Monthly Archives: August 2006

And the prize goes too……

Well, much to my surprise, the prize for correctly guessing the venue of our weekend out goes all the way to the southern hemisphere. Deeleea you got it in one. We went to a perennial favourite, the Garlic Festival. (That would be a link if I could only get the hang of doing the blessed things, but as it is you’re perfectly capable of cutting and pasting).

Today’s excitement came in the form of a visit to Arreton Manor, most historic building on the Island and alledgedly most haunted too! It was brilliant (as was their coffee and cakes, I have to admit) and the guide was so interesting and informative that we could remember pretty well every single thing she’d told us, such as how old you had to be to join King Charles 1st’s army and why the doors in the house were so small and how the monks recycled water and how they tested mediaeval bullet-proof vests!

Now joining the Smudgie family are….

Nemo and Dory the goldfish, c/o Smudgelet (original names, don’t you think? Wonder what video we’ve been watching recently!) ; Bobby the shubunkin, c/o Tiddles; and It and Bit the white cloud mountain minnows – well, you didn’t expect me to be left out, did you?

(the extra fish in the photograph are actually reflections as the tank has a mirror backing!)



What a pain boys are when in close confines for too long. How taxing it is on the parental patience. How quickly my delight at seeing my children again wore off.

Kill two birds with one stone. Auntie J took Tiddles off for the afternoon on Saturday while Smudgelet and I took the fishtank round to grandad’s and cleaned it all out. We also managed to get grandad in the car for a short ride and an icecream, combined with a trip to the garden centre to purchase a new airpump for the tank. (So much for it being a cheap treat for Smudgelet to do up the old fishtank – I ended up having to buy almost all of it from scratch!)

The following day it was my turn. Still accompanied by Smudgelet I went to the same venue as Tiddles. It wasn’t really the best weather for it, and being pecuniarily restricted put a bit of a damper on it, but we still had a fantastic time exploring all the tents and side shows and watching some fantastic arena displays. Where did we go? Well, see if you can work it out from the little clue below. (The first picture is not a clue, it’s just a picture of one of the displays that, in blustery winds and at a height of 40 feet with no form of safety device, simply took my breath away – as a spectator, I hasten to add!)

vander brothers at garlic festival


Got it yet?


It was weird indeed, travelling home alone after our holiday. I felt incredibly lost, incredibly bereft. It’s not as if I haven’t had time without the children before. I think it was cumulative with the sense of anti-climax I always feel at the end of a holiday, combined with disappointment at being unable to meet up with a friend as planned on the way home, combined with the knowledge that it was our last Sidmouth holiday for the time being.

But four days child-free was rather nice, as was the half of the journey where I realised I was free to stop off, to browse in the shops, to drink coffee and read my book and have my own choice of music on!

So where were the kids? I did have to ask myself whether it is really responsible of me as a parent to delegate the care of my children to two people mad enough to want to take not only my duo camping, but also their own eight-month-old baby. I hesistated for all of three seconds when they offered. The tent and sleeping bags and an extra bagful of clothes were packed in secret – thank goodness for my wonderful Kangoo which has a boot big enough to hide extra luggage in – and the faces of the boys was a treat when we met up with A and T and I just glibly started saying “hmm, my boot’s a bit overpacked. Do you have room in your car for a sleeping bag? Does the baby have a dinghy and would you like to take ours in your car? Could you fit a kite in? Would you like to take this tent too? And what about children, could I fob them off on you as well?”

The penny finally dropped … and suddenly I was free!


I have a gorgeous photo of Tiddles and Little Miss Lovely at the prom but sadly cannot put it online. However, if you are known to us and would like to see it, let me know. You wouldn’t believe how grown up my baby looks 😀

We have fish!

Pictures to follow.. well, if you can get a picture of the contents of a fishtank.
Currently they’re settling in, getting the furniture in the right rooms, doing a quick inventory, that kind of thing.

Highlight of the week

So, what was the highlight of the week? So many things to choose from. Fantastic food (hmm… think it’s time my diet started for real!), making new friends who became really good friends for the duration of the week, meeting up with long-standing friends that we hadn’t seen for ages and whose company we really enjoy (yes, that includes you, NC!), getting chance to read my book, visiting some beautiful and exciting and interesting places and having adventures, lounging on the beach (naturally this is a bit of a novelty for us 😉 ) … how can I begin to choose?

But one day stood out from all others in being memorable. When I was a child I grew up not too far from JC Bamford’s factory and many trips out with my parents included a drive past there, where I would gaze open mouthed in wonder at the big yellow monsters outside. It was a childhood ambition to drive one one day, and now at last that long-forgotten ambition has been fulfilled. And it was every bit as exciting and exhilerating as I dreamed it would be all those years before.

Yes, we decided to blow the expense (turned out to be well worth every penny) and visit Diggerland. (Google for it, and see what fun we had!) Initially I went because I thought the boys would enjoy it but truth to tell I was in my element. One of the Smudgelets asked if it was nice to feel like a child again, but I explained that I didn’t feel like a child again, the inner child of me was able to play but my enjoyment was at an adult level because I actually knew some of the theory of driving it and was challenging myself to a new experience rather than just playing. Ah, OK, so I had a good play too! We got to drive a massive JCB, to ride on all sorts of exciting vehicles, to drive dumper trucks and tractors, and to dig a hole.

Now, I have to admit I have never quite seen the attraction of digging a hole, lifting a pile of earth from one place and relocating it in another. I queued with less excitement for this opportunity and, once seated in the driver’s seat, was hardly inspired by the task. My first few attempts to operate the shovel were not encouraging either – it just wouldn’t do as it was told. Then, somehow, I got the movement right and found myself with a shovel full of earth. Now all of a sudden it became interesting – how on earth had I done it? A bit of experimenting and I suddenly found I’d done it again… and this time the boom swung round and the earth was neatly deposited … exactly where I wanted it. Woohoo! The Smudge was inspired – this was fun. Turn, scoop, lift, turn, tip. Turn, scoop, lift, turn, tip. Perfect! (no it wasn’t, I lie! It was dreadful – but I had the feeling that given a month or two I could be an expert dirt shifter!)

Now, was this training for building my own extension? Roll over, Bob the Builder. The Smudge is here!


Dumper trucks

There was I, digging this hole...

Bob the Builder

We’re hoooooome!

I told you life would be a bit more upbeat today. And it’s true. A lie in and a wallow in the bath washed away all the irritations that bugged me through the night. Then the Smudgelets and I decided to see if we could learn a piece of music that we could all play together – Smudgelet on recorder, Tiddles on piano and me on accordion playing the main part. It’s coming along nicely, thank you very much. And now Tiddles is playing badminton with his auntie, I am sat at the computer for half an hour, and Smudgelet is busy making his teddybear a waistcoat.

We had a fantastic holiday all told. Sidmouth yet again did us proud with lots of new adventures and visiting old favourites too – it was a really strange sensation to know that we’re not planning to go back again next year. Now, let’s have a look at my flickr account and see what photos to bore you with…

Where's Wally? Here is a picture of the Smudgelets on the beach at Sidmouth. And no, the lady in the black swimming costume is NOT me! I wasn’t half so adventurous, I just contented myself with getting Tiddles to put up a deckchair for me to lounge in…

Now how does this work again?

Afraid I was rather obsessed with the beauty of the stones on the beach. “mummy, why on earth are you taking photographs of stones?” Well, does this answer your question?

A perennial favourite is going to the jousting and cheering on Sir Lancelot in his battle against the evil (and exceedingly rude) Sir Guy of Guisborne. A good place to go if you want to be insulted.
Sir Lancelot du Lac

I made it Smudgelet and I are quite pleased with this photo. We climbed the 90 steps on a wonderful walk to the highest waterfall in England, the beautiful Canonteign Falls. If you’re ever in Devon, this is one place I can thoroughly recommend – the air is so uncommonly pure and the environment so beautiful and relaxing (apart from the walk!) Here is what made it all worthwhile:

Canonteign falls

Apron strings

In the midst of all that angst, it’s been an interesting experience loosening the apron strings ever so slightly today.

It has become a bit of a custom to swap children during the holidays, taking Smudgelet to the childminder’s to play with his best friend and bringing home said best friend’s brother (bored at the childminder’s with all the under-nines) to play with Tiddles who is of an age with him. They’re delightful company and he’s a good influence on Tiddles, methinks.

So Miss-ultra-protective, realising her teenage son is getting on a bit now, decides to let go the reins just a little bit. The two lads are given some money and dropped off at the swimming pool for a couple of hours. Then, once they are wrinkly, they are transported into town with money to buy their own picnic and then relocated, complete with football, at the edge of the forest. It’s a small forest, well known to them both and very popular with families, so as safe as you could ask a forest to be. The only known dangerous wild animals are the red squirrels who could probably give you a nasty tickle. So I steeled myself to leave them to their own devices – a picnic, a walk and a kickaround with the football – for an hour and a half. I came home to make the most of my freedom – why is it I paced the whole afternoon until it was time to go and collect them?

Tiddles tonight rang Miss Lovely to arrange his fourth date. Ooooh! Mind you, I have to say she’s a bit of a girl. I seem to have lost touch with thirteen-year-old girls, they seem a bit of an alien race to me. But she’s good for Tiddles and he likes her company, so that’s good enough for me to put up with the giggles and silly girly comments. I loved it, though – he walked miles during the phonecall as he went to his room for privacy, returning to the lounge every three seconds to check his arrangements with me! It’s a bit of a logistical nightmare, though… and somehow seems to work out that I shall have to spend some time alone with this strange creature, the teenage girl…. a prospect almost as daunting for me as it is doubtless for her.