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one of the nice things…

Friday, January 15th, 2010

…about being home is that Grandpa asks the big girls over to help him put together a top secret that cannot be discussed with anyone else until after dinner.
The little kids agonise through BBQ-ed sausages, onions and tomatoes with a good helping of coleslaw and a pile of oven-baked fries before discovering just What It Is hiding in the fridge that they have been banned from opening.

Eleven individual knickerbocker glories.

Grandpa has talked about these forever.

Today we got to try them.

photos of the KGB team and their creations are coming….

it’s surprising he came with us at all

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Krakow, Poland

“We should take a picture for Grandpa!”
”And one of the sticker too”
”I know! Why don’t you put it on your ear?!”

It all started in Mongolia. We stayed in gers, and gers are not renowned for having very high doorways. Even though he cognitively knew this, poor ol’ Grandpa would knock his head almost every time he came out of his ger, something you do fairly frequently due to the fact that there is not a lot to do inside one of those tents other than keep the fire stoked. Unfortunately for Grandpa, he does not have the protective covering on his head, called hair, and in its place ended up with both a large lump (making him effectively taller than usual and so even more prone to knocking his noggin) and a nasty graze, that turned the stomachs of anyone, who saw it uncovered. Whenever Martin, the big burly ranch owner, saw Grandpa, he called out “Duck duck rubber duck!” – but deep down I’m sure he respected the almost-eighty-year-old man for actually managing to swing himself up on a horse. More than once.

(I *could* insert a picture here as proof of the horse mounting, but it ain’t all that elegant)

That was the beginning. After that, any surface that *could* be used to graze the head, was. Bunks on trains. A suitcase lid. A kitchen bench.
Then there was the motorhome. Again, there was a slightly lower than usual doorway. Donk. And there was a bed in the canopy, which was at just the right height for knocking your head on as you went from the living area through to the cab. Donk donk.
Grandpa looked like he would not be scarred for life, but permanently grazed.

There was not too much to be done about the doorway, but the alcove donking-ground lent itself to some solutions by kind-hearted grandchildren. First of all a piece of foam was fastened to the fairly sharp edge. But it didn’t last. Neither did it work – graze number who-knows-what was scraped in spite of the foam.
Next the kids studiously coloured a danger warning strip black and yellow. Failed.
Daughter-in-law found a pinecone and hung that, embellished with some heather to make it look like an intentional decoration, a bit lower than the edge. It got knocked about a lot, but at least it didn’t leave a graze. No-one knows where it disappeared to or when, but one day Grandpa found himself grazed again.

In desperation he went to Canada, where he was certain he would be immune from such experiences. Turns out it wasn’t to be, but the funniest episode of all happened en route.
In an email Grandpa described the scene succinctly, never one to exaggerate:
“BTW I munted my cell phone – cracked the screen so I have to look for a new one tomorrow.”
Rob’s sister, who was travelling with him, filled in the hilarious details:

You’ll laugh when you hear how he damaged his phone.  We were walking around town taking  photos and had found a quaint medieval street called The Shambles.  The buildings lean over the street toward each other and Dad leant up against a building to get a better angle when he was clonked by a large sign that fell off the wall as he leaned against it.  He quickly stopped it from falling onto the ground and hooked it back up though it was a precarious hold.  He then leant against the same wall to get the same photo as he had been unable to previously and the sign not only fell off the wall it clonked him on the head and fell to the ground.  I turned around just as he was picking it up and putting it back up for the second time!!  As he did a bit of a shuffle when he got clonked he must have leaned against the wall and the hire car key must have pressed hard up against the screen of the phone which broke the LCD display.  It looks like a picture of a shattered window!! 🙁 

After two weeks Grandpa returned to us, still grazed.
More of the same (and we visited some cool castles and mountains).
But in the end he went home! Where he fell off his bike three times in a month, his account of which brought much laughter to our hostel room across the other side of the world.

And so when we were at the Wieliczka salt mine with its reasonably frequent red and white danger stripes on low ceilings and some without any warning whatsoever, our thoughts did not have to move far to turn to Grandpa. He’d have loved it!

But what about the sticker?
That story goes back even further.
In 2001, we were in Malaysia for a family wedding.
We also went to a butterfly park, where we were issued with a little tag on a rubber band for attaching to our cameras to prove we had paid the camera fee. Grandpa had missed that part of the entrance instructions, and so when Rob told him he had to hang it over his ear, he did. Unquestioningly. We saw a good many butterflies, scorpions, lizards and other miscellaneous wildlife samples before he realised he was the source of our out-of-proportion enjoyment at this particular attraction!
We had almost as much fun with the Wieliczka sticker – aren’t memories grand?

Now you know.

Autumn Arrives

Monday, September 7th, 2009
Brindisi, Italy For the second day in a row the warm wind was howling, stirring up the ocean to waves too fierce for the little kids to venture into. At sunset the night before last, the sky had turned ominously ... [Continue reading this entry]

life’s a beach they say

Friday, September 4th, 2009
Capitolo, Italy there’s not much to say get up, have breakfast, do family devotions, complete chores (which doesn’t take long in such a small space, even including the hand washing), head for the beach return for lunch and naps and writing and ... [Continue reading this entry]

the last supper

Monday, August 31st, 2009
Bari, Italy If I don’t write about it, it won’t happen, right? So I’ll just say we went out for dinner tonight, Grandpa’s shout. I won’t mention that it was his last meal with us. If we don’t think about ... [Continue reading this entry]


Saturday, August 1st, 2009
by Rachael Uzerche, France We’ve been away from home for 300 days today! Jboy13 is keeping count <wink> In Asia we had a standard conversation with everyone we came across. Are you one family? Yes. How many children are there? Eight. Ah you are so lucky. Thank you. Where ... [Continue reading this entry]

hi ho hi ho, it’s off to York we go

Monday, July 6th, 2009
by Rachael Harrogate, England So if we’re off to York, why did we end up in Harrogate? Just before we set off this morning, Jgirl14 mentioned Harrogate-where-Grandpa-lived-for-a-couple-of-years-during-the-war, but as Rob said not a word, we surmised we were not going there. Never ... [Continue reading this entry]


Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
Jgirl14’s story, based on Grandpa’s young-boy wartime exploits, and most probably incorporating the experiences of other people she has had opportunity to interview whilst on this trip as well. People like extended family, who provide another slant to the same ... [Continue reading this entry]


Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
by Rachael Stratford-Upon-Avon, England I wonder how many of our blog readers think we are exaggerating when we say we have at least one detour every day! Today we had three; two due to wrong turnings on our part and here’s ... [Continue reading this entry]

what else could we fit in today?

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
by Rachael Bath, England Last night Rob crashed on the none-too-comfortable certainly-not-big-enough-for-him seat at the back of the Bear Cave…..and did not move for half an hour. Eventually he mentioned to no-one in particular, “I can’t keep this up!” Our preferred pattern ... [Continue reading this entry]