Monthly Archives: July 2006

Active… and not so active #3

Tiddles was too busy driving go-karts to go horse riding this week.
Not for Smudgelet, though.
As a treat, I took him to Brickfields for the afternoon -aaaaaaaahhhh, tiny shetland foals and massive Shire foals, not to mention the most adorable piglets – and then let him have his own riding lesson at Tiddles’ usual time (though with a different instructor as she was off sick). I was incredibly surprised at how incredibly well he rode – I’d been convinced he wouldn’t listen to the instructions and would be like a sack of potatoes in the saddle – and totally delighted that, as he later commented, he was transfixed with a smile the entire time until by the end of it his jaw hurt almost as much as his bottom!!!
Sadly the cost makes it impossible for me to afford for him to ride too, and also I’m desperate for Tiddles to be better at something than Smudgelet is and at the moment riding’s the thing. But I’ve promised that when he turns 13 it’ll be on the agenda for him, if he’s still interested, and he’s agreed that that’s fair. Same with learning the drums. Though am I quite so happy about the latter – he’s decided on the trumpet instead!

Active… and not so active #2

The week with Smudgelet has come about mainly because of a brilliant activity programme for Year 8 children moving to high school, as part of which we have shipped Tiddles off every day to a workshop where he has learned basic car maintenance (oh dear, oh dear….. no, you are NOT going to practise on the Kangoo, even if you do now know how to check and adjust the brakes!!!) and has built a motorised go-kart. It’s been a great experience for him, not least because I’ve sent him off on the bus each day and left him to come home independently. I feel those apron strings a-fraying!

Meanwhile Smudgelet and I spent a fun-filled quiet afternoon while grandad slept busily constructing a model aeroplane. Even I was quite impressed with the results! Mind you, it was quite a fiddly business and we both got rather.. er… stuck into it! Good job it was Bostik and not superglue! Smudgelet was delighted because Grandad saw it as he came into the room and immediately identified it as a Fokker D-VII. Sometimes there’s a bit of communication difficulty between my oldest and youngest menfolk but within minutes Grandad was sharing stories about the way warplanes were built and Smudgelet was soaking it all in.

Then we got chance for a day on the beach, just him and me. A real treat, as far as he was concerned (though I was a little wary of the fact that this would mean my lying in the sun time would be replaced with playing in the sand time!) It was lovely. We went to Sandown – his choice, but a good one as it turned out. He swam the Channel to France to fetch me some croissants, and then dug to Australia but, as there was nobody awake there he decided to come home again.

I offered to make my way over to the beach cafe for drinks and set off across the sand. What a mistake! As I took each successive step, the sand got hotter and hotter. It was like walking over burning coals. Hot Hot Hot! I tried bravely to persevere, but eventually found myself exactly half way between the cafe and our deckchairs and unable to take another step. I leapt into the shade of another family’s parasol and gestured madly at the playing Smudgelet to attract his attention. All in vain. I had to shout. To the general amusement of that entire section of the beach there then ensued an episode of a mummy shouting “Smudgelet, can you bring me my sandals!!!” and a malicious little so and so replying “What was that mummy? I can’t quite hear you?” and “Did you say please?” before eventually remembering it was him I was getting the drink for and so rushing to the rescue… while staying well out of range!

He got his comeuppance – while sitting on the deckchair to desand and dry his feet, the deckchair suddenly tipped forwards and there he was, trapped, feet buried deep in the soft boiling sand to left and right, chair on top of him and no way of escape … totally at the mercy of his mother whose replies of “What was that Smudgelet, I can’t quite hear you, did you say please?” were rather obscured by the fact that she was too busy giggling hysterically!

Active… and not so active #1

Smudgelet, fear not. Your time will come for things like the Prom – don’t be in too much of a hurry to grow up. Everything you envy your older brother will be yours in time, but he can never go back to the joys of being nine.

It’s been delightful to spend some special time with Smudgelet this week. He found the move from Primary to Middle far more traumatic – his short life has held too many goodbyes, and he thinks about them more deeply. He knows from experience that “I’m sure you’ll keep in touch” doesn’t actually hold water and his parting from old friends and beloved teachers has hit him hard. So we decided to make a celebration of it by using all his old school T-shirts (and, by accident, one of the new ones I’ve bought for Middle School!!!) to decorate. Buying fabric paints proved rather expensive, but some serious investigation led us to purchase a set of fabric crayons, complete with extra T-shirt, for less than £5.

For those T-shirts that had clearly fallen victim to art lessons, hastily eaten gravy or tomato-sauce dinners or over enthusiastic play on the school field, we decided to try our hand at dying. Hmmm… interesting. I read all the instructions and decided to plump for cold dye. Trouble was, in the excitement of choosing a colour, we forgot all that and arrived home to find ourselves with a dye that had to be applied in a saucepan and stirred over the heat (in this horrendously hot weather) for 20 minutes. Great. As a result I have two beautiful green t-shirts. I also have two beautifully green rubber gloves, a green bucket, a green drain, green fingers, a green spotted towel and…… aaaaghhhhhhhh…….. a green speckled and stripey stove!

But we also have five brilliantly designed t-shirts, including my “penguin power” t-shirt and a fantastic “Goodbye primary, hello middle school” t-shirt which has seriously lessened the pain of transision.



This is a shameless “mummy’s gloating blog”.

I was not sure, and am still not sure, what I thought about Tiddles’ school’s decision to hold a “leavers’ prom” at the end of term. Children seem forced into growing up so soon and it seemed to put a lot of pressure on too soon, especially as they’ll be doing it all again in three years’ time at High School. Something didn’t seem quite right about a 13-year-old worrying about what to wear, how to ask someone to dance, what to do about having a “date” for the prom…. I still have mixed feelings, but they were totally irrelevant on the day.

He came home two weeks beforehand beaming from head to toe. After some serious practise with me role-playing the situation (!), he’d finally asked the girl of his dreams to go with him to the prom, and she’d accepted. “I asked her myself, mum. You know how you usually get your mate to ask her mate? Well, I waited until I was dribbling the ball past her in football practice and said ‘will you come with me to the prom?’ and next time I passed her she said ‘yes’!”

Next was the issue of transport. Now this did get a bit silly, with various parents hiring the local limousine company to transport their children to the high-class hotel on the seafront where the dinner-dance was to be held. Finally convinced that the only method of transport on offer was a green Kangoo-mousine, he then decided that it should be bedecked in flowers and ribbons. Hmm…only if you clean and polish it first, my boy!

Clothes next: well, he already had a black suit and had the advantage over many of his peers that he is accustomed to wearing it. I went into town to see if I could get him a bowtie, but instead fell in love with the most gorgeous shirt and tie combination and couldn’t resist buying them for him… on the proviso that I could take them back if he refused to wear pink! I needn’t have worried – he loved it! Straight away he tried it on and came out of his room to show us the final effect. Honestly, I could have cried. I know he is a handsome lad (mother’s pride?) but he really did look so grown up and drop dead gorgeous! My sister was gobsmacked too – in fact, I think Tiddles was when he looked in the mirror! Grandad was almost moved to tears and promptly gave him his gold tiepin as a keepsake. M finished the effect with a handkerchief for the top pocket.

The night arrived and, after a hurried polishing of the shoes (but not of the car!), we were off to the exclusive venue for the night of his life. I stopped the car and pulled into the side of the road just before we got there. “What are you stopping for, mum?” Well, I though you might rather like your kiss here!” I was right. A kiss, a hug, a ‘good luck and have a fantastic time’ and I was able to drop him off at the door without embarrassment and see my handsome James Bond rival stride off across the road with a confident teenage strut as I sneaked into the crowd of nervous parents where there was a tingle of anticipation similar to that at the school gate on their very first day at school.

The girlfriend came running across to Tiddles and once again my breath was taken away. She looked beautiful! They made a lovely couple, apart from her being substantially taller than Tiddles. (“I danced three slowies with her, mum. It was wonderful. She couldn’t put her head on my shoulder, though, cos she’d have had to kneel down!”). Her mum came to join me. “I’ve just been told I can leave!”

My baby’s growing up. If he continues in this way he’s going to be a man who makes me so proud.

*wipes motherly tear from corner of eye*

Catching up

Well, is it really so long since last I posted? Looks that way, doesn’t it? I have had some emails concered whether things were OK. Actually it’s mainly because things are OK that I haven’t had much time for posting.

Things came to a head in the breakdown in communication with the hospice when I decided that the very unhospice-like comment “Lots of people are sick every day, it’s just one of those things” was simply not on. They had decided against a certain form of anti nausea treatment previously as they wanted to explore the causes rather than treat the symptoms – an understandable and laudable approach – but with no progress on this front, indeed no real evidence of any attempt to track down what was causing the nausea, I wanted to know why they were still unwilling to proceed with treating the symptoms. Success. An hour-long unburdening of the soul to our wonderful Macmillan nurse, a bit of mediating on his part, and dad is put on some different tablets which mean that, since last I posted, he has only been sick once. He’s stronger and fitter and has been able to enjoy life a bit more – even making it to church and to the village fete! The side effect for me, mind, is that it’s meant me spending MORE time caring for him as, when he’s not so unwell I like to do as much as I can and leave my sisters more option to come when things are tougher.

Meanwhile the boys have both reached the end of their respective stages of their school careers so we had a fortnight of goodbyes and eager (and very nervous) anticipation of the new. It’s customary for the children to spend a day or two at their new schools before the holidays – a good idea, I think, on the whole – and despite some of my misgivings about the High School move, the induction days went incredibly well. Funny, they’re designed to put the children’s minds at rest, but actually it’s my mind they’ve settled. I’ll tell you more about those in another post.

As for me, life is fine and I seem incredibly relaxed and happy. I am even coping with the heat, more or less, although a few more sleepless nights with Dad (and with boys forgetting that they’re not scared of thunderstorms) have made me rather tired and sleepy in the heat. But there are so many silver linings that they’re almost impossible to count. Just hard to get online, that’s all!

PS Something rather WISE should be in the post jolly soon. Promise. A trip to the post office is planned for Monday.
Something very WISE, if a little fishy, arrived yesterday. I am really really looking forward to reading my new book which will be going with me on holiday next week. It looks JUST RIGHT! Thank you!

Smudgieville photos 2

It was good to get out in the sunshine this week and Dad was keen to get his film finished in his camera. I’m gaining weight, he’s losing it, but it was delightful to be able to capture one of the nicest days we’ve shared for a while as he was feeling so well on the day it was taken.

In the garden

Meanwhile I have a very disgruntled cat who is rather perplexed as to how I can post so many family photos without including one of the most handsome and adorable, not to mention modest, members of the family. So here’s Charlie in typical Charlie pose.


As just to prove that Pants is not the only mother of an alien……….

Alien invasion

That costume was the easy one.. tomorrow I have to turn my attention to changing my Smudgelet into an Ancient Egyptian. Do you think I’d get away with sending him to school in just a loincloth?


Ages ago I was tagged to tell you five unusual things about me and I have just realised I’ve never actually done it. Not that I’m going to do it now. No, I’ll leave you in suspense and think about it some more. (Hmm… maybe one of the things is that I tend to procrastinate, but then judging by SOME people on the wibsite, that’s hardly unusual). I will, however, tell you one.

Unusual thing about Smudgie #1 : I have dermatographic urticaria. Google it, and you’ll find some fascinating images. I quite like this one – . And gives a fairly good description What it basically means is that my skin responds with an allergy-type reaction to touch, especially when heat or water are involved. Within five minutes I get red marks, like a scratch, on my skin which can then develop into wheals. It itches and burns sometimes, sometimes hardly noticeably (until some smart-alec comments “Did you know you’ve scratched your face?”) but if I forget to take my tablets I really do know about it. Touch from my clothes can do it, just rubbing my skin with a finger can do it, the blunt end of a pencil can be used to write surprise messages on my arms or back or thigh (to the shock of anyone not expecting it). And the fact that it itches unbearably causes a vicious circle as it means I end up rubbing or scratching to ease the itch and thus making it even worse. Soaking in a bath helps, until I come to dry myself on a towel.

What prompts me to mention this as the first of my “odd things about me”? Well, for some obscure reason – possibly stress, although I am not particularly more stressed today than I have been for ages, so more likely simply that my body is just accustomed to the antihistamines and they need changing – my tablets have not worked at all today and I am a red, itchy blob. The palms of my hands itch; the soles of my feet itch; the back of my neck itches; my eyeballs itch; and some places better not described in too much detail are driving me totally insane. Insane, I say. Naturally it is the weekend and I cannot get the alternative prescription until Monday. And of course, because the warmth and contact makes it worse, being snuggled up in bed is a bit of a nightmare.

I have only one thing to say.


My son, the hero

You may have gathered that Tiddles, as well as often driving me to distraction, is the source of a great deal of maternal pride. Today was just one of those occasions.

We arrived home after a very successful riding lesson, with a quick turn around ready to take Smudgelet to Cubs. There seemed, however, to be a bit of a stir in our little cul-de-sac, with various neighbours running back and forth to one of the bungalows, home to a lovely elderly man who lives alone. As plenty of people were there I hesitated to go over, mulling over to myself whether I had any skills or anything to offer the situation that the others may not have or whether I’d be a spare part. Deciding that my experience looking after Dad might come in useful, plus my knowledge of First Aid, I decided to go over and see what was happening.

The neighbour had, apparently, become unable to get himself out of the bath. For the first time ever he had accidentally left the key in the lock of the front door so, despite neighbours having keys, nobody could get in to rescue him. It looked as though the fire brigade would have to be called.

But then we spotted the window.

It was a tiny bathroom window. In fact, as I look at my computer monitor, I reckon the widest gap the window would make was only about half as big as the monitor itself, and fairly high up too. How could we possibly make use of this, what did I have to offer the situation? Well, I had a son. A son who is often teased by his peers because he is so wiry and small of stature. A son who is sensible, agile, determined, and can be very mature.

The first attempt was not successful – he sort of got stuck in the hole! But he worked out how to do it – we had to turn him upside down and post him in! He landed in the bath with the old man, was amazingly unembarrassed by the situation and spoke very reassuringly, explaining what he was doing and making sure the neighbour was OK. Then he made his way round to the patio doors and worked out how to open them (not easy) and let the frantic adults in. I was able to draw on my experience with both my mum and my dad, both of which I’d rescued from the same predicament before, and was able to lift our neighbour to his feet. Fortunately he was fine – found the situation rather funny, in fact – and came dressed in a warm towel to chat with the assembled neighbourhood in his kitchen! He was very appreciative of Tiddles’ part in the proceedings and complimented me on having two “very civilised” children with whom he was happy to share the street. :o)

Back at home, we congratulated Tiddles on his heroic act. “Yes,” he said, “I think I’d make a rather good burglar, don’t you?”

Smudgieville photos 1

Life is full and active – one of the blessings of being off work to care for dad is being able to be there for some of the Smudgelets’ adventures.

This morning was sports day. No, I did NOT run in the mummies’ race! But blue team were the overall winners, much to Smudgelet’s delight

Through the tunnel

Tiddles was delighted to get Chico as his horse for the last few riding lessons, and also to move from being a beginning to a “walk/trot” lesson. He’s definitely getting the hang of it, if only he could control his arms which fly upward everytime he kicks.


Last night was a real treat as my brother phoned to say that the boat he’s on at the moment was moored in Cowes and did I want to take the boys for a tour (and me for a cuppa with him). I didn’t need asking twice.

Eldest son at the helmsailor at the helm

And my sister and I managed a whole afternoon out together at one of my all-time favourite places, Shanklin Chine. If you ever visit the Isle of Wight, this is one place you really must go, especially on a hot day. It really is like magically stepping out of the day to day world and into paradise… and their cakes do nothing to spoil that impression! 😉

shanklin chinemy sister at shanklin

Shanklin Chineglanville frittilary

I really must lose this excess weight that I’ve gained this last couple of years. I hate seeing photos of me just lately – when life becomes easier I will be able to get into the exercise routine again and shift some of my padding… at least, that’s what I keep telling myself. Still, it’s me, and better to accept that it is me than worry about things right now when there’s nothing I can do… and besides, the Smudgelets like having a cuddly mum!

me in chine