Sunday, 31 May 2009

Grown-up getaway

Tonight Hannah gave Katharine and Scott an evening off, and I got to take them out for some fun. Can you guess where we went?

Kids? What kids?

Fiona joined us, and immediately requisitioned all the beer.

This was hard-drinking Kiwi (is there another kind?) Dan's first trip to the Hotsy. He was celebrating his first day of work tomorrow. Where have you been, mate?

Cute pics

OK, I know no one's coming to my blog to read the words at the moment. So here are some nice pictures of the Hammond children, mostly taken by their dad.

Multiple horsey rides are more efficient.

Too hard to explain...

Children's Fairyland!

Children's Fairyland again!

Rebecca takes the helm.

All-American girl.

The most beautiful thing Oliver has ever seen.

Before the screaming started.

Jacob braves a slide.

Bethany on the carousel.

They got out!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

At Her Majesty's pleasure

Scott, Katharine, and Oliver took a boat to Alcatraz today. Hannah and I enjoyed a different sort of incarceration babysitting the other three. Isn't torture illegal under the Geneva Convention? (Then again, we are in America...)

But enough joking - we had a wonderful afternoon with Bethany, Jacob, and Rebecca, who while tired out from all their amazing US experiences were still wonderful, funny, happy, playful, and a credit to their parents (and uncle and aunt, obviously).

The condemned man's last meal. Oliver opted for a bagel-dog (yep, the official name!)

Goodbye son, see you in 25 years.

Katharine daydreams of the peace and quiet that solitary confinement would bring...

A better deal than they're offered at our flat.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Goodbye Marta

Marta is one of the first people I met in Berkeley, at the orientation week partners' mixer. We got chatting, and I discovered that she had just finished her architecture degree in Italy. After a few more glasses of wine I decided that it would be a good idea to discuss architecture with Italian. Amazingly we remained friends after this.

Now she's heading back to Italy, and it was her goodbye party this evening.

Marta has been an integral member of the partners' club (the exclusive, University Village-based one) and most recently joined us on the infamous Sake tasting trip. Her home is near Rome, where on returning she'll be toying with ideas of work (highly overrated) or a PhD in architecture (definitely!)

Goodbye Marta - we'll miss you. See you in Italy soon!


Albany cheese show

Another day, another Israeli holiday. It's a country high on my list to relocate to after Haas.

Today it was Shavuot, celebrating Moses bringing the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai. Obviously this is celebrated by eating lots of things made of cheese. But who's looking for deep theological meaning when the food is this good?

Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? (Job 10.10)

Wow - these Burekas are delicious. Like mini Cornish pasties, but filled with...cheese.

Lasagne - I couldn't find a Biblical quote to accompany this one.

Elliot, me, and Hannah not looking our best.


For those that don't understand the "hidden" meaning of the title, you should have been born in Somerset! We used to get a day off school for that every year...

Away with the fairies

The number of things you never get to do in and around Berkeley is amazing. Thankfully today we found the excuse to go somewhere that's been high on our list since arriving: Children's Fairyland in Oakland.

Since 1950, Children’s Fairyland has been delighting children and their parents with whimsical storybook sets, gentle rides, friendly animals, wonder-filled puppet shows, and inspired live entertainment. That's what the website claims, at any rate. To the untrained eye it might seem like a motley collection of clapped out rides and threadbare, poorly constructed representations of nursery rhymes.

But I'm not the target audience, and our family focus group certainly gave it the thumbs up.

Horsey horsey, don't you stop!

I wanted to go to Diggerland...

She had so many children she didn't know what to do!

The hit of the day - the mini ferris wheel.

How much to keep them in there for couple of hours?

Maybe the poor construction was the fault of the dodgy-looking builder they hired.

Fly my pretties!

A tree sprite.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Just not cricket

Today it was time to give Oliver a slice of proper American culture. The Oakland Athletics baseball team were holding a special $2-a-ticket game, and more importantly hot dogs were $1 each. Scott, Oliver, Dana, and I took the short drive down to the Coliseum to watch the A's demolish the Seattle Mariners.

Unfortunately the result didn't quite go that way, much to soon-to-be-Seattle-resident Dana's happiness. Oliver became more involved when he realised that eating ice cream and candy floss was an integral part of the experience. I'm not sure either is yet ready for a five day Test Match...

Not a dandelion in sight.

"So the quarterback gets the ball and...hang on..." (Extra points for matching patriotic t-shirts!)

$1 hot dogs! But a limit of ten? Aren't we in the USA?!

Dana gets ready to enjoy a gourmet experience.

New fan!

Yet another food-based post

Today it was the pleasure of the Gilman Grill to host the Hammond-Davies conglomerate. This is the kind of place that's geared to a party of eight locusts - big portions, homely food, cheap, and within walking distance! Between us we devoured the full range of American breakfast offerings, including eggs (scrambled and over easy), pancakes, sourdough and wheat toast, bacon, sausage, blueberries, syrup, bottomless coffee, and chocolate peanut butter muffins.

When's lunch?

We'd phoned ahead to warn them.

Look at the concentration!

Pass the fried goodness please.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Proud to bean American

Today was the greatest day in the young Hammonds' lives so far. Yes, it was the long-promised trip to the Jelly Belly factory. We arrived before the crowds and with 20 minutes until the next tour, so stood at the tasting bar attempting to create a bean shortage. Jacob took a liking to the new vomit flavoured one. The poor boy - they don't feed him properly.

No Jacob, you can't eat that one.

After 15 minutes we were politely asked to leave.

Oliver in heaven.

Meeting the president.

Rebecca tries to disguise herself as an employee to gain unlimited access to sweeties.

Someone's happy.


Sunday, 24 May 2009

The Hammonds hit SF

We thought it was best to take the Hammonds into SF on Memorial Day weekend - it's easier to hide their numbers in a big crowd. They were given the "classic" tour by Hannah (sea lions, Pier 39, Ghiradelli Chocolate, Boudin Bakery...) and I haven't counted but I think we got them all back!

Self-destruct sequence initiated!

Obligatory daily "family eating" picture.

I know how they feel.

If you're a naughty boy...

Checking out the sourdough.

Catching the trolley bus home.

They're not really designed to carry families of six.