Saturday 31 March 2018

The ditch, up close

The littlest boy has a new bike. Well, a new-to-him bike, which is just as good. He part-exchanged his old, too-small one. They asked him to wash it before the exchange, but as they were closed he then had to wait two days to get the new-to-him one. Oh the agony. We were there the second they opened. Then we went for a bike ride up to the little church overlooking the river.

We stopped at the community shop on the way. It's a really great place, lots of different and local things for sale. Also some books and hot drinks. I had hot chocolate and picked up a new read.

The littlest boy was loving his bike, swooping round me, racing, slow-racing, all of the things. When it wasn't exciting enough, he decided to cut in across the front of my bike. His bike hit the front wheel of my bike. There was that moment, you know the one, when you know you're going to fall, but you're not quite sure where you'll be landing. Oh. The ditch it is then. I came to rest in a thick thicket of  scrubby scrub over the top of the ditch. To his credit, the littlest boy was horrified and very apologetic. He tried pulling me out, which didn't really work as my leg was trapped under the bike. We got there in the end, although it wasn't very dignified. Imagine a cow stuck on its side, suspended halfway above a ditch on a cushion of thorns, all legs flailing. Much of the swelling has subsided now and the cuts are healing. I have sworn never to go on a bike ride with him again ever. We all know I will, but I have to maximise the drama, you know how it is.

Bertie had a lovely birthday, thank you for your happy wishes. We did a good walk and he had a bit of tuna with his breakfast. Doesn't get much better than that.

Tomorrow there will be the usual Easter treasure hunt round the house. Everyone still wants to join in, even though some people are big and cool now. The lure of chocolate I suspect. I am wishing you all a lovely day, with your share of rabbits and chocolate and all things spring. CJ xx

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Of poems and puppies

We are all about the poetry here at the moment. The two bigger boys have to learn a poem over the Easter break from a selection of ten. It has reminded me how I do love poetry. It's one of those things that sometimes slips between the cracks of time and gets forgotten, but really shouldn't. I have been reading Deep Work by Cal Newport, which recommends uninterrupted downtime. A little poetry is just the thing.

Anyway, the poems are lovely. The biggest boy reduced me to tears with lines from a couple of war poems over the lunch table. Words put together in such a way that our hearts are torn open. A few lines that somehow capture the emotion and the horror and the experience of it all.

Here's a little of Rupert Brooke's The Soldier, by way of an example.

If I should die, think only this of me;
  That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
  In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,         5
  Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's breathing English air,
  Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

'In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;' Perfection. That wasn't one of the choices, just something he'd learned previously. 

One of the selection was T S Eliot's Macavity: The Mystery Cat which the littlest boy also wants to learn. He adores learning poems as well, he did Jabberwocky for a school recital a while back. Something about the rhythm of the words. There's a little magic in it all I think. I have ordered him the edition of Eliot's Old Possom's Book of Practical Cats illustrated by Axel Scheffler as a little treat. He's been enjoying Benjamin Zephaniah's Talking Turkeys!  as well - 'Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas' Cos turkeys just wanna hav fun', love it. There's a poem for everyone out there. 

In other news. The biggest boy has taken up basketball and knocked some vital pipe or other which goes into the back of the house and now there is water dripping out of the boiler.

The middle boy broke his glasses and possibly his finger yesterday on only the first day of the hols.

The littlest boy fell over on both days.

I walked through John Lewis with them today. There were some divine delicate pink shutters. I exclaimed over them. The biggest boy said that they'd be broken within five minutes in our house. I fear he is right. Everyone around here is very heavy on things if you know what I mean. Even the dog. My cushions are honestly an absolute disgrace. But as the biggest boy says (and Charlie Brown too I believe), happiness is a warm puppy, which will have to make up for it all. On the subject of which, he will be one on Thursday. What did we ever do without him? He chewed the trim off of one of my fancy Christmas tea towels this morning. Let's not dwell on why I'm still using the Christmas tea towels in March. They have snowflakes on so they haven't been wildly out of place.

I shall try and capture a nice birthday shot of Bertie on Thursday. We'll go on an extra good walk, maybe with a chum, and there'll be something extra good for tea. Hope all are well. CJ xx

Friday 16 March 2018

Hot chocolate and rugby

So I went to the rugby. The rain was of biblical proportions. You can see in the third photo the steam rising off of the scrum. It was a bit of a last minute idea to entertain the  French exchange student, who is a rugby fan. It rained all of the way there in the car, on the walk to the ground, in the queue to pick up the tickets, for the whole of the match and all the way home. I could hardly see going over the hill on the drive back. The biggest boy pointed out that it was the Full English Experience.

While we were waiting for the tickets I did the whole tour guide thing. Look, there's Pulteney Bridge, it's really famous. Look, there's the Abbey, it's really old. There is a lot of water going over the weir today, it is really wet. I ran out of interesting things to point out after that.

For those who might be a bit vague as to what rugby actually is, it's, oh goodness, I have no idea to be honest. I was going to sum it up in a couple of pithy sentences, but I only have a very tenuous grasp of what it is and I run the risk of enraging those of you who actually know what's going on. I was no doubt the most annoying person at the ground, continually asking what was happening. It's all very stop-start, not like football, which I can just about follow, and even explain the off-side rule if you'd like me to.

Anyway, Bath, the home team whom we had gone to see, won, so it was all good. And by only one point, so it must have been quite thrilling, although it was rather wasted on me, see not knowing what was going on above. I was also very disappointed by the amount of shiny flags they had given out to everyone. Not at all environmentally friendly. Otherwise it was all excellent. At half time we got chips, coke and hot chocolate for me (it was cold as well as wet) and tried to avoid the downspouts of water pouring through the stands above us.

The French student was absolutely lovely, and got on so well with the biggest boy. They were chattering away in a mixture of French and English the whole week and hopefully he had a great time. He ate everything and said I was a very good cook for an English which I am taking as a compliment and that the biggest boy was very lucky, which I am having printed out and laminated.

He arrived here at 2 o'clock in the morning which upset the dog no end. He was beside himself that a stranger had come to the house in the middle of the night and gone upstairs. He made his concerns known to one and all for quite some considerable time. Safe to say that five-sixths of the household were wide awake. By the end of the week it was all forgiven though and the new person was admitted to his pack. Here he is waiting at the bottom of the stairs for me. He's not allowed up, but he always likes to be as close to me as possible, so he tends to wait with his head on the bottom step.

The littlest boy and I took him for a wander and went to a dog-friendly cafe for ginger beer, hot chocolate and a toasted teacake. It was like being in an Enid Blyton book. Bertie laid on the floor perfectly aligned like a compass so that his whole body, ending at the tip of his nose, was pointing directly to the kitchens.

We are all a little tired here after a week of rushing round to events and squeezing things in. Alas the weekend won't be particularly relaxing, there are more Things to be done. A friend said she had nothing planned, and I was a tiny bit envious. There is cricket to fit in alongside football now, a party for someone and the dog has been promised a gallop over a hill somewhere. I've been feeling rather frazzled lately, that feeling when there's never enough time and I'm not sure what to do next. I know it's the same for many, I'm not complaining, it's just left me feeling rather disorganised. I think I need more lists. And maybe a new notebook. I really have a yearning to do some calligraphy, but I always feel I shouldn't while there are so many other work-related things to do. But the pens and the nibs and the ink are calling me. Maybe I'll try and sneak in a little over the weekend. Any plans your end? Wishing you a little of what you fancy, and a ginger beer or a hot chocolate too. Enjoy.

Sunday 4 March 2018

Anyone for a mince pie?

our town from the hill


There is a mountain of wellie boots on the mat and the dog is asleep on top of them. We are all worn out with the hard work of making the most of the snow. It's been about seven or eight years since we last had proper snow here. Everyone is off work, out and about with dogs and children, there is a holiday atmosphere to it all. I almost feel I should be making mince pies. I do have a couple of jars of mincemeat left over now I think about it.

Yesterday I was dragged outside for most of the day. Today I'm aiming for a little inside time. Baking things in a deliciously warm kitchen would suit me very well. Tobogganing was mixed success. The littlest boy plunged his foot into a snowdrift over the stream and couldn't get out. Eventually he came out, but minus his wellie. I couldn't pull it out for love nor money. Someone else's dad got it for us in the end, otherwise he would have had to walk home without it and most likely have lost his foot to frostbite.

Then he tobogganed down the hill, hit a bump, flew through the air and landed with a whomp on his bottom. That was the end of it for him, we dragged ourselves home with more than a little complaining.


A brief interlude since I started writing this post. The snow has all but vanished, the toboggans have been put back in the garage for the next seven years until it snows again and tomorrow life will resume again, full throttle. It was like spring at 5pm when I took the dog for a walk, all warm sunshine and birds singing. An odd few days I think, but a nice break from routine.

All sorts of things were cancelled and there was catching up with friends and doing things locally and walking and puppies and general relaxing. I didn't get round to the mince pies and I feel the moment may have passed. The French student will be here soon, and mince pies may be a bridge too far. I wonder if I can feed him fermented things? They have turned out to be delicious, so I might give it a go. I am compiling a list of things people will not be allowed to say to him, such as, You must not eat the frogs from the pond, which was suggested by someone who shall remain nameless. Honestly, I hope they all behave, I am on tenterhooks. There is nothing like family to completely embarrass a person is there? Any tales to tell..?