Thursday, 8 March 2018

Madhouse diaries : Frosty half-term fun

January and February in and around Dunkirk means carnival (or carnaval, as they say here) so we started off the holidays with a quick wander to take in the sights and sounds of the "bandes". It's always a riot of colour with hundreds of tall umbrellas and unique costumes, embellished with feather boas, tiny bells and little teddy bears nestled in amongst the fake flowers and long feathers on the traditional hats.

The musicians, with big drums, tin whistles, trumpets and trombones are all dressed in yellow oilskins, as a nod to the origins of the carnival - it was originally a big celebration before the fishermen headed off to catch herring in the dangerous waters around Iceland, so they had a big send off in case they didn't make it back home again. This is also the reason why the mayor throws plastic-wrapped kippers from the balcony of the town hall.

Pierre found the best place to see (and keep out of the way of the crowds) was on Sophie's shoulders. I love the way he's hanging on to her forehead for dear life !

After the crowds, we decided to head to the wide open spaces of the beach. We had a watery sun and gorgeous blue skies but it was blimming cold.

 Pierre was most impressed to see that the showers (for cleaning the sand off your feet in the summer months) had frozen solid.

We continued our walk through the sculpture gardens of the LAAC, the modern art museum.

 Pierre went running up the hill to look at the world war II bunker (which is covered over with grass on one side but still visible at the back) and had some fun with shadow play.

Juliette was more interested in breaking the ice around the edges of the pond - don't fall in !

When we reached the big lake, there were lots of older kids and dads cracking off great sheets of ice and pulling them out of the water with sticks.

Pierre and Juliette joined in with throwing pieces of ice on the ground to shatter like glass and thought this was great fun.

They had a go with their own sticks but it was harder than it looked. I think Pierre looks like a garden gnome fishing in this photo !

When it got too cold and we felt like our fingers were going to drop off, we headed for home.

After watching endless reports of Snowmageddon across the UK, the Madhouse kids finally got a little bit of the white stuff to play in. This was the extent of our snow though and it only lasted one day.

Just enough to make a few snow balls before it melted !

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