Monday, 31 December 2012

A road less travelled ... or when to take the muddy path

Hah! Sometimes poets know best.

... take Robert Frost for example and his poem "The Road Not Taken". Had I heeded his advice; had I heeded the advice knowingly tutt-tutting inside my head; had I stopped for a moment to acknowledge the glee on Four-legged-friend's face when he realised I was about to allow him the muddiest bath of his life ...

well! ...

... here's the sorry tale and a muddy tail for good measure -

"Two roads diverged in a wood
... long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth"

The road ahead was shorter. The road behind had two dog walkers, a pair of Labradors (one being an extremely cantankerous old lady, whom we normally avoid at all costs, sometimes with considerable elongation of our walk) and two black bears (Newfoundlands actually, swimming in the stream I had wanted to give Four-legged-friend a dip in, before I worried about him being swept away by the recent-rain-swollen torrent of water, or eaten by over-friendly bears).

So I didn't take "the road less travelled by" - the one with grass and leaves on it. And no puddles. And entirely devoid of mud.

No, I ignored the wisdom of the poet and took the slippery, sludgy, sticky up your wellies and, if canine, between your toes, much travelled path. And as the last line of the poem states "that made all the difference".

Hmmm! Why did we get a puppy in show-up-all-the-dirt-colour?

Why, when I thought of the poem, did I not take the road less travelled?

Had I listened to Robert Frost, I would not now have two dogs and a pair of wellies to clean.

P.S. Before I am ridiculed for my over literal interpretation of a poem that has hidden depth (a bit like those puddles, really) maybe my choice of path was determined more by a desire for the familiar: taking the muddy, much travelled path was safe - the route I had trodden many times before. I could predict the time it would take to get home (significant because I had guests coming to tea); I knew where I was going; even with the need for ablution at its end, it was the secure, unadventurous (who would willingly walk in the footsteps of bears?) and predictable road. Do I opt for the easy path in life? I think we all do. When it matters, we need the security of what lies at the end of our road. But perhaps with a new year lying just over the next hill, I should resolve to "make the difference" and "take the road less travelled by" and then like Frost, "Somewhere ages and ages hence," I will be able to look back "with a sigh"and judge if, in life, as in dog-walks, I made the right choices.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Of ranting, love and jingle bells

Rant alert sirens can be turned off. I did enough ranting yesterday, thoroughly ranted out ... until the next time.

If you want to see what got under my skin, have a look at this

or read the papers. Got to change the subject quick or I'll be off again.

I've said it before, but - you've guessed it - I'm going to say it again, the best three words in the English language are "I love you, Mummy." For daddies, insert Daddy. Oops! I never was good at maths, or even basic counting ... four words! These are the best four words, probably in any language. In my house, they are usually followed by several minutes of "I love you more" and "No, I love you more" and "You can't know how much I love you anyway, but it's definitely more than you love me" and "I love you infinity much" and "I love you infinity-much-times-a-hundred" and "Which is still infinity, so we love each other the same" - by which time Littlest is either so tired that she gives up ... or continues for another ten minutes, conjuring up bigger and bigger ways of loving. If you haven't read Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney then you should, and if you have, you'll understand why the moon usually ends up embroiled in this argument over who loves who the most. And also why ... sorry, I know there's a lot to keep up with here ... if you've read my Jottify entry/rant above, you'll understand that this Christmas if I see the moon, I'll be thinking of those poor parents in America, and cuddling my Littlest very tight.

Littlest accompanied her sister, father and friends at a local carol concert, on Sunday evening - they were the instrumental entertainment between carols. Littlest played the jingle bells.

I wondered if inside her head she was singing the words she composed recently:

Jingle bells
My dog smells
Run and get the soap
He might try to run away
So tie him up with rope


Jingle bells
My dog smells
We must get the hose
Spray his coat and don't forget
The mud between his toes

Afterwards, when the frozen expression of terror slipped from her face, and she smiled, she was allowed to play with an accordion.

Guess what she now wants for Christmas?

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Rejecting the rejection ... and why Littlest isn't an atheist


Being rejected is never easy. But  J K Rowling was allegedly rejected eighteen times before Christopher Little took her on, so my current tally of seven means I have a way to go yet. Ho hum. Can I bear another three months of daily stealing myself to open my otherwise sleepy email account - the one reserved for secret ordering of gifts;  receipt of work related journals and newspaper subscriptions that would otherwise clog up the home account and make the recipient of secret gifts less than happy; registration of my facebook, twitter, blogger and jottify accounts; oh! and agent submissions, of course? Following this stealing activity and relief at lack of a reply, there's the bit where I kid myself - maybe I haven't heard because they're reading it; maybe they like it and are waiting 'til the evening or weekend to phone; maybe someone will finally give me licence to spend all day, every day being a writer ... I tend at this point to drift off into fantasy. Until that is my bubble pops - I get rejected again, and I remind myself that I am probably more likely to win something significant in the lottery than actually get a book published. Where's that lottery ticket ...

Anyway, back in my real world - the one where I get nothing if I don't try - I will submit again. I like my stories-not-yet-books. Another agent, another chance ... another fantasy.

As for Littlest and her nugget of the day

... she isn't an atheist

... because she does believe

... in fairies!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


"I was born to believe in magic."

Thus pronounced Littlest from the back seat of the car.

"After all, I have to, because I've seen a fairy."

She asked if I believe in magic and in a rather oblique way (not wanting to hurt the feelings of the child, off school, sporting a fever, who was distraught to discover that I don't believe her teddies have sensitive feelings too) I replied that there are some things that happen that I don't understand and that if she wants to call that lack of understanding magic then that's fine.

She quickly put me in my place, "Just because you haven't seen something doesn't mean it's not real. Look at God - well you can't obviously look at him - because no-one's seen him. Well he's real. And he's magic of course. Just like Father Christmas!"

Of hopeful time wasting, present lists and planting trees

Written on Saturday 8th December:

"But that would be a waste of my time," I replied to Littlest's request to spend time browsing in shops this morning.

I then listed all the chores I planned to do, when we got home.

She paused, thinking, then asked, "If you did have any time to waste how long would it be?"

And persevered, "Surely you have some time you could waste. I just want to know how long. We could waste time together."

Her idea of wasting time was to browse and add to her Christmas list: the list that she had taken shopping with her ... on a clipboard!

The chores I had to complete on getting home mainly involved the planting of trees. Or to be more precise, the final planting of the final tree in our fruit-pie/apple-crumble-generating orchard - the one that will feed fruity puddings to our grandchildren. This task has not been easy to finish -

It got off to a good start. Garden centre visited, trees selected, paid for (those puddings had better sustain us for years) and holes dug in preparation for their delivery. Then the problems started -

  • England was besmitten by an autumn monsoon and became saturated. The holes dug to receive trees became ponds - small round ponds for pond-dipping: dipping of paws; noses; more paws; tail; all paws; then total ... body ... immersion. Thus was created a muddy, grey-with-blond-highlights friend.
  • ponds later froze and blond friend decided he rather liked ice
  • Littlest liked it too ... until her fingers froze

  • tree plus de-iced pond-now-planting-hole plus compost/soil mixture then hit a snag. Pile of soil was frozen. and excavating it took much, much, longer than planned ... and the light ran out
  • several days passed with ground first solid, then covered in snow, then soggy
  • hence, lack of time, as explained to Littlest.And most definitely no time to waste, even if the time lost is in fact hopeful wasting; wasting with a goal in sight, that goal being loads of presents. Before Littlest sounds grabbing and unpleasant, the intended time wasting was definitely hopeful: the only element of wanting was a desire to guide the rather inept Father Christmas who often doesn't quite get her stocking right - how did he get the size of her fluffy bed socks so wrong last year? 

Littlest spent lots of time helping me to plant and net the trees. She knows the elves are watching to see if she actually deserves any of her listed presents.

And she got into the Christmas spirit

Monday, 26 November 2012

All I want for Christmas

How do you answer the question, "What would you like for Christmas?"

Do you carry a mental list around in your head? Or do you have a special little piece of paper tucked into a pocket in anticipation of bumping into a generously inclined relative? Worse still, do you email your list to friends and family? Or do you still write to Father Christmas?

Littlest writes several lists, starting in August, and deposits them in books, pencil cases and boxes in her bedroom, lest she forgets something important. These are either lost forever, or are later amalgamated into a letter that sits on the hearth day after regularly-checked-day until the 'elves' remember to post it to the big man in red. These elves clearly work in the same disorganised department as the tooth fairy. Littlest then adds things to her list. And changes her mind. Of course, Father Christmas knows that she has changed her mind 'because he's magic.' She has been known to change her mind on Christmas Eve. Luckily, what she receives seldom matches what is on her list anyway, so tears and recriminations are generally avoided.

A better system (so long as parents are allowed to read the letter first) might be to post direct  to 'Santa, The North Pole.' You have to admire the dedication of the postal operative who replies to them all, shivering in his ice-hut, contemplating popping out for a while if another letter arrives demanding a Furby.

Son posts a list on the internet - the cheapest item costs £2,500. Huh!

When caught off guard by the question (as I don't adequately manage a list, it's always off guard - on the phone; in the car; with fork-full of food midway to mouth, or hit with an email), I dither, and mouth nothings, guppy-like. I say, "Oh, nothing really." Or "No! Don't worry about me!" And "I don't know." But I try hard to avoid "Surprise me" - don't we all? It's not the surprise bit that I'm worried about - it's a surprise - it's how to respond to the surprise. "That's interesting" or "different" simply won't do - try it the next time you receive a surprise and lean forward to fully appreciate the slight intake of breath between tautly pursed lips: you know then what your surprise next year will be - no present!

I do write a list inside my head, promptly forget it, think of more things to add, and forget them too. Then I think of all the things I really want - yes, 'want' - I know to want is not politically correct, but sometimes (and you have to admit you want things too), there are things that we want. Aside from peace and global happiness ... and permission to weep in private at a screening of Les Miserables in January, what is on my list? I don't want to have to wait years for another Coldplay album. I do want to see the Northern lights properly, not just the mono-chromic Scottish ones. I want to attend the Lichstenstein exhibition at the Tate next spring; to eat, drink and be merry with friends over Christmas; to win an argument - convincingly - once;  and I want to find some comfortable shoes (Muck Boot wellies are better-than-brilliant, but dangle them below the LBD and I look like I'm not only several months late and but also misread the invitation - festival of carols in a church, not rock festival in a tent). Okay, so some of these are impossible, others improbable, but what I want above all is time. And there is no point asking anyone for that. The only person who can give me time is myself. Time to write. Time to breathe. Time to be a good mother, wife, sister. And time to be me.

To give the gift of time, you have first to find it.
To find time, you have to make it.
To make time, you have to believe in your dreams and follow them.

Some people are better at doing this than others. Procrastinators  are worse than most, lying as they do, ears firmly plugged,  in the ditch beneath the heap of optimistic souls who are all whispering the mantra of self-belief.

I can feel a  New Year Resolution coming on. Something to do with stopping procrastinating, perhaps ... I'll think about it, maybe write about it, sleep on it, add it to my list ... hmm? - even procrastinate over it :-)

As for Four-legged-friend and his smaller-but-rapidly-growing, assertive (guess who regularly assumes the bigger crate and cushion) blonde-friend and their Christmas lists -

Yule log?

Personal pond? The 'pond' that was dug, pre-deluge, ready for the fruit tree that is currently growing unhappily in the garage. Can't plant into a pond - but can drink it; splash about in it; and push muddy little blonde friend into it.

Or curl up somewhere warm together

Actually, curling up warm ... that's not a bad idea: where's that list - socks (long and thick), jumper (woolly), scarf (ditto) and someone to hug (preferably not woolly!)

Monday, 12 November 2012

Lots of leaves, giggles and dirty dogs

The pup is growing - first autumn, first leaves, first bonfire-building activity:

Eat the leaves; lick the blue ones.

'If I eat the bonfire, there won't be so much to burn.'

Busy pup = sleepy pup. Bed of ... laundry?

... or someone else's bed?

First walk today - "Why can't I run ahead like him? Why, Mum? It's not fair!"

"How much further?"

Why did we get a friend for FLF in a pale shade of 'shows-all-the-dirt' colour?

I'm bigger than you! Parp! Warning: bit of a rant.

Good morning?

Better morning?

The usual growling angry morning?


It’s that “I’m bigger than you” mentality that drives me mad every morning; although when I say 'mad' I do not mean the red fog of fury that some drivers suffer from which constitutes road rage, but a deeply rooted frustration; the sort of feeling that niggles throughout the rest of the day, like a thorn in your shoe that you know is there, but are either too busy to remove or repeatedly forget about until the next time it pricks you. Unsettling. Grrr! Why? - because you know that tomorrow will be the same. And the next day.

Let me elaborate – my morning school run is approximately 15 miles of which there are about seven miles of rural single track roads – might sound horrendous to some urban mum’s out there, but barring tractors, beet lorries and horses, I can do it in just over 25 minutes. How many hours would it take to cover the same distance in London? And we see pheasant, foxes and deer so often that the children don’t comment on them anymore. Idyllic really.

Or it would be idyllic if it wasn't for the aforementioned “I’m bigger than you” mentality of some drivers. Specifically, big four-wheel-drive vehicles. I drive a diminutive, yellow car – tiny engine, tiny(ish) insurance for teens learning to drive – and clearly I have less road presence than ... well, than a rabbit. And judging by the furry carnage on the tarmac, they are pretty much ignored too. Or are they perhaps expendable: collateral damage in the lives of the overly turbo powered?

What happens with daily periodicity is me trundling along the road in my little lawn mower on wheels - bit of Robbie or Alfie or Coldplay ringing in our ears, or, if it’s a Wednesday morning, playing(?) who’s learnt their times tables (or not?) - when round a corner looms a fast approaching, four-wheel-drive monstrosity (do they come in any colour other than menacing black?).

Now, I may be misinformed, but I always thought that the definition of four-wheel-drive was self-evident – four wheels for the purposes of driving off road. But in my experience, very few of these glittering behemoths ever stray beyond the tarmac, avoiding every puddle and muddy verge, in fact anything that might splatter their gleaming bodywork. As for my yellow motorized pram, with its narrow pram wheels and nippy manoeverability - well, the filth to its mid-riff tells a sorry tale of relentless, repetitive avoiding action. I know every puddle, ditch and pot-hole between home and school. 'Shaken not stirred' should be our motto.

Artwork is by Littlest. 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

If this isn't the best ... part 1

If this isn’t the best view in the world... then I challenge you to prove otherwise -

Perhaps I'm biased, but in case you don't yet agree here's more ... 

I say 'one of' because when middle daughter gets back from her grandparents with her phone, I can download a picture of THE best view in the world. And yes, I am 100% biased. 100% a Scot at heart. 100% passionately in love with the west coast of Scotland. Aren't we all just a little bit nostalgic about the place we grew up? And doesn't nostalgia sometimes blur into a deep passion?

Here's more ... 

Add wellies; sea-shell-gathering ...

... and crab hunting; squealing oystercatchers in conversation with squealing Littlest; “sinking sand!!”... 

... and sea “anenomenomees.”

Flashbacks to my own childhood – running down silver sand-dunes; carrying BBQ and picnic and drinks; swimming towels; cricket bats and balls; long-treasured friends now far-flung with their own children – and wondering if a part of me is forever here and can I in a too-short, chilly hour instil a bit of my love for this life-affirming place into two of my children?

Think I did ..

Probably not necessary, but here's more evidence in support of the claim that Scotland has the 'best' views:   a bit further north ...

And finally ... the journey home

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Blog therapy and dreaming


Just when you thought I'd properly gone - forgotten to WTD; misplaced my laptop (netbook, actually); taken a trip (wouldn't that be nice - New Zealand, maybe?) - up I pop again. Released. Free to blog. Or to be more exact, free-ish.

WTD has been ... well? Rather empty in recent months.Kind of hope you've noticed. Cause? - other writing projects (hmm, more about these later - I add in a tantalising, playful way *smile*); a little (extremely) boring something called appraisal, which is nearly - oh, so nearly done - but not yet executed i.e. subjected to third party scrutiny. Eek! Fingers crossed for early November; school holidays and start of term and (daily) finding of hockey sticks; trainers (both feet!); water bottles; times tables practising early morning brain; piano books and the correct hair ties (no, not the scrunchy one with decapitated bear's head attached!); and ... well, you know - an agonising, prolonged bout of procrastination, coupled with fingers stiffened into frozen rigors by my inept attempts at finally trying to learn how to type. Properly.

Anyway, enough of self-indulgent twaddle.

Four-Legged-Friend is fine

As is his new, rapidly growing, and husband says "fat", yellow friend

And they ably demonstrate the truism that is 'boys will be boys'

I only intervene when Little Friend yelps and stops throwing himself in for more.

In my head are numerous blogs that you have been spared and a couple that I will spit out here in the next few days, if you care to come back for a look.

In the meantime, have you ever dreamt of a 'last' supper ('last' as in the supper to end all suppers) - not necessarily the food (although, maybe that could be another blog) - but, instead, who you would invite? And why you would invite them.

My dream dinner - and I think I need to build on this, as I have just remembered aperitifs - would have story telling - not just any story telling, but BRILLIANT story telling - as the theme for starters, with Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Dickens and John Buchan invited, plus poetry from Robert Burns (a rogue, but I think, a likeable rogue). Main course would involve other-worldly, philosophical and scientific discussion with Carl Sagan, Professor Brian Cox, Phillip Pullman, Baruch Spinoza and Leonardo da Vinci. Desert would be preceded by a meeting between Barack Obama and David Livingstone - with a handshake, and, of course,  'Dr Livingstone, I presume.'

... a lot of Scots. And no women. May need to think some more.

Who would you invite? What would you wish to talk about?

Wouldn't it be amazing to show da Vinci the magic of modern science; and to tell Livingstone how we remember him?

What paintings would you hang on the walls? Unviolated Rothkos, perhaps? A Turner or two? What music would accompany your discussion? Or would the debate be music enough? And what about the food?

Dream on.

Why? Because dreams like this help us to sort out those things that are important in our lives. The subjects and passions that make us who we are. The beliefs that format our actions. If we dream well, we become who we dream of being.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Sad little wardrobe story

Ever wondered how you would notice that you are getting old? Apart from the greying hair and creaking joints and half a dozen attempts it takes to link the correct name to the child standing in front of you. Your own child.

Where does getting excited about a piece of furniture rank in the scale of getting-old-warnings? I suspect it would be up there with preferring sensible shoes; investing in a wine cellar; and agreeing with a play of reluctance to husband's wish to own a mid-life-crisis car, especially since it meant I could have a puppy! Does that mean that my mid-life-crisis is a dog? Or maybe that my mid-life has gone to the dogs?

Anyway, back to the wardrobe - not the one in Narnia; sadly - wouldn't that be fun! - but the one in our upgraded room in a delightful hotel in Norfolk.Yes! We were upgraded! The manageress put us in a larger room with bath, because "it was free" (otherwise unoccupied) that night.The warm, marble, floor tiles in the bathroom took some getting used to - hot day, hot feet ... hot tiles; hmmm, cold would have been so much better - but the flip side was how quickly the sodden bath mat dried, after the shower curtain proved to be more of a decorative, but useless flap of heavy, damask-like fabric, than effective, spray-shielding curtain. Upgrade! Hot floor! We weren't complaining!

Back to the wardrobe again - dinner, bed and breakfast in a small country pub/restaurant/hotel on the first night away from children and dogs in too-long-a-time, meant pre-dinner march through some woods;

indulging in a bit of phone-tography

with subsequent message to self (definitely a sign of ageing), to add identification of these plants (older!) to list of things to do (ancient!) when get home; and later getting a little bit dressed up for dinner.Think that that 'little bit dressed up' may be a sign of ageing, too: small part - too old to bother any more; small part - don't ever know what to wear anyway; small part - perfectly sure that no-one will be looking at me; and small part - I'm grown up, I'm happy with who I am. However, even casual attire requires dry hair and so to the wardrobe. 

What a wardrobe!

Okay, so maybe I'm a little bit sad, in the way that the children use the word sad, as in pathetic, but just look -

Individual shelves for "Sundries", "Collars", "Cuff-links". A menu for a Cunard line breakfast with the instructions that it is permitted for children to share the parent's order and that United States Rationing advises everyone "to eat more fish".

The wardrobe creaked, its doors only just met in the middle, but it was a beautiful relic of the Titanic era, when travel was slow, formal and dignified. What would they have thought of our hot floor and complete lack of dress shirt, collar, tie and jacket?

They would have liked the food - wonderful! We promised ourselves that we will be back; venue for fiftieth birthday weekend in 2014, perhaps. Cods' cheeks, slow roast shoulder of lamb, elderflower and raspberry jelly with ice cream - all were delicious. And accompanied by the chef as back-drop, cooking meat all evening on a vast open fire in the dining room -  unfussy, unpretentious, good food.

They would have liked the setting too - on the edge of a deer park.

But they would have remembered to pack all the things that we had forgotten. Or rather, their man or maid would have done it for them.

And they wouldn't have been able to take photographs. On their phone.

Monday, 13 August 2012

The best things in life are free

Defining 'Best' depends on the day; the time; the weather; how much sleep I've had the night before; whether someone else has finished all the chocolate; how many puddles of puppy wee I've had to mop up; whether or not I have to work tomorrow;  and how cold the wine is ... among other things.

As the song goes, these are a few of my favourite things:

  • a cold, wet nose snuffling into your neck when NBFLF (see previous blog) is carried out to the garden at 5.45am to 'do his business'
  • and the way he curls himself into your arms for the journey back; his little whimpers trying to say, "The grass is cold, Mum. And wet! And my paws are damp and chilly."
  • waking up two hours later with a child folded into the space left next to you in bed. Asleep.
  • watching her stir.
  • listening to her sleepy whisper, "I love you, Mummy."
  • a hot shower.
  • proper coffee. Hot! (not the one that resembles an oil slick, thick and separating, and foul; abandoned on the top of a cupboard). Proper coffee from a cafetiere - especially when someone else makes it for you. And heats the milk. And washes up all the fiddly filter bits.
  • smiling. Everywhere people are smiling. It's catching; infectious - it lifts us all. It's watching Tom Daley and his team mates leap elated into the pool; seeing sportsmen win - even when they actually don't. Celebrating life. It's good - all good. Unless you're Chinese. And fail to take home Gold. The shame they feel is hard for us, comfortable,  here in the West, to comprehend, but is so heartfelt as to be almost palpable. For them the 'best thing' is being best; being second in the world simply isn't good enough.I am so grateful to live in a society where the underdog can be celebrated, and is celebrated.
  • a lettuce sandwich - strictly not free, but I didn't pay anyone to assemble it. Slices of home-made bread, a light spreading of slightly salted butter, a little mayonaise and several layers of crisp lettuce.I guess that's a BLT without the bacon and tomato! Delicious!
  • ice-cream - okay, not free either, but I'll get back to free ones in a mo'. None of your synthetic, cheap, shaving-foam stuff, but a really good Italian gelato - preferably dark chocolate and lemon. Oooh! ... and coconut ... and caramel ... and coffee ... and peach ... Mmmmmmmmm!
  • someone saying thank you, particularly when it is unexpected
  • someone liking what you have written
  • chocolate - not free! Wish it was!
  • fitting into some old, once-favourite trousers that you thought you were too fat for
  • the new bloom, open on a flower that you planted
  • picking your own fruit and making crumble
  • wine - chilled! Not free - see chocolate: same wish!
  • the new recipe (the one that you didn't really follow - just read the ingredients; thought "that sounds good"; and made the rest up as you went along).The one that worked! (the one that you probably can't remember exactly how you did it!)
  • making plans with Littlest - new tubs to plant, flowers to choose
  • hugs ... lots and lots of hugs
  • friends: four-legged and two-legged ones.Friends who share their time with you. Friends who phone when times are tough. Friends who care. Friends who laugh. Freinds who love. Friends who get your jokes. Who forgive when you are late.
  • music - not all music (can't listen for more than a few nanoseconds to most of the current female singers - with the exception of Adele). But the sort of music that makes your heart sing - Eine Aplensinfonie, Zadok the Priest, Jerusalem, any of Les Mis, Coldplay's Fix You, my son's music, Caliban's Dream (look it up and listen if you haven't heard it yet - mesmerising!), Annie Lennox singing Into the West from Return of the King; Greatest Day by Take That; Angels by Robbie Williams; Sailing by Rod Stewart; and There You'll Be from Pearl Harbor; and ... and .... and ... so much more - half of which I can neither name, nor identify the musician, composer, orchestra or singer, but know within a few notes that it is one of those many, many pieces of music that I love. Music that lifts the soul, turns a bad day good and makes me smile.
  • a large glass of wine - oops! Think I may have mentioned that already.
  • polyfilla-ing the hole in the bathroom wall (pat self on the back! - not because it was particularly difficult, but because I managed to find both polyfilla and flat tool-thing with which to apply it and fine sandpaper for the dusty, rubbing down bit - all on my own); then painting over it ... in the wrong colour of blue. Which was not obvious until the morning. Best bit of this was the subsequent not-panicking-part and the not-having-to-face-excruciating-embarrassment-part- the sort of embarrassment created by that slow rolling of the eye upwards, that raising of the brow and tutting sound, underlined by that sighing smile which says "It's no less than I expected ...  but honestleeeeee!" Not having to face these, because I have three days to put it right. And whoopdeedoop, I have - Yeah! All on my own! The best things in life are not only free, but are also the things (i.e. mishaps!) you sort out for yourself. By yourself.
  • and the best of the best things - the best thing that eclipses all of the above ... 

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Blogging when you can't ... and when you can

How to blog when you really can't blog?

How to write, when what you want to write, is a secret?

How to keep quiet, keep your kids quiet and their friends quiet?

Waiting is hard! Social networking silence is harder.

But worth it:

Littlest marked the occasion with a portrait:

We must be mad. Two dogs. Several children. Jobs!

We even read to our puppy

Walking The Dog or WTD needs to change to WTDs. Maybe.

And Four-Legged-Friend's nephew (!) needs a blog name ...
  • nephew-of-FLF or NOFLF
  • little-FLF or LFLF
  • smaller-FLF or SFLF
  • blonde-FLF or BFLF
  • mini-FLF or MFLF
  • I'll-never-be-as-big-as-the-original-FLF or INBABATOFLF
  • I'll-be-boss-of-FLF-one-day or IBBOFLFOD
  • feed-me-weetabix-and-I'm-happy-FLF or FMWAIHFLF
  • doesn't-mum-know-that-five-in-the-morning-in-play-time-FLF or DMKTFITMIPTFLF
  • so-Dad-can-have-his-four-wheeled-mid-life-crisis-now-that-Mum's-got-me-FLF or SDCHHFWMLCNTMGMFLF
  • I-like-a-better-quality-of-newspaper-to wee-on-FLF or ILABQONTWOFLF
  • and while on the subject of newspaper:

  • ... Four-legged-friend-newspaper-shredder or perhaps FLF-producer-of-slightly-damp-and-chewed-newspaper-confetti, or FLFNS and FLFPOSDACNC
  • but-why-won't-FLF-share-his-toys-with-me-FLF or BWWFLFSHTWMFLF
  • surely-his-food-is-my-food-too-FLF or SHFIMFTFLF
  • nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-I-get-four-meals-a-day-he-only-gets-two-FLF or NNNNNIGFMADHOGTFLF
  • blonde-beautiful-FLF or BBFLF ... or just the initials of my name
  • FLF-who-paddles-in-puddles-of-piddles-and-poo or FLFWPIPOPAP

I quite like the PIPOPAP one but hopefully that description of him will go out of date pretty quickly. BBFLF is easy to remember, but the original FLF could just as readily be BBFLF, if black were substituted for blonde.

Or ... maybe I could just refer to them collectively as Four-Legged-Friends and use their names Mungo, the original, black FLF and Bertie, the new, blonde FLF ... or OBFLF and NBFLF ... ?

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The "What-is-a-condom?" place, a trip to the North Atlantic and abandoning children in Foreign climes

Son, who is currently running a hotel for his friends, might recall a visit several years ago to a French restaurant, where seated at a round table, set with wine glasses, fluted, linen napkins and immaculate table cloth, he announced to the dimly candle-lit room, in an unfortunately clear, resonant, high-pitched voice, "What is a condom?"

He was probably seven years old.

We ate at the same restaurant last night – same table settings, same atmospheric lighting, same owner whose gentle politeness is unchanged, but whose English is better (or maybe our French is worse) – this time ‘sans enfants’ to mark our wedding anniversary. The food “with zee sauces made by my ‘usband” was unchanged in its fabulousness: I do not like tuna, but the unordered hors-d'oeuvre of triangles of thin toast and shot-glasses half filled with a rich tuna paste topped with a cream sauce and chives, was utterly amazing. This was followed by a hot millefeuille filled with a melting slice of foie gras (something else I don’t normally like) and tiny, mild, woody-tasting mushrooms; veal (I know ... deeply unethical meal so far, but when in France ...); and as though this was not good enough already, the desert – with alarming table firework – was absolutely wonderful – crisp curls of dark, bitter chocolate hugging soft, creamy ganache and sitting in a pool of orange sauce decorated with delicately drawn feathers of raspberry juice. Mmmm ... wish I’d photographed it.

Today, chased a flotilla of small ships round from Brest to Douarnenez and lost - in fact, missed them completely, partly owing to the mist and general fogginess making distant views a blurred impression of sails at best and our tardiness and the failure of our trip advisor to suggest getting to viewing points early enough to fit into the car parks ... however, we managed to have a good walk

"This place smells of my headmistress!" - wild purple heather, sea breeze and yellow-flowering gorse, so probably a compliment!!!

Ice-bergs ahoy!

Okay ... so I've sat in the car; I've been for a walk - now I neeeeeeed something to drink!!

Time for another walk ...

Skeleton boats and a tower built in 1694 ... to keep the English out ... BORING!!

Now, stones ... they're not boring ... how many can I take home?

For supper, we visited a delightful French family we had never met before ... ate fantastic food ... and left a child with them for a fortnight to improve her French.

Missing her already