Archive for January, 2011

Meet me Monday

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

I’m all about the memes just now – so am joining in with the “for the love of blogging” week-long project (probably: you know me, am unlikely to manage all week) hosted at Sluiter Nation. Which means that, ahem, yesterday I was supposed to introduce myself.
I can’t believe a soul will read this who doesn’t already know me: how blogging has changed since those halcyon days of blogrolls and webrings! I’ve been here and previously here since 2002, on and off. Very on to  begin with: I was child-poor time-rich and we were living abroad. I got tired of writing variations on the same emails to lots of different people (yes we had email in those days, cheeky – but not skype, no) so I had a bit of a look about to see if I could figure out a way to share our adventures online. And discovered blogs.
We’ve been back in Blighty since the end of 2004 and in the interim years have become child-rich time-poor; also and sadly it must be said that Chester, nice as it is, is significantly less exciting than Tokyo so I don’t find myself with daily adventures to share. I still like my blog but I don’t have a niche these days: I can’t be a mummy blogger because everybody else does that better (plus I have no Philosophy beyond doing what has to be done) – yet frankly, what else do I do. So sporadic wittering is what it is all about. The archives are fun though, I promise 🙂
This .me.uk site has been a work in progress for several years now but what can I say – see note above about time. I do have one other linked page up and running, which is my reading list.

Saturday, three children no husband

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

(who left for China at an exceedingly unnecessary 4 am, just as I settled the baby back to sleep for the I-don’t-know-how-manyth time)

6.30 – M awake: the tooth fairy has been (hooray!) but not replied to her note (boo!) go back to bed it is still night time {brief argument about why Tamsin is in my bed but asleep and whether the baby is still asleep – answer she was until you came down}.
7.00 – give up, all downstairs for breakfast and telly.
8.00 – Jenny has a rather lovely toy, a “discovery cylinder” – basically a portable hidey hole that she is supposed to put soft stuffed shapes in and out of. Just retrieved my car key, an old shrivelled bit of cucumber and 4 raisins.
9.00 – come on come on come on we have things to do! Co-op (croissants, paper, blueberries, cash); market (ice cream, bacon, steak, bread, tea cakes no we don’t need fairy cakes today; yes they are very pretty; yes I see them); home to put ice cream in freezer; costa coffee (where I remembered I had forgotten to eat breakfast myself so had some toast, what an excellent scheme). I can’t imagine what possessed me to think that would be a pleasant and civilised start to the weekend: not only was the only available paper the Mail (eurgh), the children hoovered their babyccinos in record time then set about being slightly too loud for the poor chap at the next table who clearly did like a civilised start to his weekend. They weren’t bad, they were just not operating at coffee-shop volume. Hobbycraft, where some sort of financial shift in the time-space continuum ensures I never come out without spending 20 quid, despite only needing some elastic. Tumbletots for Tamsin: I did actually read a bit of my paper, Jenny ate cereal and practised walking (just a few steps at a time, from chair to table to chair to table to chair…), Maggie read and coloured. Rather relaxing actually, despite the squawking recorders in the next room.
12.00 – home, exhausted. J asleep, girls have a plan: let’s play with barbies all afternoon! Which means their bedroom will look like a barbie bomb has gone off (and for some reason the bathroom is invariably flooded) but on the bright side I have peace and quiet which I feel I have earnt.
1.30 – I seem to have spent an hour on the PC without even opening the manuscript I intended to finish today. Microwaved leftover takeaway for me (momentarily glad C is away so I don’t have to share!); boiled eggs and soldiers for the big girls. J still asleep.
3.30 – dishwasher unloaded/filled; pots washed; laundry on tumbledrier on clean laundry folded ironing done; kitchen wiped down and swept (only because I had the news quiz on – otherwise wouldn’t have bothered as I am planning to have the kids make tea); Jenny’s entire breakfast and lunch picked up off the floor. Nice cup of tea with paper…3, 2, 1 Muuum!
5.00 – have finally opened up that word file, although I don’t have to listen very carefully to hear the wine plaintively calling my name from the fridge. When Cameron is about, we often don’t drink at all apart from at weekends (and there is a Wednesday ballet exclusion clause if necessary). When he is away I mostly have one glass around teatime every evening.
8.00 – One baby asleep (which is fortunate, as daddy has put her to bed since early December – wasn’t at all sure I could remember how); two big girls in bed in a reasonably barbieless bedroom; one manuscript near-as-damnit finished. One glass of wine drunk; homemade pizzas consumed. Washing dishes can wait until tomorrow. I am off duty!

Airing my archives (blog gems)

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Jen at The King and Eye has come up with a scheme to point people towards your archives. I am not sure who, exactly, but I am happy to join in. This week, the instruction is to link to a post that tells readers about an event in our lives: having skimmed “the Japan years”, as it was either that or one of my baby’s births, I give you my trip to the Tokyo Highland Games. I am so sad that neither comments not photographs work any more (8 years ago! We were cutting-edge with our flippy mobile phones and minidisk players…imagine a world with no wifi…) and in fact if I find a free hour or so might try and find the photos later this week, as I believe they might be on a CD somewhere.

Book Quiz

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

(from Daisy Yellow)

What is on your reading list for 2011? Dear me, I don’t make a reading list. I have rooms of unread books. I have decided, by way of a not-new-year-resolution, to stop buying or borrowing from the library (with the exception of non-fiction which is allowed) until I have made some inroads on the pile.

What was the best fiction book you read in 2010? Important artifacts and personal property from the collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, including books, street fashion and jewelry, by Leanna Shapton. It was a weird one.
What book was the biggest let down in 2010? A tiny bit marvellous, by Dawn French. A funny lady but the characters were unbelievable and the plot vaguely nonexistant.
Do you remember the first short story you wrote as a kid? What was it about? I remember writing “the cat who wanted to do everything” about a cat who, well, wanted to do stuff. I remember “talkabout mummy”, based on the ladybird talkabout books. The, slightly older, I produced a series of books about walking talking fruit.
Do you keep track of the books you read? Yes, here. All the way back to 2002!
How many books are on your TO READ list? Loads.
Where is your favorite reading spot? On the sofa in peace and quiet. I hate reading in bed!
How many books (fiction + non-fiction) did you read in 2010? 31
Do you read more than one book at once? Yes always – usually one novel, a bath book and at least one non-fiction.
Do you read more fiction or non-fiction? Fiction: I am never without a novel on the go

Sew far sew good (har har har)

Saturday, January 15th, 2011
Fabric and what have you

I got a sewing machine for Christmas. I did ask for it, it wasn’t santa gone mad, but me! I was the child who sewed her dolly’s dress to her skirt aged 7. Looking back I find it astonishing that in my lifetime – I am really not that old – Friday afternoons at school were sewing for girls/football for boys/no exceptions to the rule; my main recollection, bar the teacher sighing as she cut things off my pinafore, was using the needle to gouge a hole in my finger so Amanda Wellings and I could be blood sisters and best friends forever*. Fast forward to secondary school, via a few frustrating sessions with my paternal Grandmother, whose good intentions to help me make something were scuppered by her perfectionist tendencies: I watched, always polite but inwardly frustrated, while she used my kits to produce lovely cuddly toys, paper flowers, and so forth. She was very skillful, it must be said. But. She did attempt to show me how to embroider on more than one occasion but my fingers, once presented with a needle, come over all of a wobble and refuse to line up stitches nicely next to one another, rather they straggle all over. All very abstract but not quite the thing.

So – secondary school. I was strongly encouraged to take up music for the “art” option after a term of textiles saw me shedding (quite literally) blood and tears over a padded shell-shaped thing; I was never permitted to touch the sewing machines but had to keep my cack-handedness away where I could not break them. (Proper art left me bemused at the idea of drawing my own hand; woodwork was, if only unofficially, for the boys, as the girls sat at the back sniggering over a dogeared copy of Lace and singing the songs from Grease. What can I say, it was 1988.)

All these years later, I decide to conquer my fears. And do you know what? I still can’t sew on a button in earshot of my children, and I pay people good money to make my trousers the correct length, but machine sewing bears no resemblance! It makes lovely neat stitches all by itself, all I have to do is push down with one foot (I can drive, that’s not too difficult) and make sure it is pointing in a straight line. And keep it far away from my skirt. Maths I am good at, so measuring geometric shapes on fabric and cutting them out is not beyond me. Moreover, it provides near-instant gratification in the way that knitting really does not. (I knit slow. And I have little time.) I have already cut out and made the whole front side of a blankety quilty thing for Jenny. (Maggie has a cot quilt that her very properly talented Grandma, my mother-in-law, made when she was a baby; Tamsin has a panda quilt we bought at the Great Wall of China; Jenny should not be left out, should she.) Now I am feeling a little nervous as I prepare to go off-piste; the instructions say to just sew some fleece to the back of it but I want to cleverly combine with the next pattern in the book which involves batting and quilting in the ditch. Eek! What is the worst that can happen – I can always unpick if it is a disaster, right?

Photos to follow if and when I manage.

*It didn’t work, she’s not even on my facebook!