Archive for April, 2008


Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Spring seems (shh! don’t jinx it!) to have arrived at last. My cucumbers have finally germinated; the second row of potatoes has been planted; the apple tree is going to burst into pink any day now; and the weeds are making up for lost time. But hoorah for being able to go out without layers.

Yesterday we went without layers to the park, for the first time since…gosh I don’t know but we certainly haven’t been this year. Maggie had taken to saying mournfully every time we drove past that it had been aaaaaggggeeeees: she was right. It was really fun, I had forgotten – and lovely now T is big enough to go on things and enjoy it as well. Here she is enjoying the slide at the zoo on Monday, too. While we were on our way to the park I spotted a poster for a new dance class in the village: perfect! M has been mithering to go to ballet for months now – I hadn’t done anything about it, partly through sloth, partly through a general feeling of being quite scheduled enough already thank you, and partly because I was just not sure whether she really wanted to do it or just thought it was what girls did. Anyway, we went for a trial today – big success. Huge. Holly, who had been her bessy mate at preschool before she started school last September, was there and she (Holly) had a pink ballet outfit and pink shoes. It just doesn’t get much better than that when you are 4. Tamsin and I spent a pleasant three quarters of an hour in the church graveyard (I like graveyards and she likes climbing and jumping, so we were both happy), peeping in occasionally to see what they were up to. M was right in the thick of it pointing her toes (in trainers, unfortunately, as I hadn’t provided ballet shoes), skipping, waving her hands and being a starfish on demand. She’s gone to bed a very happy little girl.

Tea ceremony

Friday, April 18th, 2008

A slight mishap while Maggie was, ahem, enthusiastically sweeping my kitchen floor (children have their uses!) has seen the demise of my favourite mug. Curvy in profile; thin white bone china; comfy handle and a tasteful picture of camomile and borage, it was perfect for herbal tea – and, in fact, I never drank anything else out of it (and rarely drank any truly herby tea from anything else). Cameron’s aunty kindly gave me some very nice, thin, new mugs for my birthday – indeed, I have a cupboard-full of mugs of various shape and size – but I can see I will have to hunt for the perfect replacement. I feel more sad than is reasonable (I’ve had it a long time) and this has made me wonder about favourite mugs and hot-drink rituals. I have a few – see below – and would be (really!) very interested to hear about other people’s. I’m not on my own with this am I?

Coffee is best, if I’m on my own, from a large, heavy, slightly chipped yellow and blue mug. If there is two of us I have a matched pair of tall, straight, red and white mugs, which are rather elegant (and, unusually, suit both tea and coffee). If these are unavailable, a conic blue-and-white striped pair. Any more than two requires the wedding denby or the six blue and grey toning-not-matching mugs I bought in Japan.

Lady Grey tea, which is only drunk mid-afternoon, comes in a hello kitty mug: not a cheap and nasty pink one but a quality white one with line drawings, which was issued to mark her 30th birthday. Or a asymmetric one with a duck.

Normal (Earl Grey) tea is drunk from whatever comes to hand, but usually the denby again. Unless it is first thing, in which case it warrants a squeeze of lemon and a glass mug or a tall thin one with Robert the Bruce on (don’t ask: I hadn’t realised until I started typing this how set in my ways I am), or (a new addition to the list of favourites) a black and white “Beatles” mug, presumably Cameron’s, that has thin walls but a chunky shape. If we are doing jobs,a chunkier, more square sort of a mug, possibly from a museum or similar, is required. And if we are gardening or doing DIY (ha ha as if) then it has to be a very thick small grey one with blue flowers, which I got 3-for-a-pound when I was a student.

Hot chocolate comes in the Denby – but the green vase-like Denby not the blue curved ones. And If Maggie is having a warm drink, she has a small two-handled bone china cup with cats on. Fab. Reassure me.

Plot update

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Some days, allotmenteering with children in tow is a real joy: you feel all earth-mothery and fab. Some days it is hell on earth and you spend the entire time screeching like a harridan as they fight over the tools/throw the lovely compost out of your raised bed/climb on other people’s cold frames (a fantastic combination of breakable glass, poisonous slug pellets and other people’s property)/roll about on other people’s lovely even potato furrows/screech/whinge/climb into the car and turn the radio up really loud then cry in fright. The whinge some more for good measure.

I have come home feeling rather more harrassed than I did before* but secure in the knowledge I have at long last got in my first row of first early potatoes (“epicure”) thanks in no small part to Peter, one of the old boys, who brought up spade and rake and worked for me for over an hour – how kind. I’ve brought home the last 5 white tulips and a bag of purple-sprouting broccoli for tea as well: hooray!

*Which was already quite harrassed, thank you: C is somewhere fabulous near Milan with mountain-and-lake views from his suite; I have a largish deadline tonight; my cleaner has apparently quit, or at least not shown her face since before Easter.

Two by two

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

So far since we moved to this house I have blogged about rats in the compost, giant arachnids, slugs (and children ha ha ha). At Christmas, our suspicions were raised when the chocolate coins I had hidden in the small bedroom had been nibbled – I went and bought a mouse trap that has sat unopened on top of the microwave ever since. Sunday, I went into the room again (we don’t use it much) to check on the progress of my chitting potatoes*, only to find a small pile of droppings next to a neatly nibbled spud. Unwrapped and set trap.

Last night, quietly watching telly**, I noticed Cameron gesticulating at me from his sofa (we have one each. His is larger and has better sound quality, and I sit there when he is away). A mouse had run around my sofa then popped underneath – it spent the rest of the evening peeping out at us in a cute and cheeky manner. We need a cat – although I brought the trap downstairs and it had efficiently caught said mouse by the morning (I put him out the front door: I do hope they don’t have a homing instinct and that he will just have gone off somewhere else not come straight back in again).

Am hoping we just had one (but am about to rebait the trap and put it back upstairs again just in case) not a family.

*They are fine yet still not in the ground. Arg.

**Gavin and Stacey, I think, so we were pretty quiet. It’s not laugh-out-loud-funny, season 2, is it.


Monday, April 7th, 2008

We had a brilliant week at Centerparc and have come back quite recharged (Cameron especially, with his 2 weeks in the states beforehand, has been out of the office for an unusually long time). If exhausted. Swimming for several hours 5 days running (both Maggie and Mia are really starting to swim); the girls went on a pony trek – Maggie rode Valentino and Mia, Red – and I felt quietly virtuous as I cycled through the forest before 9 am one morning en route to a yoga class. Which was fantastic and left me all stretched and calm (which of course didn’t last 2 minutes but that is not the point) while a bit sad that I can’t find time to do it more regularly: 4 classes since M was born is not a very good rate. I keep toying with the idea of a DVD but realistically I know myself and I will never do it. Oh, and Suzanne and I sloped off to spend an afternoon at the spa. How yummy are we. The children slept like the dead: Maggie and Mia, despite sharing a room, went off without even demanding a story one night!

We got back Friday and spent the weekend mostly pottering. Saturday, I turned the compost in the home bin, which is not yet ready to use. I am still highly suspicious it is feeding some animals, presumably rats. Pulled ground elder out of the rose bed while Cameron tackled the shed and made a large pile of stuff for the tip.
On Sunday I spent a couple of child-free hours at the allotment. It felt surprisingly cosy despite the earlier snow – we only had a scattering – even though at one point I was hailed on.
My first tulips have flowered! Gorgeous creamy-white ones (“purissima”, I think, although they don’t much resemble the description beyond being quite white). All the tulips at the allotment have been carefully selected to go nicely with my decor so I cut the first 5 and brought them home and they do look absolutely fabulous on the mantelpiece. Am very pleased with them (they opened right out through the course of the afternoon then shut back up again at night, too.)

One of my PSBs is finally starting to produce some purple sprouts, which is most exciting. Unlike the other three which remain resolutely green and leafy.

Finished double-digging and manuring the site for my first raised bed, and got it constructed. I am so smug. I need to buy some bags of compost to fill it, as my home-made stuff isn’t there yet, but I can’t tell you how proud I was. Shame I forgot to pack my camera.

Last night we went Out, to see I’m sorry I haven’t a clue. Not a recording; they are touring a kind of greatest hits. Very funny indeed and Sara and Ian, the crack babysitting team, had Tamsin asleep in her own cot by 7.15 where she made not a sound until about midnight (then was up every hour or so all night long: how do they know?)

And today was back to normal(ish) as C had to get to work – in my car – and M had to get to preschool.