Donkey day!

We’re in Mercantour for a week of hiking. We have the option of being accompanied on our walks by a donkey to carry our stuff. Today we did a half-day hike to try out this donkey thing.

More work than it’s worth, was our clear conclusion. Libellule, our donkey, was good-natured and a good walker, but it was like having a third kid whom you always needed to be aware of. And a kid whose needs are totally orthogonal to the other kids. You had to keep her walking, but not too fast so she gets uncomfortably close the kids; keep her from eating grass all the time; find a place to tie her up when taking a break; make sure you’re not behind her where she can kick you by accident.

The final straw was when our path passed through a donkey grazing area and we (or she) were accosted by loose donkeys. She didn’t like them and aimed a few kicks at them, but they kept crowding us, to the point where we started to get worried about them accidentally pushing us off the rather narrow path. Eric had to hurry ahead with Libellule while I fell behind to push back the other donkeys, so the kids could walk without worrying about falling off the path.

Afterwards we could look back at the incident as an exciting adventure, but it was more stressful than fun at the time.

No more donkeys for us. Carrying our packs is just a bit of extra work for the body; managing a donkey is work for the brain which is not what we want from this vacation.

We’re off for a week-long vacation in southern France, in the Mercantour national park. Today was a travelling day: up early to catch a morning flight to Nice, then pick up a rental car, and then a two and a half hour drive to Villeplane, the little village where we will stay for the week.

Nice was all hot and steamy and palm trees, but the mountains were right there around the corner, and the further we drove, the more mountainous our surroundings got. The final 20 km of the road, after leaving the main highway, were narrow and twisty and with interesting tunnels. Often the tunnels were so narrow that they only fit one lane, so the other lane passed on the outside of the mountain. And the final 7 km were on an even smaller road, all uphill, with one hairpin turn after the other and a worn and bumpy road surface as well. When we got to the top Adrian was quite badly carsick and said he didn’t ever want us to drive down that road again.

We bought another pool ring today and it was an instant hit. Mostly the kids use the floating toys for crashing into each other, pulling each other down into the water, climbing on the same toy so they both fall off, and other ways of getting both themselves and everything else exceedingly wet. (Which has on occasion had unfortunate side effects on the laundry drying on the rack next to the pool. Less than ideal positioning, perhaps, but there just isn’t that much space in the flat, sunny part of the garden.)

We filled the pool today. The kids couldn’t wait until it was full and jumped in as soon as the water reached knee height. Wild splashing and horseplay off and on all day. Water, pool toys, wet swimming clothes and towels everywhere.

My mum was here for Midsummer. She is almost like Ingrid in her need to be entertained all the time, so we played Ticket to Ride. With four players (us and my mother) it was more challenging than usual, many routes got blocked.

Adrian wants to “be on someone’s team” when we play because the game is too hard for him. But mostly he plays with the game pieces and builds stuff out of them.

Midsummer’s Eve. Cloudy, chilly, and with rain showers, so we will skip the traditional celebrations. Not that we’re really particularly interested in them, anyway. But it would have been nice to be outside at least…

But we still get the good Midsummer meals. Potato salad, devilled eggs, herring, home made ice cream and raspberry cheesecake.

So, yeah, there was a leaving preschool party last week, but that didn’t actually mean that preschool was over. It just… peters out. Preschool is open during the first few weeks of summer as well (and even in the middle of summer vacations, the area’s preschools coordinate so that one is open all throughout summer). The number of kids attending just gradually drops off as their parents’ vacations start.

Today was Adrian’s last day. With no particular ceremony or anything special, we packed up the extra clothes and rubber boots, added the day’s artwork, and went home.

Adrian had drawn cards for a few of his best friends and his favourite teachers. Two of the kids had already left so he couldn’t hand over the cards in person, and had to write his message on the envelope instead. “FRÅN ADRIAN JAG KOMER SAKNA DEJ” – “from Adrian, I will miss you”.

Adrian’s favourite flower right now is meadow clover (skogsklöver). He picks them along the roadside on the way home from preschool. He asked if we could plant some in our garden.

Today I learned that the red clover that I thought was rödklöver is actually skogsklöver. Different leaf shape etc.

Tuesday morning is gym morning.

The ventilation in that room cannot quite cope with summer temperatures, so it’s been rather hot in there the last few weeks. But there’s only time for one more class, and then that’s it for this season.

I have enjoyed strength training more than I expected. I will miss my workouts during summer – even though I have to get up an hour earlier for them on Tuesdays. But then again I’ve always enjoyed functional whole-body sports, such as swimming, dancing, martial arts.

I have become stronger than I expected. Now there is no exercise where I pick the lowest weights. Mostly not the heaviest, either, but sometimes.