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We spent our holiday in the Loire valley, the only place in the world where one can get château fatigue. To avoid this problem we only "did" a few châteaux - the highlight being Chenonceau, which is built across a river. Other places of interest included Chartres cathedral, which is simply immense, and the house at Blois where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last few years of his life, which now contains an exhibition of models of his inventions. More modest delights included the local village fair where we won a bottle of posh wine; we later discovered that the fair was run by the local Communist party, so we're not sure whether we left the cause of worldwide revolution better or worse off.
The château and formal gardens at Villandry
Martin's first term at school had been somewhat traumatic as he needed a lot of supervision to control his erratic behaviour. Early this year Martin started receiving the help of a classroom assistant (who is a personal friend of ours), which resulted in a great improvement in his behaviour as well as enabling him to concentrate on his work. Then in September he started at Uffculme School, which specialises in communication disorders. The classes are much smaller than in a mainstream school, so that the children get a lot more individual attention, and everything is carefully structured to avoid the kind of problems to which autistic children are prone. Although he likes the school, the highlight of Martin's day is his ride on the minibus to and from school, so he always talks about what he did at "Uffculme School on the minibus".
Adrian also changed schools this year: he finished at the nursery school and started at Moor Green in September. It didn't take him long to make a lot of friends in his own and other classes. He is doing well at his work, especially learning to read, though his favourite activities are P.E. and watching television. His class teacher's only complaint is that his voice is too loud!
After a year or more of ferrying boys to and from schools in different places at various times throughout the day, Miriam can now enjoy the relative luxury of only having to take Adrian to school in the morning and fetch him home in the afternoon. If anything she seems busier than ever: she still has her part-time nursing job, and her latest project is to become membership secretary of Selly Oak Liberal Democrats.
|The highs and lows of a holiday in France||
Anyone who thinks Birmingham is a dull place has obviously never seen it through the eyes of a four- or five-year-old. Sunday afternoon is an ideal time for getting would-be couch potatoes out for a walk: we often go along the River Rea, or along the canal past the chocolate factory (yes, the boys know very well what's made there). There are three parks within easy walking distance (again, the boys know exactly what play equipment is in each) and a bit further afield, at least three duckponds. A favourite visit on a Saturday is to the Science Museum, where there is plenty to delight enquiring young minds: funny mirrors, an extremely long echo tube, an arch bridge that can be put together like a jigsaw, lots of shapes that can be assembled in exotic patterns and so on. The boys also like the canals, fountains and statues in the city centre.
So just why did the dinosaurs become extinct? Adrian has a very simple explanation: "Because there were no people for them to eat". So now we know.
Oh, hadn't you noticed? Lots of school and church events still to come - Adrian has landed the part of Joseph in both the school and the Church Centre nativity plays; two carol services to tax our piano, viola and organ playing skills; lots of shopping still to do... and somewhere beyond it all, Christmas itself, when (we trust) we'll have a wonderful time, and maybe even a bit of a rest! We wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas, and may God be with us in all we do in 1995.
The château at Chaumont-sur-Loire
Garden in the château at Chenonceau
Bridge over the river Loir at Lavardin
Vendôme as seen from its château
The ruined château at Vendôme
The river Loire at Blois
Formal gardens at Villandry