Friday, 31 January 2014

Dry January

It's quite ironic that my dry January has been pretty goddamn wet, soaking in fact. No alcohol for 31 days is in fact a lie as I fell off the wagon last weekend for father-in-laws birthday and a little soiree with him the night before. I don't feel bad that I'd cheated, 29 days of not drinking is immense in my world.

Do I feel better for it?

I have to say the first 2 weeks were difficult, the weekends a bore and my head so stuffed with sinus pain that I didn't notice the benefits of no red wine. The habit of having a glass of wine while cooking dinner and discussing our days was annoying to break because I like doing that - I felt cross with dry January for a while. But this week has been good, I have genuinely forgotten wine-o-clock and have slept deeply and soundly which has only been punctuated with vivid dreams and the cat being sick.

I am looking forward to tonight, steak and red wine and chats about the week. Dare say my head will be slightly hurty tomorrow and my sleep fitful. I am hoping dry January has killed the regularity of the wine in my life, saving it only for the weekends. That a good day doesn't need to be celebrated with booze neither a bad day commiserated.

So cheers all, I swore I wouldn't, but see you in dry January next year!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Behind the shed

Occasionally there is a break in the weather, a day of no rain when it is possible to venture outside. I have one child who would prefer never to see the outside, addicted to pressing buttons and staring at a screen if I let her. The other, A, who's world of make-believe is complicated and intricate, simply extends into the outside room when the weather is nice. But they have both discovered a den, an outside hidey-hole which has them amused for hours. Not metaphorically, literally hours.

"Muuuuuuum, can we go behind the shed?" pleaded A as I collected her from school, her cheeks slightly red from the stuffy classroom and the gaps in her teeth prominent as she smiles.

It's drizzly, cold and nearly dark.

They throw their bags down, race upstairs, change into jeans and fleeces, pull on their wellies, grab a hobnob and run up to the shed and are gone until I call them back down. They are wet, dirty and flushed with the outdoors when they return.

"What do you do up behind the shed?" I query as I undress them trying to avoid mud on the newly hoovered floor.

"There are sticks, and some holes and sometimes we have to hide from people and we made a cake and put it in the oven....and we EVEN found an orange juice carton!"

In a world of computers, gender specific toys, inappropriately dressed dolls and heinously expensive boxes of plastic crap, they seem more alive when they have amused themselves behind the shed. Wow, that makes my heart sing. Metaphorically, not literally of course.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Look at my do!

When P was very little, even more little than she is today, she used to say some delightful things which I cleverly wrote down in her baby book - so I may look back in years to come and smile fondly. My favourite was when she was very proud of her efforts, maybe a splashy painting or climbing dangerously high on the climbing frame she would shout:

"Look at my do!" - which is exactly how I felt when someone took a video of me jumping Fletch.

Look at my do! That's me on that great big ginger horse, I can hardly believe it and wanted to show the world.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Party bags

Party bags are a bit like Christmas crackers. Everyone loathes them but no one can quite leave them out of the celebrations. It's what you do. Children loiter at the end of parties waiting for their bag of gifts, a bunch of plastic toys, some bubbles, packets of sweets and a piece of birthday cake. Parents wonder what can go straight in the bin, the kids want to get the bubbles out in the car on the way home and leave half masticated Haribo's all over the back seat. Well no more party bags in this house.

It is darling A's 8th birthday in a couple of weeks. Eight years, please slow down life it really is going too fast. She would like to go bowling with her friends, have an elephant cake and eat party food. But what about the party bags? An elephant key ring? An elephant notebook? An elephant pencil and rubber combo? An elephant?

So that's what I have done, bought them all a foster elephant for the year. 12 little girls are now the foster family of Tundani, a rescue elephant in Kenya.

They will receive updates on his well being and how he is being re-introduced to the wild. They will feel ownership and hopefully pride that they are responsible for helping him as well as becoming aware of the plight of eles in East Africa. All round win situation I reckon.

Thursday, 16 January 2014


I never thought I would visit India again after last time. I left the country puking into the sick bags on the aeroplane, having lost large amounts of weight and failed to gain any sense of peace, or calm, or karma or whatever the reason is that you go to India. Maybe that's the trouble, perhaps you shouldn't seek yourself in India, you are very unlikely to find what you're looking for - there's too much shit in the way, an overload of all the senses and crowds like you've never experienced before, or since. Phew, India was tough. Interesting but tough. It's not one of the places I look back with fondness, although parts of the journey were incredible - I seem to only remember the pollution, the rubbish, the poverty, the beggars, the animals, the crowds, the hoards - oh, the amount of people!

We spent nearly three months in India, Mum and I. Some time out together, some adventuring in my late twenties. Mum had wanted to show me the Himalayas in Nepal but we ended up in Delhi instead, some distance from the pure mountain air and stillness I had imagined. No, Delhi was full of rickshaws both motorised and those pulled by human strength, the continuous noise of beeping horns, pollution thick, choking and heavy. I was relieved to leave for the hill stations of the north, to the summer homes of the British during the Raj, to head further into the Himalayas and even reaching a height of nearly 4000m at the Rhotang pass. The air was thin and unavailable and prayer flags whipped wildly in the cold, harsh winds. The mountains looked pointy, just as a child would draw, with perfect snow-capped peaks.

We visited the Dalai Lama but he wasn't there, we ate momo's instead of masala dosa's, we spun prayer wheels and painted stones at a hippy cafe, with other hippies. We soaked in the hot springs of a Sikh gurdwara, read books by candle light when there was no 'electric-city' - remember that, mum?

There were temples, camel treks and festivals. There were ghats, snake charmers and yoga. There were thali's, curd and dhals. And horses with slippered ears. There were starving dogs, pink palaces, blue houses and elephants who walked the city streets painted with intricate detail. But mostly I remember it was busy.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Do something

It's been a funny old start to the year. I read somewhere recently that the start of the year should be in Spring, which would make a whole lot more sense. I am always waiting to start the year in January, planning things for the warmer months - as if January and February don't really count at all, a time to just be endured.

Hang on though. I can't be having the days just slip away because I don't like the time of year, I need to get out there and do something. Do something besides working, the children, the housewifery and the routine.

This weeks Saturday Guardian was being read on the Sunday, a particularly beautiful frosty morning where the sun streamed through our windows, blinding us temporarily and making us squint. Pan au chocolat crumbs all over the bed, a second mug of Kenya's finest coffee and the cats joining in the lazing - they can show us a thing or two about lying in. The Sunday morning lie in is restorative, needed, messy - making you feel indulgent when it's all over. Flicking through the family section, then the travel, then the magazine and finally the main bit (in that order) - a new magazine popped up - it was called 'Do something'.

Reading the introduction was like summing up what I have been feeling in these last few months. Dissatisfaction with the routine, the hum drum, the feeling that life was going really really fast and I wasn't making the most of the time. Weeks slip into months, slip into another year and shit, I will be 80. How can I slow it all down? The answer is to do new things, have new experiences - whether they are good or bad. And it's easy to think that you are going to do something new, but you need to tell people you are going to do it - then it's more likely to happen. So, here goes, this is what I am going to do this year:

  • Start a creative writing course in September
  • Compete in a Novice Dressage test - aiming to achieve over 60% 
  • Compete in a Show Jumping competition 
  • Learn to surf for our 10th wedding anniversary in September
  • Go to India in April
  • Learn to crochet with A
  • Learn a piece of music on the keyboard
  • Design an additional career

The way to live as vividly and as memorably as an adult is to keep the incoming data-stream full, by doing new things

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The first week of January

The seventh of January already, well into the New Year and only a few pine needles remain in the house reminding me of the recent festive season. The corner where the Christmas tree stood is comfortably bare, I was glad to see it finally disappear, feeling only a little sad that it took eight years to grow for two weeks of celebration. 

We had a little hint of sunshine in amidst all the flooding. Time to ride ponies and run to the sea. Emergency fun in between imprisonment indoors.

The rain, the storms, the floods and back to school have made this an uneventful sort of week. I bought some shoes in the sales, and a shirt which he doesn't like, the kids can't remember what they had for Christmas, the fish has some new weeds in his tank - and I haven't had an alcoholic drink for 7 days - first time since I was pregnant.