Thursday 22 February 2007

Year of the Golden Pig

Chinese LionKung Hei Fat Choi!

Chinese New Year again and this time it's the Year of the Golden Pig - R*'s year.

We celebrated by going down to London's Chinatown with some friends on new year's day and having dim sum. We arrived before the restaurant opened to make sure we could get in. Our friends were dim sum virgins so we had fun introducing them to all kinds of dishes. Afterward, we joined the thousands and thousands of people who had come to see the parade and festivities at Trafalgar Square. The picture is one of the many lion dances that took place in chinatown.

The event is huge. We couldn't get a good view of the stage at Trafalgar Square so we eventually gave up and went down the the Victoria & Albert museum. It was quieter there this year but the smaller scale allows the kids to see more.

As I said last year, it sure would be nice to see more contemporary Chinese art than the same old traditional stuff.

Tuesday 6 February 2007

Travel Shows

It's the beginning of the year so it must be travel show season! Last week we went to Destinations: The Holiday and Travel Show while a few weeks before that I also went to the Adventure Travel Show.

The Adventure Travel Show was the smaller of the two and held at Olympia. As you might expect from the title, it was aimed mainly at gap year students and people seeking adventure sports and uncomfortable trips to remote locations. Think "expeditions". It was interesting and would be fabulous if I was single but there wasn't a whole lot for families. It was good for finding  volunteer organisations. It wasn't very busy when I went at the end of the day which made it really easy to strike up convesations with the exhibitors.

The Destinations show was held at Earls Court and was much bigger and busier. Think "mainstream". Many of the exhibitors were tourist boards from numerous countries. However, there was considerable variety including some very small tour operators and more adventurous travel companies. For example, we had a chat with the company that was involved in making the "Tiger! Tiger!" BBC documentary. We also found a tiny company that did tours of Cambodia and Vietnam.

We came back from both shows with large stacks of brochures which we're slowly going through and helping us refine our itinerary. I've also been renting a few travel DVDs of India and China which have been useful. The kids have been watching them and thinking about what they would like to see. However, the DVDs have also made Jenny a bit worried about the health aspects of travelling India.

Thursday 1 February 2007

K*'s New Glasses

Sadly, the day came last Tuesday when K* was prescribed glasses. Last week, the teacher had to move him to the front of the class because he complained he couldn't read the whiteboard.

Both Jenny and I wear glasses so we knew it was very likely at least one or both of our kids would also need glasses. Luckily, R* seems to have escaped so far but I didn't get my first pair until I was about 14. There's still time.

Glasses are a hassle and I don't think you can ever say glasses improve your looks. It's a shame. He's taken it quite well and agrees it very nice to be able to see so much detail in the distance now. At least it should help him at school.

Ski Workout

Well I'm back into doing workouts and I've been managing to do it every other day for the last two weeks. No, it's not a New Years Resolution; it's fear. I've committed to going skiing with my mates in March. The less you exercise before skiing, the more it's gonna hurt! It's great motivation.

I'm not going to the gym. I really don't like the atmosphere of a gym and I hate the time overhead and expense of going there. I may go later on as I do really like the various weight machines that allow you to isolate specific muscle groups.

So I'm just doing a relatively adhoc routine at home and making use of my eliptical machine. The quads, abdomen and lower back are the critical areas I know that I need to tone up. And cardio of course. And lots of stretching. It would be good to lose some weight although that's not really my main goal. I'm up to 90kg when I'd rather be under 80kg.

My secret weapon this time is good loud thumping music. Rock on.