Posts Tagged ‘train’

University visits


In the space of two weeks, Gabe visited Oxford, Durham and Cambridge. The second he disliked. At Oxford and Cambridge, he attended sessions on applying for history and took in as many small, central and traditional colleges as his patience would allow. Oxford is his preferred destination. I asked if he could explain why. “No,” he said – he couldn’t put it into words. He seems both realistic about his chances and motivated to give it his best effort.

Amongst all the sights of academic excellence and ancient architecture, my strongest memory of the visits was from the very start of our journey to Oxford. To Gabe’s annoyance, I said we would take the tram to Piccadilly Station. As the tram pulled in, he baulked and like a nervous horse, refused the ‘obstacle’. I spoke quietly, but urgently to him and when the next tram came, he put aside his fears and stepped on board. 45 minutes later, we took our seats on the train to Oxford. A teenage girl sat on the seat to our right. She was being fussed over by her Mother, prior to travelling alone. My phone buzzed. There was a text from Gabe, stating just ‘Home schooled’. The swing from highly anxious to contemptuous had taken less than one hour.


Eliza’s Duke of Edinburgh expedition took place on one of the hottest weekends of this hot summer. The supervisors made a humane concession, relaxing the requirement that the participants carry everything they will need with them, by providing supplies of water at their check-points.

Eliza’s group didn’t repeat the navigational mistakes that saw them fail their practice expedition. On Sunday they rose early, left camp an hour ahead of schedule, made good time and arrived hours before they were expected. Eliza was lying on the ground, tired and bored when we pulled up, almost three hours after the expedition ended.


Robin won two awards at his school presentation event. One for being part of the league-winning football team and the other for being the best cricketer. He was unimpressed that they were not ‘proper’ awards. More to his liking was the day he spent at the Chill Factor skiing, snowboarding and tobaganning as part of a select group of students rewarded for their achievements during the academic year.



Gabe’s astronomy class, one hour per week after normal school hours, has been boring, difficult and entirely theory. That changes next half-term, with the need to complete three observations. I ordered Gabe a telescope and together we assembled it (a lot of cajoling required). There was a problem with the eye-piece which slotted into place too securely and couldn’t be removed. I decided to unscrew the eye-piece casing, found that I couldn’t, but neither could I resecure it, leaving the telescope rattling inside with nuts I must have dislodged. Next stop: find a telescope repair service for the telescope that Gabe hasn’t even used yet.


L headed to St Andrew’s for the half-term holiday by train with the three kids. It was the day after Eliza had been at a sleepover party at her best friend’s house. Eliza was tired and grumpy. The train on the final leg of the journey north of Edinburgh was crowded and they had to stand. “I’m not having it!” declared Eliza, who lay down on the carriage floor and shut her eyes.


Robin’s football team had a successful start to their first season of inter-club football. In the top section of the district they began with a win and a draw that they should have won. Since then, they’ve been beaten every game. Robin has taken this equably. He notices that more goals are let in when he’s off the pitch, but no longer sulks when losing or after a defeat. Within minutes of a game finishing, he and his teammates are happily larking about.

We will rock you

L took the kids to London for three days, staying with aunt and cousins. On the train trip there, Robin was banished to other seats for shouting anatomical names, for which he got a thump from an embarrassed, ennervated Gabe.

London trips included to the musical ‘We will rock you’ and Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park where L & I married 13 years ago. Gabe and Robin played football and basketball with cousin D. Eliza hung out with L and Aunt A.