Posts Tagged ‘games’

Long weekend

The half-term holiday ended with a long weekend in St Andrews. Under cloudless blue skies Eliza, Robin and I ventured out to the long, narrow strip of woodland up the hill from Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Eliza and Robin reprised a game from earlier visits when they ran through the woods, trying to beat me to the top. My route followed a path, while they picked their way through the trees and bushes. They were scratched and tripped and Eliza’s sophisticated swirly bun hair-do kept snagging on twigs. Out of the woods and along a path I spotted an eagle in a field. The kids struggled to spot it. Eliza stood on a wall, flapping her arms to be a ‘little birdie’ to attract the eagle’s attention and startled herself when the eagle turned and flapped its wings.

We visited the St Andrews pool during Acqua Run. An inflatable pontoon half the length of the pool supported an inflatable assault course. Gabe led the kids onto it and was the first to complete it without falling off. Robin, the smallest of all the kids attempting the course, revelled in the challenge, repeating the acqua run over and over again, needing to be escorted back from the deep-end of the pool where he landed from the slide at the end of the course.

One afternoon was spent with Freya, uncle, aunt, great uncle and great aunt: halloween costumes, frolics and races in the garden (notably, the bloodshot eye-ball and spoon race). Great uncle A conjured a plastic eye-ball from his hand. Standing inches away, Robin’s jaw dropped and he swivelled with an enchanted look of astonishment, providing deep fulfilment to the conjurer.


Parents evening

L had meetings with both Eliza’s and Robin’s teachers.


Eliza continues to prosper at school. Her new teacher speaks as highly of her attitude and progress as her previous teacher. Eliza’s reading age has been measured as 9 yrs 7 months – over 2.5 years above her breathing age.


Robin attracted praise for his attentiveness and willingness to learn. L was asked if he has a drum kit at home. “No”, she replied. “Well,” the teacher explained, “he has an amazing sense of rhythm.”

The following day, L had to sign the accident book on picking Robin up from school. The record stated, “Robin ran round and round in a circle, until he fell over and bumped his head on a tree.”


Gabe has invented a club, called something to do with lizards. Membership, rules, crest, meeting times and location, password protocol are all documented on an A4 sheet. The members – friends, parents and, to his great pleasure, Robin – are allocated roles: messenger, guard, ideas thinker, etc. It’s a hypothetical club, but intriguing enough for Eliza to invent her own. It’s not yet made it off the paper, something Gabe seemed to be conscious of when he asked me if I had made up clubs when I was his age; and, were they always really unsuccessful?


The children loved the converted farm and its amenities. We were the noisiest family in the pool, swimming daily with Nan and Grandad. The apogee of our frantic fun was the game where Gabe, Eliza and Robin took turns to leap from the side to kick, catch, punch or head a ball thrown across them. By the end of the week, Robin was swimming a length and Eliza two; and each of them had progressed with some sort of dive.

The second most popular draw were the goats. Eliza and Robin fed them with our leftovers and with the leaves of a hazel tree that Nan had guided them towards as good goat food.

no butts

We had two days on Banham beach, across the Avon estuary from Burgh Island. Paddling, sand castles and rock scrambling were successful occupations. Robin annexed a big hole in the beach and with help dug it deeper. It became the ‘Great Hole of Robin’, which he jumped into, almost disappearing, and then with the others leaped across it.

beach ball

Rock climbing


There were two notable bits of courage demonstrated by Robin at Gabe’s school barbeque. The publicly visible one was being the smallest child to attempt and indeed scale much of the climbing wall. For this he got encouragement and cheers from parents and kids. But to get to that position, Robin had walked up to one of the men operating the wall and, by himself, asked if he could go on it.

sent up the wall


Between me dropping Gabe off at school and L picking him up, G’s vocal chords stretched. Speaking a little huskily, he may have had his first joust with puberty. If so, the infant Gabe prevailed as his old voice returned the next day.

Another rite of passage: his first cricket match played with a “corkie”. Batting for the first time in pads and helmet, Gabe attracted a lot of sympathy. The smallest pads were too large or too unfamiliar making him unable to run. Twice he was nearly lapped by his partner. The second time Gabe stood his ground leaving the other lad high and dry by the length of the junior pitch.


Eliza designed an obstacle course in the garden and excelled, matching Gabe for the fastest time – down the slide, round the lawn mower, over the play car, dribbling the ball to the bucket and back to the beginning. As with any running event, Eliza’s fluency is disturbed by her need to pull up her leggings which slide down her skinny waist and hips.

At the pool


At the camp-site pool in Italy, Gabe gave indications of how he’ll appear as an adolescent, or even a man. Wearing long red swimming shorts and a tight red surfer’s top, he has the shape, if not the scale, of a sleek Italian Giovanni.

Acqua Piper

The visit to Italy’s largest water park on a baking hot day was a holiday triumph. For 6 hours the kids played together. First, down mini-slides and around a mid-riff deep pool, with Robin tending to lead the way in new challenges. Then, racing around animal statues in the shallows of an ocean pool. Last, playing ball in the ocean pool, with the boys essaying elaborate dives. Eventually, Eliza, so pale, tired and retreated from the sun to the shadows. Throughout, they had thrown themselves into the water, the games and the sunny day. They were pleasingly distinct from the Italians, who were generally older and younger. Ours showed no bronzed torsos, remaining clothed in red (Gabe), pink (Eliza) and pale green (Robin).

Lagoon pool

With two days of the holiday to go, the camp opened its lagoon pool. We were first on its spongy floor, its island with fountains, through its tunnel and down its slides. The kids had sliding competitions, played lifeguards and dived for goggles. They shrieked, laughed and made it into a family pool, although it was out of normal school holidays.

Cup final


Gabe’s U9 team played a cup final against a team who had beaten them 8-1 earlier in the season. The match was played at a local non-league ground, on around 1/4 of the pitch area. Both teams defended solidly and despite some flowing football, there was no score after the first third, the second third, the third third, and two periods of extra time. And so to penalties – surely not necessary for 9 year olds – where the other team’s nerve held. Consolation came in the form of a boot-shaped runners-up trophy.


Eliza has the skipping bug. In the house, she turns scarves and ties into skipping ropes. Outside, she jumps over ropes. She prefers to have the rope turned for her, so she can time her run into the rope’s orbit and start jumping. She likes a routine where she turns 90 degrees with each jump, which for some reason accentuates her leg length making her foal-like.


When playing ‘pretend’ games with Eliza, Robin isn’t simply the obliging stooge any more. Whether the game is horses, or school, or whatever subject matter, Robin now has a say in the progress of the game. Learned from Eliza, the game’s next step is always announced with ‘Pretend’, or when coming from Robin, ‘tend’.

Games we play


Eliza and I had an intense and arduous hour in the garden moving from the house to the fence and back without touching the grass. We had three rafts which protected us from the lawn crocodiles: slide, see-saw and car. We climbed onto the two front rafts and then dragged the third in front and moved forward again.


Gabe has been introduced to monopoly at a friend’s house and back at home has opened up the personal monopoly L bought for my 40th birthday. Gabe revels in fining opponents for landing on his properties and trying to force a deal in the auctions. Handling the money, and the overall complexity of the game seem to appeal to him.


Robin enjoys two board games – one with pirates and the other with spiders – that involve rolling dice, moving counters and the threat of an abrupt reversal if you land on the wrong space. He wants to win, but not so much that he cheats, but only that he can whine if not winning and cheer a victory.