Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Cut to the quick

The beast and I went up past the allotments to walk in the woods at sunset today. There were all the browns and muted colours of winter and peace and head space. It was just us and the wild things. Bertie ran about making sure we were safe and that nothing was lurking in the undergrowth.

I managed the 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo which felt good. I just need to keep up the momentum now, which will be trickier.

I am thinking about Instagram. Should I be there? I don't really have any lovely things to photograph, that is the main problem I think. Just the brown things, of which the dog is one. Maybe the dog should have an Instagram account. I follow Alice Hoffman's dog you know, and very lovely she is too. But brown dogs photograph less well, so I am wondering if I need a more Instagrammable dog. Something in beige or light grey. It's a slippery slope.

The biggest boy was doing his French homework the other day. I peered over his shoulder. The question, written in French, was, Which do you prefer, holidays at home in the United Kingdom or holidays abroad? I read through his answer a couple of times.

Me:  Does that say that you like to go abroad but your parents have no money and don't like to do anything risky?

Him (after a long pause, then a smile which he clearly intends to be winning): Pretty much.

Me: I wonder if you should add in that your mother likes to be eco-friendly and therefore is not one for jetting off about the place willy-nilly, but conscientiously sticks to her principles, for which I greatly admire her and one day I hope I grow up to be just like her?

Him: We've got Health and the Environment coming up, that would go better in that topic.

Hmph. It better had. I do risky stuff. I cycled around Morocco on my own several hundred years ago and more recently I've been down the underpass near the big Tesco and eaten a samosa that was three days out of date. Honestly, they think I don't live.

It strikes me that children's homework must be quite revealing about their lives. Right from Year R when their Best Day Ever was going to the park and having an ice-cream or seeing Mickey Mouse at Disneyland, through to Year 11 when it's a damp week in Wales with the poverty-stricken olds or a month skiing in Barbados with excitingly risky parents. The littlest boy is not above making things up, which puts us in a much better light, although sometimes I have to admit it is alarmingly violent and pretty much unsupervised. I am waiting for a knock at the door.

I hope all is well out there and you are all being suitably risky and well-travelled. Mind how you go.


  1. Oh my goodness, you make me laugh! My children don't think I live, either, but I can live with that.;)

  2. Brilliant! I do love your posts - wonderful photography (certainly worthy of Instagram) and witty prose. I think you definitely need more kudos for braving an underpass! I dread to think what my 2 wrote in their homework over the years; I have a feeling that ignorance is bliss! xx

  3. My son used to make things up too, once writing (at about aged 5) that we had been 'to Russia and drank beer', in the holidays. When I asked why he had written that, he told me that everyone else did exciting things in the holidays so he HAD to make something up.

  4. Hi CJ, your posts are such a tonic. My kids spent most of their primary years in SW London where their peers had extremely exotic lives. Ours never compared! Would love to hear about your Morocco travels one day. Take care xx

  5. Beautiful first photo. I can imagine you and Bertie just standing and staring.
    I have to admit , over the years, I’ve had some good laughs marking children’s homework. The things they say about families are priceless. I could write a book but sadly they were never recorded at the time! Cycling round Morocco on your own WOW! I hope your sons appreciate their mother. B x

  6. My daughter has a 5 year old friend who makes things up - said with a totally straight face to adults. It does slightly startle me, but I go along with it just for the fun. I think she is waiting for me to call her out on it, and when I don't, it kind of ruins her fun.

  7. Firstly, your Bertie, and one of my dogs, Harry, who is a Bedlington cross, (probably with some kind of sheep), have always looked very similar. Now I see with some relief that Bertie has also gone for the salt and pepper look, although in a more genteel and generalised manner than mine, who is currently sporting blonde clumps amongst the chocolate brown. I took it to be a silent rebellion against my rather amateur hair cutting technique, as whatever grew back after the trim seemed to be a different colour than what had been lopped, but now I've seen your's, well your dog's, I'm feeling a bit happier. Maybe its a kind of specialised camouflage option for dogs who spend a lot of time in mud, then dead grass, or something.

    And your mention of the littlest boy's very slight exaggeration of 'What I did at the weekend' essays reminded me of one of my daughter's friends, who chillingly wrote that 'my mummy stabbed daddy at the dinner table on Saturday.' Fortunately, our vicar was still able to give his sermon the following day, although it was duly noted that he had a bandaged hand. Turns out, this was not the only visible defensive injury from his struggle with an enraged spouse. Had more to do with his wife attempting to spear an escaping boiled new potato with her fork, at the same moment he was reaching for the salt cellar. Or so they said. 'Out of the mouths of children, comes forth innocence' - isn't that the phrase ? You pays your money, you takes your pick. Believe who you will....

  8. Nice post and pictures as always. Well done on doing NaNoWriMo. I have an Instagram account which I've never used, and I don't visit there to look at others.
    I'm okay, and as for being risky and well-travelled I confess to being neither nowadays. Thanks, and you too. xx

  9. You do make me laugh! We've got to the age where daughter frantically texts us when we go travelling! love this post.xxx

  10. I have Twitter and Instagram and never post much other than when I tweet that I've put a blog post up. I virtually never look at "IG" as I don't really need another way to gobble up my valued time.. a time suck. You could always dye the dog red or purple if you need him to stand out against all the winter brown. :-) I think you need to tell your boys more often of your wild and exciting youth. I was a hippie who flew to Hawaii and lived there 8 months and hitchhiked to San Francisco to see what Haight-Ashbury looked like and hitchhiked back. Helped put on 2 huge rock festivals in the Seattle countryside and got to be onstage with Jim Morrison and The Doors and lots of the big bands of the late 60s. But now I'm a grey haired grandma.. but hey.. I've got stories. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  11. My daughter told her school teacher that on our driving holidays with us she ate meat pies every day for lunch! The teacher said to me that she wondered if it was true. I had to tell a white lie and tell her that was not quite right, but in fact that was all my daughter wanted almost every day as it was a special treat to have a shop bought meat pie. Very Aussie.

  12. You are SO right about children’s writing the things that I’ve read. Although the best was when I was an IT consultant and visited all the schools in our area. One little boy saw my laptop and remarked,”My mum is a laptop dancer too”.
    If you think brown dogs are difficult to photograph try a black one.
    By the way I love the first photo.

  13. Ha, my sister is a teacher and I hear all about the things children let slip. But don't worry, teachers are human, they know how it is.
    Instagram is my new favourite hangout. I love that it's just pictures with few words and no negativity. If you were on there I would follow you. Your photos are gorgeous and they always tell a story.

  14. Do come to the dark side...aka Instagram...I'm started by forcing myself to be there (Just pick one social media outlet, so say The Experts) and have found I actually am rather enjoying it. And I have very little worthy of photographing just now - no moody garden shots and neither of our animals are good at having their photos taken. George, I can sometimes snap if I'm quick but Emma always has a look of horrendous abuse on her face...I'd be getting hate-comments accusing me of ill-treatment. ;)

    Besides, you always have lovely photos.

    I really feel you should be writing a family memoir...

    ...and BLOODY WELL DONE, NANOWRIMO WINNER!!! Superb! Absolutely! <-- how odd, I forgot how to spell absolutely.

  15. Huge congratulations on reaching your word target. I love your writing - it always makes me laugh. I'm on Instagram. I find it a very inspiring and creative community full of people willing to share their knowledge and skills.

  16. I went on Instagram briefly, then all these people I did not know were following me and I got very freaked out about sharing Little Buddy. So I use it purely to find information, I read about current politics and all natural healing and such. That is the stuff I love. As for little people and all they say, well I know one little boy who has used a few swear words at school.....wonder where he hears that?

  17. I'm still giggling at "I'm still waiting for the knock on the door"!
    Happy Monday.

  18. Oh the things children write about their families. My oldest (then 10) wrote an essay about his gran, saying that she had a bit of a temper, cooked inedible carrots but had an awesome robot toilet....

    Huge congratulations for completing your 50,000 words writing challenge. I can't even begin to imagine how many pages this is!

    I am a lurker on IG, post about one photo every six months. I prefer words over photos on the whole. xx