Wednesday 28 August 2019

The calm before the revolution

Goodness me, wasn't the bank holiday weekend wonderful? How often is there a whole glorious three days of sunshine? It's all the more lovely for being so rare I think.

We left the dog at home with the biggest boy lest he overheat in his little fur coat and headed for beautiful Bath. There was a delicious holiday feel everywhere. Picnics in the park, everyone strolling through the streets at a happy slow pace, coffee to be drunk on the pavements and up the little side streets. Wonderful.

I took the littlest boy into the fantastic Mr B's to spend his book token. The staff are all incredibly well read and can tell you what you might like to read next if you tell them what you enjoy. The littlest boy took an inordinately long time choosing a book. Like me, he doesn't like to rush an important decision. Or any decision at all.

Encouraged by your comments, I have continued my news fast and I am very much enjoying it. I know almost nothing of the current political situation, after years and years of being all up on current affairs. Ignorance is indeed bliss. I wish I had known sooner. The first I will know of the revolution is when the lights go out and there are no more plastic wrapped pre-peeled oranges in Tesco. At which point I shall be laughing as I have stockpiled enough notebooks to last me twenty years and I grow my own vegetables. Plus I've read The Hunger Games so I know how to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. I am utterly fearless.

On that note, I am off to finish some work so that I can get out in the garden tomorrow and plant out my little kale plants. Come the revolution we won't want to be short of iron. Or indeed kale crisps. And I wonder if it is time to let the littlest boy have that axe he is always on about. Thoughts?

Sunday 25 August 2019

The parenting rating scale

Goodness me, urchins are expensive to run, aren't they? I am reeling from all the uniform-buying, the days out, the ice-creams, the odd little things they persuade me to buy (so many!) and the shoes, oh the shoes! What on earth did I used to do with all my money? I like to think I'm fairly thrifty, but it's a battle a lot of the time.

Anyway, above are more photos from beautiful Wales, mostly to calm me down. There was less shoe-buying there.

I asked the older two to rate my parenting today, after I felt some criticism pointed in my direction after failing to adequately chastise the littlest boy for some misdemeanor or other. In my defence, the older two have so effectively worn me down over the years that I have nothing left. The scale was 1-10, where 1 was absolutely shocking parental failure on all fronts and 10 was all-round excellence. The biggest boy felt that I was a solid 4, with the middle one giving me a 5, or possibly even a 6. I shall wait until I have done something especially indulgent to ask the littlest boy, when I shall be confident of a 10.

A picnic is planned here tomorrow, what with the weather being set unusually fair for a bank holiday. All those wet ones make the sunny ones more lovely. Although a wet bank holiday has its own charms I think. A trip to the bookshop is also planned, which is pretty much my happy place. The littlest boy has a book token to spend, given to him after he did a kind thing for a friend. He is not one for making quick decisions (hence one hour and forty minutes spent in the trainer shop yesterday - me and the middle boy gave up and sat slumped on the seat waiting for the end of days) so it should be a long visit. It will be my reward for the trainer shop horror. Hoping you have a happy thing planned too. CJ xx

Sunday 18 August 2019

Is there any news?

I went on holiday for a week and didn't hear any news at all. It was rather lovely. Was there any? Does it matter whether I know about it or not? I do of course know the cricket score, which was force fed to me by the urchins. Otherwise I am a blank slate.

Wales was glorious as ever. The sea, the mountains, the air, the greenness, the sheep and the gentle, beautiful Welsh rain, keeping everything lush. Water trickling over slate, ferns growing out of walls, moss covering old wood and ancient stone, lichens creeping slowly over rocks.

There was mountain biking, body boarding, swimming, dog walking and stone skimming. And more ice-cream than you could shake a stick at. The biggest boy and I went to Bardsey Island for the day. There are just a handful of houses there, and of course several dozen sheep. Someone has a polytunnel and grows salad and you can buy homemade jams and chutneys. It is utterly peaceful. I would rather like to stay there for a while, far from the madding crowd as it were.

But for now I am at home, where the mad crowd are round and about, but all is as it should be and I am grateful and glad. The dog is tired but doing his job of keeping everyone accounted for and rounded up well as ever. I'm tired too as it happens. Holidays can be hard work, but oh so lovely. One day I think I shall move to Wales and have a slate wall of my very own, with ferns growing out of it and moss on the steps. In the meantime I am happy to be here, with a messy garden, a laundry mountain and everyone present and accounted for. If you have any news of your own, I would love to hear, but you don't need to bother updating me on the rest of the world, I shall save that for another day. Or not.

Thursday 8 August 2019


It's hazelnut season here in our little corner of the world. On our morning walks you can actually hear the squirrels gnawing away at them above your head. They frequently drop them down as you go past. It makes me wonder if they're throwing them at us sometimes. Bert doesn't approve of squirrels. With the absence of school children in the mornings there seem to be more of them about the place, teasing him with their swishy tails and their fat cheeks. I live in fear of him catching one, although I suspect he'd freak out if he got too close and just bark at it and run away instead. He's not in the least bit brave and intrepid. His best friend is, but he tends to stand on the sidelines however much she encourages him. There's a pool on our morning walk, and although he might have a very light paddle in a shallow bit of the stream, she likes to jump right in to the deepest bit. He says to her, Don't do it, it doesn't look safe to me, and she steams past him at a hundred miles an hour going STAND WELL BACK, I'M GOING IN. We are all different.

Slight technical hiccups behind the scenes here. I messed up my photo card with all the photos of the littlest boy doing his end of term things. I also lost all my phone contacts. I tried my usual fix of Turning It Off Then Turning It Back On Again, but had to result to the failsafe method of finding a teenager to do it for me. The biggest boy is slowly putting everything right and tutting at my poor technological organisation and lack of, well, I don't know really, but apparently I am doing everything wrong and I don't have any of the apps that would revolutionise my life. This may be where I've going wrong all this time. Thank goodness for digital natives to show us the way.

On the reading front I have been enjoying Sex, Lies, and Handwriting by Michelle Dresbold.

Really fascinating, although from early chapters it seems I may be paranoid and delusional, very much in the manner of L. Ron Hubbard, also with possible felon claws in my writing and maybe even the odd strangler stroke. To be fair the book mostly seems to deal with violent criminals and corrupt politicians, so there aren't many paragons of virtue to compare myself to, although I must admit my writing is nothing like Mother Teresa's, or even Michelle Dresbold's mum. So who knows what I may be capable of if pushed to the limit. The summer holidays will be the time to test it all out.

Sunday 4 August 2019

Street art of Bristol

I dragged the biggest boy into the city to take some colourful photos. Honestly, GCSE photography is an effort. I shall want a certificate as well by the end of it all. Bristol is known for its street art, particularly around the Stokes Croft area. Banksy got his start here, and the first image is one of his earlier pictures. The Mild Mild West is one of his as well. There's always the argument is it art or is it grafitti? but it's well and truly taken root now and has become part of the scene in some areas of town. Anyway, it's on to flowers today, which is more my thing. My prize dahlia has been sacrified, along with my one and only zinnia. It turns out zinnias are one of slugs' favourite things, so my image of wandering dreamily through the garden with armfuls of them in the manner of a low-budget Sarah Raven has been shattered, but I was very proud of the single flower, which will now be preserved via GCSE photography for all to marvel at.

In an effort to spread myself between all three children I took the middle boy to the building shop to buy wood to make a ramp for biking up and down. He was supposed to have all the measurements ready and know exactly what he wanted, but he was typically vague and we ended up spending about 45 minutes with the chap there, with me doing mad sketches in my second-best handbag notebook and trying to explain the whole concept despite only having a very faint grasp of it myself. I happened to mention that the middle boy had seen a video of how it was all done. The chap in the shop suggested perhaps I should have watched it too. We left in the end with three pieces of wood. I could see a faint shimmer of hysteria in the man's eye after I told him we'd be back when we'd completed phase one. To his credit he smiled and said, 'I'll look forward to it.'

Next week promises to be hairy, with all of the people wanting to do all of the things and work simmering away in the background. I am breathing deeply as usual, although it's starting to make me feel a bit dizzy. Hope all is well with all. CJ xx