Friday, June 04, 2010

A birthday party in Cyprus

Probably not a typical Cypriot birthday party. But yesterday, our friend Jacob was 11. He had an outdoor afternoon party for some of his friends around his own age on Wednesday afternoon. Since it mainly involved water balloons, and a great deal of noise and running around, we gracefully (I hope) declined the invitation to attend.

However, we were delighted to be asked to dinner and a game on the evening of his actual birthday. Had the weather been less windy, Richard might have taken Jacob out sailing for an hour, as he did last year, but unfortunately it wasn't possible.

However, when we arrived it was cooler outside than in, so we sat outside for a while and chatted. Daniel and Becky have only met the family two or three times since arriving, but the younger children are not shy... (that's an example of the Great British Understatement):

We had an excellent meal provided by Jacob's father, followed by birthday cake:

(There was another, larger cake too, which I shall write about at some point in the future)

Being a typical home educators' gathering, the dictionary came out during the meal, as various people discussed the difference between a tidal wave and a tsunami. I have no idea what the context was since there were several conversations running concurrently.

We were expecting to play a game of Settlers after the meal. But then Jacob's mother mentioned a maths problem that her oldest daughter had been having trouble with. It involved a cyclist travelling for 7 3/4 hours, at two different speeds, and needing to determine the distance. I was aware that I should easily be able to solve it, but I'm not an evening person and can't easily concentrate on maths when there are several other people around. So I didn't even attempt to solve it; I resolved to think about it the following day.

However, for some reason the problem caught the minds of all present. Becky borrowed a notebook from Daniel, and started seeing if she could figure it out:

Then Jacob, who's pretty good at maths, wondered if he could solve the problem:

Richard, who doesn't even like maths, also got intrigued... so he pulled out his phone, which does just about everything other than make coffee, jotted down notes, came up with formulae, and started to work on it too... watched by Katie and Lukas:

Sheila looked at Jacob's notes, and explained that he wasn't on quite the right track:

Daniel and Jacob got into a discussion about averages, which weren't really relevant to the problem:

Even Katie started doing some writing....

However, nobody got to the solution. And time was getting on. Jacob really wanted to play a game of Settlers - he and Marie were staying up late specially. So, reluctantly, everyone put away their notebooks and calculators, and we set up the game.

Then, when others were discussing who would play on which team, Helen - who will probably be the youngest Catan player ever - thought she might help me placing my initial settlements:

(And if anyone is remotely interested in the details of the game, you can find it here on my Settlers of Catan blog. Suffice it to say that Jacob won, which was a very good end to his birthday).

No comments: