Posts Tagged ‘roller-blading’


Eliza and Robin

Eliza and Robin are accomplished roller-bladers. Robin a little faster, Eliza the more elegant. They got their thrills in different ways on a recent skate around the neighbourhood.

Eliza picked leaves or petals as she bladed, shredded them and then threw them into the air as a magical trick that produced sparks. I was asked which colour sparks I would like to see and she hunted for material the right colour to complete her trick.

Robin’s thrill came to the call of ‘Antlers’. Dipping his head, protected by a helmet, he skated into a bush. The noise and feel of the twigs colliding with his helmet gave him the sense of having antlers.


Gabe has been left at home a handful of times for up to an hour when L or I have had to go out to collect the other two. More often than not, he asks to be left alone, then when granted the opportunity, reluctantly comes on whatever errand we are running. When I was going to see the last half-hour of Eliza’s gymnastics class, he asked to be left at home. I agreed and left him. It was getting dark – the first time he would have been by himself at home in the evening. Before I had reached the gym, I had two texts and a missed call on my phone. I called him from the gym car park. He asked me to come and pick him up. ‘No’, I replied. I struck a deal that he could stay but not have a shower until I was back.


    Gabe and Robin

Gabe and, to a lesser degree, Robin, shaped our Northumberland holiday around their favourite activities. There was Olympic action to watch on TV from 9am to however late they conned L and I to let them stay up to. There was a walled garden (‘no ball games’ said the instructions) for football, as well as wide, flat beaches. The standard and intensity was lifted even higher for the two days that cousin D joined us.

The one activity they threw themselves into which wasn’t from the normal range of preferences was a boat trip to the Farne Islands. We spotted seals, initially with difficulty and then when we landed beside a lighthouse, four or more bobbed around the rocks we stood on. Puffins were the choicest seabirds of the many seen flying, floating or standing on rocks.


Eliza adapted more readily to her environment. She made long daisy chains and hunted for bum shaped leaves in our garden. She collected shells and made sandcastles on the beaches. She recruited Robin to imaginary games, roller-blading and mini-Olympics in and around our holiday home and garden.

The Great Unwrapping

The family, including aunt, uncle and little cousin F, assembled in the living room on Christmas morning, considered the pile of presents spreading out from under the tree and went to work.


Robin put on his roller-blades straightaway and cruised along the hall and around the kitchen for much of the morning. After a trip to the park on the blades, the Nerf gun took over. He spent the afternoon in combat shooting the grown-ups at point-blank range and then from sniper positions. Cousin F assisted, retrieving the foam bullets.


Eliza also got new wheels, a scooter, that she rode to the park alongside Robin and ahead of Cousin F whose bike had been painstakingly assembled by the men. A watch and stripy, romper suit pyjamas were other early favourites.


Christmas was an opportunity to equip Gabe for his return to cricket. Gloves, pads, box and helmet – the last, unfathomably, too small and requiring replacement. He tried them all on eagerly but I wasn’t able to arrange for him to use them in action, which disappointed him.

He also took charge of the family DVD present: the last Harry Potter film and the early series of Outnumbered, which he has alighted on as his favourite programme. The appeal perhaps the sight of children besting their parents and some gentle swearing.

Entrance exam


Two eleven plus entrance exams to local grammar schools down, one (or two) to go. Gabe’s month of proving his intellect through extreme multiple choice testing is in full flow. He began at grammar school west. There the streets were throttled with cars parked on pavements. L walked with Gabe up the road to the school. He walked quickly with fixed expression and was swept away from L into the school with around 1,000 other ten year olds. Three and one-half hours later, L picked him up. His sincere wish was that we didn’t ask him how it went and so, when we met at pizza hut for a celebratory lunch, we talked around the subject.

Then yesterday at grammar school south: the roads were choked and L and Gabe had to get out of the car and walk to arrive on time. All week, he has shown no sign of stress, only for the journey there to tense him, just as it certainly did L and me. Again, no clear line on how he has done, but he has appeared self-possessed. L treated him on Saturday to an afternoon of emotion and peril at the latest Harry Potter movie.


While Robin has eschewed crying for straightforward pain, he can be moved and scared to tears.  He fidgeted through most of a Lassie DVD, then became gripped when the dog disappeared, possibly dead. Two tears escaped and inched down his cheeks. L had to switch off an episode of Dr Who, which frightened him into sobs.


Eliza harnessed Robin, with a long-scarf around his mid-riff. Holding the two ends, she sets him running, pulling her along on her roller blades, like a pony and trap.


Easter Island bonnet


All pupils at Gabe’s primary school are given the homework task of making an Easter bonnet, which are paraded at a special prize assembly. Gabe picked on a chance comment about Easter Island and decided that would be the theme of his bonnet. Its construction involved the usual amount of angst he experiences when making something. While it featured a recognisable Easter Island stone head, in L and my eyes it lacked evidence of real commitment. Nonetheless Gabe seemed convinced it would be a winner.

L received, and dismissed as a hoax, a text from a friend announcing that Gabe had received an award. Only when Gabe came home from school with an Easter egg, was the truth of his achievement appreciated. The novelty of his idea – when all around them were chicks, nests and flowers – had swung the judges.

Surprise victor


We tracked down a roller-rink in the locality, where Eliza can pursue her roller-blade passion. Situated in a warehouse on an industrial park, the rink sits anonymously, without signage to draw customers. Fittingly, then, it should be a hidden gem. A throwback to the middle of the last century – from its tiny ticket booth, to its paper decorations hanging from the ceiling, plastic covered booth seats around the rink, cheap tuck shop and most of all, its polished wooden rink. And it was a venue for skaters of all ages; many of the most elegant were of retirement age.

Eliza herself was as much a spectacle. She has an easy, graceful style. But what strikes most are her spindly, stick legs rising from her chunky boots with blades. She is much less fragile than she appears, but the worry remains.


Robin is progressing well at school and showing a facility for learning. Yet, there remain some odd blind spots. Whenever he reappears in the room after a trip to the loo, L or I ask whether he has flushed and washed his hands.  He pauses, before trotting back to complete the task that continues to seem just a little beyond him.