Greatest dessert ever?

Yes, this really is a dessert. In fact, it’s a children’s dessert but they let me order it for myself. The ‘bun’ is made from vanilla macaroons and the ‘burger’ is chocolate brownie topped with coloured coconut and fruity ‘ketchup’ and ‘mustard’. Pound cake ‘fries’ and more ‘ketchup’ (Mickey Mouse shaped, like everything else at Disneyland) are the final touches. It was delicious….

Five reasons American low cost airlines* are better than ours…

Apparently the garish colours are universal
Apparently the garish colours are universal

1 – They don’t charge you for having the audacity to take a change of clothes. In fact, each passenger can check two pieces of luggage for free.

2. The boarding is civilised, unlike the cross between a rugby scrum and the Boxing Day sales we get in the UK. When you check in (online, up to 24 hours before the flight time) you’re allocated a number. Everyone then lines up and boards the plane in that order. Most importantly, this is actually enforced. (I’d love to see those rude people who charge forward at the first call regardless of their loyalty card status / row number etc get sent back.)

Bonus reason - their logo is a heart
Bonus reason – their logo is a heart

3. The drinks (non-alcoholic) are free.

4. The crew smile, are kind to children and have a sense of humour: “Sit back and relax….or lean forward and be tense. Either way we’re about to take off. “

5. They land at the place you want to visit, rather some previously deserted airport that’s  a 50 mile bus journey away from anywhere.

However, one thing is no better – luggage reclaim is still marred by the idiots who insist on standing (and parking their trolley) right next to the carousel, because that will somehow ensure their bag comes out first. Perhaps there should be very basic written instructions for those who find it too difficult:

Stand BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE so that everyone can see the bags.

When you see your bag, walk forward, lift it off the carousel then carry it back to your trolley / spouse / family.

Wait BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE for the next bag.

When you have all your bags, leave the luggage reclaim area.

If anyone still insists on standing immediately adjacent to the carousel, there could be some kind of cattle-prod enforcement device…. (I admit that my irritation with these people is disproportionate to their offence, but after twelve hours – or one hour – in a metal box with them I just can’t help it.)

* I’ve only flown with Southwest, but I’m told our experience was typical.

The Exploratorium

Isn’t that a great name for a children’s museum? What’s more, it really lives up to it. (My only criticism would be the very mediocre food – it doesn’t seem right to eat rubbish fish ‘n’ chips while staring at the sea ocean.)

Located on Pier 15 (on Embarcadero half-way between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Ferry Building), The Exploratorium is packed with interactive exhibits split over six galleries. The entrance fee is quite steep ($29 for me and $19 for the Jam), particularly for those accustomed to free museums in London, but we barely saw (heard, touched, smelled etc) half of what was there.

We spent most of our time in the “Seeing and Listening’ gallery as the Jam dashed from one exhibit to another. We particularly enjoyed fixing our shadows on the wall, the monochromatic room and the Alice in Wonderland (my name) room:

My big boy
My big boy
My baby
My baby
For some reason, most people choose the ordinary drinking fountain just to the right...
For some reason, most people choose the ordinary drinking fountain just to the right…

We also enjoyed the “Tinkering’ and ‘Living Systems’ galleries. In the latter, the Jam thought the looped video of a decaying bird was another highlight. Despite being a little too young for many  of the exhibits in the ‘Human Phenomena’ area, he enjoyed the unusual drinking fountain:

We only had around fifteen minutes with the ‘Outdoor Exhibits’ – the Jam liked the echo tube – but there didn’t seem to be very much happening on the day we visited. We didn’t have time for the last gallery (‘Observing Landscapes’) but it seemed more adult-orientated anyway.

I would definitely recommend this place to anyone with kids (or big kids aka husbands) visiting San Francisco. It’s definitely worth the ticket price but make sure you allocate enough time to get your money’s worth!

Wooly Wednesday – Imagiknit Rainbow

Actually I bought this last Thursday, on our way to before our visit to The Exploratorium, but it’s so pretty that it deserves a post of it’s own.

rainbow yarn

I’ve been planning to explore the knitting shops here since sending Ben on a yarn buying mission on one of his work trips, and Imagiknit was top of my list. It didn’t disappoint! They had every type yarn I could think of (and a few I’d never heard of) all organised by weight and filling two rooms (one for animal fibres and the other for cotton etc). I only bought one skein, chosen by the Jam for his winter hat, but I’ll definitely be back.

The important bit….

I know that there are a few of you reading this blog who are not related to me, not fascinated by knitting and not here for my erudite rambling about cake and books. I think that you’re following the Jam’s progress and I suspect one or two of you have children with similar heart conditions. I hope that the year long gap in posts wasn’t alarming for you – it really was a case of ‘no news is good news’!

At the Jam’s first post-op check up the report was good and we’ve been making the most of all new possibilities.  The only side-effect is that I’ve been so busy living a so-called  normal life (as instructed by Dr M.) that I haven’t had time to blog about it. As with most things, the longer you leave it, the harder it is to start again so rather than a huge post trying to cover the whole year, I thought I’d share a few moments and milestones, some of which we never dared hope to achieve.

Showing off his work

1. The Jam started (Nursery) school. Okay, we did expect him to go to school, but we did without a complicated care plan and with him doing the same hours and activities as everyone else. We were very lucky as there is another boy at the school with CHD who is also under the care of the Evelina, so everyone took the Jam’s condition in their stride. As well as a making some great friends and is loving learning new things, from reading to music. He’s just finished the year and is very excited about moving up to Reception next year.

2. We felt secure enough to leave him with a non-family babysitter. It might seem silly, but being able to go out for dinner without having to rely on the kindness of family feels very liberating. DH and I finally get some time together.

Sports' Day
Sports’ Day

3. He joined in with swimming lessons, Sports’ Day and even a sponsored skip for the British Heart Foundation. I was a little bit tearful at all three, especially when he won the egg and spoon race. (Apparently it wasn’t competitive and they were racing against their own PBs, but he crossed the line first, which is good enough for me.) Having two CHD children in the school obviously pulled  a few heart strings (pun intended) because they raised more money for the BHF than in any charity events they’ve held previously.

4. I have a proper job again. With the Jam safe and happy at school, it felt like the right time for me to go back to work. I managed to pick up some supply teaching in the senior part of his school, which evolved in to a permanent job, starting in September.

5. We flew long-haul! All the way to San Francisco – and we’re still here – more posts about that later.

Ball Winder

Last Christmas, I was given a ball winder by our FFF. As most of the yarn I buy is already wound into balls, I haven’t had a chance to test it until now, when I decided to use some gorgeous Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend that I accidentally bought on eBay.

It’s brilliant! The ball was neatly wound, without being too tight, in a fraction of the time. It looks pretty too…