It was business as usual for me and the boys this week. The typical day goes something like this...
I struggle out of bed at six o'clock, wake myself up with a shower and head downstairs to make a variety of different breakfasts. At six thirty I go and wake up the boys if they haven't already dragged themselves downstairs (this does occasionally happen, but usually they only bother to get up at six on the weekend when they don't actually have to!) For the next half hour we generally have a reasonably pleasant time, eating and drinking and finishing off the homework we should have finished the previous day.
The first leg of the journey is a race to the front door, followed without fail by some variation on the following conversation:
"First the worst, second the best."
"No. First the best, second the loser."
"Well I was first then."
"No, I was first. You didn't touch the door."
"Dad. James is being mean."
"No I'm not. He was first the worst."
"No, Dad was first the worst. I'm second the best, you're third the one with the hairy chest."
"Stop, both of you! I don't care who was first. Now, out you go or we'll be late. Other way!"
"Can I go round to Francisco's house after school?"
"How many days is it until my birthday?"
"Are there any black holes in Brazil?"
"What do you think is better, a dragon with strength 2 and poison 2, or a zombie with strength 1 and berserk and regenerate?"
And when I occasionally get the chance to say something myself, I'll take the opportunity to explain why the English won the battle of Agincourt or some other similar vital piece of information.
After dropping them off, I'm free to head across the road to the local supermarket, Pão de Açucar (sugarloaf) and pick up the day's provisions. I generally stop off there most days as there's usually a few things I need and I like to get fresh bread for lunch. It's then eight minutes back to the house (notice that it's half the time without the kids in tow!)
But once these things are out of the way, it's down to some serious writing. Just as soon as I've checked my emails, had a browse through Facebook, maybe played a little game or two. But then it's down to writing. The blog comes first though. I'll give it some thought, do a few paragraphs and then when I start to run out of steam on that I'll finally move over to the new book I'm doing for James. Except that it's coming up to lunchtime. So I'll take a break for nice fresh buns (with the Marmite I haven't actually imported) and a nice pot of proper American-style filter coffee. Out here, they tend to like their coffee very small, very strong and very bitter - not my cup of tea at all! - so although it might be nice to sit in a friendly cafe and watch the São Paulo world go by in an artistic/creative sort of way, I never bother because I'd rather work my way through a litre of smooth caffeine made by someone who knows exactly how I like it.
Anyway, by twelve-thirty I'm done with lunch and I really do have two hours of uninterrupted writing time. This is probably why I've finally managed to begin my book. Actually, I've begun it five times but I feel confident I'll move beyond Chapter One fairly soon.
Tea is always a pleasure in our house.
"What's for tea, Dad?"
"Yick!" says David.
"Urgh, not fish," says James. "I hate that. Why do we always have to have that?"
"We don't always have it. We haven't had it for ages."
"Grumble, grumble, grumble."
And now substitute for 'fish' almost anything else you can think of - it tends to work the same way.
What we all do for the rest of the evening varies depending on mood and availability. If Helen is free, she does guitar practice with James. If she's not, I'll give it a go, though this is not such a good idea as I know next to nothing about playing guitar or reading music and James reacts to my suggested criticisms accordingly. In an effort to avoid the regular nagging sessions that develop at these times, I'm getting James to teach me how to play. And I have to say, he seems to be a much better teacher than student! Sadly, me too.
Rio de Janeiro
Given that picture of domestic bliss and harmony, you'd think Helen would never be able to bring herself to go away. However, last week she did just that, abandoning the sticky heat of São Paulo for the even stickier, even hotter Rio. She was only there for three days, but during this time she managed to spend two-and-a-half hours in a helicopter, visit an FPSO (Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading) platform, visit the world's deepest wave tank, meet the president of Petrobras and even go off and do a spot of sight-seeing as well.
But more importantly, she got to wear some fabulous orange overalls and a big white hard hat - though this was not while she was sight-seeing I should point out. Rio may be dangerous, but it's not that bad. And she got to get sticky oil all over her hand. Boy, it doesn't get much better than that!
She's been to Rio a few times now and each time she comes back she says, "we have to go there. It's so much nicer than São Paulo." Sadly, it's also so much hotter and the children are not the sun worshippers their dad is. Also, all our holiday has so far been used up back in Europe and the next time the children have any time off school is for Carnival - which, unless you're twenty-five and childless is so not the time to visit Rio. So it will be a while yet before I get to see it for myself. In the meantime I get to look at the lovely photos.