Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Lambeth Country Show

Where else can you get racing camels, jousting contests, face painting, some heavy dub and jerk chicken, with a strong waft of the herb throughout?

Lambeth Country Show of course. A melting pot of fun, cultures, family, music and Red Stripe. The irony is that we travel from the countryside each year to hang out in Brockwell Park's answer to a country show. There is a nod to British farming, a few animals to pet who have come from the local city farms, a flower show, plenty of exorbitantly priced fairground rides as well as some extremely patient donkeys who walk around in circles for hours, allowing city kids to try the thrill of riding. The vibe is more like a festival with stalls selling foods from around the world, but mainly the Caribbean. Families bring picnics, teenagers sneak vodka into coke bottles, toddlers clutch helium balloons and Jamaican patties.

It's up there as one of the best days out of the year.

Oh, and did I tell you it is free?

Monday, 22 July 2013

Royal baby

Can you imagine the intense pressure that Kate and William are under?

I'm not a royalist by any means but have been thinking about Kate all day today, since I heard on the news this morning that she had gone in to labour.

I wonder how it started. Did she spend the night wondering if this was it? Did she get William to time her contractions and run her a bath? Did she stay at home as long as she could to give her body a chance to flood with oxytocin, which will help her labour? I hope she was calm and remembering to relax her jaw, drop her shoulders, to visualise each contraction and imagine her baby working his or her way out into the world. I hope she managed to put the world press out of her mind, the millions awaiting her news. I hope she feels safe with those around her and that William is offering her words of encouragement. I hope she's not scared.

I hope for a few moments, even hours, there is only the three of them. I hope that they spend time skin to skin, staring in awe at their beautiful baby - just Mum, Dad and newborn, before the world knows.

For all the mamas out there labouring on this very hot Monday, gain strength from all the women who have birthed before you.

Friday, 19 July 2013

You can rely on Bob

The sun is shining for what feels like the 15th day in a row. The children break up school on Tuesday - I aim to drive them straight to the beach for a swim, singing (shouting) "Schooooooooooooools, out for the Summer!". Then eat fish n chips. And go to bed late. Dirty.

With a stonking weekend of festivals and Pirate Day ahead, Bob is there all the way. Everything feels right with the world, with Bob.

Have a brilliant Friday - and a better weekend.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Sports day

We've carb loaded this morning, stretch and warmed up muscles in the bath, gone for a gentle walk and hoped that the year long training will pay off this afternoon.

It's school sports day.

Just WHO is going to win the Mothers Race this year?

(Remember this?)

Monday, 15 July 2013

Happy Birthday little P

Happy, happy birthday darling girl, so very nearly as big as you want to be. Five years ago to the minute, I was swaying on a birth ball, looking out over the fields from our house - not having the ability to tell him to turn off the bloody ambient music, which was driving me insane. You took your time coming but you were most pleased with the world once you were here.

P you are the funniest little girl, cheeky, strong-willed and always in a hurry to be bigger. A little actress, a speedy runner with a fiercely competitive nature - when you want to. P, you will never conform, which I am secretly proud about. You can be kind and generous when you want to be but are the most affectionate child, always up for a cuddle and a kiss. I love it when I wake up in the morning and you have snuck in between me and daddy.

And of all the thoughtful and lovely gifts you have received this morning, your sisters card was by far the best, bringing a genuine lump to my throat. I had no idea she had made one for you.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Nearly there...

We are thankfully nearing the end of term. P is out of control, grouchy, cross and so sick of reading that she is desperate for the six week break. She doesn't know she is desperate for the summer holidays, I can see it. She has yet to reach 5 years old.  I feel we need to reconnect, P and I, we have lost our way with each other. I have been battered by the system to conform, forcing her to read, do her homework and we even had an argument about socks this morning - she insisting that odd socks were OK, me getting wound up that they had to be the same. We all need some time to get grounded and rediscover what really matters. And of course odd socks doesn't matter one jot.

If we had reduced holidays for children I really think we are going to see some stressed, burnt out kids before they even start secondary school. They need this break so badly, the relative freedom from sitting on the carpet in a certain way, dressing like clones and repeating rote fashion their numbers or the days of the week.

Roll on the summer holidays, only 2 weeks to go, when we can paint our nails orange and wear sticker tattoos. Let's go to bed when it gets dark, have camp fires, eat sweets for breakfast, have long walks and big lie ins. Let's get to know each other again A and P.

I can't bloody wait.

Monday, 8 July 2013


The sun was blazing, it was only about nine in the morning but already the oppressive heat of the savannah was making my temples throb. A fine trickle of salty sweat passed my ear and down my cheek. The velvet on my crash helmet feeling very out of place. My skin prickled and my eyes squinted, for now we were on the plains where there was no shade from the thorn trees or baobabs. I was thirsty so reached into the saddle bag to find a cool drink. My eyes seemed to burn but the horses necks yet to break into a sweat, for they were used to this.

"We make long canter? Look out for jackal holes!" said the guide.

And we were off, allowing the horses to pick their way, watching herds of zebra and impala scatter as we approached. Four horses thundered in unison over the hard ground heading for the distance, there seemed to be no end. My legs were screaming, the muscles working hard to keep me balanced and forward out of the saddle, to help my horse. He was called Zulu. The froth began to appear on his neck and waft that intoxicating smell so addictive to horse-lovers. Maasai walked hundreds of head of cattle in the distance, always on the move to find better grazing. I grinned, E grinned, this was good, this was very good. I wanted to remember this forever.

Just as I thought my legs could not carry on, there in the distance was a table with a white linen cloth, being laid under the cool of an acacia tree. We slowed our horses to a walk, allowing them to stretch their necks and reach down. Was this really for us? A table of breakfast overlooking the plains of Africa. Tears rolled down and mixed with the sweat on my cheeks.

"Karibu!" the waiters called to us, someone took our horses. We were relieved to rid ourselves of the necessary hats, our hair stuck attractively to our skulls, soaked.

"Wash your hands here and take a seat!" said the waiter in a soothing African lilt.

"Asante!" I replied in my limited Swahili. And sat down to the best breakfast of my life.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Camping 2013

I moaned when I saw the weather forecast this weekend; rain on Friday, dull on Saturday and the promise of a peek at the sun on Sunday. I had expected it this way because we were camping. Memories came metaphorically flooding back - of soggy tents, mouldy socks, damp sleeping bags and the ever present worry our tent was not going to hold this storm out.

It happened to be a fabulous weekend, of sunshine, meadows, marshmallows on sticks, flying kites and playing frisbee, walks to country pubs to sample the ciders and ales, bbq'd meat never tasted so fine - and nobody even put their socks on at night. It was a warm June weekend with even a few red shoulders and peeling noses. It was a heavenly bucolic weekend that childhood memories and those camping book photo shoots are made of. This years camping has healed the raw wounds of 2012 camping.

Tent with a view

Walk to the pub

Through the corn

Toasted Tunnocks Teacakes

Grass filtered coffee

We are planning on going again, and soon, and extending our camping kit - part of the fun of camp sites is kit envy. So Summer 2013, you had better keep this performance up as we have all decided we like this under-canvas-camp-fire malarkey.