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Soccer, parents, school…

Anglification of me – I have watched three full soccer games on TV over the last four days.

The curious thing is that I also caught a glimpse of a match between two 4th-tier teams (so-called CocaCola League 2) – on the main sports channel, in primetime. I guess you could watch minor-league baseball on YES, but even they probably would not broadcast a Class A game, to say nothing of ESPN. Here, it’s a common occasion to see lower-division footie games on TV, when the top flight does not have a game on the schedule.

The British obviously know how to show football. Every goal chance or otherwise key play gets plenty of replay from various angles; commentators are knowledgeable, and often fun to listen to; scoreboard takes a very small corner of the screen and is devoid of sponsor ads. At the end of half and the full time, the commentary always includes replay of every single goal. Eminently watchable! Too bad that I do not have high-def here…

I also watched a bit of rugby, which is slightly confusing, but quite exciting. I have not been able to work up the will to invest time in cricket, though.

My parents stoically brave the unpleasant weather, and have visited most of the major sights in London, including a couple that we did not get to ourselves yet. The last couple of days they were completely on their own, but armed with travel cards and a good map, they managed to find their way around via public transportation without major mishaps. They even rode a bus smack in the center of the city – a feat that I have yet to attempt.

For all of its regular unreliability, London transportation deserves the props for being quite convenient and easy to use.

The girls started the second semester in school. The school schedule is very different in England from what we used to in America. The year is normally broken into three trimesters: September – December, January – March, April – July. There are two-weeks-long holidays between the trimesters, with about a month and a half holiday during summer. In addition, each trimester is further divided into two parts by a week-long holiday. So the kids were off from Christmas until this Monday, and will be on holiday again in just five weeks. The schedule is pretty much universal across all of state and independent schools, making it six “standard” holiday periods through the year. Large organizations explicitly stay away from scheduling important business activities during those times, as many people take time off to do something with – or, at the very least, provide care for – their kids.

Our trips – the ones that are longer than a weekend, anyway, – are being planned around the same paradigm.

In the meantime, I am off for the last two vacation days of last year. My entire allotment for this year will start dwindling down only in February.