Once there was a long cable, which stretched from the back of the TV set-top box in the living room, to the router in the study. The set-top box is not, of course, on top of the television. Has anyone ever put a set-top box on top of their television? It would be asking for trouble. At any rate, the cable went along the living room floor, and then down through a neat circular hole drilled in the otherwise immaculate floorboards. From there, it passed along the cellar ceiling, grandly surveying the piles of clutter at ground level from a height of 5 foot 6 or so. Thence back up through a neat circular hole drilled in the otherwise immaculate floorboards of the study, and to the broadband router.
On Monday morning, our broadband stopped working, and over the following 48 hours NTL traced the fault to the cable. I suspect it's been eaten by mice. Which are, incidentally, back; I keep hearing the telltale pitter patters late in the evening. October's a difficult time for them; they suddenly begin to feel the cold in their tiny toes and head for the warmth. We'll set traps tomorrow. However, I don't have another long crossover cable, and they turn out to be tricky to buy retail. Besides, if it has been eaten by mice, then the next one will be too. So for the time being, the router is next to the set-top box (ie, under the telly, along with the amplifier, DVD player, video, tuner, and Playstation) and the only computers that have internet access are the iMac and the laptop with a wireless card. Rectifying this situation is number one priority for this weekend. I'd really like to go to an all-wireless solution, but we've been having some trouble at Plokta weekends with having more than two people logged on wirelessly at once, and I wouldn't want to risk that happening with the desktops as well.
It's been a hard week all round. It's half-term, and my childminder's had the builders in, so Marianne & Jonathan have been thoroughly passed around the family. My turn came around on Wednesday. On Wednesday we went first to Coram's fields, a very superior small park and playground which we abandoned only shortly before I froze to the skin. In case you have the Time Out kids' guide, I recommend you annotate the page on Coram's fields to include the fact that the cafe is a hole in the wall with outside tables that sells no lunch food more appealing than microwaved tinned hotdogs. But the goats, rabbits, lovely square park just the size for a toddler to run about it, plenty of play equipment, and (empty, this being October) paddling pool were as advertised.
Walking hungrily back to the tube we were spoilt for choice, and stopped by glorious happenstance at Luini in Theobald's Road. This is an Italian cafe whose only other branch is in Milan and whose speciality is panzerotti, hot savoury filled donuts that are, broadly speaking, the perfect food for people who are frozen to the skin. The three of us noisily occupied almost all of their seats (it's a small cafe), ate our panzerotti and excellent sarnies, and drank Chinotto, my favourite soft drink of all. This bitter orange drink, which I think of mentally as Coke for grownups, is almost unobtainable in the UK; I got a taste for it at a long-defunct pasta restaurant in Manchester. The prices are cheap, the food is great and not like anything else in London. They gave the kids a selection of (used) lenticular Italian phone cards, and as we got up to leave, they pressed sweet Nutella-filled panzerotti on me for them, for which they wouldn't let me pay. Yummy.
We recovered our va va voom and went onto the Science Museum, which was thronged with happy schoolchildren, this being half-term week and the museum now being largely free. We spent a couple of hours in an interactive gallery for under-eights called Pattern Pod. On this stunningly busy day, gatekeepers were barring any unaccompanied person over eight, though you can probably sneak in without a child during the school term. Alternatively, you're welcome to borrow mine for a few hours.
There's plenty to occupy everyone from tinies to grownups, with several exhibits that can be activated by crawling. Kids can compare the footprints of babies, ducks, dogs and robots, dance in an ambient room where their movements affect a video display, tessalate with various shapes including a big pile of magnetic Penrose tiles, look at examples of hexagons and spirals occuring in nature, consider the patterns of day and night and make a magic carpet on the floor. To get a feeling of what it's like, the Pattern Wall, a symmetry toy loved by all three of us and apparently everyone else as well, is available to play with online.
Oh yes, and a funny thing happened to me on the way to the Pattern Pod, which I started to write about, but realised is destined for a fanzine rather than a weblog. I wonder sometimes if others practice this blatant segregation of writing? I start writing pieces for online destinations, but if they show signs of getting too good, I grab them and find them homes on paper.