Archive for April, 2014

Activity holiday

Our Easter holiday featured over a dozen activities in four days at the PGL Adventure Holiday site in Shropshire, topped off with my annual birthday walk. What Eliza and Robin approached with relish and gusto, Gabe faced with hesitancy and clearly declared fear.

The most startling of the activities, the Big Swing, took place on day 2. Gabe opted out and was making similar noises about other activities. This was where the young, upbeat instructors stepped in, reassuring, coaxing him to participate. In the case of the wall-climb, they rebuffed his request to come down from half-way up the wall and convinced him, in a way I could not have done, to carry on climbing. He showed his determined side by crouching in the woods trying to light cotton wool with a spark long after anyone else would have conceded. And he managed it.

Eliza thrived – her balance and physical confidence unimpaired by the apparent (though not real) peril of the activities. She went furthest of the whole group in the kayak challenge – moving from sitting, to lying to standing to walking along the kayak.

Robin matched her, when away from the water. The swings, climbs, abseil and zip-wire were devoured. Our final challenge, the high ropes, did cause a wobble as he went out on the circuit then returned. But he went back for a second go and managed to complete the course.

Given Robin’s reticence on the high ropes, Gabe’s achievement of finally screwing up his courage and giving it a go, was even more impressive – though he didn’t like the congratulations it earned him. Meanwhile, Eliza swung around high ropes, trusting to her harness and unaffected by the height.


Part of the act of (near) teendom is control over your identity through the adoption of others. Impersonating, repeating figures of speech and accents of others. Currently, Gabe’s principal other voice is of a Devonian farmer saying, “That’s unfortunate”, whenever anything untoward occurs.

Robin had the longest lasting and lengthiest impersonation piece when he repeated the story told by his American class mate. More recently, he has preferred slipping into the laddish utterances of the average football supporter: “Ci’y”.

Eliza’s impersonation wins on charm. She’s not aping the speech of anyone, but the actions of a lamb. Specifically, given a bottle to drink from, she pretends to be a lamb being bottle-fed milk, tugging at the vessel held above her as she drinks urgently and roughly from it.

Anniversary weekend


Heading south by car to Nan and Grandad’s on Friday, Eliza occupied herself by:

  • playing the successive initials game (i.e. naming someone whose initials are AB, BC, CD, etc)
  • doing her homework, which happened to be familiarising herself with the songs for her Easter concert – which she did by singing them over and over again
  • making up her own song about a fox who pounced and a rabbit who bounced.

At Nan and Grandad’s, she became cousin S’s playmate. This involved writing numbers, names, drawing animals and a game of hunt the peg.


Gabe spent Friday and Saturday coolly telling people how much he was looking forward to his cup final on Sunday morning. Something switched on Saturday evening when all the signs of anxiety struck. A bad night’s sleep was followed by a grumpy, upset and downbeat journey back to the football match. But on the pitch he regained his cool – not only playing well, but with a smile, throughout the tense final. He hit the post in extra-time before his team conceded two late goals and lost 3-1.


We stayed at the sausage dog B&B. Last time, Robin had fled the little dogs. His canine-phobia is little diminished, but the low-slung beasts fascinated him and made him anxious at the same time. A door remained between him and them for the whole visit.