Tag Archives: friends

Packing mayhem

Oh my life, I’m taking a break from packing.

Things should get easier now Ida’s gone to bed as I won’t have to keep fishing her additions out of the bags. So far this evening I’ve retrieved a rollerskate, a wooden spoon, the box of paints and Zeph’s wetsuit that no longer fits him. All useful items in some other scenario I’m sure but unwanted for five days in London with Julianne.

We’re all highly excited and I’m sure there’ll be tears at some point. I’ve tried not to over think stuff which is something I do a little. Maybe I went too far the other way as today has felt a little hectic.

Hectic but full of brilliant stuff and so many Beautiful Things it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Mum and Dad came for pickled fish lunch today to plant out the potatoes and distribute easter and birthday presents like very Boho easter bunnies. It was a hugely happy afternoon and the sun shone bountifully on some very focused potato planting.

The potato race between the kids is becoming an established ritual. They each get a bag and the same amount of chitted treasure. When the plants are ready we harvest each bag with forensic carefulness and count up the bounty. The bag with the most tubers (regardless of size) wins.

We have ready, set and gone – only a few months to wait. Zeph believes he has this years edge with a sprinkle of ground volcanic rock mixed in with the compost. I reserve all judgement.

My mum dressed up in the gardening apron with the string pocket I made her last year and Ida spent a long while eyeing it up covetously. I’m thinking of running some up for the summer craft stalls.  String dispensing pockets are actually very useful.

Our lizard has been unwell so we’re glad to see him looking a bit more sprightly and eating more. I feel happier about leaving him for a while and Zeph has stopped checking he’s still breathing every hour or so. He shot into the bedroom earlier in the week at about 6.30 am shrieking he thought Sticky was dead. I leapt to my feet, raced downstairs half asleep, missed the last few steps and knocked my arm out of its socket on the door jamb. I was sick on the floor from the pain and Steve had to come down, avoid the sick, push it back into its socket, ice me up and clear up. All under the watchful gaze of a bemused lizard who’d been enjoying a nice nap.

I’ve been on full strength drugs all week and quite enjoyed the cotton wool cloud feeling. I know I can’t let it go on too long though so have brought my dosages down which has resulted in a bit of evening snappiness.

I think the kids were quite glad to go to bed tonight and I’m sure Steve would’ve liked to have joined them. Too bad beardie – we’ve got rucksacks to fill…

I think the blossom will be over by the time we’re home again. The plum-tree was frothy with white flower frills today but the liquid green leaves are overtaking it. There’s very little on the apple tree this year but the crab apple is covered in deep pink buds. I hope there’s some left on Thursday these crimson lake edged petals are thrilling.

The peony’s first bud is showing as well – I can NOT wait! I do love my  blowsy ephemeral peonies so much.

I’ve bought a phone to go away with as well. The cheapest I can find which is ten pounds.

TEN POUNDS. Honestly – I feel ludicrously old. How can a mobile phone – okay it’s hardly flashy – but it’s perfectly functional – be £10 and a stamp  is now 60p. Or a Snickers bar which is, in my mind, about 27p be 89p!! I nearly drop my purse everytime I’m conned into chocolate bar purchasing in our corner shop BUT a phone – a mobile, walking around, put it in my pocket, startrek future, phone is TEN POUNDS.

It all seems wrong. Is this because I’m old?

Anyway I’ve finally mastered how to answer it and we’ve uncovered our oyster cards. I’ve tracked down enough clean socks and hole less pants in case of road accidents for us all. We have toothbrushes and new paste. I’m having a minty fresh break from the salty stuff. Ida is over her horror at being presented with a tube of Hungry Caterpillar stuff. I thought she’d be pleased, she thought I was a monsterous, caterpillar grinding ogre. Surely this is all we need?

Look out Big City…


Tonight Ida tried to eat a sausage with her feet. It may sound like the everyday peculiarities of a toddler but it made me laugh out loud with pleasure as I knew immediately what she was trying to do.

We went here this morning with some very lovely friends (hello!) We forged ahead despite the grey sky and the faintest feeling of entering a place meant only for local people. We were early – I think it’s a lot busier at weekends.

It’s an established  charity that has recently opened to the public and has lots of plans for the future. We spent a happy hour or so wandering around the mown paths in its meadowland habitat areas – looking at all the wildflowers, butterflies and birds. The girls gleefully running ahead and choosing the paths winding around. We saw an eagle owl flying outside, dear lord those birds are big, and a barn owl flying and leaping, displaying its remarkable hearing and silent ghostly wings in a barnish theatre space.

I don’t mean to review it – although overall I’d give it a really good one. Ida was lit up with pleasure about the owls. She’s always loved them in principle – we have a variety of cuddly and carved ones. She is very fond of stories about them, Owl Babies, the Meg and Mog books. Her face as Gizmo the barn owl swooped over our head on to the upheld fist of the woman talking to us was nearly as beautiful as the silent sweep of the creamy wings themselves. Her squeal of visceral joy as he demonstrated the deadly pounce of his feet. Her absolute attention as she sat clutching her feathers (found, found! not plucked) during the talk was just magical. I didn’t notice her paying attention during the description of Gizmo using his feet like knives and forks but clearly she was.

It was really quite impressive that she could lift the sausage up in her toes. It made her father laugh out loud and Zeph fell off his chair. Of course with audience reaction like that I fear it’ll be on tomorrows menu as well.

It was a really great day. We went to the park after school as well with more friends and a smorgasboard picnicish snack. Ida slept the second her head hit the pillow – no musical beds tonight. She was pink and angelic when I just checked on her, clutching her patchwork owl and her crow feather.

It’s easy to count my blessings tonight. I feel very enriched. By teasels, purple scabious, proper coffee from a flask, good friends, a scatter of tiny birds from the thistles looking like seed heads in the wind themselves, the dignity of owls, a daughter who can eat with her feet and push teenagers off her preferred park equipment and a son prepared to read “Owl Babies” twenty times in a row to his sister.

Homecoming Frog Princess

Oh I’m missing posting everyday.

I know it’s important to keep things in perspective but writing every day felt really good. I might start-up another internal resolution. Although I’m not bending on the to-do lists. Much better to just do something. For me anyway – the girl who devoted a day to the most complex multi layered revision schedule you could ever dream of then never wasted a second actually revising.

It’s been flying ant day here on the grey streets of Tredworth. We went swimming after school and ants got stuck to my wet hair on the way home. I tried to embrace the BT aspect of all living things blah blah blah. I just don’t like outsized ants in my hair. Sue me.

Zeph found it all very funny. He had a school trip today to Cotswold Farm Park and was full of chat about the animals he’d seen and got to hold. Bubbling over with excitement he showed us what he’d got in the gift shop. (The pinnacle of any eight yr olds outing.) Two snap band bracelets with little beanie animals on – one lizard and a frog one for Ida.

I was really touched that he’d thought of her (although he did point out he was the actual overall owner – even though Ida could wear it all the time – all about the rules kids…) She was ecstatic with joy. It took five full minutes of persuasion for me to get her to leave it in the locker while we swam.

“frogs doooo go in water mum.”

“not beanie ones.”

She’s wearing it now in bed. It’s a frog, it’s glittery green, you snap it onto your arm, if you put it on your head you can say you’re a frog princess like in Bagpuss, Zeph gave it to her. Things don’t get better than this.

Sometimes I feel so insubstantial in the world. When you watch someone you care about hurting and there’s nothing you can do or say to lessen the pain. Just wait by their side as they move through it. Today, watching my children, I felt like I’d helped build this happy joyousness. That I’d made room in the world for this love.

Felt pretty good. Ants or no ants.

Ennui and rage

Ida and I went on to the park after we had dropped Zeph at school today. We had nothing on our to do list except make tea so thought we’d take advantage of the early sun.

We had the entire park to ourselves except for a very serious muscle man doing pull ups on the climbing frame and grunting a lot. He didn’t stay that long as Ida decided to stand at his knees and grunt back at him.

Clearly not accustomed to children he fled.

I’m quite fond of the playground at the park. Possibly because I’m comparing it with the playground we sometimes cross on the way home. The one Z calls the broken glass playground. I’m sure you can form your own inner city mental picture.

At least there’s grass and trees here although also the usual quota of disaffected yoof. Breaking all the baby swings – damn them.

Ida is really independent at the playground – way more than Z was. Although she’s quite happy for you to come along on the car trip she’d rather play on stuff by herself – woe betide the adult who tries to lend a hand so the playground experience is pretty relaxing. You can even read a paper..

I love this picture – it really captures that crazy sunny light just before the storm. For once I actually managed to time it so we were stepping back through our front door as the heavens open.

Also I’m enjoying Ida’s glee at unimpeded access to the highly coveted teenager roost area.

 Okay – I actually wrote this post a couple of days ago, and halfway through writing it was submerged under a tidal wave of ennui and had to save and GET OUT! Now the obvious thing would be to delete and start again with something a bit more gripping but where’s the authentic self in that?  Often my life seems nails-in-the-eyes tedious. I’m sure we’re all in the same boat.

Of course I’m blogging about mine. *cough*

Today was more eventful – my lovely friend Erika dropped by in the morning to find the keys in the door and the house empty. I arrived back with Ida and a load of shopping to find a gentle note in the door. We waited, abashed, in the garden for her to call back after her work appointment.

I am very white queenishly chaotic at the moment. When I’m particularly clumsy I always suspect my subconscious of trying to sabotage me.  A bit of introspection doesn’t reveal much out of the ordinary – all the usual angst present and correct. Possibly that’s the problem as I’m sick to the back teeth of them all. Gah, double gah.

Anyway my lovely angel of mercy arrived on her bike with the most amazing dress she’s crocheted for Ida – she took some beautiful photo’s in the garden for Ravelry. I’ve taken some after dinner. So you’ve got extra yoghurt, felt tipped cats whiskers and Idas careful choice of red welly boot which gives her the air of a deranged gogo dancer.


How great are those sleeves? I love it. She originally suggested I might be up to it but I’m sooooooo glad she couldn’t resist making it herself as I’m pretty sure mine wouldn’t have looked like this.

Almost as lovely as the dress are my marigolds. They are gloriously ruffled which is odd as I’m pretty sure last years weren’t.. The cornflowers coming up in the path are staunchly blue;

After that soothing flower interlude I’m ending on something else griping my soul. Does the fact a woman lives amongst extreme poverty and crime (and is this surprising as chambermaiding is some of the most poorly paid and demeaning work around?) mean she is unlikely to be raped or sexually assaulted?

I am especially charmed by the comment made by a previous colleague comparing the foolishness of this situation to ludicrous cases where sex worker women claim they have been ‘raped’ or ‘assaulted’. Impossible no?

It was rhetorical. I’m off the garden to find some BT’s as I feel deeply in need.

Buttons, bobblehats, hungry caterpillars and demonic toddlers.

Mittens, before the paint incident.

It has been one hell of a day. It started with Ida refusing to get up and dressed. When I’d forced her into her clothes I ran downstairs to make sandwiches with one hand and toast with the other while shouting at Zeph to brush his hair and put some socks on (what the hell is it with the damn socks?) He went up to find some and called for me. Arriving back in the bedroom I found Ida totally naked, standing with her hands on her hips in the middle of our bed which she had just done an enormous pee on. Defiantly I suspect.

Not a promising start to the day which has also included Ida painting the cat’s tail, a wall, her face and hair, unravelling my crochet entirely, opening the washing machine mid cycle and flooding the kitchen. How did she do this? It’s impossible. (This is what I was muttering, down on my hands and knees.)

On the way out to get Zeph I found  the front door lock broken and I couldn’t lock up. I had to leave the house open which actually I do by accident quite a lot (shhh, don’t tell Steve…) The locksmith just left – the locking bit was banjaxed. £193.00 ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY THREE POUNDS!!!

We are balanced on the edge of penury. I had to look for loose change for Zeph’s swimming money on monday. Bugger bugger bugger.

On a more cheerful note – look at these spectacular buttons;

I’m going to need another look to soothe my nerves;

Aren’t they lovely? They are all safely in my button box and it warms the cockles of my heart.

There was heaps of loveliness in the trug which I can’t wait to start wafting about in my garden with. Grow courgettes – grow.

Some chocolate bugs which got hoovered up pretty quickly by the small people, some lovely bits and bobs for beautifying cupcakes. A gorgeous fat bundle of cottony patterned goodness.


Maybe top of my favourites is this scrumptious lady. Hatz is ludicrously clever with her hands. She is the doyenne of dollshouse miniature yumminess. Look out for her Etsy shop – I’m nagging…

She used to make dolls – She gave Ida one for her birthday and I’d take a photo of it now if I could prize it out of her sleeping hands. Those teeny tiny buttons are left over from doll making.

I also managed to finish Ida’s bobble hat, (family, avert your eyes, your xmas gifts are now secured.)

Look – a knitted item that is NOT rectangular. Whoo hoo! Zeph wants a bobble hat with cat ears. Hmmm.

She looks like such a hipster in this picture. That’s pasta sauce all round her mush. 

It was from a pattern for an adult hat but I used sock yarn and only 4mm needles. Is this why it’s so small?

I want to try a baby hat next as there’s some new family arrivals expected. Do summer babies still need hats? Maybe I should try bootees?

So finally in my BT round up (self soothing at it’s best – it’s only money…) Check out this amazing fabric my Mum bought for me to make a dress for Ida;


It’s true, your eyes do not deceive you. See, how can I stay riled? Although at one point today I did wonder if I could make something for myself out of it instead. Does a demon deserve this?

Perhaps..she is my darling demon after all.

I would keep myself

I had a load of blogging stuff planned…well kind of. Great day today, good friends stuff  – an amazing surprise birthday present and a short but sweet visit from a friend I don’t see often enough.

I got sidetracked into looking at a crochet pattern I really want to make and trying to puzzle out what a “magic circle” is. More of this another time. Then I sat down with a cup of tea to untwine and marvel at each one of a treasure trove of buttons from H’s own button tin. Every one is perfect and special and has its own travelling story. The best bit of her gift is the fact she read my whining about my own tin getting a little light and chose to share some of her hoard with me. Or maybe the best bit is how she threaded them all and garlanded her basket with them. Or maybe the very best bit is the happy hour I just spent unwinding and loving each one.

I have pictures. Are you kidding? They’re buttons – of course I have pictures but they’ll be awaiting because Walk The Line is on Film4 and I’ve been distracted.

I love Johnny Cash. I don’t even care what’s cool and what’s not. I defy anyone not to watch this video and not thrill to the pain, love and life in his voice. Give me a voice cracked with sorrow, whisky, hard living and loving any day.

revelling in Ravelry

The beautiful geranium I’m considering moving. It would be great to get more plants as well. Is it okay to do that to perennials when they’re flowering?

I joined Ravelry today. My friend popped around for a cup of tea yesterday and revealed that the crochet I was quite chuffed about wasn’t what I thought. (Very kindly, she has a gift for coaching) I’ve been practising basic stitches from a book and was quite chuffed but sadly they weren’t actually doubles, half treble and trebles because I’d only been putting the hook through one loop of the chain.


I wondered why it had looked nothing like the picture.

It still looked pretty though with a line between each layer, was easily rectified and now I know double the amount of stitches. Ta da.

She wondered why I’m STILL not on ravelry what with all the tutorials and help, support and great ideas. She also reassured me AGAIN that there is no entry exam and that inspectors will not call round to check the standard of my stitches. (they’d better not…)

So – whoo hoo – I did it and whoosh, lost an afternoon. I didn’t notice that Ida had got into my seed tin and had joyfully strewn anything open around the garden. So much for my successional salad planting.

It was worth it though – I have itchy fingers to make something… just can’t quite decide what… Gah.

We went to N’s for (another tea – I didn’t drink it – I never do- I just waste their resources, let it go cold and gulp it down apologetically when they point it out) this morning and she was VERY RUDE about the yellow crochet (I hope you’re reading this lady) So I have resolved to use it to practise making an edging on and then give it to her as a wedding present. Ha double ha! (sorry now eh?)

She has the most lovely lollopy soppy dog, Orlagh, who Ida is very fond of in principle but when she surged into the front room to give us all a kiss and sit on our laps Ida retreated to the back of the sofa like an alarmed parrot. “Go way dog, I like dog, go way dog..” Nik points out the size difference – we’d probably feel a bit wary of a pony gambolling around in our space and trying to sit on us.

Best BT today is the amazing roast dinner (a gazillion Yorkshire’s) with Mum and Dad, we are all foot hoppingly excited about the circus on Saturday. Mum has brought a load of socks for Ida which are sorely needed and Dad arrives with a bag of food stuffs. Also sadly needed. I tell Mum how much we appreciate it and she recalls the food parcels her mum, my granny used to arrive with for us as kids. We talk a bit about memories and she says how connected it makes her feel to her mum to do the things for me that she appreciated from her (granny) Phew – did you follow that? sorry! It’s probably why the stuff she brings is always so spot on. As I write now I’m reflecting about how it’s important to receive gifts gracefully and with your heart open. That sometimes that’s as important as giving. Because they are a manifestation of love – and always saying, “no, no, no, you mustn’t..”  is like turning the love aside.

Also, after they’ve gone, I find my Mum has hidden ten pounds in the fridge.

I love her.

I end with a picture of Ida ‘helping’ with the crochet.


We are family

Frankly the less said about that sleepover the better.

That’s not completely true but I am still smarting so will allow a decent interval to lick my metaphorical wounds.

What’s in my mind right now is how much I like my sister. I mean I really love her – but I like her a lot as well. I’m pretty sure we’d hang out without the blood connection, I think she’s a sistah in all senses of the word.

I’m not an anonymous blogger, it was a conscious choice on my part to be as open as possible, so much else of me is out there, floating around in the public domain. I’ve probably blogged about stuff I wouldn’t necessarily sit down to talk to my family about, I’m not afraid they’ll read it but I also don’t go out of my way to tell them this stuff is here. 

I love that I’ve seen her grow into herself. I don’t think I know a more resourceful woman. We are an unstoppable, flexible, lateral thinking, roll with the punches, improvising, making the best of it, having a great time superteam.

She’s an amazing aunt – bringing the full focus of her attention on to my kids, making them feel special. I already doubt I’m going to be able to live up to this one in return.

No one makes me giggle like her in the night when we’re sharing a bed and supposed to be going to sleep – when we were kids and just the same only yesterday.

That we’re fine to disagree – essentially we’re different – we have quite a different take on faith, organisational skills – different strengths and weaknesses. We can respect those though, and appreciate them. It’s fine to vent, snap and be cross because basically we love each other and it can stand a little anger.

We have a fine family tradition of strong matriarchal leaders. Spiders in the centre of their homely webs tugging on lines and spinning stratagems. We’re pretty immune to any well-meaning or accidental meddling. My first instant thought is that the whisper has been chinese. She didn’t say that, I’ll check with her. We’ve got each others back.

My sister makes the choices she thinks are right. Even when they’re hard or wearisome. She always tries to see the best side. She thinks before she speaks. Most people who know us both think she’s the older sister and always have. She never rubs my face in it.

I think I give her things too. I hope I show her she can let go a bit. I hope I show her how capable she is, what potential she has. When things are sad there’s no one we want more than each other.  I hope I’m an example that most things heal.

When it looked like Z would be an only child my biggest ache was not being able to give him this kind of support network. Someone who remembers your childhood, each scrape and bruise. The triumphs, the misery and boredom – the crazy parents. The bad clothes, the bargains and battles – all the tricks and lies and borrowing. The chair in the garden whose arms were your pretend ponies and the terrible hippie lunch boxes no-one else at school wanted to share. Mung bean sprouts anyone? Not a fair swap for monster munch.


We had the most idyllic day yesterday at Slimbridge – it’s somewhere I’ve yearned to take them but without a car it is nigh on impossible to get to. I think the number 12 bus diverts that way every second Sunday but you’d only get about twenty minutes there before having to catch the last bus home. Since it’s quite costly to get in you see my hesitation I’m sure.

It was ludicrously summery, apply sun-cream every half hour, I’m not prepared or dressed properly for this gorgeousness. I haven’t been here since I was in junior school and a member of the YOC (Young Ornithologist Club) and Ms Bryan used to bring us here to sit in a cold wet shed and look at ducks. It was just lakes and a couple of shacks then so I was really impressed with their lovely visitor centre and the imaginative  children’s play areas including a great water splash place.

To be honest – we didn’t look at that many birds. (when we got home Steve was disapproving)  It was so hot and it had been ages since we’d seen each other and it was luxuriously lovely to stretch out like lizards and talk while the kids climbed trees, played in the sand, attempted to herd ducks and scrambled around on a variety of brilliant play structures.

Once we’d finished the coffee and picnic we did manage to stumble past some exotic looking birds to the water play place where we spent the rest of the day doing the same while the kids got wet in the sunshine.

Is there anything better?

This is Ida perturbed by the goose who took a fancy to her tuna roll. “Go ‘way! Go ‘way!”


Was blissful to just let the children roam about a bit. Zeph in particular blossoms with a free rein. On the whole I’d probably always choose urban living but seeing his joy at heading off into a green unknown makes me yearn a little for a back garden with a gate out to fields and woods and brooks. Actually we have a brook opposite our front door but I suppose I’m thinking of one full of frogs and sticklebacks as opposed to shopping trolleys, condoms and used needles… I know, just call me picky.

I’ve got some other unbearably cute photo’s of the kids playing together and my friends unbelievably cutchy baby girl but am resisting as I know others may not have my laissez faire approach to public display. Suffice to say they played together like angels, Sophie is a month older than Ida and at two yrs they do a lot of tandem play but after a day together they were hand in hand and thick as thieves at the end. Maddy is maybe one or two years younger than Zeph but they match each other brilliantly in playing together – she can out gross him any day – today he’s been listing her friends brilliant gross out abilities – apparently she know’s someone who can make their eyes pop out…

 and she likes Bieber.

Ah the old Time To Go Home face….

It was the kind of day that abounds with BT’s and falling in to bed last night I realised how genuinely light and happy I felt. A day with old friends that gave my heart a real workout.

Eating out

The house is full of the soapy scent of white lilies. The roses from my mother’s day bunch are long gone but the lilies are gloriously open and wafting their distinct fairy liquid odour everywhere.

Steve and the kids took me out to lunch for my birthday today. There was much giggling and teasing as we set off in the morning sun. Hints of an all we could eat breakfast at Asda were followed by a protracted tease about a Cheltenham Happy Meal while we sat upstairs at the front of the bus, peering into gardens happily. After a bit of joyful shop mooching we arrived at my favourite Turkish restaurant, Grille Restaurant on Winchcombe Street.

 I love this place – I have only ever had delicious food – there are loads of amazing lamb dishes – its beautiful – the people are really friendly and laid back, we’ve eaten here when it’s been absolutely packed and when we’ve been the only people eating, the service is always friendly and the kids are always welcomed. I’ve sat and breastfed through a meal here lots of times and the last time I did it was packed and the waiter still found time to thoughtfully place a tall glass of water by my hand. “thirsty work” he said with a cheerful smile. In the winter they light a fire in here;

but today it was decked out in colourful easter finery;

We had a long leisurely lunch, the kids were impeccably behaved and ridiculously indulged by the lovely staff. We lingered over coffees, Steves favourite vice;


and emerged, blinking, into the startling sunshine. I love eating out with the kids. We can’t afford to do it loads, frankly that’s a good job, we’re lucky this place isn’t just down the road from us because we’d be here every night and completely bankrupt. Everyone’s up for trying new food, which is also one of the things I like most about Steve, particularly when I know he grew up in a home where the onion is outlawed and veg can only be cooked in a pressure cooker… 

Back home I was presented with my fabulous, thoughtful presents, two books of poetry I really wanted, this AMAZING cakestand, thanks to  a bit of jiggery-pokery between Steve and N, her mysterious “popping in” is explained – I had hoped but….

Eclairs anyone? Zeph extracts a promise to try making choux pastry in the holiday. The present they were really waiting for was;

“Share?…”  Ida insisted on giving the pusscat a kiss before it’s head was struck off. Her tenderheartedness didn’t stop her tucking into an ear with relish. I love all my beautiful things. Tomorrow doesn’t seem so bad.