Sunday, December 13, 2009

Skating Games

Thanks to a trip into town yesterday, I was able to cross off from my list of Things We do at Christmas, ice-skating outside. Previously we've done this in London outside the Natural History Museum or some such, paid through the nose, worn foot-crippling boots and skated through a lake so if you fall you quickly end up soaking wet. But it is fun... really! Actually, the best bit is the mulled wine in a paper cup afterwards. A bit like après-ski.

I took three boys into Montpellier who pushed each other around and bashed each other up from start to finish. In the end I had to have one big one in front and one behind, and my hand guiding my youngest by the neck.

We had to wait for the next session of ice-skating so had a good hour to kill. My youngest saw the stands of candyfloss and claimed that he had never ever had any and that he would really really like to try some. In my opinion, you can't go through childhood without eating candyfloss at some point - it's one of those essentials of childhood memory, eating fronds of sticky pink froth - so we stopped at the stand. I then realised that it's not so easy creating a beautifully constructed candyfloss. The girl knocked off the first one okay, but made a real pig's ear of the second. It was top-heavy, then collapsed, and then went everywhere. She had to call in reinforcements to save the day. Eventually, all three boys were happily over-dosing on sugar and we mooched off through the Christmas market.

I had some shopping to do, so the boys went into a video game shop which had used games to browse happily until I'd finished. When I rejoined them, I saw a sign advertising a disc repairing service. As we have several X-Box games that are scratched, I was interested in finding out more. Apparently the machine takes off the first layer of something and then applies some sort of liquid that fills in the gaps. If the repair doesn't work, you don't pay. Cool.

Then we went back to the ice rink and the boys got kitted with boots. They were supposed to have gloves - it was 'obligatory' - but no one seemed to take much notice. I think that was in case of trouble: no gloves = not insured. I declined to skate too, but headed off directly to the mulled wine stand and then came back to watch. They were not skating through water as in the UK, but through churned up ice. My eldest's boots were incredibly uncomfortable and he stopped after only about 20mins. Still, it was very pretty with the lights, and the ambiance with people in silly Christmas hats and the usual selection of competant show-offs and terrified beginners.

Then we went home. Today, I was going to buy a Christmas tree, but thought it would be a waste because we are not here for Christmas and the boys are away for the whole holiday. Instead, I gave them a choice: a tree or a second-hand X-Box game from the shop in Montpellier. Was that unethical/unChristmassy/evil/etc.? Anyway, we went back to the shop and to their joy, got a war game (some Tom Clancy one). Unfortunately, the repair of Test Drive wasn't possible because the disc was broken, not just scratched. Oh dear, said I, we'll have to just chuck it, whereupon a young sales guy made the suggestion that we sell it! This did not go down well with the owner whose reputation was suddenly thrown into question as the seller of used games and I expressed shock saying that I hoped the game I'd bought had been tested. It also made me laugh though. Poor kid was just thinking out loud. Welcome to the adult world where you think before you speak!

The boys then found a parent who followed age advice on games while I was looking at another market stand. They came away realising how 'lucky' they are to have laxist parents (not just me...!) with regard to video games. Otherwise they'd be limited to Mario and Spongebob.

And they'd play Assassin's Creed chez les copains...

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