Thursday, 28 November 2013

Just a cold

I'm sorry for the break, I have been ill you see, just a cold. I feel I have to apologise for my lack of illness, it really wasn't the flu or a dramatic sick bug. Just a cold. But boy, did I feel ill. I really don't want to feel like that again for a very long time.

I felt as though I couldn't complain - being a stoical woman and all - with my head pounding, my sinuses bellowing and my nasal passages streaming, it's just a cold after all. No one has any sympathy with the cold, the poor men having 'man-flu' hurled at them if they even mutter a whine about their snottiness.

I am so very grateful that this cold is almost over, leaving me with an attractive crustiness around my nose and upper lip, with grey and sallow skin to start the winter and with a feeling I haven't achieved very much in the last week. I can't wait to start afresh, cold-free, with goals still to achieve before the year is out.

One thing is for certain, ill health makes you very appreciative of well-being - and how very important it is to make every moment of that wellness count.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Home school

It's that time of year, my sinuses are screaming as I type. What are sinuses anyway? Do we need them? I'd like mine to take a hike.

The children had filthy colds this week, well A was genuinely ill and P just needed a day off, persuading me by snorting through her nose so violently as if to validate her skive. I didn't leave the house all day, not even to put out some rubbish, we cosied up together and pretended we home-schooled.

We started the day late, all eating a good breakfast together. We read, A read her book upstairs and I helped P with her reading book in front of the fire - we took time to talk about the story, we took time to answer the questions in the back of the book, we discussed her favourite parts of the book. We took time and it was nice.

Next the girls researched on the computer, A looked up and wrote a paragraph about the Tudors and P looked up the toys in the 'olden days' ie the 1970's. They drew pictures, learnt how to print, used Google like a pro and helped each other when they got stuck.

We had some lunch, all together, and they finished what was on their plates as they had time to do so - unlike the amount of waste that comes home in their sandwich boxes when they are rushed to eat in school. We talked about what was on the news, the horrors that the people of the Philippines are experiencing, some politics and some sporting news which I struggled to explain.

We played catch with juggling balls after lunch - that was our PE, then they had some free time while I caught up with some emails and did the washing up. We played pelmanism, P thrashed us in the first game and sulked when she lost the second. We made some flapjacks, each taking it in turn to weigh and measure, and then they helped me with the dinner. School didn't finish that day, we carried on until bed time.

('Scuse the union jack napkins - a hangover from the jubilee!)

I liked it, home schooling for one day. Could I do it forever? I don't think so. The kids fought all the time, they bicker, they argue, they day dream, they don't listen, I have little patience, I want to ride, I need to work and they missed their friends. But for one day, home schooling was just fine.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Chance meeting

The journey back was blissful. The warm air on the coach and the smooth ride of the asphalt road had me dozing in a few minutes, my thoroughly relaxed body then slipped into a deep sleep as the grey, volcanic rock passed us by.

Iceland had proved to be a spectacular mix of curious and stunning, an unusual choice for us - usually preferring warmer climes and more exotic, spicier locations. We enjoyed the intimacy of Reykjavik. The bars and coffee shops were full of perfectly bilingual young people, wearing the heavy jumpers of their ancestors - thick, waterproof wool with diamond shaped patterns around the collar. You could almost smell the sheep as they walked past. We sipped ‘Gull’ beer, hung out because we could, ate strange and unacceptable foods. It was fun being wrapped up in coats in September, different.

With only four days of freedom we chanced the Blue Lagoon alongside the hoards of tourists alighting the coaches, most were Japanese, a few Brits and some Scandinavians. We queued with our stashed hotel towels in our rucksacks, as if we were backpackers, waiting for the wristbands with which we could order massages, coffee or beautifully packaged bottles of shampoo. We went our separate ways at the changing rooms to meet again shivering in our swimwear at the edge of the lagoon, three degrees outside and thirty-eight degrees in the water. The feeling was sensational, you could only but glide in gracefully and then bob around in the milky waters. A heavy mist hung over the pale blue liquid which hid mystical properties; to heal, to mend and to rid us of our wrinkles. We floated, walked slowly from one nook to another cranny, drank a beer and plastered white silica paste all over our faces, allowing it to dry and crack when we smiled. Three hours passed in this way.

My hair felt like straw from the minerals in the lagoon when I woke up at Reykjavik bus station. It was stiff, tangled and almost sticky even after three washings with conditioner. I felt dozy and sleepy as we stumbled off the bus to wait for a transfer to our hotel, waiting in the grey that is Iceland and the biting cold of the day.

A couple came striding towards us. The bearded man was looking at him, he was looking at the bearded man.

"Oh my god - it's the guy from accounts!" he said.

The bearded man walked up to my husband and shook him by the hand, he could have belonged to Iceland with his looks and outerwear. They chatted, my husband and him, laughing at the absurdity of meeting someone you know at Reykjavik bus station at five in the afternoon. We swapped tales of where we had been, how long we were here for, how we liked it and waved goodbye as our bus turned up.

"We should have arranged to meet up for a drink," I said.

"Didn't think of it," he replied, completely spun out.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Money money money

The realisation hit P when we were travelling back from Brighton. It started off as a whine, a low moan and soon developed into huge, full-blown sobs with salty, wet tears streaking her little doll face.

"I don't want to give you my pounds!" she screamed "Ooooohhhhh, I've only got two pounds and I don't want to give them to you!" she wailed.

"I don't mind," said the generous A "I will give you my money, I can give you P's too if you like?"

They had both wanted a little trinket from the delectable North Laine shops, shops so full of things you would like but rarely need. I don't give them pocket money, but the children seemed to have accumulated a few quid from teeth falling out, the odd 20p interest when I raid their piggy banks for school dinner money and from coins they have found around the house. A has saved up over ten of these elusive pounds (mind you, she has a gappy mouth right now) and P has two gold ones and a bit of shrapnel which includes a euro and a Kenyan shilling.

They wanted their gifts so badly, A a little elephant notebook and P a stuffed house with a tape measure inside, but it was neither a birthday or Christmas and I believe Father Christmas has sorted their stocking already.

"OK, girls you can have them but you need to pay me for them, OK?"

They agreed readily, very pleased with their loot. Except now, P was not pleased at all.

The crying lasted all the way home and reached new levels as we entered the house, A skipping upstairs immediately to give me her money.

"But I..I..I..don't want to give you my pounds, I only have two of them, ooooohhhh it's not fair..." and so it continued. She knew I wasn't going to give in - it was the stuffed house or the two quid little lady.

She did it eventually, it pained her, it cut deep, but she spent her money and has not put the stuffed house down since.

It's called Kerry and I believe will be with her forever. "How can I get two more pounds?" she asked over her Cheerios this morning.

"Ahhh, you'll have to work for it unless your teeth fall out!" I replied.

She took this information very seriously and in between mouthfuls of cereal wobbled those teeth so hard it looks like her money box will have been recuperated by the weekend.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

When I grow up

When I grow up I would like to be a writer and drink coffee by the cafetierre. I would smoke if it was fashionable, cross my legs and ponder. I would look out of my window which would perhaps be in Tuscany, or Seville, or somewhere remote sounding like the Peak District. I would have a dog who rests at my feet and a couple of cats, we would walk to the local shop to buy bread and I might even go to the pub in the day. I see myself spinning yarns with the locals, seeing stories in the trees, imagining complicated novels while eating olives, to then return to write some fabulous prose. Yes, when I grow up I would like to be a writer.

"But you're already grown up!" whined P when I told her of my aspirations. "Shush...." whispered A  "Mummy doesn't like being told she is old!"

I'm not old A, I'm just ready for my next goal. Or career.

Paper round
Dish washing
Shop assistant
Early years worker
Play scheme play worker
Picture framer
Bar maid
Groom - riding schools, show jumping year, dealing yard, private yards, private schools..
Equine laboratory assistant
Organic gardener
Cold caller
Farm shop and cafe assistant
Project coordinator on a city farm
Community gardener
Antenatal teacher

Because after this crazy C.V it's time for a change.

Monday, 4 November 2013


It has been grey for a couple of weeks now, but this morning has hit a new level of grey-ness. The rain has flooded the fields, the fox has been at our bins creating unnecessary work at seven o'clock this morning, the grey cat pissed outside its litter tray (again) and the kids are getting dressed into their winter grey uniforms - which they will emerge from once again in the summer.

Tell me what is good about this time of year. My heart feels grey and heavy knowing that this weather is here until May. Some call me a dreamer, always plotting ways out of this heaviness, but if you have to live seven months of the year in grey it is no surprise really.