Monthly Archives: May 2005


Small lump in my throat as I type this.
My nephew and his partner have named my new great-niece after my mother and her other great-grandmother (who died last year) who shared a name. Funny. My mum would have been so chuffed, and yet so disbelieving as she never liked her name and it’s extremely old-fashioned. But a tear comes to my eye each time I say her name to myself. They’ve given it an up-to-dateified spelling “Edythe”. And in August I shall meet her, and my other great niece, for the very first time.

I have today spent far too much money on them both 😀

Silent scream

Here we go off on the Grand Tour again.

Last night, when Dad went off home in the evening after tea, I warned him that I was planning a lie in this morning. We joked about how he lies in quite late at my sister’s and he was saying that if he has to lie in on holiday, then by the time he’s washed and dressed and had his breakfast, it’ll be time for him to go to bed again as he takes so long to get organised in the mornings. I reminded him again that he’d be having a lie-in this morning because I was planning a day off from getting up at the crack of dawn and because the boys needed to sleep in after their hectic weekend.

So at 8 am there’s a tap on the door. Dad, fully dressed and full of the joys of spring. “I’m here to round up some slave labour. I looked at my garden and thought what a mess it is and decided we could get up early and spend the day on it.” He looks at the closed bedroom door and becomes slightly annoyed. “What, aren’t they up yet? What are they doing still in bed on a beautiful day like today. If they’ve nothing planned, they can get themselves over to help me do the weeding.” I point out ever so gently that we were having a lie-in today.

“I can’t be doing with lying in bed when my garden’s such a mess. I could have been out there at five o’clock if they’d been ready. Send them over when they’re ready.” I point out, ever so gently, that my home is a total mess too, especially as Tiddles’ camping stuff is strewn all over it in various stages of fumigating-and-putting- away, and that they have some jobs to do at home. “Oh yes, well I thought they might. It’s more important for them to do jobs for you whenever Grandad needs some help, isn’t it? Well, there’ll be times in between your jobs. They can come and help me then. I’ll take that cup of tea outside to drink as I’m obviously in your way.”

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH! Half of me is furious with him, half of me knows he’d forgotten about us having a lie-in, half of me is really frustrated that he can’t say sorry and has to hide it under a bluster of anger, half of me knows he’s always been like that and we won’t change him now. Half of me is livid that he’s spoilt the start to the day, and half of me feels really guilty that I’ve spoilt the start to his when he was obviously in such a bright mood to begin with and actually I might get on a lot better here if the boys are occupied elsewhere. Half of me wants them to get time to play together, though, after a weekend apart as it is their school holidays after all. Half of me feels annoyed with myself for feeling guilty about Dad and the other half feels annoyed with myself for feeling annoyed with myself because I know it’s not just today, it’s most days, and it’s really hard not to have a life of my own. Dad’s not even asked how the service went on Sunday – he’d forgotten it before I went (hence the argument over why I wasn’t prepared to make his tea for him) and he forgot it immediately after I came home. Totally self-absorbed in a way that seems the greatest dilemma of old age. Somehow I need to find the magic key that will help me balance my right to live my own life with the fact that getting irritated about it won’t change anything.

And the worst thing is, I’m feeling so rebellious that, although I got up really well motivated to make an impact upon my mess of a house, now I can feel myself thinking “I am allowed just to lounge around and be lazy all day if I want to, father… your disapproval is irrelevent. Look!”


My home looks like a jumble sale and smells of campfires. Will it ever look like home again, I wonder? My bathroom is occupied by a Sprout who hasn’t been to the toilet all weekend 😉 and doesn’t exactly smell of roses. He’s exhausted – no voice at all, which is the usual first sign of tiredness with him – and is somewhat prone to making teenager grunts but it’s lovely to have him home, I think. I was wise bringing him home nights, even though it meant he didn’t get a badge, because he was so tired last night (the one night he was allowed to stay) that he took himself off to bed a good three hours before the rest anyway and missed half the “Grand Howl” or “Big Bark” or whatever it’s called when all the Scout troups gather round the massive campfire on the main field.

Smudgelet and I had a splendid day without him. Am I supposed to say that? Somehow, turning eight has changed Smudgelet once more into a lovely child to spend time with. What is it about being seven that makes a child so obnoxious? Whatever it is, he seems to have suddenly outgrown it and was great company this morning on our “Grockle Day”.

Junior Driver at Alum Bay is a treat. It’s a real miniature road layout, with traffic lights, roundabouts, give way signs, the lot. There are little cars which the kids get to drive and they have to obey the basic rules of the road like driving on the left and obeying the road signs in order to get a “driving license”. Smudgelet was in his element as he negotiated the turns in his big white tow-truck. He loved the big Victorian Carousel too, and was disappointed to learn that he couldn’t change his name to James to match the horse he was riding.

Then came the moment of truth. Hmmm… talk about conquering fears! Smudgelet wanted to go on the chair lift. He’s a real daredevil and the only member of the family who’s not particular perturbed by heights. Certain
other members of the family have been on this chair lift before and know only too well the effects of the sheer drop on their internal organs! But there was no getting out of it… it had to be done. The first part wasn’t too bad as it was over the trees and didn’t have the sensation of being very high up. It was when we breeched the cliff edge and began the steep drop towards the shingle below, blown from side to side by the breeze and kerthunking over the pylons that it didn’t feel quite such fun.
The picture on this page just doesn’t do it justice.

At the beach I gave way to temptation and agreed to take Smudgelet on the boat trip to see the Needles from close up. It was fantastic, truly fantastic. The coloured sands of Alum Bay are famous and even more impressive from the sea. It was just such a beautiful day for it too, with the sun glimmering off the pure white cliffs leading to the Needles themselves, and the sea an incredible azure blue like a deep lagoon, with a gentle wave inside the natural harbour of the cliffs. The cliffs themselves towered above us. We could see where, during the Wightmeet last year, we had walked along the clifftop to the Needles Battery and then down into the depths of the cliff to a gun emplacement just above sea level. Then we carried on, closer and closer to the mighty Needles and the lovely red and white lighthouse at the end. With an evil glint in his eye, the captain of the boat asked us if we wanted to get wet and proceeded to take us further out, beyond the shelter of the cliffs. Hmmm. Rocky would be an understatement. Not sure whether to laugh with excitement or cry with terror as the boat tipped from side to side and the waves splashed over the edge of the boat. It was fun, but I was not incredibly disappointed when he declared he’d frightened us for long enough and would be turning round for the return journey!

We were back just in time to pop home to our local church for their summer fete. They always serve the most incredibly lunches, and today was no exception. Replete and laden with unwanted purchases – too many books for my already crowded bookcases, some carpet which I am sure won’t cover our bathroom floor, six dishes which caught my Dad’s eye, and a rather melted iced ginger cake, we set out once more to collect Tiddles from camp…. but only after the drawing of the raffle. Talk about embarrassing – they chose Smudgelet to be the person who drew the tickets from the hat and yes, you guessed it, we won first prize – the hamper. Lots of goodies for tea tonight, if only I can summon up the energy to prepare them. Well, it’s hard work enjoying yourself, you know.

That’s the first one over with!

Hold on while I just rescue a Smudgelet from a kitchen disaster involving tuna chunks.

That’s better.

Now, some of you were kind enough to enquire about last night and my first ever venture into the pulpit. Well, actually, I’ve been in the pulpit loads of times before, but never to do a sermon. As a worship leader in my own church I have been landed several times with leading worship (amazing – it does what it says on the tin!) but we’re not actually allowed to do a sermon. I felt sort of naughty, actually, just three units into the training course and feeling no different than I did three months ago, standing there in front of this congregation of mainly local preachers and pontificating. Not that I did pontificate, I hope, but you know what I mean.

I had a nice quiet prayer time of my own before we set out, standing in the sunshine at the end of my road for ten minutes until my lift arrived. Not that she arrived late, or that she’d insisted I walk half way to meet her, but I decided that it was probably a better preparation to have a little walk in the sunshine than to strangle my father 😉

The church is a huge one but the evening congregation small. It was strange, actually, as I had attended this church for about six months fourteen years ago – I used to drive my housemate to her swimming training session in the pool in that town and went to that church while I waited to bring her home as she hadn’t got a car. It never really felt like my church, though, for some strange reason, despite being really welcoming and friendly. Nobody there particularly recognised me…. which is probably just as well. We’d been told to prepare for a congregation of four but there were ten there, which was quite a nice number as they all sat together in the choir seats and turned the lectern round to face them.

My mentor, B, did the first part of the service then handed over to me to do a drama (well recieved and fun to do) and the reading and the sermon. I noticed during the drama that one elderly gentleman was struggling to hear – a nightmare really as I knew my voice was loud enough to carry and if I raised it, the huge church with so few people in it was terribly echoey. Fortunately during the sermon he dropped off to sleep. I don’t think, in theory, you’re supposed to feel relieved when one tenth of the congregation fall asleep during your words of wisdom.

I felt comfortable and increasingly at ease as I spoke. As I went on, more people began to smile and nod in agreement or empathy at things I said and laughed with me as I told them about my Smudgelet bringing home a near-dead specimen of a sunflower in a yogurt pot and expecting it to grow, and God working a miracle and raising it to a good seven foot high tower with a head the size of a dinner plate. For all that, I went quite shaky afterwards (although apparently nobody could tell) and I started to wish I’d had time for something to eat before I went.

The congregation were lovely with their comments, mentioning that I’d used plenty of eye contact – I bit back the comment that that’s not difficult when your congregation is sitting in two rows of five! – and a good use of voice. They said I appeared not to be nervous (if only they’d known that fourteen years of teaching makes you well practised at hiding your terror!) and two people were flattering enough to comment to my mentor that she had a natural preacher as her protegee, which was rather nice to hear. Mustn’t let that go to my head! My mentor gave me lots of opportunity to reflect on how I felt it had gone and what I would have done differently, though she didn’t actually comment on what she thought of it – maybe because she’d already approved the content and she knew I knew I was OK on the delivery overall.

I’m very nervous about the next one, though. A country church, very set in their ways, with a congregation of about four. My minister is the superintendant for our circuit and he has a policy that every trainee local preacher has to preach at this particular church at some point in their training. My wonderful friend M planned me there for my second trip out simply a) to get it over with and b) to do it while I was only responsible for part of the service, not for the whole thing. I now have a fortnight to prepare and decide how much of the service I want to take responsibility for. AAAAAAGGGGGGGGGHHHHH! I suggested that, as they haven’t an organist, I’d take responsibility for the music and B could do the rest. Somehow she wasn’t having that!

Still, forget it for today. The Smudgelet and I are off to brave the Bank Holiday crowds at Alum Bay, to make sand shapes, to ride on the “Little Drivers” track and generally have a bit of fun before I collect my tired and smokey Sprout from Sprout camp.


I will blog tonight tomorrow (if you see what I mean), but before I go to bed I have just got to check whether this works.

Can you believe this huge woman can possibly balance on a bike? Goodness knows who she is 😉 Of course, this is in no way a suggestion that you might want to click on the link to the left to force me to do it again.


And, just because I love ’em, here’s a photo of my late beloved Alex and my current very-alive-thank-you Charlie on one of the rare occasions that they enjoyed each other’s company.

The cats

Well, did it work?


This strange churning sensation in my stomach could be one of two things, I reckon. Either it’s my chicken kiev landing a little heavily on my digestive system or… or… it could be that my body has finally caught up with my brain and realised it’s my first sermon tonight. I’m not exactly nervous – more that I’m unsure of quite what to expect, never having done this bit before. Reading my sermon aloud it sounds trite and monotonous and uninspiring, but then I’ve never done it before and I’m not sure what will happen when I actually deliver it to people who have a vested interest in what I have to say. And the thought of a small congregation, which at first felt so safe and simple for a first time, suddenly seems a bit too intimate for my liking – an assembly hall of 350 nine-to-thirteen-year-olds seems a whole lot less daunting.

Tiddles is away at camp this weekend. I say “away” in the loosest sense of the word as, for the first two nights, I have had to drive out to the campsite and fetch him home so he could have a decent night’s sleep. I hate doing it – it doesn’t do much for his street-cred and I hate appearing to be an over-protective mother, but it’s partly a punishment and partly to help him cope with the lack of sleep which is an unavoidable drawback of his trip away with the school in a couple of weeks’ time. So he’s the only Scout there who hasn’t any bags under his eyes and isn’t covered in soot from the fire and dirt from the ground and smells of bubble bath instead of campfire smoke!!! Shame really. Still, he’s staying there overnight tonight and, being the last night, it’ll be a late one. Meanwhile, I get to spend a bit of greatly appreciated 1:1 time with Smudgelet, who’s currently engrossed in his new Scalextric car.

Collecting sponsorship for the Bikeathon is going well. Bother, looks like I’m going to have to ride with them again… which means I’m going to have to break the bike out from amongst the cobwebs and get the hang of balancing on the thing. Looks like a bike ride with the Smudgelet might be on the agenda for tomorrow! Actually I think the exercise is going to be essential. I was shocked, seriously shocked, yesterday when I went to purchase a new item of clothing (no, I’m not telling what it was, but I had to be measured for it!) and discovered I’d increased in size by about two clothes sizes (and in this case, four inches and two letters of the alphabet!) in the last two years, after being a pretty consistent size all my life – well, since achieving my adult status, anyway. I decided that losing it by the time of the wedding was a forlorn hope and that I might as well cut my losses and invest in the really lovely outfit I saw in the shop while I was undie-hunting.

I was going to be really clever here and add a picture from last year’s bikeathon, on the basis that if Jack the Lass can do it, it can’t be that difficult really 😉 But I’ve failed. What does that say about me?


1.Total number of movies I own on DVD/Video:
I have one single DVD and no DVD player.
Videos, probably about twenty, including Walking with Dinosaurs, Pride and Prejudice (of course), Bridget Jones and Much Ado About Nothing.

2. Last movie I bought:
It’s been a long time since I bought one for me.
Last videos purchased were: Lion King, Muppet Christmas Carol, Tales of Farthing Wood and Harry Potter.

3. Last movie I watched: The Aviator was the last adult movie I watched (interesting – not sure what to make of it).. and naturally Shrek 2 as the Smudgelets watch it almost every night.

4. Five movies that mean a lot to me (in no particular order):
The Fujitive -not only because it stars Harrison Ford (swoon!) but because it’s such a compelling film and the growing relationship between pursuer and pursued is build up so well.
Pride and Prejudice because it is true to the book and so delightfully cast.
Cold Mountain because it really brought home the futility of war.
Shawshank Redemption because of the impact it made on me.
Ice Age because it is my favourite children’s film, it functions on many levels, is incredibly witty, and unbearably sad.

Bother, I can’t tag because I can’t remember how to do links.


OK, so who put the “archive” button there, where my mouse could accidentally click on it?
Not only have I shoved the whole of May into a filing cabinet, entirely against my volition, but I have deleted a finely crafted blog completely.

Pah – blow this for a game of soldiers. I’m off to bed.

Try again tomorrow, Smudgie, try again tomorrow.


I am a great aunt again! 😀

No details yet – apparently my great-niece would have liked to give me a message of greeting but her mouth was somewhat preoccupied at the time.

I’m a great aunt twice over – does that make me doubly great?