Monthly Archives: July 2004

Why me?

You wouldn’t believe it! Though on second thoughts, perhaps you would.

The concert was fantastic last night – the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra playing open-air at Osborne House, complete with the most breathtaking display of fireworks. The grounds were absolutely packed. People started arriving two hours before the concert, although we left it until about 45 minutes before which meant we actually got a parking place slightly nearer the exit and far easier to find than amongst the melee of cars. People learning from previous years had marked their cars to make them easier to find by tying a Safeway carrier bag on the aerial. Yes, all of them seemed to have chosen this method of easy identification.

As M was fully occupied at the County Show, I volunteered to do the picnic and accessories. I put together a fantastic spread which even I was delighted with -a variety of sandwiches, salads, fruit, drinks, nibbles, cakes, biscuits…. – and loaded the fold-up chairs into the car, along with a picnic blanket, some warm clothes and a blanket to wrap round us once the sun went down. We drove to the site and carried all our bits and pieces down to the gardens where the concert was to take place. We set up camp in the midst of the elite of the Island who were supping champagne from elegant crystal glasses and eating the most elaborate and delicious-looking meals from mountainous china plates. I opened the picnic bag and…..
……. discovered that I had omitted actually to put the picnic in the bag. It was all still sitting on the kitchen table. Apart, that is, from a packet of cheese straws, a tray of dips, and a tomato! Fortunately I’d packed the flask, so we were able to drown our sorrows in coffee as we sat dipping our cheese straws in the thousand island dressing and nibbling them slowly to make them last!

Fortunately M had come to the rescue. One large bar of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut later, and the two of us didn’t feel QUITE so bad.

Just give me a nudge if you hear me snoring

You know, being a warden in the Church of Fools is much harder work than being a church steward. I can honestly say that in all my years on church rotas, I have never found myself still being up at midnight, when I know I am leading morning prayers at 7.30 next morning. But last night I was thrown in at the deep end when I found myself in the church shortly before evening prayers and discovered that nobody was timetabled to do them. Hmmmm..guess what….!

This afternoon I find myself bleary eyed and ready to snuggle down under the duvet and never emerge. It’s been a busy but enjoyable morning. I dropped the boys off at the respite carer at the crack of dawn, or thereabouts, and off I went to the County Show. This two-day extravaganza is one of the highlights of the year for us. The Island Churches Together run a refreshment tent with stalls and a religious tableau (this year a life-size display of Jesus calling the disciples from their fishing boat) and I generally spend the whole weekend working there (or nipping off during the quiet moments to peruse the show). We were disappointed to find that the tent this year was in its usual position which has always brought us a lot of custom, being right next to the main gate…disappointed because we discovered that the main gate had been moved to the other end of the showground! Typical! Mind you, by lunchtime we were glad we weren’t getting more custom as we were inundated with people who remembered how we serve a good cup of tea and our prices are amazingly low. We run the tent as a service to the community and a gentle mission and so we plan to make no profit from our food and drinks, which are all homemade. Need I say more?

Thank goodness for my poorly foot (which is getting better, by the way) which meant that I was designated chief cashbox operator rather than standing behind the stall making coffees as I usually do. My mental arithmetic came into play rather effectively as I calculated every permutation and combination of sandwiches, drinks, cakes and fruit. And of course, being devoted to duty, I just had to test each type of cake before we sold it, just so I could comment on its quality, texture and taste!

Now I am home for a snatched forty winks and a quick packing of the picnic bag ready for tonight. The Fireworks and open air orchestra concert and picnic at Osborne House. It’ll be midnight before we get home, so goodness knows how I’ll be up in time for communion at the Showground at 8am (having picked the Smudgelets up en route!) – hope I don’t snore during the concert tonight!

Where did the day go?

I am sure there was a whole one waiting for me when I woke this morning. I mean, the alarm went off at 6.50am and it was only ten minutes after that when I crawled out of bed and turned the computer on for morning prayers in the Church of Fools. (Definition of a fool – someone who volunteers to stand in and do morning prayers on the first three lie-in chances of her holiday!)

Feeding the three of us, making myself decent for the day, sorting Dad’s bags out, hiding from the window cleaner, making lunch, putting the bin bags out in rather a hurry, phoning to book my ferry and arrange a babysitter for Saturday…. before I knew what had hit me, it’s nearly four o’clock in the afternoon and I haven’t done half the things I planned.

The morning was slightly taken up first of all avoiding the children and then acquiescing to their insistance that Dad and I attend a church service on the front drive. To the amusement of the local workmen who were working on the house opposite, we were positioned in our patio chairs in front of the front door steps/pulpit, where Tiddles appeared to lead worship, dressed in his vestments (OK, wrapped in an old blanket, but you have to use your imagination here).

The service began with a moment of silence while we thought about what Jonah did. Yes Jonah, didn’t I mention that was the theme of the service? Smudgelet did the organ voluntary. He was going to do this using the demo button on the keyboard but, as a mean mother wouldn’t let them bring the keyboard outside, he resorting to singing “la la la la” to a tune vaguely resembling “here comes the bride”. Fortunately we didn’t have to sing along.

Then grandad was called upon to read from the Bible, the story of Jonah and the Whale. He read it very well, I must say! This preceded the most succinct sermon ever heard – one from which many preachers of today could learn. “OK, anybody got any questions?” And, when Dad asked a rather tricky question, there came the response “Let us close our eyes in silence for a moment and think about what this story means and what Jonah did for us”. This lad’ll go far! He then led us in the Lord’s Prayer and told us to go in peace and make ourselves a cup of coffee in the kitchen.

Amen

Still, at least he didn’t make the mistake I nearly made leading prayers in the CoF this morning where I prayed for the “grease of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Whoops!

OK, so he was only a minute or two late for school. I just, well, I just sort of forgot that he’d still got to go. I’d finished last Wednesday, Tiddles finished last Friday, and I know Smudgelet was sitting there beside me in his school uniform but the penny simply didn’t drop until I glanced at the clock and realised that I had five minutes to finish my breakfast, wash and dress, and get the child up to school! Still, it gave me the excuse to send Tiddles up again later to deliver the dinner-money envelope that I didn’t have time to get ready… which gave me half an hour to sit quietly in the bath with my book and a cup of coffee. And when he asked, on his return, whether he could try going to the Rec to play for half an hour, I reluctantly added another load of hot water into the cooling depths, told him he could stay for three quarters of an hour playing, and engrossed myself once more into my book. By the time Dad came round to see if I’d drowned, I managed to finish the book 😀

Out to Lavender Farm for lunch. Have you ever tasted lavender shortbread. It tastes like… well, surprisingly it tastes like shortbread with lavender in. Funny how you know precisely what lavender would taste like. I don’t particularly like the smell, but I find lavender extremely relaxing and even packed with three coach parties the farm is a delight to visit.

This afternoon I took Tiddles (to Smudgelet’s disgust!) to school to help me paint the inside of the caravan. The boss looked in and failed to comment – so either I’m breaking the rules by doing it or I’m still in disgrace for being awkward about the timetable. But I don’t care, whichever the reason – it’s lovely to see my tatty old caravan turning into a bright and smart learning environment, and to see the pencil marks and comments on the walls disappear under a coat of shiny new paint. We did two walls today – and boy could you see the difference! It made a good talking point to talk to Tiddles about the difference between doing things for money and doing them because you take a pride in something or because you want to help. He’d had a grand old time this morning as Dad had let him help cut the hedge by climbing the ladder and trimming the top. Dad didn’t dare go up the ladder (good) and it was a real achievement for Tiddles to do it. For me it was lovely to watch the two of them working together and so happy in each other’s company. It was such a shame that Tiddles then dropped a hint about being paid for doing it and, despite my saying he wasn’t to suggest that because we help each other as part of the family rather than for pay, my father gave him £2 because “He deserves financial reward when he does something helpful”.

It was only as we went into Thorntons for a drink after our work that I discovered that Tiddles hadn’t actually cottoned on to a key rule of painting and decorating…. that leaning on the wall you’ve just painted leads to a transfer of the paint applied thereto onto the clothing and skin making contact with it. He was “pale magnolia” from head to ankle on the back!

We returned home to find Dad had let Smudgelet drive the mobility scooter up the drive… with the two of them sitting on it. Fortunately he had somehow managed to get the two of them and the scooter back out of the hedge before I saw them and gave them a talking to!

I think I’ll go to bed now before we have any more near-misses.

What is it…

about the smell of burnt toast that seems to linger for hours after the event?

Not that I set fire to the tea, of course… just a random wondering….

Oh, and aquafit was great because I just took my book and sat, engrossed, for the whole hour. 😀

I don’t wanna go to aquafit

I don’t want to, I just don’t. To make it even more pathetic, I’m only going in order to get in the water and get out again. I am trying to be good and rest my foot but if you don’t turn up to aquafit one week you lose your place. So I am planning to take my book, change, get in the pool, get out again to go into the changing rooms to the loo, and just not emerge again. But I feel too hot and sticky and tired for such subterfuge… and I had chips for lunch so the motivation of calling at the chippy on the way home isn’t there either!

It’s been a fairly lazy day. After taking Smudgelet to school (eyes half closed in horror as Tiddles came with us on his bike and was cycling off ahead before I had time to tell him not to go along the road where the parents all double-park) and having a final attempt to give in the form to apply for Dad’s pension (they now think we may have left it too late from the original invitation letter being sent) I came home to luxuriate in a deep hot bath while Tiddles went to explore the village and make an information map for his “Guide” badge for Scouts. Then he raced back for us to celebrate his new “semi-growed-up” status by watching his first ever James Bond film.

It made quite a point that I let him watch it despite his mini-tantrum last night. He had a paddy last night because I wouldn’t let him stay up late to watch twenty minutes of the film. It was classic – he was crying and complaining because I wouldn’t let him stay up and the reason he was reacting like that was because he was over-tired. Funnier still, he used crying to convince me he was grown up enough to stay up! I decided to handle it by totally ignoring it, going into the bedroom to put Smudgelet to bed, and settling myself down on the sofa-bed in there for a snooze. Needless to say, it didn’t take many minutes for Tiddles to get bored of shouting and decide he might as well just come to bed!

This afternoon we made a mad dash to Godshill to buy Dad some special socks, and then on to the hospital to drive round and round and round in the blistering heat in search of a parking space. Luckily we were only ten minutes late for my ultrasound appointment. I didn’t know whether to be really relieved that the radiologist confirmed there was nothing seriously wrong with my thyroid and blood vessels, or whether to feel robbed because it means no solution to the discomfort which makes me feel a bit of a hypochondriac. A bit? A lot of a hypochondriac! But the main thing is that I can stop worrying. (Not that I was particularly worried, but it does nag at the back of your mind somewhat). The funniest thing was that Tiddles was waiting with me in the waiting room and had forgotten his magazine. We were chatting and playing the slapping game and he noticed my hand going red where he touched it so, for the first time ever, he asked if he could watch the effects of writing on my arm with his finger. He drew an impressive wiggly line along the length of my arm…. just as the nurse called me into the ultra-sound room!

So here I sit now, dreading the thought of aquafit and longing to curl up on the sofa with my book and fall asleep! Still, the exercise will do me good!

Dermographia

Someone found my wiblog by Googling for dermographia. I love the sites which show pictures of this. The first one on that search list showed a back with “WHAT ?” written on the back in wheals. First time I’ve seen that one and I rather liked it. Usually they write the person’s name. I haven’t tried doing that yet… though it’s tempting.

Be still and know…

The sermon this morning was on taking time out to be with God. I really enjoyed it. There again, perhaps I’m biased as it was M who was leading the service.

I had to laugh, though. She commented on people rushing from one place to another and how some people could barely make time to come to church but bustled in at the last minute. She added that this congregation had all been there singing well before the beginning of the service. I whispered guiltily to MC that the only reason Smudgelet and I hadn’t come tearing in at the last minute was because we’d been too late to go swimming before church!

That was infuriating, actually, although I couldn’t be cross. Smudgelet had spent the night at Dad’s and I’d said he was to be home at 8.30 to get ready for swimming. I had a nice leisurely breakfast, got bathed and dressed and ready to go, and over came Smudgelet to get his swimming bag ready and set off. Only… Dad hadn’t realised that I wanted him to have his breakfast over there! The child hadn’t eaten. And there wasn’t time for him to eat a meal and digest it before his lesson at nine. So that was swimming out of the window. Mind you, it meant I had time for a cup of coffee!

This afternoon was a treat as Smudgelet asked me if we could do some baking together. I love baking at the best of times, and it was lovely to do it with Smudgelet, just the two of us. We made fairy cakes, seeing as we were a bit pushed for time, and decorated them with lashings of chocolate and Haribo cola bottles. MMMMmmmmmmmmm… and very nice they were, too! Sorry I can’t share them, you’ll just have to use your imaginations. Time did get a little frantic seeing as Dad suddenly turned up and took Smudgelet off to tidy up the garage. It’d be so lovely if Dad had an awareness of other people having a life that run simultaneously to his, but I couldn’t grumble as he’s been brilliant just lately.

We zipped off smartly once the cakes were finished and collected a rather dishevelled and extremely shattered Tiddles from Scout Camp. You could tell how tired he was – conversation from the back of the car consisted of the monotonous “yes” and “no” more commonly associated with the teenage years – with a “yes” even coming in response to the question “Is it OK if I give your bike away?” Despite his assertions that he wasn’t in the slightest bit tired, he burst into tears when he got home and begged to go to bed. It was lovely – he curled up on the sofa and went to sleep in my arms, looking utterly angelic (despite the huge black smudge on his face). Unpacking his bag I discovered that he had lost only one knife and one mug. And considerate as ever, he had brought all his underwear home clean so that I only had to wash the one set!!!

A lovely evening in the CoF and now I’m ready to slip into my sleeping bag and snore the night away. Shame I have to be up early to do Smudgelet a packed lunch and take him up to school for his end of term trip. Oh for a lie in!

Joy and sadness

A lovely day tinged with a little sadness as Dad says goodbye to his little car. A young girl we know has bought it and it’s good to see the delight in her eyes as she gazes at it, but it’s a landmark dad for Dad as the empty garage rams home another loss. The dentist yesterday commented to me that when Dad talks about losing my mum it all sounds a very fresh and deep sorrow. Maybe that’s why he won’t talk to me about her at all. Still, I’m glad that it was today that the car went as Dad won’t have time to dwell too much on it – Smudgelet’s gone there for a sleepover to make up for not being able to stay at Scout Camp! 😀

I’m delighted as my lie-in this morning was cut short somewhat by a small boy crying because he missed his big brother. (Makes a change from him crying for his sister, I suppose). He came and snuggled in my sleeping bag on the sofa (still can’t get to the bed in my room for piles of potential ironing). Reluctant as I was to let him, and much as it is frowned upon in these days of excessive paranoia about child protection, it was delightful to curl up with him snuggled up against me and marvel at the way that God created the bodies of mother and child to nestle together so perfectly. I don’t think there’s anything more wonderful than holding your child in your arms as they sleep.

A lazy day today, if tiring, as I took Smudgelet out to spend the day at the Scout Camp. I heard it said once that the ideal parent is one like in the Enid Blyton books – provider of food and drink and love, but otherwise neither seen nor heard as the children go off adventuring. So I was that parent. I hid in the car, armed with my laptop to do some schoolwork and my book to do some serious getting-lost-in-the-story and had a wonderful day, being served copious cups of coffee by passing Scouts and Leaders and declaring on my forays into the outside world that I simply “was not there”. The Smudgelets were a little disconcerted at first and clammered for attention, but they soon went off and had a whale of a time getting tired and dirty and running wild without mummy’s eagle eye on them. And I managed to refrain from any motherly comments at all, until the last moment when I was leaving and accidentally told Tiddles to get some suncream and his sunhat on!

It was a good job I did go. The Scout Leader is brilliant and really inspires the kids, but he’s not the world’s most organised person. Granted I’m not either, but I think I would have thought ahead adequately not to have to send a parent in search of a shop selling coffee, tea and toilet rolls!

It was great watching the boys build an assault course, bivouacs, chop wood and make fires to cook their own (and my) lunch. How exciting! I almost wished I were a scout – almost.

I got a telling off when I arrived home half an hour later than planned. Not only had the Tesco man just been and delivered the groceries, but also when the people had come two days early to collect the car, they had gone away empty handed because the keys were in my jacket pocket!

The house feels very empty without any Smudgelets.

First day of the holidays???

What a busy day that was!

I was up early yesterday, cleaning before the cleaner arrived. I hate it when she comes to a dirty house!
8.30 sees me rounding up Smudgelet and Dad ready to drive up to the school and take Dad into town, leaving the cleaner hard at work in the kitchen. Drop off Smudgelet (letting him walk a bit of the way unaccompanied, much to his delight) and race into town to collect Dad’s glasses once and for all. We decided against walking along to Superbuys – Dad’s legs are definitely giving up more and more quickly – but spent a large amount of money and a small amount of time in the tiny little cafe that’s just opened up and which serves beautiful (if rather costly) coffee.

Race home to take Dad for his first “training drive” on his new mobility scooter. We scooted up the hill to the school. By the time we got there, Dad was getting quite daring and even tried negotiating a kerb… which sent shock waves right through his body and persuaded him that in future he’d go a little further and find where the drop wasn’t so sudden! He sped up the hill, wondering why I was puffing and panting as I struggled to keep up with him. Luckily for me, he’s also discovered that he quite likes walking steadily behind and using the scooter for support while I drive it! 😀

We watched Smudgelet’s school sports together. That was wonderful – probably the only time I’ll get to watch it. There were all the standard things to watch – very small child in very large sack race; spot the pupil with the plimpsols on the wrong feet competition; match the stray plimpsol to the limping child challenge; the running into the person in front race and involuntarily somersaulting down the track; the running off the track to give mummy a hug race… it was all there. Half of the entertainment for me was, of course, provided by Smudgelet. He got into his sack with the same degree of concentration he uses when getting dressed – i.e. none whatsoever! He tried to cheat on getting through the hoop and ended up spending longer cheating than he would have done just lifting the hoop over his head. He came third instead of second in the running race as he turned round to make sure I was watching how well he was doing. And in the bucket race he tried to get his team to cheat by passing the bucket from the first person straight to the last person without it going along the line, but the second person argued with him about the rules for so long that the rest of the teams had finished their race while BLUE team still stood arguing! But he did me proud. He didn’t give up. He was really sportsmanlike (apart from the cheating, of course!) and enjoyed himself thoroughly despite coming last.

Raced Dad home in the scooter.. he’d have won, of course, but all the ladies on the way stopped him for a little chat.

Aquafit was an ordeal. My foot still isn’t right. M declared that she wasn’t going to speak to me again unless I went straight to A and E – and she would pick up the boys and feed them. So, weighed down by a wealth of nagging friends, off I went to Casualty where they declared that the tendons are all inflamed and I should be resting it and taking anti-inflamatories. Hmmmm. No crutches, though.

From there I decided to rest my foot by driving across the Island to pay my debts at the opticians, order some reading glasses, and buy a new torch for Tiddles’ camping expedition tonight. It was rather nice knowing that M would have tea ready for me when I got back to her house. I like being pampered.

Now, do I upset my small Smudgelet by saying I won’t take him out for the Beavers’ Fun Day at the Scout Camp on Saturday or do I upset my “seeking independence” Tiddles by turning up at his camp for the day. He really wants his brother there but really does NOT want his mummy there! 😉

I’ll make that decision in a minute when I’ve cleaned my teeth for half an hour. I HATE going to the dentist.