Thursday 21 August 2014

As Busy as...

Two teenagers phoning each other across our sofa?
This week we play host to a visit from most of the Silverwoods, plus a 'best friend' subbing in for the missing eldest, Em-J, who is off doing one of those 'holidays NOT with Mum and Dad' at Trabolgan Holiday Village in Cork; a bit like 'Centre Parcs' in the UK. In our group we have Mum and Dad Silverwood, young teenager J-M and her chum Emma, plus the 'smalls', M(8) and R(6).

Low-maintenance guests, pulling a 23 hour 'all-nighter'
in their tent. Midnight feasts etc.
In fact the teens have brought a tent, which goes up on the front lawn as soon as they arrive and into which they vanish delighting in the fact that the 'smalls' are banned from this chunk of territory. We are not sure they will be brave enough to sleep out there all night but they do that and more, well supplied with 'Midnight Feast' fare. They disappear in at about 6 p.m. and do not appear for breakfast or even lunch the next day. We only actually see them at 5 next day when Mum tells them that if they want to be re-stocked with nosh for their 2nd night, they will have to come out and collect it, she is drawing the line at bringing it to the tent flap!. In fact they do, of course, emerge for supper times, Liz's slow cooked pork one day and a (Hubbard) chicken curry the next.

J-M and Emma enjoying their camping (we hope).
Meanwhile, as well as the usual 'petting zoo', feeding the animals and collecting eggs, the smalls were well entertained with various games and madness. The latest must-have toy when you are that age is apparently 'Loom Bands', boxes of 2000+ tiny coloured elastic bands which come with a 24-peg (or so) plastic loom and a crochet hook. You lay out these bands stretched across the loom pegs in various configurations, using the crochet hook  to loop bands back across each other to form a weave from which you can make all manner of small items such as bracelets, gloves, small model poodle dogs and so on.

Mr and Mrs S on the loom bands after the 'smalls' had been
put to bed.
Hours of fun especially for the parents who, in our case had to take over when a small child got bored or stuck, or needed a change of scene like feeding the geese. A nice 'craft' for them to learn but the thought of dropping the tray of 2000 bands and having to pick them up and re-sort into colours.......? Mrs Silverwood tells me she has a 20,000 band box at home to re-supply the trays. I expect that one is kept under lock and key.

Loom band product - green and red for Mayo, blue
and yellow for Roscommon.
Another toy that impressed me was only a cheap thing but performed well and did not seem to be as brittle and quick to break as most of the junk the kids get through; this was the 'Bubble Rocket'. This was a plastic tube 'rocket' which telescoped onto a smaller plastic tube launching stand and was launched by the child jumping on a springy plastic 'bladder' full of air. The pressure of the child jumping on the bladder whooshed the rocket off up to 10-15 feet but, even better, the 'fins' of the rocket were horizontal loops of plastic which sat in soap-bubble mixture poured onto a tray in the launching stand. This way the rocket shot off the stand leaving behind it a trail of soap bubbles and the kids were able to do it over and over again without breaking it. Impressive.

Bee action around the hive entrance.
As I said, we have had before a game of 'tennis' (covered in 'Angry Birds' logos) where the rackets had a brittle plastic sheet across them instead of strings and the first attempt to hit the ball burst the sheet. We have also had a 'baseball bat' made out of spongy plastic and brittle tube, where the first strike at the ball broke the shaft. Frustrating and disappointing for the kids and just clever cynical marketing to the adults - they will never bother to take the goods back and complain because they were only a Euro or so.

We have been surprised this week by a sudden burst of busy activity in the bee hive, possibly as a result of the sun coming out again after a week or more of chilly, miserable breezes. All summer you have been able to go and look at the hive and you'd see plenty of comings and goings, but usually with only a dozen or so bees around the entrance  at once. This week I took a look at around 4 pm two days ago and saw a mini-swarm of over a hundred all coming, going and milling around in the sunshine. I called Liz over to see and then raced to grab the camera, but by the time I got back the sun had gone in and most of the bees had cleared out or gone back in, so my picture is not very impressive. The same buzz happened today. These will not be proper swarms as such - bees do not normally swarm this late in the year and, anyway, swarming behaviour is not like this. We are curious but not worried.

Stash of 15 eggs found in a hedge - someone's been busy.
And finally just a catch-up on our Pig #2 story from last week. This is almost a non-story. I took Mr Silverwood along with me on this morning's early-riser pig-wrangling adventure. We were off to catch Anne and Simon's second pig and haul her to the butcher's lairage and we'd gone mob-handed after last week's fun and games. We needn't have worried. This week's pig was a dream, caught into the trailer inside 23 minutes and delivered to Castlerea inside another 20. Job done. No drama. Mr S and I were back indoors by just gone 9 a.m. drinking coffee and waiting while the rest of the sleepy guests and hostess woke up. Only the teenagers failed to do so, and they got a rude awakening when Mum and Dad let the tent collapse on them. It could have been worse. There were evil plans being hatched to drop a dead pig's head in between the sleeping girls to give them a really traumatic rude awakening they'd never forget. You'll be pleased to know we are not actually THAT mean!.

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