Homework and Halloween in a Campervan 2


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By Jen

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Halloween started with a bit of earlier than normal schoolwork. We’ve been a while working out how best to fit school work into a day. You can lead a cow to water and all that. For now, and it’s going not too badly, Adam and Matt work from 11 – 12 every day (except Sunday) on the curriculum from their schoolbooks, in the order that they want to do it in. And they’ve been pretty diligent all told. Via facebook mainly, they know they are at the same place in maths, say, as their peers back home.

The rest of their “learning” is on the road.

The initial 8am school slot was waaay too early, so I get the “kitchen” table from 7.30 for an hour or so to do my work. I am the worst, and furthest behind out of all of us. In my defence my morning session is usually ambushed by cereal boxes. But I did learn today that a block of air the size of a sugar cube has 45 billion billion molecules in it. That’s heaps. However, it has nothing to do with the language exams I am supposed to be studying for.

Sometimes we find good work tables in cafes or campsites. Sometimes it’s less organised.

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Katie does an hour every day from her French or maths book – she’s decided on a Wednesday off – with her dad or me helping, and she does some other things not from books, like writing postcards or her diary. She was learning some Portuguese words with a “fortune teller” this morning and practised with the lovely lady from the cafe beside the campervan. The lady’s not the fortune teller, the green thing is….

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Seeing it was Halloween, Katie carved out a pumpkin and we made pumpkin soup. On the disguise front we had a black cardigan and a bottle of brown eyeliner to work with. We went with a witchy sort of thing.

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Then we found the electricity museum next door – the old Tejo Power Plant which provided Lisbon and the surrounding area with all its power until 1972. Sounds boring, but it was great. So great in fact, that one, two, three or four of us in varying amounts spend from 10am until 11pm there. All for free!!

Katie and Neil set off first. There are lots of interactive bits – like you can give each other mini electric shocks – and you weave your way round the plant where there are life size models “working” at the furnaces which are glowing red; 527 people worked there to keep the place operational 24/7.

The boys, possibly as a result of hearing about the electric shocks, then visited with Katie and I.

We had pumpkin soup for lunch, and halloween shaped potato things for tea. My cooking has not really improved. Matt washed and Katie dried. Dishes duty remains a slight bone of contention. We are still working on a fair for everyone rota, maybe based on the weight of dishes.

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We spent some time in the evening trying to get set up with the Geocaching website (www.geocaching.com). For the uninitiated, basically geocaching is like a GPS based treasure hunt, with clues hidden all over the world, on the top of mountains, in supermarket car parks, beside famous monuments, underwater, everywhere. And as part of a cunning plan to attract two teenagers to visit landmarks and museums etc, we thought if the trip also included a geocache find, it might make it all the more worthwhile. We downloaded the plugin but have yet to get the data transferred to the GPS. Next wifi stop…..

The boys returned for a second time to the electric museum once they realised there were plugs where they could charge their computers – very enterprising – and then the place reopened in the evening for Halloween tours in the dark. Again, all free, popcorn and Dracula blood included. The place was lit by candles and pumpkin lanterns, cobwebs were stretched over machines, and the ghosts of old worker jumped out from behind furnaces. It was excellent. I was a bit scared.

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Neil and I had a beer/porto nightcap at the fortune teller lady cafe next to the campervan, and a nice chat with the couple who were in the campervan next door. We are on roughy the same travel route so may meet up again Italy or Tunisia way in January. They are off to do a Christmas market in Switzerland first. It’s one of the nice things about campervanning, we are meeting lots of lovely people on the way.

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