Friday, 17 August 2012

Shooting Stars and New Arrivals

I've been away for a couple of weeks on a well needed break.  First, I went off to see my Grandma (more about that later) and then I spent the weekend with Mr and Mrs-is-thinking.  It so happened that this coincided with the Perseid meteor shower. So we hung out for the day and attempted to go blackberry picking (pretty late crop this year) and went to the crazy shop that has amazing indian food. We made and ate curry and did some gardening  - ah, the sight of Mrs Im shut in the greenhouse, getting the aphids off by dousing the chilli plants in washing up liquid using a bubble gun.  Then we looked up perseids on the internets and had a look at the timing of everything and then hopped in the car to find a quiet spot away from light sources.

The meteor shower happens when earth's orbit gets in the way of debris from the tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle.  The shower is visible from mid July every year, but it's peak activity is from 11th to 14th August each year, when the sky is filled with shooting stars as meteors burn up in our atmosphere.  The best time to watch them in this part of the world is about 3am through to just before dawn but we decided that we would settle for a clear patch of sky a bit earlier in the night.  We got together some warm jumpers, a torch and Mr.'s amazing camera and jumped in the car about 11pm.  We started off on top of a hill near Overton, but the glare from the town lights in the distance was too much.  We moved onto Lavestoke where the sky was much darker, and finally ended up down a dirt path in the middle of nowhere right next to a hay bail.  We were there for about an hour before the sky clouded over, but we managed to see some shooting stars.  They were much brighter than I expected.  I saw a few and Mrs. Im  saw loads! She stood really still trying not to blink for about an hour - her eyes were totally weird after that.  Mr. Im got some long exposure photos of the sky.  It was really exciting! The sky clouded over soon enough, this being UK after all, and we went home and had a hot chocolate and a chat before finally heading to bed at 2am.

Perseid meteor shower
The next day I headed off to see Jules and the family and to meet the new arrival - well, she was born in June, but I hadn't met her yet, so she was definitely new to me. This was also the first time that I had been to their new house so it was really lovely to have a good look around. I have to say that I love it! It's a homely, messy flat, filled with interesting bits and pieces.  It's high up but still has two floors and much to my delight a balcony out the front and a corridor out the back way with a view of the black forest in the distance and where we ate breakfast every morning.

View from the balcony,
you can just see the black forest in the distance

I love balconies anyway, but this one essentially functioned as an extra room that's communal with all the other neighbours.  Cats roamed about and lazed about in the sun, people said hello and came and joined us for coffee sometimes, amidst shouts from kids running around downstairs in the playground and the smell of summer barbeques.  It's the ideal place for bringing up children because everyone is so friendly and there is plenty to do for the kids, it feels like a proper community.

The kids themselves are growing up merrily - chattering away and getting interested in everything.  Even the baby was pretty alert and looking around.  I got a chance to carry her around a fair bit in the papoose and I must say that even for three months old she's getting heavy - she's going to be a pretty tall girl when she's done growing. We went and explored the neighbourhood a bit, and we went to the petting zoo which is not far off and saw the llamas and emus and deer and goats -  pretty up close as it happens since you can walk through the goat enclosure. I have to admit I got a bit scared, city girl that I am, but I stuck it out and got used to them in the end.

A goat. Quite close to me.
We also went to the market to have a coffee from the coffee van and sat in the sun watching everyone buying their vegetables. When I say van, it's more of a moped really, but it's the best coffee I've had for ages. The man running it is charming, and on a rare quiet moment you could see him having a good old chat with his customers or playing with the kids.

All in all, I loved discovering their new community, I'm really happy that the family has settled somewhere friendly and beautiful and interesting.  It did my soul some good to sit on the balcony and think with some good coffee and some wonderful company.

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