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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Saturday, 29 August 2009

Summer holidays...

I'm not entirely sure it's an overestimation to state that this summer's school holidays have been somewhat fragmented and unpredictable. Beth had some long awaited spinal surgery shortly before the schools broke up, and was starting her recuperation process at home when the unthinkable happened (well, strictly speaking, when she signed the disclaimer before the operation, they made it clear to her that there was a less than 5% chance of a spinal fluid leak and less than 2% of infection) - and she fell victim to both spinal fluid leakage and a painful infection.

To cut a (very!) long story short, Beth was rushed into hospital where she remained until Monday this week, when she was released with instructions not to lift anything over 5lb in weight or exert herself too much.

As a result, we were unable to go on our summer holiday to the Isle of Wight, but I was still able to spend some time with the children, while juggling work commitments and visiting Beth - who was at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, East London, so just a tube ride away from my office.

What did we get up to during this time? The biggest milestone was that Eleanor became able to ride her bicycle unassisted - again, having practiced in the church hall, she came rushing in to tell us that she'd been able to pedal from one end of it to the other. I really do endorse this kind of learning - I wasn't 'taught' how to ride my bike, nor given stabilizers, and I think I started in a very similar way to Lenni - starting off pushing myself along with my feet, and then, as I gained confidence and improved my balance, starting to use the pedals. She's definitely following closely in her brother's tyre tracks!

Lenni, minutes after she'd learned to ride a bike (Flash video)

We made good use of the parks around Luton during the 'good weather' days - in fact, although many complained that the summer was something of a washout, I very much appreciated the lack of hot days, meaning we didn't spend the whole time covered in sun screen!

Most of the parks have been refurbished, with the bark chips replaced with rubberised flooring, and new Kompan play equipment for children of all ages (and stages of adventurousness!) Lenni and Chris love the swinging baskets!

We've also been able to break the bounds of Luton - we took my Dad to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, which is an immense site, with an airfield and several large hangars (including the distinctive 'Tellytubbyland' style one enclosing the American Air Force museum) containing wonders of land and air engineering from the past.

Despite my misgivings of combat and conflict, the engineering innovation and prowess displayed in the exhibits was amazing, and since my Dad had some in-depth knowledge of some of the tanks (he was a commander of a Chieftan in the 1970s) it was a very educational experience.

We also took a trip to the seaside - Luton schools are fortunate enough to have family workers, and they organised a day out to Brighton which was a resounding success. We all caught the train (First Capital Connect has a small scattering of new rolling stock - considering how many rail journeys I've made to and from London visiting Beth, it was the first time I'd been on one of the newer trains... suffice to say we were in an old rattly 'cattle-truck' on the return journey!) and took to the beach for a picnic lunch. The sun shone gently all day, and we made the most of it, with the children paddling in the sea and then making our way to a play area on the east of the seafront.

I was able to get back to work due to the kindness of Beth's parents, who looked after the children during the week, and dropped them off on a Friday evening so I could have the weekend with them. It's been so touching how friends and family have rallied round during the tough times, and - although progress has been slow since Beth came out of hospital - we are gradually returning to normality, just in time for the school term to start again.

By all accounts, I think this will be a summer holiday the children will remember - hopefully with fond memories and some stories to tell of spending Christopher's birthday at Beth's bedside and doing things "Daddy's way" for a while!

Our summer has been pictorially chronicled in the gallery - I've added a few photos below, too (click them for the bigger versions). With any luck another blog entry will be here before autumn..!

Lenni and her Grandad at the American Air Force MuseumChris outside the American Air Force MuseumLenni and Chris's picnic on the beachLenni paddling in the sea at Brighton

Posted by james at August 29, 2009 4:20 PM

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