Monday 29 April 2019

Spring energy

Photos taken in Bath over that glorious Easter weekend. Bert was a city dog for a while. It's not his best mode to be honest. There's a lot of pulling and looking about for his people. Here we are waiting for the biggest boy to take some photos of Pulteney Bridge. Dogs were not allowed, so we sat under a tree and people-watched for a while.

Yesterday the cricket and football season overlapped. I took the dog for an evening walk down lanes lined with cow parsley while the biggest boy bowled some balls at people and they hit some sixes. It was a blissful evening, all soft sunlight and birdsong and frothy white blossom. We bumped into our whippet friend and did some wild running until we could run no more.

I have been feeling a little out of sorts lately. I can't quite put my finger on why, there is absolutely no reason for it. But the rhythms of life tend to be up and down and no doubt it will all swing along sooner or later. In the meantime I am amassing an unfeasibly large pile of books to be read. I find them somehow comforting, or maybe it's just a thing I do when I'm out of sorts. A sort of twenty-first century survival thing. So long as I have books, pens, notebooks and bags to carry them in I'll survive the apocalypse - that sort of thing.

I am contemplating a Kindle. One of the ones that is just an e-reader - I don't need it to be all-singing, all-dancing. Although I wouldn't mind being able to listen to a podcast on it, if such a thing was possible.

I went to a local literary festival at the weekend, and it was excellent. So very inspiring to hear indie authors talking about writing and publishing their fiction. I am full of spring enthusiasm now, and on the home stretch of a first draft. Then there's just the rewrites, edits, rewrites, proofreading, cover, publishing, marketing, oh, and write the next one. So I'm basically almost a novelist.

How is everything with you? Spring energy kicking in? Or whiffling around under a pile of books? Either way I am sending you good thoughts.

Monday 22 April 2019


Ah, bank holiday. It seemed as though everyone was out, everywhere. We cunningly avoided the M5 and went to the village with the big village green. The canal was bustling, with houseboats opened up and everyone kicking back and enjoying the sun. The bridge operators were opening and closing bridges non-stop, some of them still needing winding by hand - hot work on the hottest Easter Monday on record.

Outside the pub there was all sorts of traditional bank holiday stuff - Morris dancing, sausage rolls, ice-cream, lager, dogs underfoot, deckchairs, sunburn and cider ice-lollies (the littlest boy's choice - the closest he can get to actual cider, which he believes he may enjoy). St George was even cantering about the place lancing things, which added to the atmosphere. There was a mummer's play and some strange feathery, flappy black-clad Morris dancers which Bertie took a very decided dislike to. He'd already had a fright when the barrier at the swing bridge went up in the air and the scary people were, well, a bridge too far. We retreated to a shady tree to calm down.

I dutifully did the annual Easter egg treasure hunt yesterday. I always forget what utter chaos it is when people misinterpret the clue and empty out cupboards looking for something that isn't there. I love it really though, especially when they can't get one and I can stand there looking smug and enigmatic because I KNOW WHERE THE CHOCOLATE IS.

And so it is all over and normal life will resume within a day or two. I hope all had a good weekend. I have enjoyed having the little and not-so-little people home. The biggest boy and I had a conversation over pens and notebooks yesterday, which we both take very seriously. I have three nice refillable pens that I got secondhand as a job lot a while ago.

Him: Three?? You don't need three.

Me: I do. What if there is a Brexit pen shortage? Who'll be laughing then?

Him: Can I have one?

Me: NO! They're all mine.

Him: But you have three.

Me: Try some of this tea. Smell it first.


It doesn't actually. Cardiff smells lovely, and lapsang souchong does too, although in a very different and more of a burning rubber sort of a way.

Of course he squeezed a pen out of me in the end. Then he took it apart to see how it worked. What is it with boys and taking stuff apart? He also likes making 'improvements' to things. He has added about forty 'useful' apps to my laptop to streamline his existence. Unfortunately it takes so long there isn't usually much time left for homework at the end of it all. But it is all apparently very efficient and if only I would do it all as well, I too could be running smoothly.

Hope all is well out there? Smooth and energy efficient? Or slopping lapsang souchong on the laptop and hoping for the best?

Wednesday 17 April 2019

Cautionary tales

Thank you for all of your plaster well wishes. It was an absolute shocker in many ways, but as I always aim not to make you feel ill (pretty much my tagline) I shall not go into all, or indeed any, of the gory detail. Suffice to say, you may want to avoid them like the plague. And they are not like other plasters when you come to peel them off, they are more like some incredibly thin second skin that sticks like the devil so that you can't even find the edge.

The dog was a little bit sick the other morning (sorry, a touch of grossness there, but bear with me, I have yet another cautionary tale) and was being very dramatic, as is the way with pretty much everyone in this house. He sat down sadly on his walk, gazing into my eyes as though he was trying very hard to communicate something. He kept stretching oddly and when we got home he went and laid out flat on the patio in the manner of roadkill.

We all immediately panicked that he'd swallowed something else and that it had become lodged somewhere, so he was whisked off to the vet, where he sat shaking under the fire extinguisher - he does not have happy memories of them now. When he was a puppy it was all tasty treats and cuddles, but now it's more a question of squeezing and inserting and quite frankly he does not like them any more.

They decided his tummy was tender and they'd give him an ultrasound. He was slid off across the floor as he won't walk anywhere there. To cut a long story short, they weren't quite happy with the ultrasound, so they did an x-ray too for good measure, but in the end decided they couldn't see anything and it was probably an upset tummy. They'd given him painkillers, then a sedative, then a drip, plus some medication to bring home AND IT ALL CAME TO SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FOUR POUNDS. Needless to say he is all back to normal now and happy as a clam.

I bought him a new basket (see vomit above) which he does not care for at all. It is big and thick and bouncy with an adverse camber that he can't get used to. To be fair, I have slippers which are exactly the same. They're too thick and I feel as though I am constantly rolling off of them and being as I'm fairly clumsy as it is I've only worn them about twice all winter and one of those times I fell on the stairs in them.

The Easter hols so far have been all about things on wheels. Boys really do love things on wheels don't they. The littlest boy is scooting everywhere, while the middle boy is biking. And if they're not actually doing it, they're talking about it. It is all far too dangerous for my liking, but I am trying to be laidback about it all. The littlest boy would like a bmx bike really. I was watching someone on one the other day, thinking they're quite nice, maybe I should allow him one. Then someone knocked their tooth out. And today I saw a someone with several front teeth missing. I have gone back to my normal and natural state of high anxiety and nobody is allowed to do anything.

Monday 8 April 2019


Photos from a visit to Wells, England's smallest city. Spring was in the air, blossom, bird song, people already wearing shorts, you know how it is. I have to be prised out of my coat at the end of May. I'd love to be one of those people who can swan around in a t-shirt in April without a care in the world, but try as I might it just isn't me. I am not a hardy soul.

Some of you had questions about the news items from last time. The fatberg was sent to a plant to be converted into electricity. Apparently you can also turn them into biodiesel. The duckling thing works like this (I think). Fertilised birds' eggs don't start developing until momma bird starts incubating them. So she can lay an egg and go out for the day, leaving it all cold and alone in its nest. Then next day she might lay another one, and off she goes again. And on and on until she has all the eggs ready. Then she sits down and stays on the nest and they warm up and off they go.

So the fertile supermarket egg waits happily in its box until a boy with an incubator comes along and pops it in to warm. Then he keeps it constantly warm and turns it five times a day and in a month or so, bingo, duckling. So no need to worry that you're going to crack an egg and a duckling will drop out into your cake mixture.

The Easter hols have started in fine style. The littlest boy fell off of his scooter and took (another) chunk out of his leg. He is fundamentally opposed to plasters, so I persuaded him that the thing I had was a dressing and not a plaster at all. It is some sort of new-fangled thing, which I stuck on without properly reading the instructions first. It is oddly sticky over its entire surface, which doesn't bode well if it needs to be peeled off. And it's the peeling off part that he's fundamentally opposed to. And he's also slightly allergic to some plasters. So I am rather wishing I hadn't slapped it on now. I can't see it ending well.

The day was a whirlwind of bikes and scooters and boys and food preparation and laundry and dog walking and I am sat here thinking, blimey, that was only day 1. You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but somehow it always seems a bit daunting at the beginning. And then at the end I'm always wishing it would go on for longer.

I am working up to a craft project - one of those nice noticeboard things. I'll let you know how it goes. I tried some crochet the other day. You will remember the ball of wool that was sitting on the shelf. Well, I decided it would look nice as a scarf in one of those lovely ripple patterns. I wrote down the instructions and off I went.

Sigh. It is obviously not supposed to look like this. I have zero patience for fiddly things that go wrong, so it has all been wound back up and I am sulking. Everyone else makes it look so easy.

Hope all is well with you. Any good plans?