Archive for January, 2007


Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Is it bedtime yet? I’ve been up (on and off) since 4.30 this morning and it’s been a really long day. 4.30: Maggie, scream scream there’s a bug. 5.05: Cameron’s alarm. 5.20: Cameron out of shower and “creeping” about. 5.30: Cameron leaves. 5.45: Maggie I need my skittles (scream scream). 5.50: feed Tamsin. 6.00: Maggie comes in to get warm. 6.15: Maggie wriggling, kicking with icy feet, complaining about Jura being in the bed, taken back to her own bed with a drink of water and a prayer. Blessed sleep. 7.40: leap out of bed for a hasty shower before the Ocado delivery turns up at 8 – doorbell out of order so imperative to be downstairs.

At least M got to nursery on time for once, and we both had a proper breakfast. And we spent an hour at the allotment, getting another few square foot dug: I am considering advertising for a odd-job man to come and dig/clear for me so I can just do the fun planting and harvesting stuff. Or is that against the spirit of the thing? Spent a jolly 10 minutes playing hunt-the-compost-bin after the recent storms – but quite glad I don’t have the next plot over where a 100-year-old brick wall was blown over onto the greenhouse.

South for the winter

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Back from a long weekend at mum and dad’s: Cameron mostly worked while I dashed about visiting people. Megan is now walking and a proper little girl rather than a baby, although not quite up to playing with Maggie (nice to see her mum and dad too). I have seen Mia twice in the (ahem) years since we left school but, once we’d found her flat – a mere half-hour late due to my conviction that she lived at number 27 rather than 72: of course I hadn’t taken the bit of paper with address and phone number on, and the helpful chap in number 25 also thought she lived at 27 so I spent a good while insistently pushing the doorbell and refusing to accept there was nobody in – we had a very lovely morning catching up. Last on the schedule was Karen, which was an odd mix of meeting for the first time and catching up: despite never actually having met, or even spoken, before, we’ve been reading reciprocal websites and exchanging comments and emails for over 5 years and chatting almost daily for the past couple. Mum and dad really struggled to get to grips with that one but it’s just penpals for the digital age. Does anybody have a penpal these days?

Journey back a bit of a nightmare with a very contrary madam in the back alternating between whining and being generally irritating and amusing herself by pulling shoes and socks off in order to lick her feet and make footprints on the window. Yuk. And then threw a proper lie-on-the-floor-and-kick tantrum at the service station; count those disapproving looks from all the hypothetical super-parents (my child would never behave like that). 

Today, a heady mix of unpacking and sorting, bill-paying and laundry. Grey grey gloomy and grey here so we are probably best indoors anyway.

Random updates

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

There’s snow on the hills and sun in the sky: this is more like it! Last week’s winds saw our shed door give up the ghost - it had been held up with string for some time so I can’t claim to be that surprised, but it means I have to get “a man” in (who, and where from, I have no idea). I wonder if I could find a multi-functional one who would mow what we laughingly refer to as “the lawn” too? A sheep might be a better solution but next-door’s dogs are irritatingly barky enough without encouraging it further. (M had just about come to terms with the yappy westies on the left and the pathetically whining and really old yorkshire terriers on the right, when one died to be replaced with a properly barking labrador. My poor girl is frightened to go in the garden. Jura, on the other hand, has a lovely time flaunting herself just out of reach!)

We at last have a new cleaner who I think is going to be a bit of a find: she’s very bright and personable and extremely efficient. And she claims to dislike cleaning, which I find strangely reassuring. The house doesn’t know what hit it and she managed it all whilst teaching M to count to five in Welsh (“un, dai, tre, pedwar, PUMP!” she goes). It’s Polish next week: like all good Guardian-reading households these days we have a Polish cleaner (or rather, our cleaner has a Polish assistant). Two cleaners! I feel very spoilt.

I spent much of the weekend waiting for the elusive combination of sleeping-Tamsin and not-actually-raining/dark that would have allowed me to go and dig another square foot or so of allotment. Never happened. My seed potatoes are all chitting in trays in the spare bedroom now so I have some pressure on. It is all very exciting (yes really).

Cameron is now in Mallorca. “For a meeting”, he says (“oh yeah”, I say). Alright for some, and irritatingly increasing his tally in our ongoing competition to visit the most countries as neither of us had previously visited Spain. He is head and shoulders ahead anyway, although that is helped by his insistence on counting the Vatican separately from Italy (tosh).

They can have one of mine

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

I spent most of yesterday evening watching The Baby Borrowers (Cameron is away): three episodes back to back. Anyone seen it? Five fairly innocuous yet extremely clueless teenage couples were moved into their own homes, then given a baby for a weekend, then a toddler, then they will have pre-teens, teens, then some elderly people to care for. I was amazed by how utterly useless most of the girls were - I’m sure I wasn’t quite that self-obsessed even at 16 – but even more amazed by how good the boys were, even the chap who kept harping on about being a “non-verbal communicator” (what does he do, send thought waves?). Most of my amazement was saved for the babies’ real parents: who in their right mind would hand over their baby for 3 days (now a toddler I can understand)? Wouldn’t they miss them? The babies seemed to take it all in their stride and weren’t obviously teary but the poor little things were in a strange house with strange people, with just a few familiar toys to make them feel at home. It just doesn’t seem very kind.

One of the couples has hardly appeared, which presumably means they have taken it all in their stride, but the others have been shown in all their glory. (It probably says more about me than them that I was surprised their parents let them appear: there is no way my mum would have let me move into a house with – gasp – a boy at that age! And also surprised by all the swearing given that they know they will appear on telly and that the children were listening. I am just terribly middle class and old-fashioned, I know.) I especially enjoyed the girl who went and spent 2 hours removing her hair extensions rather than going home where her boyfriend had been house-husbanding all day; she then had a huge hissy fit and stomped out when he asked her to make him a coffee. I can’t see that one lasting though to be fair he did do that annoying “mummy” thing of thinking he and only he knew how to look after the baby. Red-faced, I recognised myself a little.

Normal service has resumed

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

Too wet to go out again. Never mind the fact that I waited in until 2.30 for a building regs chap (expected between 10.30 and 1, naturally) who, when he did arrive, wondered why I thought I needed a certificate for the wood-burning stove* and explained he couldn’t do anything about it as I hadn’t installed it and didn’t have the instructions for him to check. Is this what building regulations approval entails – them checking I have correctly read some instructions? £60. A bargain.

Have done basically nothing all day apart from fritter away time online and scoff sweeties – sugar avoidance is not going at all well. And now I have a bad case of cabin fever but getting out with two children is such a flurry of shoes and hats and coats and have-you-had-a-wee that is hardly seems worth it without good reason.

*Because our solicitor said so.

Getting started

Monday, January 15th, 2007

Today was our first functional visit to the new allotment. We popped up last year to drop off the compost bins and lay carpet (to suppress the weeds, not from some sort of wacko Hyacinth Bucket need to make it tidy) then abandoned it to rain and childbirth. Now, with a new year, we are ready to go!

After picking M up from nursery we had a wander up there, just to see what sort of state it was in: had the carpet worked (yes, rather nicely) and was the mud ludicrous, today being only the second dry day in living memory (not too bad). Chatted to the old boy on the next plot – I can see the chatting is going to be an issue – then came home, packed up some tools and wellies, and went back for an hour’s digging. I managed about a square metre (it is very heavy clay) so it is going to be a long job, but the girls were great. Tamsin slept in her car seat in the middle of the carpet (then woke up and cried so we came home). Maggie dug a medium-sized hole, put on her gardening gloves to try to pull up some weeds, lay about on the carpet under a blanket with her wellies and socks off, then ate cake – I am good at packing for afternoons out – until it was hometime.

Now I ache. That’s the first real physical exertion I’ve made since…well, since labour! And people allowed me weeks to recover from that. Am pleasantly sleepy from all the fresh air (and Cameron has gone to London so if I want to go to bed at 9, I can*).

*Not that I am suggesting he would prevent me if he was here – but I’d feel a bit mean and unsociable.

Sisters, sisters, never were there such devoted…

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

M & T (3)


Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

Birthdays don’t count any more at my age, but it is still a bit sad to wake up one year older on your own*. Cameron went to London yesterday and isn’t coming back until tomorrow. He has left a nice pile of cards and presents (but I’d rather he was here with no presents than presents are here without him). I told Maggie it was my birthday and she should sing to me, but she seems a bit confused: she was quite put out that I didn’t put on my party dress and wanted to know where the tree was and had “Farmer” Christmas been. We all overslept (see note below) so I haven’t opened anything yet; I thought I’d wait until she’s home this afternoon rather than doing it just with Tamsin this morning.

I did have a nice reflexology birthday treat, and Sara brought me cake last night. I’m not feeling too hard done by, just a bit starved of adult conversation. Trying to decide whether my evening would be better spent with Buffy or Moulin Rouge at the moment. I know how to have fun.

*”On my own” means Cameron isn’t there – of course I actually woke up with Tamsin snuffling away as usual on my right; I had about a foot-wide bit of bed then Maggie was spreadeagled across the rest of it, one foot in my face, on top of the covers. Cameron rang at 8 but M didn’t even wake: she came in around 4 last night in order to share an hour of coughing (very generous) so she was tired.

Because I’m sweet enough

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

I seem to be blessed with a windy baby this time around (M hardly ever burped and was never sick). Rather than going straight for the infacol in the modern manner, I am tweaking my diet to see if it makes any difference: first on the hit list is sugar because I have been eating loads since she was born (OK, OK, and before) and So-san, my Japanese midwife, was always very down on sugar. Tired, hormonal, naturally sweet-toothed…then Christmas came with its usual cake-and-sweety bounty and I reckon I’m nearly up at 1930s levels (according to a recent thread on Downsizer, the average sugar consumption of the poor working class in the North in the 1930s was something like 3 lb per week. Wow.)

I managed 30 hours and then the 4pm Hunger (familiar to all pregnant and breastfeeding mothers) struck. Two digestives, two bits of Christmas cake and four pieces of chocolate-covered ginger in about 5 minutes flat. And then, as I was off the wagon anyway, half a packet of jaffa cakes in the space between University Challenge and what would have been Waking the Dead if Maggie hadn’t woken up screaming, causing me to spend the rest of the evening on the phone to NHS direct. I’m not generally a neurotic mum but the screaming was quite out of character and she was complaining of a pain in the lower right-hand side of her tummy*.

Anyway, that was really a bit pathetic so I’m trying again. It’s not just about uncomfy Tamsin now – although she isn’t a very happy bunny today – but about my inability to resist chocolate. It is evil and it calls to me. Only today is proving quite hard enough to get through: I’ll see you the aforementioned screaming and raise you last night’s storm battering our windows, which are the village’s first line of defense against the winds that race across the Dee floodplains from the Welsh Hills, and a tax return. I’ve succumbed to a(nother) jaffa cake and, sadly, a horribly pinkly sweet fairy cake. But I am trying, and when the Ocado chap turns up in the next hour with lots of lovely savoury treats I should find it somewhat easier.

Incidentally, when did jaffa cakes become a health food? The packet is plastered with information about how they have only 1 g of fat but “lots of energy” (ie calories, no?) so are recommended by nutritionists.

*She’s fine.

Slowly, slowly…

Monday, January 8th, 2007

the new site is taking shape. I know it looks the same to you as it did yesterday but I now have my book lists in the new style. I had a thoroughly interesting half hour reformatting the lists: I knew I was reading less these days but hadn’t realised quite how much less. Pre-Maggie I went through a book a week (and “proper” books too, with far fewer trash thrillers and mummy memoirs). Maggie’s birth decreased my reading to more like one a month; moving back from Japan decreased the rate again (driving in a car rather than sitting on a train hasn’t helped) and I have read precisely two thrillers since Tamsin’s arrival. It’s not just a lack of time – though mostly that – but also a lack of mental function even though Tamsin is an angel who now does a full 6-hour stretch at night (maybe I am suffering mummy amnesia but I don’t think Maggie did that until she was much older).

I was, however, quite impressed with my ability to recall great swathes of plot for almost every book on the list. Even those from 2002. Apart from a pile of books by Richard North Patterson (who the hell is he and why did I read so many?) and Colette, of which I have no memory, although I do know I read it for my book group and that it has <200 pages following one member's request for short books.