30 October, 2016

Half term fun

It was half term last week and we had some great family fun. Here are some of the things that we got up to:
  • We visited Waddesdon Manor and really enjoyed wandering around the grounds in the autumn sunshine, playing on the adventure playground (the kids!) and having tea in the courtyard restaurant.
  • We followed our time-honoured tradition of visiting Waterperry Gardens and doing the pumpkin hunt. The kids are really far too old for this now, but we've done it for years and they don't seem to want to let the tradition drop just yet -- plus it's a great excuse for a yummy treat in the tearoom!
  • We went to see The Pantaloons' latest play -- Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde -- at the Cornerstone Theatre in Didcot. It was rather different from previous plays that we have seen by this company -- much less comic, which isn't surprising given the subject matter -- but still very good.
  • Some of us went to see the latest Marvel creation -- Dr Strange. We really enjoyed the film. It wasn't quite all action -- there was a passing reference to some 'deeper' issues (for example, how do you cope if you lose the ability to do the one thing that gives your life meaning), which made it a bit more interesting, plus the cinematography was enthralling (views of Nepal and Hong Hong) and the special effects impressive. Tilda Swinton was also great!
  • We popped into Oxford and wandered around Christ Church Meadow, which was very beautiful. We followed this with a browse through the books and a coffee at Blackwell's.
  • We made our Christmas pudding and mincemeat. This is another time-honoured tradition -- a job that we have done during October with the kids since they were tiny. Now they are old enough that they can do the making themselves without any assistance from us! We use recipes that have been in the family for several generations and it's a great way to kick off the festive season.
  • The kids carved a pumpkin -- we always have a lighted pumpkin on the dining table at Halloween.
It's been quite a busy half term. Now it's time to go back to school and relax!

11 October, 2016

The Making of Us

I have just finished reading 'The Making of Us' by Lisa Jewell, which I really enjoyed.

The basic plot involves three young people -- Lydia, Dean and Robyn. All three were conceived from the sperm of the same sperm donor and, as the story unfolds, each learns that they are a sperm donor child. Furthermore, they each learn, via registering with the Donor Sibling Registry, that they have siblings. They are very curious about this and, in the end, they arrange to meet one another.

Despite the fact that they are all very different personality-wise, when the three meet, they immediately connect on a deep, emotional level. It is as if something was always missing from their lives and now they have found it. They are at ease and relaxed in one another's company, right from the word go. Their common heritage appears to override everything else.

It was this part of the book that I found really interesting -- the immediate connection despite the enormous personality differences and the absence of contact previously. I don't know whether that is true to life for donor siblings, but it is rather different from my experience of (non-donor) family. Having grown up in a very difficult family, shared inheritance -- the genetic connection -- doesn't mean a great deal to me. What matters from my perspective is that someone is a good, decent person who shares my values and understands my way of thinking. That may be a family member but, equally, it may not. There's no hard-and-fast rule: it all depends on your own personal experience, I think.