Monday, November 28, 2011

A trip to Merry Hill complete with Bratii

I had a phone call on Thursday - could I look after the Bratii Saturday morning while their parents do some shopping in Kidderminster on their own. I had no problem with that. Then on Friday I thought "Why not take them up to Merry Hill while the decorations are up, but before it gets really crowded". Bratus Pater was amenable to this and so on Saturday morning they turned up, we transferred them from car to car and off we went.

Five minutes in and I'm startled by beeps emanating from the back seat where Minor was sitting.
 "Don't tell me they're calling you already"
"No I'm playing a game"
"Well don't it's distracting"

Another five minutes for Major to work out out to turn the sound off while leaving the ring tone active and Minor decides he doesn't want to play after all. Tcch!

I take the route through Stourbridge and note that the petrol station is 3p cheaper than Stourport £131.9/litre; so with the amount I normally fill up with I'd save the price of about half a litre but use a litre to get there.

By this time Minor has fallen asleep in the back; Major is listening to the music I have on and actually turned up Alice Cooper's Poison as he'd not heard it before.

We reached Merry Hill and Minor spots the Toys R Us
"Toy R Us! Can we visit Toys R Us?"
"I don't see why not when we get round to it"

I gave the multi-storey car-park and headed for the top. It wasn't so full as to make finding a space difficult, but it wasn't so empty that you didn't need to look. This traffic level was borne out when we headed down a shared lift to BHS and saw how crowded it was for that time of day.

We headed over to ModelZone which interested Minor; he was considering a R/C model until he noted they were about twice the price of the static variety. I asked Major if he'd had any contact with Apples (the computers) he answered with a negative so we popped in next door so as to introduce him to them. As he's coming up to college age a MacBook Air though seriously pricey would be ideal if he chose to save up for one. They acclimatised to the control layout and the single mouse button type quickly and were impressed by what they saw particularly the sturdiness and the low weight of the Air.

Back to the other side and
"No we're not going to this McDonalds"
which resulted in anguish from Minor.

A quick dip into Gamestation; where Major listed all the games he'd like, but couldn't afford. Minor scrambled to the pre-owned PS2 section and bombarded me with "Can I get this" etc. I told him we had plenty of time; that we might find it cheaper elsewhere or something better that he'd prefer to spend his money on.

Into Hotel Chocolat which threatened to last all of one minute when Minor declared that we'd "seen everything" and that therefore it was time to go.
"But we haven't seen the other side yet!" I state.
"Buhhhh" he replies
We walk over
"Okay now we've seen everything let's go" he demands
"Oh so you've seen the chocolate reindeers then?"
"Huh" Looks around
"No no" I say turning his head back "We've seen everything let's go"
"But I want to see the reindeers"
"Nope we've seen everything time to go"

We headed out and to the left
"Someone's parked a car in here" points out Major which amuses him.
Minor spots the Santa's Grotto train on the level below, but shows little interest in visiting.

We continue up this leg because I need some items from Sainsbury's. Minor spots "The Entertainer" store and asks if we can visit. I agree and as we continue I point out Burger King and also asked if they've ever visited a Spud U Like; no they hadn't and little interest was shown in jacket potatoes.

Into Sainsbury's where Major spots a book he would like at a reasonable price. I point out we've a WH Smith and a Waterstones to check and he decides to wait. I can't find what I want so back out to stop off at the Entertainer.

The store is labelled up with Girls on the left and Boys on the right and Babies at the back. Minor dives in towards the right and stops to look at the Lego.
"Okay we've seen everything" I state "Time to go"
"No we haven't!" Minor cries

"No no we've seen everything just as you said before in Hotel Chocolat; time to go"
Major's trying not to laugh
"But no; I; no um... can we stay a bit longer please"
I relent.
Looking around I end up next to a mother whose son is trying to persuade her that an electrical moving 'insect' and track is worth the money.
"So what does it do?" She asks him
"You get the track and it moves around the track" he replied
I give a little smile at this and she catches my eye and rolls hers "Oh it does all that does it" She says to both of us
"Hours of entertainment" I join in with
Needless to say he can't persuade her.

We leave shortly after that and head around to the food court in the next leg. There's a fair few people about; but the 'darker' corners of the room are vacant. We discuss what we might want to try as we roam around and by we I mean Major and I; Minor was head-down engrossed in his phone.
"So what do you want?" I ask him
"Chips" he says as we walk past the fish and chip stall
"You're not having just chips" I reply "How about some pizza; we could share a pizza?"
"Sounds okay to me" replies Major
"Muh" replies Minor
"Fair enough"

I point out the sushi
"I like sushi" states Minor"
"Well you can sushi if you want we don't have to have the same things" I tell him
"Muh" he says and goes back to his phone.

Into HMV. Major's looking at the music CDs I try to keep track of Minor as it's busy at this end of the store. Doing this I lose track of Major and am about to ring him when I spot him up at the game end of the store. I keep Minor in tow and check out the PS3 release prices - nothing new; Major agrees. I let Major wander while I keep half an eye on Minor it being much quieter at this end of the store and check out the old releases to see how much certain items are - I can't find them and so go and join Minor who's checking out the children's DVDs. I spot a bunch of cheap Batman animations and mention to him that I might pick it up; he shrugs and disappears into the next aisle. I take a closer look and note that the pack includes a disc I already own making it less of a bargain. I put it back and follow Minor
"I decided not to get it" I tell him as I display empty hands
"Huh?" he replies
"The Batman DVDs I was showing you"
"Huh?" he replies
"Oh I'm sorry I forgot if it's not something that directly affects you then you have no interest in it whatsoever"
"Forget it"
"Can I play on the big game station?"
I'd seen Major was on it so we headed back and I left him in his care while I briefly scanned through the busier end of the store. Nothing.

Back and Major has a couple of purchases to make I leave him with cash and tell him we'll meet in Games Workshop out and to the left. I leave with Minor in tow.

"I want to have a look for something then we'll head to Waterstones over there and then back to get something to eat" I tell him we head into GW and Minor's jaw drops. Oh he is enamoured of all the figures. I escort him over to the fluff section, nodding to the staff as I go, but I can't resist giving him a quick overview of what he's seeing. He's still goggle eyed and he's watching some of the customers playing and painting.

One of the staff members comes over and asks him if he wants a go at painting I mention the time factor; and Minor seems disappointed.
"I'll tell you what " says the staff member and hauls out a sweet jar "Reach in and grab a model and if you get 10 minutes come back and we'll show you how to paint it"
He reaches in and gets a pre-assembled and pre-foundationed Space Marine. Major joins us and we head over to Waterstones.

Minor can't stop playing with the figure. We do a quick sweep of Waterstones. Minor heads to the children's department downstairs and after Major has a scan volunteers to watch him while I do a sweep; I'm impressed.

Out and I point out the flying anvils. Minor's playing with his phone again.
"What are you doing?" I ask
"I'm phoning dad"
"Because I want to"
"Tsssh Leave him alone"
He puts the phone away.

Out and to the food court which is heaving; no really it's completely full with even more people moving around just getting food.
"Ah yeah I was worried about this" I said.
We headed to the back and the pizza place; still no seats.
"Okay let's try the Pizza Express out the back next to Nandos."
Out the doors and blessed peace - well almost it seems a class/party/group of kids is about to head in. Great! There's one menu outside which makes it difficult to use; but I manage to snag one from the outer tables. Pizza, pizza and more pizza - slightly expensive with no mention of sides, which given Minor's chip addition won't help.

Nando's opposite isn't much better chicken or burgers... and again a little on the pricey side.

"Okay we want chips let's head down to Harry Ramsden's" Back into the food court and passing the pizza stall when Minor tugs at my sleeve and points at a four space empty table
"Go!" and bam Minor sitting down at it with us following.
"You stay; pizza any preference?"
"No mushrooms"
"Should have known. Right [Major] with me"
We could still see the table so we weren't leaving him totally alone.

We scanned the menu while in the short queue. We could have a whole pizza between us for £6.99 (about the same price as 1 Nando burger!) but the special is a slice a choice of two sides from four and a regular drink for £3.99 each
"Special?" I ask
"Special" confirms Major
They're 11/12" pizzas and you get a quarter as a slice with a chips/garlic bread/coleslaw/salad choice and a 6" tall drink - not bad at all.

Trays loaded and Major's phone starts to ring. Typical. It stops and we get back to the table to find Minor on the phone. Yes it's his father; turns out Minor had rung him back at the anvils; but I'd interrupted him leaving a message so he'd phoned Major to find out why and not getting through to him phoned Minor. Gods.

Food time. No sauce, I go back for ketchup. Minor has two forks, I go back for a knife. Minor eats all his chips; Major eats most of his and I finish mine. Minor starts playing with his Marine rather than eat. I confiscate it. He then starts playing with his phone; I confiscate it. He then starts playing with the ice in his drink.
"Do you want me to take that off you too?"
He starts in on the pizza. I try some too; it's not bad even cold. Trouble is the plates are cold paper-plastic and the table is a plastic-marble slab it just leaches heat. I suppose it encourages people to eat quickly and move on; but it's not good with Minor.

Finally finished and we head slowly back to GW; Major nips off to check on some books in Waterstones he'd forgotten about. Staff member Mike takes charge and asks Minor what colour he wants to paint it
"I don't think I've ever done a purple space marine before" and he heads out back to get some purple paint to add to the existing pots.
A big brush loaded with purple and Minor does well keeping it off the base. Paints the gun silver; the skull backpack silver. Adds red eyes; then a black wash on the silver and a dark purple wash on the armour. With some hot-air drying between time. He's concentrating, he has a steady hand and is enjoying it. Major reappears half-way through and he's watching with some interest too. Finally some glue on the base dip into the grass and the base is complete. It's... pretty good; seriously not bad for a first effort. Moreover Minor's been sitting down and shutting up and concentrating all through it.

"I can show you how the game works if you want" says Mike

"We're looking pushed for time" I say reluctantly "but how much are the starter sets going for now" I ask knowing I'm going to regret this.
A five sprue space marine set with Ultramarine colour paints and a brush £18.99; with more paints glue and base grass etc. an extra £30. Switch out the sprue set for the box set of marines and orks for £65 - total £101.
"Have you got that much on you?" Mike asks Minor with a smile.
He shakes his head sorrowfully
"Well you're not far off having enough for just the beginner's set; if your father allows it"
The phone is pulled out and a conversation is held Minor turns to me "Dad says yes"
"Yeah let me speak to him... hey"
"So [Minor] says yes"
"Yeah yeah that's okay what is it he's buying anyway?"
"Warhammer space marines"
"You know the stuff I was into when I was his age?"
"Oh god!"
"Oh thanks" I answer mock indignantly
"Oh not not that it's just I can see my wallet emptying"
"It's a starter kit and he's paying for it and it'll keep him quiet and occupied so..."

So one starter kit purchased. We head downstairs I buy a couple of birthday cards and we head over to WH Smith. While Major looks for a book I check the comics next to them and end up in conversation with a complete stranger who happened to have spotted us in GW. One interesting conversation later and we head out and to the car.

And off upon which time Minor keeps bugging me about his kit while I'm driving
"I'm driving!"... "I'M DRIVING!"... "Look do you want to drive?" He shuts up after that at least most of the way.

So I bought barely anything not that I had much opportunity spent most of my time mentally beating my head against a wall because of Minor's obtuseness and ended up so glad I don't have any of these of my own :-)