Monday, 5 October 2015

A blank page

It's not a page, obviously.  But they make it look like one, so I think it counts.

I had a blog post in my head, some years ago, about a book. It's a beautiful leather covered book from Aspinal with my initials on it.  My mother-in-law bought it for me in about 2008 for Christmas.  Lucky me.  I'd asked for mixing bowls, but (to coin a phrase) you can't always get what you want, and I think she thought the book was nicer.

It was.  It is.  It's also significantly less use.  Because I don't know about you, but for me there are few things quite as terrifying as a blank page.  Especially a blank page in a really nice book.

What do you say?  What do you put down that merits the effort that goes into moving the pen, or tapping the key?

What do you write in your first blog post for over a year?

Yet here I am. Tap tap tapping.  This is stream of consciousness stuff because if I stop to think about it I'm not sure I'll start again and being here feels, yes, scary, but also comfortable.  I think I might have missed it.

It's Iota's fault.  And here's a thing.  Since last I wrote I've got to know her in real life (can't do the acronym stuff, never could) and it's a mark of how long I've not been blogging that in my head she's not even Iota any more, she's her real name....

Anyway it's her fault.   Because it turns out there's a groundswell of old bloggers, popping their heads up above the parapet (probably with fewer mixed metaphors) and saying "We're here.  We've been here for a while actually.  And we haven't really gone away".  And it turns out too that despite, sort of, still feeling like a newbie, I'm an old blogger.

This is, it turns out, my 399th post.  My first (also not quite co-incidentally) was on the 13th October 2009.   That's nearly (very nearly - for a moment I was tempted not to post this for another week) six years ago.  I never stayed in any one school that long...  So, I suppose I am.  Old.  And possibly a blogger too.

And in an old-school (see what I did there?) kind of way Iota's given me an award.  Of the here's a pretty picture, now write something and tag some people variety.

So here it is.  And I'm glad of it. Because I'm glad to be back. I think.

Apparently I now have to reveal seven hitherto unimaginable truths about myself.  So here's seven things that I've been up to since last I wrote:

We had a referendum on independence.  You might have noticed it.  With hindsight it may have been a bit of a factor in my ceasing to write.  It felt too important not to write about yet at the same time too scary and important to attempt to address.  Maybe that was a mistake.  I have just deleted the draft posts...

My children are now 8, 6, 6 and 4.  That seems ridiculously grown up given that 399 posts ago, the three eldest were all under 3 and the youngest was inconceivable (metaphorically, as it turns out).  At the same time though, writing those numbers makes me aware of how small they still are.  They're asleep at the moment. This may account for my feeling as though they are cute and lovely and not utterly exasperating and FAR TOO LOUD.

Workwise, I still don't know what I'm doing with my life.  Because in the last fifteen months, precisely nothing has changed  In fact I'm still doing exactly what I was doing when we moved here, 290 posts and five and a half years ago:  a bit of lawyering and a lot of parenting, both with varying degrees of success.  This wasn't the plan.   The problem is there never has actually been a plan.  Blogging was supposed to help, but I think that has moved on and not taken me with it.  (And if you haven't already clicked through to Iota's post which got me here, do so now, because I think what she thinks.  On this issue at least.)

I'm going to be 40 in 14 and a bit months time.  I sort of want to have a party but I won't.  The problem is that you can't invite everyone and I'm not brave enough to choose who gets left out.  I'm not even brave enough not to invite people I don't actually like.   I'm told that as you grow up you stop caring so much what people think of you.   This is therefore official proof that 38 and three quarters is not grown up.

We've got chickens.  Six of them. I love them but they're actually horrid. It turns out that "hen pecked" and "the pecking order" and "feeling broody" have the weight of nature behind the metaphor.

And I rather fancy bees next.

But definitely no more babies.  To bring this full circle, maybe that's also part of the blogging; or lack thereof.  I was so much a "Mummy" blogger.  I even won an award (of the actual award variety) for blethering on about being pregnant, for goodness' sake.  And if I can no longer put together 500 lovingly crafted words about my stretch marks and my earth shattering nappy changing technique, then what can I write about?

Yet here I am.  Will I be back?  I don't know.  But in the meantime here are some tags of people who've been around at least as long as me.  It was supposed to be fifteen but I've just gone with some old "friends" (most of whom I wouldn't recognise if I bumped into them on the bus) who didn't seem already to have been tagged in this.  Of course, along with not writing I haven't been reading so it's perfectly possible that some of them may not even be blogging any more.  I'm going to hit post and then I'm off to find out....

Muddling along Mummy 
Trish at Mum's gone to.
Kelly at A place of my own
Sandy Calico
The relentless launderer and
Saffia at Motherhood and anarchy

And if anyone is reading this (is anyone reading this?) and I should have tagged you, don't take it personally - just do it anyway. I'm off to rediscover those old friends....

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Starting well

B left at 3 am this morning.  He won't be back until after the end of term (only two weeks away up here) by which time I'll have survived (hopefully), three sets of sports days, one leavers' assembly (we're not leaving, but attendance is nonetheless expected), the summer disco, two birthday parties (none ours) and all the other paraphernalia and chaos that goes with small children and end-of-term-itis.

It has started well though.  A looked up at me over her rice krispies this morning:

"Mummy," she said "You deserve a medal".
"That's a lovely thing to say, poppet. Why?"
"Because you're so clever".

Not sure what I'd done to deserve that, rice krispy (krispie?  krispo?)  pouring being one of my core skills, but the others obviously agreed, because S chipped in:

"And you're lovely"
"And you're the best Mummy in the world" added L. 

By this time I was beginning to wonder if B had bribed them, but M too was not to be left out.

"And. And.  And...." he said.  He's just turned three and was clearly searching his ever-growing vocabulary for the right superlative. 
"And you're...
And you're my Mummy!".

I just hope we're all still thinking that's a good thing in two weeks' time...  

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Mysteries of modern life. No 382

When you get in at 12:26 (or whenever), drink having taken;

is there a good way to talk to the babysitter?

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Wonderfully weird weekend

Mannequins, leopard print dressing-gowns (and slippers), chocolates in every room, pink radiators, purple carpets, flouncy dresses, stuffed animal heads, genuine Biba fabric, space invaders, shells, old violins and a tiger skin rug....

What more could you want from a weekend away?

I went, two weekends ago, for a few days with friends from university, to Priory House in Long Bennington.

You know, Long Bennington.   Yes, well, it's just off the A1 in Nottinghamshire, between Newark (surprisingly nice) and Grantham (never got there, but Trish can recommend it highly I'm sure) and was chosen on the basis that it was equally inconvenient for everyone (including the one who came, unannounced, from Vancouver.  There were tears), and that it looked, from the pictures on the Oliver's Travels website, brilliantly, extraordinary, surreally, decadently weird.  With added sequins.

We weren't wrong. 

It was all of those things (except the sequins) and more.  The pictures, taken on my phone, don't do it justice at all, but round every corner there was something else unusual, or scary, or interesting, or quirky or, yes, beautiful.

It's a Georgian house so the bones of it are beautiful too and the rooms spacious and very comfy, with ensuite bathrooms (more chocs and oddities) and the aforementioned dressing gowns (we failed to take a team photo, foolishly (though my co-conspirators are probably relieved)).  It is also, quite astonishingly given the sheer amount of stuff, clean.  We also had the run of the medieval brewhouse, with timbered ceiling, small but well-equipped kitchen (I was required to ring up in advance and check there was a cafetiere. There was), and big living room where we could blether into the wee smalls undisturbed.

It's owned by Roger and Carol, equally unusual and welcoming.  She's the blue-haired designer of the dresses (no pictures, because they (the pictures) simply weren't good enough, but think frills and furbelows; taffeta and lace; pink and green and purple and the sort of thing L would design as her wedding dress if I told her money were no object and she could have anything she liked), and wears clothes (even to the supermarket, she told me) to match.  She made one of our number (nameless, to protect the not-so-innocent) scream when she walked out from behind a mannequin unexpectedly.  We ran away in giggles, like a bunch of teenagers, and  had to come back to apologise later.

They were lovely though, kind and friendly: chatty almost to a fault, full of information about the village (two good pubs and a coffee shop which we didn't try) and equally good at leaving us alone to get on with our drinking, eating and catching up.  They even found several spare mattresses so we didn't have to share double beds if we didn't want to (there are four big double bedrooms, some of which they let on a B&B basis too).

I can't say much about what there is to do locally because we didn't do much of it. It's amazing how much talking eight women who haven't all been in the same room since the last one of us got married can do in the space of a weekend.  But we did have a drink and a meal in the pub and a potter round Newark, and those of us that weren't watching the Gherkin run the marathon (he did it in 3:24:36, raised over £12,000 and made the 10 o'clock news!) went for a walk on the Sunday morning.

There are plenty of people who would hate Priory House.  It's cluttered and crazy and has antlers and curios and bits of old toys on every surface, and what look like shrunken heads (I didn't inspect too closely) and a real tiger skin on the piano.  The screamer among us (who is also, as an aside, afraid of peas), refused to go into the main house because she couldn't walk past the mannequins.  We, however, with eight good friends, years to catch up on, the best possible online supermarket delivery, sunshine, no children and something interesting and quirky round every corner, loved it.  C is already planning to take her mum...

Disclosure - Friend L and I found the house online, booked it through Oliver's Travels and paid for it with our own money (and that of the other six people who came with us, we're not that nice).  While there I found a piece of paper saying that Oliver's Travels would pay me for a blog post about our stay there.  So I'm blogging about it, because you would, wouldn't you. But the pictures (taken in advance of realising I'd be using them on the blog - they'd be a bit better if I had) and the words are all mine and are all honestly what I think.  Although really there aren't words to describe it....

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

An Easter Gallery

I was in at the very first Gallery, back in March 2010, so it feels only appropriate that after an absence of many weeks, I should be in at the 184th.

Or something.

Anyway Easter.  And L's seventh (yikes) birthday, which was on Monday.   A weekend of brilliance and sunshine and cake and eggs, and broomstick riding and feeling smug because it was raining down South.






Not one picture, but many. Choose your favourite and click the link to see more....

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Just generous

While I'm on the subject of kindness, I must tell you about Michelle.

Michelle is a Kiwi. She lives in Edinburgh but weekly commutes to London.  She (doesn't look old enough but nonetheless) has a 27 year old son who is still in New Zealand, who she hasn't seen in six years when he came over here for his twenty-first birthday.

She had the misfortune to be on a flight from Gatwick to Edinburgh about four weeks ago.

We were there.  We were tired.  We had been going, at this point, for about twenty two hours.  The end of a wonderful holiday but with the inevitable delays, missed connections and more delays.   No one was crying, but quite a lot of us felt like it.

Michelle started talking to the girls as we waited by the gate.  They told her all about their holiday and their school and their family. She kept an eye on them while I nipped to the loo. (B was wrangling M, who was a little, shall we say, crotchety).

We said goodbye at the door of the plane (actually I ran back to say thank you, as they shoved us and our unruly children on first) and thought never to see her again.

As we waited for our bags at Edinburgh, tired, and by this stage pukey children slumped into the uncomfy chairs by the carousel, I heard someone calling my name.

It was Michelle, and a large carrier bag. 

I bought these for the children, she said.  They're not from New Zealand, but we'll pretend they are.

Four teddy bears.  One each.  For no reason other than that she was kind.

I did cry then.  And hugged her.  And we really will now never see her again.

But two of the bears are called Michelle, and one is Michael.  The last is Thomas, but you can't have everything.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Gherkin goes viral

Watch this (hopefully it's there now - sorry for anyone who clicked when it wasn't).

And sponsor the gherkin to run the London Marathon (probably in under 3 1/2 hours).  He's going to be the fastest building you'll ever see.

And if you can't sponsor, please share, whether by blogging, facebooking, tweeting or just telling your friends (or corporate donors).  A viral gherkin's got to be worth supporting.

It's for the Cure Parkinson's Trust, and if you want to know why this matters to me, read this.

Go Gherkin!