Thursday, 31 May 2012

I muffed the muffins

Sorry Queen, I know you have been on the throne for 60 years (however did you manage that? - I only last 2 years in a job max) but I have royally muffed the muffins. Look.

Tomorrow is P's jubilee celebrations at her pre-school and seeing as I am woman-ing the cake stall I felt I had to contribute. And as I had excessively ordered bananas from the Shopping Man/Woman last week, what a perfect opportunity to make muffins.

Obviously I am going to have to buy a packet of brownies instead, and pass them off as my own with a dusting of icing sugar.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Jobs I'd just rather not do

There are some jobs I loath and try to avoid at all costs. In at No1 has got to be putting the duvet cover back on the duvet, dear God that is frustrating and PAINFUL, it really hurts your arms and aches your shoulders. I hate it so much it makes me want to have a tantrum, sometimes I do. I especially hate it when after going through the whole palava you realise that; THE DUVET COVER IS SODDING INSIDE OUT. And you have to start again. Usually I wait for him to come home and do it, in the separation of jobs, putting the duvet cover back on the duvet is most definitely his.

In no particular order, these are also chores I dislike intensely:

2. Putting petrol in the car
This is loathsome in winter. You are all nice and cosy listening to Woman's Hour, heater blasting and then you realise you are low on petrol. It pains me getting out of the car, taking the petrol cap off, the fumes make me sick, standing there for AN AGE waiting for the tank to fill - don't get me started on the cost - put the petrol cap on, lock the kids in the car, go pay for the petrol, forget which number pump you are, get side tracked for 2 for 1 offer on Hula Hoops and forget to collect the Nectar points.

3. Separation of underwear and pairing of socks
Mine and his underwear easy to differentiate, hopefully, but the kids is a nightmare. Every time I have to look at the age label and even then I get it wrong, when A comes home complaining her pants are cutting into bum/thighs/vagina (nice) and P's have fallen down multiple times at pre-school (note to self, I should really check their dressing techniques each morning).

Him and I share socks, all black, but not all the same. This involves lining all the socks up on the bed and playing a form of pelmanism when I least want to.

4. Ironing
Can't say I dislike ironing as I don't do it. Never. We wear creased clothes or clothes that don't need ironing. Simple.

5. Cleaning out the cat litter tray
Pretty self explanatory really, alongside clearing cat puke and half masticated rodents from the bottom of the stairs.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Mother, oh mother

Song for a fifth child

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(lullaby, rock-a-bye, Lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek-peek-a-boo).
The shopping is not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there is a hullabaloo.
But I'm playing "Kanga" and this is my "Roo."
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rock-a-bye, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

Ruth Hulburt Hamilton, 1958

I will read this poem out to a group of expectant mum's tomorrow, and even though I have read this poem near on 50 times it will take all my effort for my voice not to wobble and water well up in my eyes. It's certainly not because I would like another baby, or even that I particularly liked being a mum to babies - I rather like them being able to speak and wipe their own bums - but it talks about the fragility of time, of why it's important not to sweat the small stuff, if the sun is shining go out and play with the kids, enjoy the moment, take time to really listen to them and to ignore the little things that are not important (perhaps returning to them when they are in bed). I think that's why this poem makes me cry, as a parent I know I could always do with more playing Kanga and Roo, and letting the cobwebs be.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Doing nothing

We're not very good at doing nothing are we? I mean nothing - not reading, watching TV, surfing the web or listening to music - just sitting doing absolutely nothing. Yesterday I did nothing for a few hours, after a whole lot of watering, gardening and shopping for the evening  barbeque I treated myself to a day in the garden lying down, staring at the sky listening to the birds and insects. It was so utterly therapeutic that I feel as though I have had a 10 day holiday. I cannot remember when I last allowed myself to sit, OK so maybe I had just a teensy weensy hangover but the benefits of relaxing so deeply must be measurable.

It's hard not to feel guilty about doing nothing. As a mum, there is always something to do, and even if the children are happy to entertain themselves there are always domestic chores and work preparation that needs accomplishing. Even if all the food has been cooked, house cleaned, washing done, homework completed, work emails up to date, social life planned then there is STILL is something to do. Maybe it took a little hangover to make me stop yesterday and lie still, the guilt gave way to calm and serenity and a knowing that I need to do nothing more often.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Need to see the sea

It's scorchio at last, really hot like the Mediterranean. All the plants are wilting in the greenhouse, shocked into Summer living, I'm having to remember to give them some air, water twice a day and nurture them until they are ready for the salad beds or allotment. What with the plants needs, the cats demands and mothering two little girls (plus a job - but that's a whole other story) I am feeling a little hemmed in and need to see some big skies and the vast expanse of the English channel. I always feel like this at the end of term, anger inching its way to an explosion - another cake sale, fancy dress costume for the Jubilee, extra fundraising event, after school activities....I am going to f**k up big soon and send the children to school with no knickers and forget to watch their end of term play. Yes, its time to go to the sea and breathe some deep lungfuls of salty air, run along the hard dry paths in between the gorse bushes and purple heather, feel energised and on top of the world.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

I want to be a fancy tile, mummy!

A is still requesting 'Another brick in the wall' for our morning dance before school, so I asked her what she thought it meant.

She shrugged in the way that teenagers do, "I dunno"

"Well, lets go outside and look at the bricks, what are they like?"

So she explained the colour, their shape, that few had a snail on and some had plants growing between them.

"Are all the bricks the same, A?" I asked

"Yes, nearly, except for the ones with snails" she replied

So I explained that maybe Pink Floyd was saying that you might end up just like everyone else if you are taught how to think exactly the same as everyone else - you end up being another brick in the wall and too scared to be different. A nodded, it slowly sinking in.

"Do you want to be another brick in the wall, A?" I enquired.

"Oh, no mummy, I want to be a fancy tile!" she replied with glee.

May you always shine through darling, be individual, creative and grab life by its horns, may you always be a fancy tile among bricks and encourage others to be fancy tiles too!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


I hate gossip.

Not Gossip the ultra cool band lead by Beth Ditto, but the villagey, mean, pointless kind that is so prevalent in the small towns and countryside. I can see no pleasure in talking about other people when we live in a world so full of inspiration, so full of debate, so full of creativity and of learning. Why do some people therefore find it more pleasurable to slander, chat idly and sometimes dishonestly about someone else?

And what I REALLY hate about gossip is that I find myself drawn in to it eventually, even after steering the conversation elsewhere I find myself joining in, talking about other people I barely know and have no interest in. It's either that or just nod when I am being spoken to and look rude.

I can see clearly now the rain has gone

Fully recovered from the weekend, nail varnish still clinging to the good times but chipped and waiting to be removed, I had a whole day in the allotment and garden...and I have caught the sun! Yes, a little Cuban top up and I'm feeling all summery looking forward to a few months of festivals, camping and beach trips....and NO school. I'm dreaming of ice cold prosecco on a sunny afternoon, bees buzzing in the lupins and delphiniums, wandering through the house and garden barefoot, eating pasta at 9pm outside in a vest top, paddling pools (hosepipe ban depending) and eating freshly picked salads and herbs from the garden.

My goodness I love summer.

What are you looking forward to?

Monday, 21 May 2012

All day and all of the night


The black cab pulled up at a disused looking warehouse at 5 in the afternoon. Already the queue was long and the bass was hard, pounding out of the grotty looking building. The crowd was young, really young, like 18 or so, maybe some not even that. I could be dropping A off here in 10 years time, or second thoughts, maybe not. I looked nervously at our gang, the youngest being 38 and the oldest 43, the bouncer grunted for ID and then thought better of it when he caught sight of our grey hairs and wrinkles. A quick frisk and we were in.

A can of red stripe in our hands, standing outside, not a ray of sun in sight, the terrace party I had been expecting was somewhat dark and grungy. Except for the music. It was awesome, within 10 minutes we were all dancing away, smiling at everyone like long lost friends, age immaterial and mummy duties abandoned. The mouth was ever so slightly pouted, head nodding and feet moving in the little space we had until the music cranked up and reached the crescendo which required hands in the air and the obligatory whoop whoop. And that's were we stayed for hours, occasionally moving floors for a different vibe and maybe some more beer.

The after party lasted until 5, or it could have been later than that, who knows. Would I go raving again? Yes of course, next week? Maybe not. Maybe next year, if I feel like it. Age is certainly not a factor although the recovery period took rather a lot longer than when I was a youth, and the knees are still aching. But boy does it make you smile, we will be living off that night for a very long time and as I have a week of steamed fish and salad, running three times, pre school jubilee party preparations, children coming to stay for tea, washing, cleaning and all that crap - I can sneak a knowing grin and remember losing myself in the music somewhere in NW10.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Friday boogie - tribute to Donna Summer

Every Friday morning, at around 7am after dropping him off at the train station, we all have a dance around the living room and kitchen to celebrate the coming of the weekend. We crank it up (sorry neighbours) and bellow out our favourite tunes of the moment in our pyjamas. The children absolutely love this side of me, the free, fun, excited side of myself and revel in it before I start barking the usual orders of:

"Eat your breakfast"
"Hurry up we are late" (always my fault)
"Clean your teeth"
"Blow your nose"
"Oh my, we forgot to do your spellings..."

Today A was rather taken with yesterdays Pink Floyd, 'Another brick in the wall', having diligently learnt all the words - insisted on having it on 4 times in a row, her air guitar and attitude better with each rendition. I have images of her teaching all her friends, goodness knows what I have started.

We also had a Donna Summer moment, I introduced the girls to the 'Queen of disco' and they soon caught on to the lyrics of I feel love (!). What a brilliant start to the weekend, we all feel energised and happy. RIP Donna Summer, thank you for making two little girls and one big girl feel great today. I have decided that our Friday dance mornings are not only going to be at the end of the week, but every day, starting with next Monday when it is most needed.

Happy weekend all.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Thursday choon

We don't need no education
We dont need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

Pink Floyd

Just taught A and P the words, air guitar and rock faces. Anarchy rules in the house this morning!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Find your yoga

Something was shared on Facebook this week, I never usually bother looking at these things but I obviously have too much time on my hands. It was called '18 life lessons I want my daughters to hear'. It certainly applies to sons as well and to yourself. It made me cry a little bit and also made my day:

All that ranting about education and reluctantly raving of late has had my brain race and muscles tense, I needed to find my yoga. Rebecca Lemmerson suggests to her daughters that::

11. Find Your Yoga.
I don’t care if you ever do a down dog in your entire life, just find something that calms your mind, and devote yourself to it. Find something that keeps your mind and body connected, healthy and working together, because in the times when everything else seems disconnected, it will keep you centered and grounded.

Seeing as the sun was shining and there was a spare hour in the day, I decided to head down to the allotment where peace, calm and nature keep the mind serene. Gardening is such a fantastic way to connect, realign the chakras, exercise the physical body a little and get deep down and dirty. Gloves take away the sensations of working with the sticky, cold clay soil although removing the dirt from under the finger nails may take days. Today the allotment was empty, many plots overgrown and untended, nature clawing her way back and the bees eternally grateful.

You can see here I have been weeding. I love methodically removing the plants from the root, shuffling along on a knee rest feeling pride at where you have cleared. No phones, just birds, the occasional slow worm or lizard, no one else and only small discoveries to be made. In one hour I managed to clear the paths of ever encroaching buttercups, put up the runner bean wig-wams, plant mange tout seeds and erect their supports, plant out the french beans which have been bursting out of the green house at home and discover a little mother spider viciously protecting her white ball of eggs with her life. I could identify with that.

In one hour the mind had stilled, the morning's antenatal class of anxious parents had faded, worries both petty and huge had momentarily disappeared and a sense of an achievement accomplished. May we have many more days without the rain so we can till the land, fill our families bellies with fresh, organic, nutrient-rich food which adds to our emotional well-being to boot.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Testing and exams

In the next few weeks A (age 6) will be tested and examined more than three times. On top of her weekly spelling test (more of that later) she will be entered for her first ballet exam and will be tested by the government for her ability with phonics. All of this sits very uneasy with me.

Lets look at phonics first. Phonics is the method of learning to read and spell by sounding out the words and blending them. All very good and obvious when you have words like c-a-t or d-o-g but what happens to words like a-l-l and w-h-y. English as a language is rich and notoriously difficult, we do not have words that are all phonically obvious, unlike Spanish for example. So actually, phonics is just one way of learning to read, it can help you a bit but children use many other ways of getting to grips with stories. A uses the pictures of the book, sometimes guessing the words, but that doesn't matter as long as she is enjoying the story and is helped along the way. She also uses context and her memory of what the words look like. Testing all 5 and 6 year old's in phonics is therefore a bit useless in examining their reading skills, apparently the test will:

"... require pupils to sound out or decode a series of words, SOME OF WHICH ARE MADE UP,"

Made up words, are you serious? This will surely put children at their wrong reading level. If A has to read a word like glimp (one of the words suggested in the phonics test which my spell check has just highlighted is not a word - obviously) then she is surely going to feel very confused. What on earth is a glimp? She can read, so this is not going to make any sense to her, perhaps make her feel like she has failed. Great start to education, government, thank you. A's class has started drilling them on their phonics just for this test - you can imagine what I think of that, on top of 3 hours of tedious maths and literacy every morning. A's interest in school is waning. My patience is running out.

Spellings. Every week she has new spellings on a Monday and a test on a Friday. This is what I did 30 years ago, surely education has moved on from that? She can achieve maybe 7, 8 or 10 out of 10 every week but by the following week her correct spelling of those words in her stories or a weekend diary has vanished. A doesn't seem bothered whether she gets them right or not but some pupils surely will, only to increase their sense of failure or competitiveness and perhaps distress at being tested and compared to every week. Some schools don't bother:

I'm not really sure what I think of ballet exams - A is no Royal Ballet contender but enjoys skipping round the village hall each week, conducting plies as if she is sitting herself on the loo and leaping in the air like a baby giraffe, with a big smile on her face and her tongue just slightly sticking out. She would like to do the exam as all her ballet friends are doing it, yes she will hopefully pass but to serve what purpose? I know sod-all about dancing but I would have thought that at age 6 it would be really nice to develop a love for it, enjoy the freedom and fun it provides you, moving your body to music, not standing lines being judged on your first position.

Rant over. Comment if you wish. I do feel sorry for children these days, I guess it is up to me to provide the fun, the magic, the inspiration and love for learning, because school is not providing this at the moment.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Run, Sarah, run!

I've started running and I'm not really sure why. I've only been three times, twice for a 10 minute jog and today I managed 20 minutes. I say I managed but really it felt awful, really bad. My thighs felt like leaden hulky masses which didn't seem to flow forward, each step jarred my back and the stitch started as soon as I set off, practically. My lungs felt red hot and knees all creaky and old. I'm not sure I am supposed to feel this way but I'm trying to get puffed out three times a week, to be healthy.

The plus side of running though is it's rhythm, being out in the fresh air, spotting two deer in the fields and ten or so baby rabbits unexpectedly jumping into the hedgerows as I came thundering (plodding maybe) around the corner. And I like the way it challenges you mentally. I could just stop and give up and take a nice stroll home or I could just see if I can run to that next bend, and then maybe just to the top of that hill, each time pushing yourself just a little further.

And when you get home you feel ace, all the endorphins flowing around the body, sweaty and achy but most of all you feel extremely virtuous.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Runner bean chutney

We eat a lot of pickle in our house, not the Branston kind full of sugar, preservatives and strange hard lumpy vegetables , but the home made kind. I made some runner bean chutney yesterday. Sounds revolting, but actually is absolutely delicious, and with a strong cheddar a whole jar can be snaffled in one sitting. The runner beans had been sitting in the freezer for about a year and the only way to use them really, was to boil them up with vinegar and sugar to make them edible. Actually, the only reason I grow runner beans is to make this chutney, not only for the flavour but for its ability to transport me back in time to when I was about 8.

Memories of my childhood are as warm and fuzzy as the 1970's polaroid shots. Everyday blissfully warm spent in shorts and flip-flops or freezing cold pulling a sledge through snow. There was nothing in between. Summers were spent in north Cornwall with an Auntie and cousins who were actually neither, just my parents friends who obtained the prefix through familiarity and love. All of us would pile down to the beach, a long trek from the car to a deserted cove, far away from the grockles and emmets, to go rock pooling, sand drawing, swimming, pebble collecting and sea anemone poking - gently of course. And when we were hungry we would all trek back up the steep cliffs (I wonder how steep they would be now?) to Auntie's house for potato pasty pie and runner bean chutney. The days when nutrition was less understood and food enjoyed. Now of course, it sounds like something out of the Famous Five, but those lunches tasted sublime - hands and face covered in a fine layer of crusty sea salt which added to the tautness of our sunburnt skin. Factor 50? Factor schmifty.

And as I look forward to my runner bean and cheddar sarnie today I can only hope that my own children look back on their own childhoods with such fondness. I want them to have memories of carelessness and freedom, of security and love, of adventure and lashings of ginger beer.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Reluctantly raving

I'm going raving, not this weekend but the weekend after. I can't tell you where because I don't know, its in an undisclosed location. Yeah, that cool. Now, you have probably got the gist so far that I am a mother of two little girls, make wild garlic pesto and chat about swallows...what in bejeezuz's name am I doing going raving?

He likes dance music, all day and all night, Sunday mornings, in the shower, on short journeys to the local Londis, on longer journeys to Scotland - repetitive beats 24/7. Problem is we are both pushing 40, at least 15 years older than everyone else attending this 12 hour dance fest, and trying to get a gang together has proved challenging, even for his birthday. Funnily enough everyone was busy breastfeeding, watching The Voice, too grown up to rave or washing their hair.

So on another misty, grey, wet, rainy, day today I thought that perhaps this is the most exciting thing that has happened in weeks - I thought:

'Instead of moaning inside your head that you are too old to dance all night, get your goddamn ass down to town and purchase some spangly tops and a push-up bra.'

So I did.

Got me eyes done too and had a right old laugh with the make up girl in MAC. I feel brilliant actually, like a firecracker has been put where the sun don't shine and I'm ready to wave my arms in the air like I just don't care.

A asked " Have you got your moves sorted out mummy?"

Yup, reckon I have actually. Perhaps I am not so reluctantly raving after all.

Two's company


Her boyf has arrived, apparently they mate for life and have a penchant for telephone wires.

Monday, 7 May 2012


Grrrrrrr. We have just spent half an hour on a Bank Holiday Monday doing homework with A (age 6). Homework I ask you, for a six year old? Every week she gets sent home with two sheets of paper, one for literacy and one for maths. Both are the most uninspiring, boring, pointless and useless pieces of work serving only to feed her loathing of sitting down in her free time to complete it. I certainly don't make her, if she doesn't want to then that's fine by me. But she does do it as she doesn't want to be told off, she does it quickly and badly and if its difficult she moans and cries and we have an argument. Age 6.

A few weeks ago A had some maths homework which included VERY difficult sums, I'm not joking.

15 + 7 =

OK, so I tried to explain how to do it. We had run out of fingers and toes so we got 25 felt tip pens out (I am not suggesting that 15 + 7 is 25 by the way) and counted our way around the equations. She had no clue how to add up these difficult numbers and I had no clue how to teach her. So we counted out pens. What did she learn? How to count, but she can already do that. I don't know if she has been taught a method in school but obviously she got all the answers correct as I sat down with her to do it.

What does the teacher gain from this?

1. Homework has been given and completed
2. Feedback that A has understood in class and could complete at home (that's a load of rubbish)
3. A pile of marking
4. Knowledge that A has parents at home willing to encourage/help or do her homework for her

John T Spencer

Please. Or don't issue it at all.

She is 6 and has another 12 years or so of this factory education, such an impressionable age. Encourage her thirst for knowledge, its there in full force right now, excite her in the 6 hours she has in school and leave her for the rest of the day to play, interact and reflect on the days learning - without work sheets.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Look what the cat dragged in

I love my cats, I really do. They are like child No3 and No4. They are squishy, cuddly and purr like tractors in the night. They keep me company and wait for me to come home, just like any dog, the tabby one especially loves me and I rather like that. She's my cat and the ginger one is his. But they have this terrible habit of killing stuff, pointless, murderous killing, great gobfulls of shrews, mice, small birds, a mouth full of mole and once a rabbit who hid behind our bookshelf for 4 days before I caught it. The tabby brings them in dead, maybe a body part delicately placed at the bottom of the stairs or perhaps a puked-up whole one on the door mat. The ginge however, brings them in alive - I have become quite skilled at catching them with a dustpan and brush or a wellington boot - but not this time I'm afraid, and that is where we are as I write. Both cats are camped out by the fridge, waiting for the poor little terrified rodent to poke his nose out, they have been there for 3 days no lie, just waiting. You've got to give them their due, patient bloody things. Anyway, I can't move the fridge because its enormous, so the mouse will probably die under there, a long slow mouse death, and then rot, smell the utility out until the flies find it, lay eggs, maggots appear and wriggle for few days, turn into pupae and the flies hatch and fly away. You can tell I have been through this process before, natural decomposition yes, but not in my house thank you very much.

Its a really strange habit that we have, inviting animals to live with us in our homes, treating them like humans, one of the family. Speaking to them in catty speak, the same sort of voice reserved for newborn babies, pretending that you are their mother (ahem, well I do that - can't speak for all cat owners obviously). They are probably going to be with us for another 15 years or so, main road depending, the kids will have left home or at least be doing some sort of gap year in an orphanage in Tanzania or drinking cheap beer on Bondi beach contemplating tatoo's. And I will be 53. Such a difficult age to imagine, life's rich tapestry will have woven a more complicated and interesting pattern while the cats look on, purr and kill stuff.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Cuban reflections

We had one heck of a family holiday this year. After years of no holidays and one attempt at 'glamping' in a teepee it was time to hit the long-haul. We consider ourselves pretty well-seasoned travellers but travelling with kids is different, for a start it costs four times as much as it would if it was just me, my backpack and my Rough Guide. So price has definitely put us off in the past, but as the experience has proved, worth it in spades.

We took the kids out of school, packed far too much and set off for Havana amidst snow storms and French air strikes, but finally descended, apprehensive and exhausted 14 hours later. The tropical warmth met us off the aeroplane along with the smell of cigars (I know, the biggest cliché but true!). The thrill of being somewhere really foreign was what I needed, to escape the routine, experience the freedom, dive into the unknown and the faintly scary. We queued and had our photo's taken at the strict airport controls, tired children needing the loo, too hot, too hungry and the fun had begun. The drive into Havana had my heart thudding and my head a spin with relief, nerves and a lack of Spanish verbs - what had we done taking our precious children into such an unfamiliar place? Zigzagging through the traffic as only you do in developing countries, past bars dimly lit with the little electricity available, 1950's American cars chugged slowly beside us as clichéd as the cigars, beautiful - choking thick black smoke, carrying Cubans to their destination. A huge neon Che Guevara greeted us into the city, alongside his lesser known compadre Camilo Cienfuegos...Hasta la victoria siempre...blimey, it was some taxi journey into the capital.

We had two and a half weeks of adventure. A taster and a tester of perhaps a bigger trip in the future, consisting of so many highlights and so few lowlights that my memory has conveniently blocked them out or otherwise turned them into the excitement of the journey.  Travelling independently with a car, bread rolls stolen from breakfast and a Buena Vista Social Club CD we all embraced the landscape, the cowboys and heavy oxen ploughing the fields in slow motion, the families we stayed with and their adorable hospitality. We were challenged with hikes through tobacco fields, blow outs on an off-the-beaten-track road, unidentifiable food and the lack of it, poisonous jellyfish, near drowning big kid, frogs in the bathroom and thrilling coco taxi rides. We were stunned with fresh water pools, sharing a mojito with the locals, the ladies both crinkly and nubile shrieking " Que linda!" at the girls, meaning "How sweet!" - the children loved impersonating their Latin American accents. We swam in the Caribbean, wondered the hot and dusty streets of Trinidad dotted with candy-sweet coloured houses of a long time past colonial era, travelled by speed boat, motor boat, catamaran all without life jackets. We took risks, we had thrills albeit perhaps a lot smaller than we used to in our hedonistic twenty-something days.

And the kids? Well they just came with us. What did they like about Cuba? They liked the ice cream, the swimming pools and 'Charlie and Lola' in Spanish - they especially liked the 'keep-on-telly' on the aeroplane as TV is strictly limited at home. They played colouring in with Cuban kids, a universal language, shared dolls and lego. No they didn't gawp at the incredible scenery and marvel at the blueness of the sea, they accepted it just as they would any new experience, and being only 3 and 6, everyday has new experiences. With the love, protectiveness of parents, regular amounts of food and a bedtime story they adapted to life on the road and uncertainty.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

A reprieve

A cancellation or postponement of a punishment.

That's Google's definition of reprieve. The punishment here I am talking about is the rain. I know this blog has been dominated by the weather but April has been beyond unbelievable keeping me stuck indoors. I am so far behind with the vegetable gardening, I fear I am going to have to rely on the supermarket for salads this year. But fair play, there has been a 24 hour gap in the down pour, just enough time to mow the lawn, admire the tulips, wear a short-sleeved top and pink shoes and for the kids to have ice cream cornets for their after-school snack. The cats have appreciated a little warmth on their soft ginger and white fur, rolling on warm paving slabs covering their winter-heavy coats in little seeds and debris on the wind. The snails have been removed from the plants and transported to their snail hotel (ie flung over the fence), the washing had an attempt at drying outside and tiny purple shoots are poking their way out of the trays of compost, the promising warmth of the day encouraging them to do so.

It feels like this summer has been a long time coming, it's like we are being teased ever so gently with hints of the days to come. But the anticipation can be as good as the real thing, like the Friday night to a weekend, a journey to an airport, Christmas eve, the last day of term or a flower in bud. So I am trying very hard to enjoy the anticipation, revel in the excitement that we are so close to days spent in flip-flops with multiple sun cream applications.