I give in.

Honestly, the call for the next update in my Weekend Review series has been almost deafening. I have had literally two people ask about whether I might write more of them. I’m only human – I can’t take that kind of pressure. So, for both of you, here it is.

This weekend was one of those rare creatures – a weekend without a wedding, engagement shoot, family shoot or event. Instead, I got to spend some time with Anna and Ellie, and I loved every minute. Almost every minute – but we’ll get to that later.

On Saturday we had a lazy morning. Actually, Anna and I had a lazy morning. Ellie held a party for a dozen or so of her closest teddies, complete with pizza, cakes, cups of tea, jelly and ice-cream and – randomly – some pork chops. All of the guests had a great time; even Minnie Mouse, despite having to have ‘time out’ for pushing Wanda (from Wanda and The Alien). Ellie is really into ‘cooking’ at the moment, and loves the wooden play food made by Tidlo. If you’ve got a little person in your life that enjoys playing at cooking, their kitchen isn’t complete without some of this stuff. Take a look at it here on Amazon – it’s brilliant. The pieces stick together with velcro, and can then be ‘cut up’ using the blunt wooden knife that comes with each pack.

After a quick lunch we headed off for an adventure on a boat. Anna had found a ‘Paint-A-Pot” studio on a barge at Mercian Marina near Willington. Called ‘The Mug Tug Too’, the premise is simple – you turn up, choose a pot to paint, and paint it. One week later you collect it after it’s been fired. We met my Mum, my sister and my nephew there too. Ellie chose a cat to paint, and called it Pilchard (she’s quite into Bob the Builder at the moment). Her cousin chose a dragon, and under his mum’s watchful eye, painted it green, with red spots. Ellie decided to go slightly surrealist – ever the intellectual, my daughter – and Pilchard began to resemble a Neapolitan ice cream as she applied her choice of colours – pink, brown and yellow. When we pick it up next week I’ll try and remember to post a photo of her masterpiece.

The Mug Tug Too was brilliant, and the staff were excellent with us, explaining everything that we needed to know, and complimenting the children on their artwork. I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for something to do for an hour or so. The marina has a range of shops to browse and somewhere to get coffee too.

As they headed back to the car Ellie held her cousin’s hand (he had no choice in the matter), and I snapped a quick iPhone photo of them.

On Sunday we travelled to Anna’s parents’ house for a bit of lunch, a chance for a catch-up, the opportunity for Ellie to be spoilt rotten by her grandparents, and a spot of fencing.

Obviously I have no idea how old you are. However, if you are of a certain magical age, then you might have been treated to those wonderful public service warning videos during your childhood. The ones they showed in the late 80s that were designed to terrify you into keeping your kite away from pylons and your digital watch away from water. Or something. If you’re not familiar with them, then take a look at this fine example:

Sadly for us, I never saw one about the dangers of replacing fence panels during a gale. If one isn’t already in existence, then to create one they could have done worse than film my father-in-law and myself attempting this feat yesterday. We had 8 fence panels to remove and replace. This involves sliding the old panel up and out of the six foot high posts, and then hoisting the new panel six feet in the air in order to try and slot it back between the posts. The panels themselves are six feet high, so when trying to rehome the new panel you essentially manhandling a six foot panel six feet in the air, and only able to hold the very bottom of it.

If they had recorded us for a public service video, the accompanying voice-over wouldn’t have had to have been much different from the one in the kite-flying clip above.

“We were stupid, trying to prove how tough we were. We thought it would be ok, but the wind changed.”

“You’re crazy!”

“We ignored the danger signs!”

Seriously, if there’s one piece of advice that you take away from this blog, it should be this: never attempt fencing in a gale. To be fair we only had a panel ripped out of our hands three or four times. Each time it threatened to take one of us with it, sailing across the garden and destroying anything in its path like a primitive wooden bulldozer.

We were not to be beaten though, and managed to finish the job for only the loss of a couple of pints of blood and our dignity. It’s fair to say that I should probably stick to the wedding photography.

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