Monthly Archives: September 2006

Success (3)

Here we are, four days after the event, and still I ache in muscles I didn’t know I possessed!
Yes, Tiddles and I climbed our tree.

You can see the photos here if my link has worked, but here is a rather lovely taster .

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(Yes, he is up there somewhere.. use your magnifying glass)

The weather was absolutely perfect – sunny and bright with a gentle breeze, neither too hot nor too cold – and we sat for our picnic amazed at the beauty of the day considering it was so late in September. The instructer, Paul, was wonderful and I hope he makes a real success of this venture as I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather climb with. The field was lovely, occupied with angora goats (in an enclosed area) and alpacas and, once you got high enough, with a view over the Solent. And the tree? Well, it was the most amazing 50 foot oak tree that had stood there for 250 years or more.

Climbing was hard work, especially for one so .. er… top heavy as I. Progress was a few inches at a time, each step up involving lifting my whole bodyweight from sitting swinging in the harness to standing supported by the footloop. Swinging on the rope was more pleasant than I’d expected, letting the breeze and the movement of the tree dictate the direction of swing, and I have to say that once I got the hang of the sequence of movements to get myself moving slowly upwards, I really did enjoy it,…. well, as long as I didn’t let myself think of how high up it was! Paul had put little incentives on different branches of the tree – a little barbie bicycle horn to honk, a tiny bag containing sweeties, a hammock, a bell to ring… I made it to the first of these but time went against me and I had to abseil back down without having made it to the top. (Maybe next time!!!!).
Tiddles, however, was amazing. The little boy who had to be carried up and down staircases, who screamed blue murder on the top deck of the ferry, who was so so scared of heights – well, you should have seen him go! He listened, he concentrated, and he simply shot up that tree – twice!

What a fantastic day. Now, can you pass me the muscle relaxant please and run me another hot bath?

Success (2)

I have managed to book not just one holiday in October, but two!

Well, two half holidays.

The weekend of Tiddles and My birthdays we are going on a surprise holiday. As it is a surprise, I know nothing about it, of course. I have managed to fulfil the Smudgelets’ dream and booked a long weekend in a caravan. It’s in a popular tourist area…. the sunny Isle of Wight. I understand lots of people go there for their holidays. Luckily it’s the other side of the Island – miles and miles away from home 😀

Then I used my brain and I sent a mass email to every b&b in the New Forest/Portsmouth area and asked if they had any availability for the few days I had free. And what do you know? We’ve found somewhere. It’s a lovely-looking b&b in Romsey and I’ve replied and asked to book it for three nights. The Smudgelets have been informed that, if their bedrooms aren’t tidy by then, Auntie M has offered to have them to stay with her instead and make them work instead of coming with me. 😉 We’re mean, you know.

Success! (1)

Dad is in the hospice. I think we have him well enough to face the daunting journey by car and ferry to Southampton hospital for radiotherapy. We leave at 11.30 this morning and are hoping to make the 6pm ferry back. Meanwhile the Smudgelets have been left with a plethora of instructions as I will not be home until they’re in bed and the babysitter is installed safely in the lounge (she’s cat-phobic!).

I am a very nervous mummy/daughter tonight!

Frustrating or what?

First of all, Dad is poorly again. I think he has recaught the chest infection which he so kindly shared with Tiddles and me as he really is not well today and the doc has put him back on antibiotics as a precaution as he needs to be well enough for radiotherapy on Tuesday.

Just as frustrating is my attempt to take the children on a caravan holiday this coming month. We have two options – the weekend of Tiddles’ and my birthdays (though needing to be home on the Sunday afternoon, worst luck) or the second half of the half term break. The reasons for a caravan holiday – could it be that I am missing work THAT much? No indeed. But I fancy a self catering break where we’re beholden to nobody and can just chill out completely with things around us to amuse the kids. More to the point, the boys have chosen a holiday in a caravan park as their choice of birthday treat and, quite touched that they should want a family holiday rather than a party, I am determined to grant their wish (especially as Smudgelet has waited sooooooo long!)

I checked on the internet yesterday and was delighted to find there was a choice of about three different holidays at Haven for half term. Excellent! I rang my sister to check that she would definitely be happy for me to go away for those five days (I have to spend the first half of the week at home because I am single handed caring for Dad while one sister is at work and the other away on a long weekend in France). All is falling into place – it’s within my budget, we could go there by train and thus save a huge amount of money and hassle, it’s all absolutely perfect.

Only one snag. Log on this morning and all the accommodation’s gone. In fact, everywhere I check there’s only availability if we book for the whole week, Saturday to Saturday, which takes it completely out of our range. Looks like we’ll be going on the Isle of Wight for two nights early October instead. 🙁 I know there are people we could go and visit, and staying somewhere in a Travelodge wouldn’t be too bad either, but somehow I am so disappointed that I don’t know where to begin looking. I’m sad. 🙁 *sniff*

It’s almost enough to tempt me to go camping.

No it isn’t.

Tis a far far fouler thing….

I finally bestirred myself to get on and get the house at least to the state of cleanliness and tidiness where I can say “I’m really sorry, I haven’t had time to clean or tidy the house so it looks a real state, please take me as you find me” rather than being exposed for the domestic godless that I am.

Thank goodness for my wonderful friend M who called round this morning to see if I had a copy of “Feed the World”. I didn’t, but offered to see if I could find a downloadable version online … and while I was engaged at the computer, she wielded the mop in my porch and little hallway.

This is why I am finding it extremely difficult to forgive Charlie cat who, as a token of admiration for our incoming guest, brought her the most generous gift he could imagine. As I walked to the door, there in the little hallway was……. the body and intestines of a mouse. How lovely! The surrounding red gore convinced me of the immediacy of the decapitation .. as did the floor of my porch, in the middle of which sat a rather surprised-looking little head.

Thanks Charlie.

Sleepless in Smudgeville

Pah, I need my sleep. I have so much to do today that a nap is out of the question really… though I’m not quite sure what I’m doing typing away here instead of getting on with the housework! 😉 I blame you lot!

Last night was the typical logistical nightmare which always occurs when I’m single handed with Dad and there’s a Marie Curie nurse coming. There are only two beds at Dad’s, both in the same room. Thus when my sisters aren’t here, the Smudgelets sleep in Dad’s spare bedroom and I sleep on the sofa in the lounge. This is fine. However, when the marie Curie nurse comes, she needs to sit in the lounge, so I have nowhere to sleep. I can’t leave the Smudgelets in bed for her to take care of while I go home, but as she doesn’t come until 10pm I can’t put them to bed in their own beds either.

Tiddles, of course, has this sleep problem too. He can’t cope with missing any sleep. So we have come to an arrangement… highly unsatisfactory but there you go. He goes to bed in his own bed and I run over to check on him every half hour to make sure he’s OK. At nearly 14 he’s getting used to being a little more independent. Smudgelet, however, I put to bed at Dad’s and then, when the nurse arrives, I wake this little tussle-haired blob and sleepiness and carry him, sleeping bag and all, across to our house where he settles into his own bed without ever really waking properly at all. Then I, crumple-backed, slide into the comfort of my own snug duvet.

Great. But what happens when you’ve done all this and then discover that there isn’t a nurse booked at all that night! 10.30 and all my bedding is over at my home, Tiddles is asleep at my home, Smudgelet and Dad are asleep at Dad’s home. The second bed in the spare room is covered with ironing as I knew that we weren’t going to need it overnight. Disaster.

Result? I have to leave Dad and Smudgelet while I wake Tiddles and bring him over. As he cannot sleep on the bed without me taking for ever sorting it out, and thus totally disturbing his night’s sleep, I put him on the sofa in his duvet. He promptly falls asleep. Me? Now where on earth am I going to sleep? Only solution is to sleep in the chair. Besides, with Dad having a cough left over from his infection last week, and with Tiddles having a horrendous nighttime cough caught from his grandad, and with me having a bit of a nighttime cough caught from Tiddles, sleep was hardly the order of the day.

AAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I really need to ring my Mac nurse and see what’s happening… but I’m too tired!!!!!!

Better late than never

I have still to thank Fishsoup properly for the fantastic book I received through the WISE exchange. It was unputdownable, despite my uncertainty when first I saw it and read the blurb. Thank you, thank you, thank you 😀


And while I’m on Flickr, I thought you might like to see my latest little project. I had been under an urge to do some knitting. I’m a bit of an impulsive knitter, not consistent in any way and hopeless at anything which requires long periods of time and concentration as I tend to lose interest after a while. Thus the jumper I was knitting for Tiddles during introductions with Smudgelet (to let him know that he was not being forgotten in favour of a younger brother) remains one arm and a back and five rows of the second arm. Goodness knows where I put the pattern. Goodness knows what this says to Tiddles!

So, some knitting was the order of the day, but nothing which required a lot of thought or extended knitting time as I can be called away at a moment’s notice and need to be able to put it down and pick it up again for minutes at a time. My friend M suggested squares but I shuddered at the thought to be honest – far too monotonous for me at the moment, suitable only for knitting while watching TV and there’s not all that much worth watching just lately. So I was delighted when someone on the Ship of Fools suggested looking at a pattern on the Innocent Smoothie website.

Any pattern for which the first instruction is “Tune in to Radio 4” has to be good! So here I am, knitting tiny woolly hats for Innocent Smoothie bottles to keep them warm in the fridge. They’ll be sent off to the company who intend to sell them, sitting on top of the bottles (the hats, that is, not the sellers), to raise money for Age Concern. 50p per woolly hat can’t be bad. And it’s giving me some fun and a good way to pass the time too, and something to talk to dad about as I finish each one and get his advice on colours and patterns! So far four are complete and one is just five rows along the way.


Anyway, can’t stop now, I’ve got knitting to do……

Back to School

Oh, if only I could share with you the photos of my Smudgelets in their new school uniforms!

The return to school… or rather, the start at brand new schools for both of them… was a resounding success. Well, it was once they got there. Next time I must remember to check which day they are due to start. Tiddles was NOT amused to find himself walking home from the bus stop. It’s the only time I’ve known him so upset at changing from his school uniform into his play clothes… though not as upset as I was at unexpectedly finding myself with one son still at home!

Smudgelet is delighted with all that’s happening at Middle School. He’s mastered the bus, though today got rather an earwigging when he arrived back at the front door within ten minutes of going to wait for his bus. He wanted to come home because it was raining!!! He found himself back at the bus stop VERY QUICKLY, though mummy finally relented and drove him to school after all. I think he’d have preferred to wait for the bus, though – he got a thorough nagging all the way!

Tiddles has really risen to the challenge of High School and is revelling in it. The tutor has really looked out for him. He’s now in the Rugby team, auditioning for the school play, joining the football club. He’s in rather high sets too – I was unsure whether this was an administrative cockup or just rather an indictment on the ability of the rest of the year group as he’s hardly the most academically-minded of students, but a colleague informs me that often they put weaker children who benefit from peer encouragement and motivation into a higher set to keep them in the right company and environment for learning. I hope he manages to stay there – it would be an answer to prayer if he does. So far so good, he’s working really hard and producing a fantastic quality of work.

Me? I’m just incredibly proud of the pair of them.

And just to gloat a little further, Smudgelet took this photo of some of his pottery work. The fish on the left he just painted, the ones on the right he made.



I have to say that all is not gloom and doom at Smudgie Towers and we are still fitting in lots of fun.
The end of the holidays was marked in fine fashion as we met up with a friend from the mainland and her children for the day. Fantastic! A lovely family and great fun to spend time with, although the children had never met before. Three of the four visiting children have particular difficulties which mean that life is a little tougher for them and that spending the day with my gruesome twosome could have been quite a challenge. But no, it was great and all six children really hit it off – including the little four-year-old who fell in love with Tiddles and spent almost all day holding his hand or riding piggy-back. Tiddles was a star!

We spent the day at Robin Hill. If you’re visiting the Island with children, this place is an absolute MUST and even knocks Blackgang Chine into a cocked hat. Maybe not so much for adults alone, but a lovely place for a family walk while the children indulge their imaginations and exuberance to the limits. There’s loads to do and see, I have chosen only two to give you a tiny appetiser…….

Who could resist a visit to DuckDown-on-the-Green, that archetypal English village, complete with school, sweet shop and pub?

At one point we totally lost several of the boys. Tiddles was tracked down playing on the slide with his little admirer, but where were the rest?