Perfect day really.
Unless you count the fact that it poured with rain...
Which I won't.
We started with a late and leisurely breakfast at the Cafe Rouge - coffee, apple juice, croissants, pastries, eggs Benedict, potatoes Lyonnaise, bacon and sausages, rounds of toast and french bread. In fact, the only thing on the menu we didn't order was muesli because - well, it's muesli, isn't it?
Then we went to the Roccocco gardens in Painswick to see the snowdrops.
In the driving rain.
There were lots of little summer house/gazebo-type buildings for us to explore and take shelter in. Which was lucky really - did I mention how much it rained?
There were also lots of weird and wonderful bits of sculpture hidden around the gardens...metal bullrushes in the lake...coloured tin flowers and butterflies...strange curling waterlilies in an ornamental pool and some giant conkers in the woods...
Ten-year-old came over all artistic and took hundreds of photographs from unlikely angles on his father's iphone. Since it was extremely muddy, slippy and slidey underfoot, with many lakes, ponds and ornamental pools, the husband remained in a state of iphone-anxiety all the way around.
To my annoyance, most of Ten-year-old's photos came out much better than my own - for which I'm blaming my inferior phone - pah!
Six-year-old was happy enough UNTIL we passed a small, sodden bear-thing which someone had dropped (probably on purpose). It had only one ear, hardly any eyes and a hole instead of a nose. It was green and mouldy and raggedy, but Six-year-old was upset about it having been left out in the rain. Husband and self assumed he must be joking.
Only he wasn't. He grew quieter and more fretful about the hideous, unloved bear-thing, the further away from it we walked. When we were about to leave - and about as far from the lost bear as it was possible for us to be - Six year old announced his intention of going back for it.
In the unabating rain.
So now there is an awful bear-thing going round and round in the washing machine - along with every mud-spattered item of clothing we wore today. Six-year-old is in a state of deep hypnosis, watching the bear-thing spin and waiting for the cycle to end - after all, the poor bear-thing has already been through so much - it wouldn't do to leave him in the wash any longer than necessary.
Later, I shall be required to sew the bear-thing a new face and ear *sigh*.
Bookwise, I've just finished (fighting my way through) The Casual Vacancy - and I have to say the going was tough! If it had been written by anyone other than JK Rowling, I think I might've given up before the end. Aargh - I just didn't care! Not about any of them!
The number of different viewpoints was dizzying. But maybe that wouldn't have mattered if I hadn't disliked them all so much. I hated that big fat man with his stupid hat. And I hated his awful wife who did nothing but smile and think about how much she despised everyone else. And I hated that big-breasted woman who liked the boy-band. And the uptight doctor. And I hated that crazy bald-headed deputy-head man. And his son - he was horrible. And the sadistic man. And his wife just for putting up with him. And I didn't much like the roughy-roughos from the Fields either. Who the hell was I supposed to be rooting for in this story?
But I wish I'd liked it.
Because I admire JK Rowling and everything she's achieved. (I even admire her for having a go at something so different!) Hopefully, there are lots of people who prefer their stories to be gritty and realistic who'll enjoy The Casual Vacancy. But for me, it was another one of those books that confirmed my preference for stories made of magic and mystery and romance.
Next up are Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things and Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes - which I've borrowed from my sister. So I seem to be heading in a decidedly sinister direction. I'm hoping for an antidote to The Casual Vacancy - which depressed me slightly.
Speaking of sinister stories - I've also just finished Sally Gardner's Maggot Moon, which I bought to read to the Ten-year-old. Ha, that was an error! I knew that it had won the Costa Childrens' Book Award, but had no idea exactly what age group it was aimed at. And I'm now guessing Older-Than-Ten.
First, there was a lot of swearing. I don't approve of editing or censoring books when I'm reading them to the boys - especially not prize-winning books. And the Ten-year-old is familiar with most swear words by now. So I ploughed onwards, reading the swear words as naturally as I was able and explaining about the text being written from an unhappy fifteen-year-old boy's perspective - so it was realistic that he should swear - and it was - um art and that. But frick-fracking hell! The Ten-year-old was beside himself with glee! And I felt like a forty-year-old who was trying to sound like fucking badass!
Ten-year-old was also a little uncertain about all the main character's family and friends being dragged off and never seen again. So I read on alone from around chapter twenty-five. And I was glad I did. After that, a little schoolboy was beaten to death by a teacher, who was then shot in the head. People had their tongues cut out and their fingers chopped off. They were beaten and starved and machine-gunned. And the swearing was as unabating as today's sodding rain!
I thought Maggot Moon was an extraordinary book and the writing was shockingly good. It was easy to see why it had won the Costa prize and I would recommend it to everyone.
Assuming that everyone was over fifteen or sixteen.