playing minirugby today - an away match against Lisburn. It was a close match and ended up 5 all, and the Cooke P5s played better than on their last outing to CIYMS 2 weeks ago. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and I think it was a fair result, although Ben's team need to use the width of the pitch a bit more and then they could maybe utilise their speedy runners (of which Ben is one). Still they are only 8 or 9.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Good news

Great news! - it's dumped a load of snow in Alpe D'Huez, so things are looking up for the snow cover in March when we are on holiday. Wasn't a lot of snow over Xmas and although it did snow in early Jan and again late Jan I was a bit worried that it would all get rubbed off when the French started their hols in Feb. Here's hoping it continues to snow for the next 4 or 5 weeks - well for part of it anyway!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Can hardly wait!

We are all going skiing in just over 4 weeks - on St Patrick's day believe it or not. So there will be 6 mad little fishes all screaming down the slopes of Alpe D'Huez (unfortunately Megan isn't yet up to strapping planks to her feet, but she will no doubt enjoy herself running around with Nanny and Granda). Big question is whether Daddy's knee will stand up to 6 days of exercise after his ACL reconstruction last June!
Let you know how plans are going - still have to organise the kids lessons (and also insurance!)

Day one

This is the first day of the new age - now wait for the story of life in a crazy happy family of little red fishes - le poisson rouge plus mrs poisson and the 5 little poissons!
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