Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Rockets, fires, trained dogs and dancing horses

We've had a very busy and exciting few days which started off with a small but very well planned firework display at a shopping outlet not too far from us. We got there a good two hours early (to have a nose around the shops and pick up a few early Christmas gifts) and found a parking space but noticed that the car park and surrounding green areas were chocca block with cars when we came to leave and it took us a while to get out because of all the crowds. No doubt this was due to the extremely mild evening and the fact that it was a free display! Anyway, the fireworks were set to music from the movies which was lovely, and I think it was the first time both children enjoyed the bangs and crackles without grumbles and tears of how loud they all were. I know it's all done by computers but it still amazes me how well arranged and executed these displays are, it made a wonderful start to the weekend.

Friday morning we had a group session arranged with two people from Guide Dogs for the Blind who came along to talk to us about the training of the dogs, how the dogs are used and the various gadgets a blind person can use to help them with everyday life. Two dogs came along, a golden labrador retriever cross (with a very laid back personality) and a retired golden retriever which looked far to young to be out of service but apparently was nervous of loud noises so perhaps it had retired early. We were able to run our fingers over a sheet of braille and a specially designed ruler and were told about a wonderful electronic gadget that can tell the colour of any any object (although it can get it slightly wrong at times as it said the lady's skin was "orange"!).

In the evening P and I took Katie and Ben to see Spirit of the Horse, Chimera, for a special treat. When seeing the adverts, by chance, a good three months ago, we knew it was something we couldn't let pass especially as we'd heard such good reports of previous "Spirit of the Horse" shows. Some friends came along with us too and although we got completely chilled to the bone sitting in the tent for a good couple of hours, it was a fabulous evening. The website has some photos (as we obviously weren't allowed to take any during the performance, not that I had my camera anyway) which gives an idea of the content of the show. There were many more horses involved than I'd first imagined; Friesians, Arabs, Lusitanos, Andalucians and a delightful Sheltand (cross Appaloosa) that had every child in the audience wish for a pony of their own that would fall asleep with them on a bed like this one did. My personal favourites were the stunning black Friesians with their glossy coats and fabulous long wavy manes and tails. They all looked so well cared for (and we were able to see them after the performance in their stables) and happy to be doing what they were doing - one in fact was dancing to the music and audience clapping at the end of the show with it's rider looking quite amazed! The fast pace of the Mongolian horse team performing many stunts on the backs of the Arabs was Ben's favourite with many laughs and whoops of joy coming from his direction during this little section of the show. The practise and confidence it must take to ride two horses (and then control a further three), do an extremely fast and advanced "around the world" type display or literally slide around the belly of the horse as it cantered, is not for the faint hearted!

After this, with extremely excited but also very tired kiddies in tow we headed home with one of Katie's friends for a sleepover. They tootled up to bed about 10.30, rather exhausted I think as we didn't hear a peep from them until 6.30 the next day!

Saturday we had a family firework session and with the wonderful mild weather, cooked sausages and burgers on the bbq.

Yesterday Katie, Ben and I headed to a friend's house for a fun evening with some members of the HE group. A huge bonfire to keep us warm (and to burn one large Guy and our three small ones), fireworks, grub and plenty of warm drinks. It rounded off the celebratory weekend perfectly. Thank you L for arranging such a lovely evening.
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I don't think I've ever seen a Catherine Wheel before. Obviously the camera didn't pick up the wonderful colours and patterns that changed throughout it's performance.
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Glow sticks and Ben's home made torch Lightsaber made for wonderful Star Wars fight simulations!
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