Sunday, February 26, 2006

Weekend Away

For the first time in twelve years Melanie and I just had a weekend away, with no kids in sight!

Both girls went to an orchestra weekend at Grafham Water Centre, so we booked a break at Folly Farm Cottage, in the small village of Ilmington in the Cotswolds.

The place was ideal for a romantic break - a small self catering apartment with a 4-poster bed, whirlpool bath, delightfully decorated, very nice and helpful people too. We ordered a cooked breakfast for Sunday and that was delicious.

We spent Saturday having a little drive round the area, visiting a couple of antiques places, Moreton in the Marsh, Broadway, and Chipping Camden. Coming past Broadway Tower there was quite a lot of snow around - some quite deep drifts in places. The weather was good - clear and sunny - but a little chilly!

Saturday evening we booked a table at the Howard Arms in Ilmington. We walked down - remembering to take a torch to see the way.

Not everything went quite according to the original script. After arranging all this we ended up going to a function at Chilford Hall Vineyard on the Friday evening, so our carefully laid travel plans got slightly derailed. The original plan was to set out, leave the children, and carry on. Instead we came back to Cambridge, had the meal, and set out much later than planned - so we didn't arrive until nearly 1 in the morning. Fortunately our hosts at Folly Farm were very understanding and made arrangements to leave a key.

Then, on Saturday evening, having had a drink at the bar, started on the bottle of wine, and just had our starters arrive at the table, the phone went - with a message to say that Amanda had been unwell and would it be better if we went to collect her and take her home? Needless to say this wasn't particularly practical, but fortunately Amanda was fine, so we were able to stay on. It did put rather a dampener on what was looking to be a very fine meal, though.

Today we had a walk round Stratford and a warming bowl of soup before heading back to collect the kids and bring them home.

Overall, a nice weekend. Let's hope we don't have to wait another 12 years for the next opportunity.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Make your own website

So I don't post items here as often as I do in my main blog, which is something I'm going to have to work on.

Anyway, Hannah's been asking about creating her own website, so had a look around today. She came home with piczo in mind (although she actually told us pixo, which isn't quite the same thing).

But piczo's terms and conditions impose a strict minimum age of 13, so that one's out. And after looking at a couple of pages they host, the intrusive advertising and popups really got on my nerves. Can't recommend that one.

So I had a little look around, and Hannah signed up for MatMice. This one is aimed squarely at children, and first impressions are good. The signup was a little klunky (most usernames are already taken - it would have been nice to get suggestions rather than have to take 20 guesses). The page creator is pretty simplistic for my taste (not quite as slick as most of the ajax powered utilities I use these days) but it works. Advertising, yes, but in the fairly tasteful google style. How this will work out in the longer term I don't know, but if your kids are looking for somewhere to make their own web page then MatMice is definitely worth a try!