Monthly Archives: October 2008

A night at the opera

I must learn to tell my boy when I’m going out. I have just got in to find a series of answerphone messages, each one increasingly more worried than the last. He must have spent almost his week’s worth of credit on calling me, sure I wouldn’t be out so late with the Smudgelet, panicking each time I didn’t answer the phone. Bless him – I feel bad to have caused him such anguish – little wonder that when he rang at 11 he wanted to talk and talk and talk and not let me go. And little wonder I’m now sitting here with the tears streaming down my face. I miss him so. 🙁

The opera was fantastic. Mid Wales Opera performing The Tales of Hoffman. Not one I’d seen before, although I reckon there can’t be many people who don’t know at least one tune from it (Barcarolle). I wondered at first whether we’d made a mistake, especially in taking the Smudgelet. But no, it was great and he absolutely loved it once he got into it. It was very surreal, though… and that tall skinny fellow had no right singing bass when I had prepared myself for him having a tenor or baritone’s voice! I think the next bit of culture to inflict on the Smudgelet will be in December. It would appear that the Vienna Ballet is performing Swan Lake. My eldest has always harboured a secret desire to see a ballet, just to see what he makes of it, so it will be interesting to see how Smudgelet reacts to the suggestion.

He and I are hoping to go to Austria next summer. My original plans have fallen through – we were going to stay with some friends out there but I think that friendship has abruptly come to an end 🙁 so we’re going to save a bit of money every month in a determined effort to enable us to go either to Vienna or to Salzburg for a week and really savour being in an Austrian city. I spent a year there as a language assistant and utterly love the country, and took eldest son to Vienna the year before we had the Smudgelet. I’ve not been since. And when I asked the Smudgelet for what he’d most like to do this summer, that was his reply. He’d really really love to go to Austria, for preference to Salzburg but, in second place, Vienna. Ooooooooh, if we save enough, maybe we’ll get to go to the opera there – now that would be a taste of culture not to be missed.

I’m not sure whether I told you we’re going to Scotland tomorrow.

A first time for everything

And for Smudgelet, tonight’s going to be his first time at the opera 😀

Honorary Auntie M and I are going to see Tales of Hoffman and taking the Smudgelet with us. I hope he likes it. I intend to! 😀 The only problem will be who will take responsibility for making sure I don’t fall asleep in the middle of it? It’s no use relying on the Smudgelet and certainly no use relying on Honorary Auntie M.

Would you credit it ?

We’re off to Scotland on Saturday! Neither the Smudgelet nor I can wait. Well, apart from wishing that I had a bit longer to get the house sorted, of course! ;o) (As you can see, this is weighing heavily on my mind, but not heavily enough for me to get off my bottom and do it!) But would you credit it, my brother has just rung to inform me that there’s SNOW forecast. SNOW!!!! Looks like I’d better pack the winter thermal underwear after all.

Our lovely detective yesterday made a special visit to bring Smudgelet’s digital camera back so that he’d have it for the holiday. (We are so lucky that it’s her driving the case – she is so good!) He’ll be able to take photographs of SNOW! He is ecstatic. Bet he forgets to pack it! ;o)

Right, a quick cup of coffee while I dash off some emails (like a shopping list for my brother so he stocks up with food that we’ll actually eat), the next stage of house-sorting, and a trip to town to browse the travel agents and see if our summer holiday plans are still actually feasible in a different form, bearing in mind it’s going to cost a bit more than we’d planned. Then it’s the Smudgelet’s swimming lesson and an evening of packing bags and watching Silent Witness…. and preparing for SNOW.

Planned crumpliness and life

I thought I would sit down for a little while with a cup of coffee and squander a few minutes of good house-cleaning time before setting to with a vengeance to get my home at least tidy enough to leave! I have just got back from a lovely appointment with my lovely doctor who says that I am showing, understandably, the symptoms of mild to moderate depression and not to worry about it because he’d be worried if I weren’t.

Doc: How are you coping?
Me: Everyone tells me I’m coping incredibly well.
Doc: Yes, that’s because you smile and get on with things. But how are you coping? …. Hold on, let me get you a tissue…. here, have another….

I am so lucky to have a practice full of doctors who care and who will give their time and really listen. And I am glad that I know it’s OK to alternate between coping and not coping, laughing and crying, getting on with things and just giving in and slobbing around in my pyjamas all day and generally feeling sorry for myself. I am also grateful for the people who remind me that it still is only six weeks – for me it feels like a lifetime. And the lovely YOT lady yesterday said that my reactions were very normal, that she was amazed at how I was managing to keep my head and my sense of humour, and that the time to go back to work was when I was starting to say “I want to” instead of “I ought to”. (Hmmm… mind you, pondering ever saying “I want to..” with regards MY job is an interesting intellectual challenge…. ;o) )

T&E: Why Pavlovas? Why sparkly communion table? Why just as a general concept?

And one of the inponderables of life: Why on earth do I have to memorise a “memorable information made up of numbers and letters which nobody else would guess” in addition to my user ID which is a series of numbers AND my password in order to get access to my internet banking… and I am not allowed to write these down? Have they not realised that every time I want to do any internet banking I end up having to do the “My memorable information turned out to be not so memorable” routine and then invariably set new memorable information which I know I’m going to forget… or, even worse, get confused with my previous 100 bits of instantly-forgettable memorable informations which have congealed into an amorphous blob in my brain?

Joint homework project

I thought you might like to see what’s been keeping the Smudgelet and me entertained for the last week. Twigby Methodist Church. You’ll notice it’s very green (literally and metaphorically) with solar panels on the roof and a mammoth skylight to make the most of natural light. It has toilets, Sunday School room, a multi-purpose hall, (he forgot about a kitchen. Tut! Can’t be a Methodist church without coffee facilities!) a lift, and a picnic area on the roof. Strange that he opted for pews rather than seats, mind…

Twigby Methodist Church - Smudgie-towers construction company Twigby Methodist Church - SmudgieTowers construction company

Smudgelet's church design Smudgelet's church design

And while we’re boring you with snapshots, here’s a rather adorable one of a Pavlova.

Guess who!


Forget your cruise ships and pedicures, I think Waterstones with a voucher is my idea of total luxury. (though if you offered a massage, or a weekend at a spa, I wouldn’t object!). Especially Waterstones with a voucher and unlimited time for browsing. I just wish our Waterstones was a bit more spacious. It does rather take the shine off when you have to clamber over half a dozen other shoppers just to get to the shelves you want – and then follow the queue of people working alphabetically along the lines of books. Heaven help you if, half way through the T’s, you realise you did actually want that J book after all.

So what did I buy? Did I manage my fourth book? Erm… (blush)…. yes! Well, they were doing three for the price of two, weren’t they, so I had to have… er… erm…. six! Unfortunately the sixth one was a bit of a blooper – would you believe I bought the same book twice? If you get Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men for Christmas, look for the name “Smudgie” on the wrapper. Shame we’re not doing the WISE book exchange this year!

The Wee Free Men was a knee-jerk reaction from having just finished reading “The Carpet People” to the Smudgelet. It took a short while to get into it, but it was utterly brilliant. I have started reading him the Wee Free Men, but it’s given him nightmares! I think I’d better read it for myself first.

On a Terry Pratchett theme, I bought myself Soul Music. I love Pratchett’s sense of humour, and with not having chapters, his books will make quite good court-waiting-room reading as I can read them a paragraph at a time if I need to. I think the DEATH stories are amongst my favourites, although that’s very hard to say as it then gets me wondering if I like the WATCH stories better, or the WITCH ones, or the UNSEEN UNIVERSITY ones…. er… erm…. I think they’re all my favourites. This one is the one I’m reading at the moment – I started it on my train journey to see eldest son on Friday and made pretty good progress into it.

Another favourite author is Jasper Fforde (are you getting an insight into my sense of humour, such as it is?). I devoured The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book. I bought myself the fourth book in the series as I already have the third book on its way from Amazon (well, I needed a second book to get free delivery on the serious one I wanted – parenting the teenager who hurts – a marvellous book on RAD which I have lent to someone and lost and which I really want my brother to read now so that he can understand a bit more about the difficulties many adopted children face. I want to read it again too as it has a section on what happens once children with RAD break the law).

The fifth purchase from Waterstones was one of Lindsay Davis’ Falco novels, a detective story set in Roman times. I love this sort of book. I love detective stories of any era, apart from the gratuitously violent and gory ones (being a lady of gentile taste!) but the historical ones like Falco and Cadfael give it that extra twist that I love. I am really looking forward to this one – probably a “read in one sitting” one suited best for a lazy afternoon in my brother’s conservatory (let’s hope the sun shines next week).

And of course I needed a more “sensible” book. I bought it with the twin purpose of a) reading it or b) giving it a friend for her birthday. I can’t do both as it’s a heavy book and I’d be bound to damage the spine or cover dropping it on my nose when I fell asleep reading it in bed. It’s The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I loved her first book and simply couldn’t put it down. Somehow I can’t see this book making it into birthday wrapping paper, can you?

I really must must must do some housework today. Perhaps if I do an hour’s worth I can reward myself by getting lost in a good book for a while.


Hmm… almost a quarter past eleven and I’m still not washed and dressed. Shocking eh? I haven’t scrubbed my front door step, either, and it’s way past Monday morning. Still, in mitigation I can plead that I have already cleaned (well, tidied… well, tidiedish) the kitchen, helped the Smudgelet with his maths homework, built a church, had coffee with a friend (Honorary Auntie M – one of the few friends to be totally unphased by me sitting drinking coffee in my pyjamas!), tried out the hymns for Sunday and.. er… played a round or two of Wordscraper and Scramble on Facebook?

The hymns for Sunday are me helping a friend in need. I agreed to play the organ at the little out-of-the-way church she’s preaching at on Sunday as long as I got to vet the service first (not tremendously helpful to be sat at the front struggling to dry my eyes in time for the next hymn… ) and also make sure they were hymns I could play. She’s buying lunch, so it seems fair enough. Must do something about having my eyes tested, though. I was sure the order of service said that the last hymn was “Go forth to hell, the doors are open wide”!

Nice afternoon on the agenda. Well, I’ve got to go into town to pick the Smudgelet up for his swimming lesson, so why not go in a bit earlier and hit Waterstones? The lovely people gave me a 20% off voucher as a birthday present (this does not mean that the voucher itself is somewhat shorted or that one fifth of the pages of the book will be removed, I hasten to add) and are also tempting me to spend by giving me triple points on my loyalty card. I think they’ve succeeded. I need, oh yes I need, a book to read on my way to visit my son tomorrow, another to read on our holiday in Scotland, a third one to read while sitting around in court cafeterias, a fourth one… er… come on, help me think of an excuse for a fourth one….


OK, so I was thwarted in my attempt to be an evil (or even a kind) mummy. The floor mat was rejected on the grounds that nobody really ought to be allowed to support Chelsea. It is clearly a criminal act in its own right. I could have told them that! But it does mean that today has been spent online-floormat-shopping. Surely, surely, they can’t object to multi-coloured stripes!

I have not succeeded in getting very far with the cleaning on account of the fact that I have spent all day on the telephone. I am sure I am getting telephonist’s ear! The biggest challenge has been organising a half hour visit for Friday. Simple, you’d think. Oh no – they don’t do half hour visits. Why a half hour visit? Well, because he has a welfare review on Friday, to which I am invited, and we will arrive there three quarters of an hour before it is due to start… and that three quarters of an hour falls within normal visiting hours. But they don’t do half hour visits, and I can’t book an hour’s visit and leave early because he has a review. Cue gritted teeth and forced politeness: YES, I KNOW, I’M THERE FOR THE REVIEW TOO! But finally we have it sorted, and I have to admit, they’re generally pretty good. So my task for tomorrow is to go to Waterstones and buy myself the right sort of book for reading on the train 😀

The good news is, I am now thoroughly sinked. Yes, sinked. Not sunk. I have a new sink in the bathroom and another in the little room which houses my loo (and random reading materials!), to say nothing of new lights in my lounge by which I can actually see (shame – I now realise how desperately cluttered it all is!) and new shelving in the loo room (for more random reading materials, of course. After all, I don’t want to get bored, do I?)

Now, I had better go and thank Charlie for the little presents he has brought for me and the Smudgelet and find a plastic bag to.. er… bury them in.

That sinking feeling

Pah – two days of feeling sorry for myself behind me, today’s been a fun day working with my brother on doing up the bungalow. Thanks everyone for your lovely, loving, messages of support during our grottiest of times. I really do appreciate you lot – you’re truly fantastic. In fact, I’ve even had an apology from my sister and brother-in-law who had felt very suspicious of my “imaginary friends” on the Ship, Wibsite and St Pixels and who are beginning to realise what a wonderful community of people we have here (amongst the weirdos, of course!) :o)

My bathroom now has a new sink. And very shiny it looks, too. I shall never wash again! My loo-room has a new sink pending – at the moment it’s in the boot of my car. And we’ve made and fitted shelves in the old window space which looks far nicer than the boarded-up look now that the extension wetroom has been built behind it. With new lights in my lounge too, it’s feeling like it’s been a very profitable weekend. And now the Smudgelet is home, all dirty and smelly from Sprout Camp, and we’ve had a fun afternoon together making a 3D model of his ideal church for his RE homework. It’s growing nicely, thank you very much.

And good news from eldest son – this morning he shocked his entire wing by moving up to the next rung of the behaviour ladder in the shortest possible time. This brings a whole host of privileges, best of which is that he is now allowed to ring us from his room in privacy. Now all we need to do is to teach him how to tell the time! He is also allowed a floor mat for his room – now, do I send him his Chelsea mat or should I buy him a Pompey one? Mwahahahahahaha. Evil mummy? Me? Never! 😉