Hicks

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Center Parcs

The family Hicks have just returned from a week at Center Parcs Longleat. While it does have the feel of a Harvester restaurant thats overgrown and taken the ‘Forest Theme’ just that little bit too far, it was a damn good break. As we had taken 3 weeks off to go Australia back in January, we needed a smaller thing for a week that would be small-person friendly. Less travel, more fresh air.

Being able to have a holiday without needing to use a car is very good thing™. We spent the week on hired bicycles with Samantha & Daniel in a trailer on the back of Leigh’s bike. I have no idea how she managed to pull all that weight up hills – I just couldn’t do it! It was exhilarating to be cycling around the forest – a big change from the usual routine of sitting in front of a computer screen.

Being on holiday with kids and no babysitters means that evenings are spent IN. However, we had a very nice pad for the week, and having time to just watch telly was a real treat. We watched the whole series of Long Way Round, and I now want to get a motorbike!

While the setting was beautiful, and the weather on the warm and sunny side of Autumn, the main ‘plaza’ piped Robbie Williams and Dido. That should describe the intended demographic nicely. The other minus was the lack of imagination with childrens menus, with food being a little overpriced generally. No matter, we got a good break, and some fresh air and excercise.

One more thing about Center Parcs – does the logo look familiar? They’ve had it for longer, so I may have to change logos soon!

Now the party's over, I'm so tired...

Monitor at Hong Kong airport

In the last 3 years since going freelance I’ve had at the most 2 weeks off a year, which just isn’t healthy. So having been on holiday since Christmas Eve, this was the longest I’ve ever taken off, and boy what a difference it made. To have been off work long enough to stop thinking about it was a strange but refreshing feeling. After having Leigh’s folks down for Christmas, we left the bitter of England’s winter for the summer of Sydney, Avalon in the Northern Beaches to be precise.

This was also the first time we’d been abroad since having children (Isle of Man not withstanding) and it was interesting how much it changed the whole dynamic of the holiday. Samantha and Daniel amazed us with how well they dealt with the 24 hour flight (and all the traveling and checking in at either end of that). Once there we really had to be careful of not pushing them too far, which would be easy with there being so much that we wanted to see, and doing it in heat that they weren’t used to.

Samantha running on Palm Beach
Samantha on Palm Beach

Consequently, we spent a lot of time sampling the various Northern beaches of Sydney. Whale Beach won for its child friendly shady trees and play park, but it was all good. We did ‘do’ the Opera House of course, but as you get closer to it, you notice the all the white tiles, and it suddenly starts to look like a urinal!

In some ways Australia felt like a hotter, more colourful version of Britain, except for the activity in our host’s back garden. The first thing I noticed was the cacophony made by the Cicadas. I didn’t believe them when they said that you just get used it and block it out after a while, but sure enough you do. Then there were the various tame Cockatoos, Lorikeets, Parrots and Possums that would come begging for food. Now I know what Bill Connolly was on about when he said of his first time in Oz, “You would lie awake at night, listening to things eating the house”.

I was hoping to bump into one of the many celebrities that have chosen Whale Beach as their hideout (such as Billy), but the best we could manage was being at the restaurant table next to Warren Mitchell (although we did see Jonathan Price when we checked in at Heathrow).

Unfortunately, we ran out of time to meet John and Russ, but I did get a chance to meet Ol’ Creative Bastard and his lady Renae. The SegPub arcade machine was not finished as we’d been promised, so instead we went to Sydney Aquarium to appease the offspring. Samantha was in Finding Nemo heaven.

Jeremy Bogan, Jon Hicks, Daniel Hicks and doggy
(Left to Right: The harbour, Jeremy Bogan, Jon Hicks, Daniel Hicks and ‘doggy’)

So now we’re back, and the work enquiries, requests for Firefox logos/logos that look like Firefox and unread RSS feeds are all waiting to be dealt with. One last thing – who can be the first to spot what the relevance is of this post’s title?

The dreams are back too

In the first week of my holiday, I noticed a side-effect of my recent work overload. Suddenly, I started having vivid dreams again, which made me realise that they’d had been gone for a while.

While none of them have topped my dream about a colony of underwater helicopters with whale tails instead of rear rotor blades, they’ve still amused me, and I’m glad to have them back again. Here are a couple that I thought might mean something…

Dream 1: I am being flown over to the States for a meeting Doug Bowman. Was suprised to see him hunched over a tiny 10” white iBook. Not quite the fitting with the image I had of him.
Self-diagnosis: I’d like to think that the great and good use a less powerful powerbook than me. (“Hah! Well at least I’ve got 15 inches!”…that sort of thing.)

Dream 2: I’m watching a League of Gentleman style event (Dark and surreal). A man that spends his life dressed only as a white rabbit is driven from his home in a grim English town. His death is faked by the townsfolk, but a month later he returns to find his house turned into a gambling den. Angered, he takes a large shower head from the wall, and drenches everyone in the Great Hall until the house is his again.
Self-diagnosis: I’m worried about people taking over the house, but a job with the Flaming Lips is assured.

TTFN

Thats it – all done. The last job is ‘put to bed’ before I go on holiday. Its a good feeling, even if it is gone 2am. If anyone tells you that freelancers can ‘pick their own hours’, you must soundly slap them and request that they smell what exactly it is that they’re shoveling.

I’ll be off for 2 weeks, although I intend to catch up with journal entries in the second week. See you then…