Dance, Dance, Dance

The kids have had a dancing weekend. Hazel and Kieran had their end of term open ballet classes and they had their 1st feis. Friday got the ball rolling with Hazel’s ballet class. It was the first time we’ve gone and seen a class wide improvement in all of their abilities. You can tell they’ve been working on newer steps and that they were getting more confident. My kids insist on taking the photos of each other in class. As Kieran cannot be still for more than a second-this is the only photo that isn’t completely blurred.Kieran’s class was on Saturday morning. There are usually 3 boys in the class, but the other 2 boys weren’t there. Kieran didn’t mind-as when it came time to be a seagull—we had, as he called it, a ‘one-man-seagull-show’. He danced so well—he got a round of applause.
We decided to come home for some brunch and then we were going to go and see if the shop in Abingdon had gotten in Hazel’s leotard for the feis on Sunday. We were in luck and they had one. During the week we had managed to find a short sleeve one, but she wanted the long sleeve. As we were so close to Oxford, we decided to go in for the afternoon. We used the park and ride that is closest to us, so now that I know where this one is the kids and I can go more often.

I hadn’t been to the Ashmolean before so we went there first. The kids seemed to enjoy the Egyptian displays-which was good considering they had no idea who the Egyptians were. Hazel enjoyed some of the paintings upstairs—the religious ones seemed to appeal to her. Then again—most were of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus—so maybe it was just the baby in the paintings that caught her eye.

The kids were interested and asked loads of questions and made us look at many things they ‘found’. I love when they point out something in a display case as if they unearthed it themselves. When we went to the café for tea and scones, we had a nice chat about the displays. I like that we can have these types of conversations with them now.

After our snack we headed to Blackwell’s bookshop. It is one of those places I could spend a few days in—wishing I could buy half the books. This is the second time this month where we all spent over 2 hours browsing in a bookshop. Luckily enough we were a bit restrained and didn’t spend a complete fortune. Hazel has been showing some signs of being a bookworm—fingers crossed!! She had about 5 books by her side in seconds and was trying to get through all of them.
Then it was on to one of Kieran’s favourite spots—a restaurant! It is amazing that he can manage to stand at all these days, considering he has not one, but two hollow legs. The boy acts as if he’s being starved at times. We tried Bella Italia for the first time. I thought it was pretty good—we’d definitely go back. Was so nice to go to a restaurant just after 5pm and know that they were actually serving, and that we weren’t going to be the only ones there. It was a nice, long, casual dinner. Afterwards we headed for the bus and home.

This morning started in a bit of a frenzy to leave by 9am. The kids were having their first feis, and we were going for a picnic afterwards. While I got the kids and myself ready, Michael packed us a lovely lunch. We left about 10 minutes late, but arrived on time. I was so surprised by the magnitude of the ‘class’ feis. I had no idea she had that many classes—and not everyone participated.

Hazel and Kieran were excited, and so were the other ‘under 7’s’ from their class. They all went and sat together chatting away—and being mighty impressed by the more advanced under 7’s dances. Hazel even went up to the one girl we all thought was brilliant to let her know she liked watching her dances. She makes me so proud sometimes. I have to say—all the kids were having fun—and only one child showed any signs of being nervous on stage. But she was fine by her second appearance, and was rearing to go for her 3rd dance. I guess I’m so amazed as I’d never have done that—especially with only one other person on stage with me.

Hazel and Kieran both did their basic reel two times. I’m very pleased to say Hazel won 2nd place for both dances in her group, and Kieran placed 4th in his two dances. He decided that that was just too unbearable—as all the other kids in their class got a medal and a trophy, while he ‘only’ got two medals. I think next term when I suggest he practice, he just may do it. He did do a very good job-and we were so thrilled with his dances. And I know I gush a lot about the kids—but Hazel has me in awe of her half the time—she looked great and was just beaming—she loved the whole experience, and it was evident to all who watched. When we managed to calm our son down, by buying them their first packet of Quavers, we watched the older children from their class for a few minutes. Hazel wanted to see the girl’s performances. I’m surprised we got away at all-she was on such a buzz and wanted to stay till the end. But the lure of a picnic always wins with her!

Off to Greys Court it was. To get there and find out it’s closed on Sundays. Then we decided to go to Henley. To get there and find all the parking spots taken. Then back into the National Trust book—to find that Cliveden House isn’t too far away. Off to Cliveden House it was, with all the black clouds following us.

It wasn’t too hard to find—especially with Michael doing the navigating. I should rent him out as a ‘personal navigator’; he’d be quieter than a normal sat nav! Anyway—we found it and had a lovely afternoon. We had our picnic first. There was a family having a picnic at a table not too far from us. Though our picnic ‘styles’ were a million miles a part from each other. They had a tablecloth on the table, proper cutlery and plates, wine, and food to eat with the proper cutlery. We had plastic containers, cheese sandwiches, plums, some nuts and water bottles. I wonder if a study has been compiled of the different picnic styles—and can they really tell you what a family is like. Picnicking is a national institute here in the UK—and the styles vary from family-to-family. It would be an interesting study!

OK—back to Cliveden House. We had a lovely walk in the grounds, and while we walked the black clouds slowly meandered away.

The kids liked the Secret Garden, but thought the grounds behind the house were superb. They had fun rolling down the embankments in the parterre. We didn’t do the walk down to the Thames-but enjoyed all the other gardens. I thought the Water Garden was my favourite spot—I could spend a day there with a good book. We headed home after we had some tea and scones.
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