Monthly Archives: February 2007

The light at the end of the tunnel is…

the headlights of an oncoming train.

It’s always been one of my favourite “Murphy’s Law” sayings… but somehow it seems to have become my motto for life. What I’d do without God holding me together I don’t know, I think I’d be a crumpled heap on the floor (except that the place is such a tip that there’s not much floor to crumple onto – thank heaven for clutter, that’s all I say… it’s keeping me upright)

It has suddenly become apparent to me that Tiddles cannot return to school. Things are going to wrong, and he’s not going to manage to break free from things without being taken out of that environment. Trouble is, I go back to work on Thursday. So here I am, frantically trying to explore the ins and outs of home education, frantically trying to establish a working environment for him, frantically trying to fix up cover for him while I’m at work, and it’s all got to be done by Thursday. My home seriously needs sorting out (The Wightmeet in April is proving simultaneously a source of stress and the perfect motivator, as I know I need to get on and do it so I am forcing myself to overcome my reluctance and actually do something!) and with Dad’s bungalow going on the market in April I also need to get on top of sorting things there. And that’s before we start talking about the plans for the extension being with the planning office and me needing to decide precisely what I want in the plans for the builders.

The other problem, of course, is that Tiddles is finding the adjustment difficult… I have been advised by home educators that it takes about one month of “detox” for each year the child has been in school… and that it’s best to leave the first year to just gentle readjustment rather than hoping for any learning. Hmmmmm… not easy. Especially when you have a younger child who’s still at school – a very good school – and feels he’s missing out just because he’s being good. But the level of learning Tiddles needs in order to get the GCSEs he needs for nursing is definitely book based.. and somehow I have to get him able to take on some responsibility himself for his learning. I think I’d have been perfectly happy home educating him from the start – I’d often said I’d love to do it and it’d have been right for him too – but starting now at fourteen is daunting, and especially doing it because it’s the only way to keep him safe rather than because I have a personal drive towards home education. The exuberance I felt at bringing Dad safely home and now rediscovering my own life seems a bit of a distant memory at the moment, and there’s little time to grieve either. But there’s lots of good friends, and love, and with God on our side we will come through this, our next hurdle in the race of life. And they haven’t yet worn me to such a frazzle that I’ve totally lost my sense of humour.

Lots of people are saying “And what are you doing to protect yourself? This is a lot to carry on your shoulders, how are you managing to cope with it?”. They say it in a loving way and I really appreciate their concern and support. Trouble is, what’s the answer?

Hooray, hooray, it’s a holi- holi- day

Highlights of our trip away?

1) The scream that came from the bathroom at the Travelodge. Out came Smudgelet, who had had a shower and had decided to put some curls in his lovely golden locks. Good try, Smudgelet, but actually it’s not that good an idea to do it with a comb. And when the comb gets tangled, it’s an even worse idea to rotate it several times in the opposite direction.
I had scissors in the car, but luckily for Smudgelet we were all in pyjamas and the car was parked at the far end of a snow-bedecked carpark. And so the game began. I have to say he was very brave.. there was only the occasional wimper and no protestations or tears at all as I pulled on each hair to see at which end it was attached and then gently (gently?) teased it out from between the teeth of the comb. Half an hour it took, until the last strand was released. He’s asked for curling tongs for his birthday!

2) Spending time with my sister… and talking with my nephews on Skype. Spending a rainy morning, the Smudgelets and my sister and I, having an origami competition (which, surprisingly, the Smudgelets really enjoyed) and creating snakes and crickets and pigs and hundreds of penguins of various sizes (and in Smudgelet’s case, of various colour schemes!)

3) A wonderful visit to Ford Green Hall – highly recommended if ever you’re that way, wherever it is. It almost wasn’t a wonderful visit as we arrived to find it closed. We toured the outside looking for opening times. It was most odd – the carpark was being dug up with a JCB and there was no sign of life other than a bottle of milk on the doorstep (most odd, seeing a bottle of milk delivered to a Tudor house) but my sister had rung up the previous day and they’d said it would be open and there’d be special activities for children too. Nowhere could we find the sign with opening times, so in the end I had to find a sheltered corner, ring to top up my mobile phone credit, ring directory enquiries for the number of tourist information, and then speak to the very helpful woman there who said that the place only opens afternoons. At this point I looked up and discovered I was standing underneath a massive signpost and, on investigating further, discovered that this huge noticeboard actually had the opening times written on in great big letters!
But if you’re into history, then this is the most lovely historical building I have ever been in. Unlike many stately homes, this house seems to hug you as you go in, and there’s a real feel for the families who must have lived there. Unlike many places, children (and adults) are actually encouraged to touch and explore and there are loads of things to try out – reproduction clothing, games, spinning etc. My sister introduced us all to the skill of playing with a whip and top, a game she remembered from her childhood. She and Tiddles dressed up as a Tudor nobleman and his waiting maid, while Smudgelet and I tried our hand at nine-mens-morris. And Tiddles demonstrated incredible patience and skill at carding and spinning wool, sufficient for me to arrange for him to have some spinning lessons when next he’s in Scotland with his uncle.

4) Spending some quality time with my childhood friend, L – a friend more like a sister until recently, when our lives had suffered a bit of a rift with the various demands on our time and attention, and with so many miles between us. A rift that a three day visit more than mended. And on top of that, the pure delight of spending time with my Goddaughters who are the most wonderful girls and whom I both love and like incredibly much. Not having spent proper time with them for ages, I had begun to fear that I hardly knew them any more and that the love between us was only there as a theoretical thing, that I was really only “a friend of their mother’s”. But three days put paid to that, and already we’re making plans for them coming to stay and for us getting together on the mainland for days out here and there.

5) A fantastic and relaxing time in good company was the final part of our week away as we went to the St Pixels retreat at Morley. Highlight for the Smudgelets was discovering that one of the worship rooms had been somewhat converted. The furniture was all stacked in one corner and in the middle of the room was a ginormous BOUNCY CASTLE!!! Best bit – the adults were allowed on it. Sadly I only managed one bounce as I was suffering from a head cold and it made me feel quite dizzy and nauseous, so I retired for a nice safe refined game of croquet (the perfect game for mean minded people 🙂 )

Lowlight: A bit of Tiddles-trouble, and both boys going down with the most horrible bug – chesty coughs, headaches and dizziness, and a temperature of 101 each (Goodness, that’s 202 altogether!!!)

One of our bloggers is missing….

It’s OK, you can stop panicking, I’m here now.

What do you mean, you weren’t panicking? You didn’t miss me? Shame on you! I’ve missed blogging, but life has been just a little bit too hectic since we returned home from our holidays for me to justify sitting pootling at the computer. Tonight it’s an essential – I have an inkling that it’s the only way I’m going to stay awake long enough to watch at least the opening credits of Life on Mars tonight.

The holiday was fantastic – a really good week away – and no, we didn’t get trapped in ten foot of snow, much as the Smudgelets would have loved that. But we were very sensible in packing hot water, food, warm clothes, blankets and a spade just in case (which added a frisson of excitement to our trip) and the Cadburyworld visit was cancelled due to bad weather so we just made our way through the fog and rain straight to my sister’s via a rather nice travelodge.

Bother, interrupted by two really good and helpful phonecalls and here I am now at nearly ten o’clock having stayed awake all the way through Life on Mars and not even seen the opening credits! Typical!!!

Blog on, Smudgie, now you’re awake.

Is this wise? hmmmm……

Don’t answer that one!

In two short hours we will be setting off on our epic journey. The weather is abysmal – snow and ice on the mainland and, unusually for the Island, freezing rain here. There is a large part of me thinks we should be staying safely at home.

The plan is to go to the Ship of Fools meet at Cadburyworld tomorrow. Then on to my sister’s for two days, then to visit my friend, then back to my sister’s, and finally to Morley for the St Pixels weekend before coming home on Sunday afternoon. I am beginning to feel this is rather ambitious. The car is loaded, I am reluctant not to go… but have packed warm clothes, hot drinks, water, food, a torch and even a shovel. (Equally worryingly, I can’t find where I’ve put my driving license – last time I had it was in the Hospice … don’t ask me why… and I don’t remember what on earth I did with it when I got home.)

The house is in chaos – full of Dad’s stuff that’s being rehoused, our stuff that’s being sorted, clothes that didn’t make it into the suitcase, boxes that “may come in handy” and general gumph. Alas. If we don’t go, maybe I could get it sorted. How am I ever going to find the time to go back to work?

Now I must go and ring the school – notification arrived today that Tiddles has gained himself yet another detention and is supposed to be serving it tonight but I don’t think he knows. I have to find out whether to go and pick him up now or in an hour’s time – can’t decide which would be preferable, having an extra hour at home but having a panic to catch the ferry in time, or having to go and get him now and then knowing he’s here and ready to go. There again, I may well throttle him before we go if I get him now… and I’ve already paid for his ticket!

I ought to mention….

All wibloggers are welcome to come and join us in our little gite in France.
You will, of course, have to share a room with the Smudgelets.
And their underwear.
And bed and board will be provided free of charge…….
…….. in return for you offering a daily Smudgelet-sitting service,
and cooking all the meals.

Sounds like a fair deal to me 😀

Brick wall

Anyone got one handy that I can bang my head against?

So much for Tiddles getting onto the Health and Social Care course.
I just need to keep reminding myself I’m teetotal.

Nah, blow it. There’s a miniature Bailey’s in the fridge. I’m going to drink it in the bath and then retire for en early night.
No, not a bathful – a glassful, in a bathful of hot water.
The ironing can go untouched – if anyone during our week’s holiday comments on how crumpled we look I’ll just blame Dave.

A gite is…..

self-catering accommodation in the form of a complete house, bungalow, or apartment – usually in France. And one of what we’re renting for a week in Desvres (which sounds so like Des Res that we just had to go for it!)

The patter of tiny feet

Since Dad died, our little family here has extended by two.
Much to Charlie’s disgust.

Gentleman of leisure...

From a life of leisure as Lord of all he surveys…..

Oh look!

He now finds himself sharing…

Are you sure they're not for me?

And while he’d love for them to stay for lunch…..

Welcome to the family

Mum seems surprisingly reluctant to let him play with them…

Time for a closer look....

even though he was only looking…

I'm only looking

So if you can’t eat them, Charlie can’t understand why the family are so taken with the new arrivals… Mousie (the shy one)


and Ratty (the audacious one)


more progress

That’s another two loads of washing in the machines, and one in the drier.
And I have found my bed.
I have done this by shoving everything off the bed onto the floor.
That’s apart from the things I have put on the top of the chest of drawers.
And to do that, I had to clear the chest of drawers.
Onto the floor.

But at least I have a bed to sleep on tonight.


Look, I had to have some lunch, didn’t I?
And it would have been rude not to talk to my brother when he phoned, wouldn’t it?

So far I have:
Moved the gerbils out of the reach of the cat
Done three loads of washing
Dried one load of washing
Moved the cat away from the gerbils
Ventured into the boys’ bedroom.. come out for air… been in again
Accumulated a further five loads of things to be washed
Been over to Dad’s and opened all the windows
Moved the cat away from the gerbils
Taken down the put-you-up bed I have been sleeping in
Moved the cat away from the gerbils
Put the gerbils further out of the cat’s reach
Eaten a mini box of Celebrations
Caught the cat mid-leap and returned it to the floor
Sorted out the rather late Christmas presents I need to wrap and take with us on holiday
Totally upset the cat to the extent that it’s stalked off in a huff
beaten my highest ever score at Word Mojo!