Saturday, 30 May 2009

The Joys of Half Term

By all accounts therefore this should be a short piece.

Actually I do really like these short school holidays , mostly because we get a week off the mayhem that is a schoolday morning.

Instructions such as ... Don't forget your breaktime snack .... don't forget to brush your teeth..... Don't forget to pack your homework ..... Tuck your shirt in , have become abbreviated to SNACK, TEETH, HOMEWORK, SHIRT - this last one said with a world weary sigh of exasperation that only comes with having repeated the same instruction over many years to no effect.

On the first day of the half term, the phone will inevitably ring and the caller will be told that Mum can't come to the phone as she's still in bed. By the second day the X box has usually overheated through constant use. Day three comes the guilt , I really should take them somewhere educational, inspiring, uplifting or all three. On day four a meticulously planned day out up in town is executed involving trains, tubes, snacks , searches for toilets, a London attraction or two, more snacks followed by exhaustion and a fractious train ride home. Vast amounts of cash will have been handed over in the pursuit of 'Having a Good Time'.

Sometimes we do actually have a good time. Yesterday was a classic case ... managed to park next to the station, didn't have to wait too long for a train, navigated our way effortlessly to Leicester Square ( my attempts at the educational element - teaching the bots how to read a tube map fell on deaf ears) , found comic book heaven in a shop called Orbital a minutes walk from the tube, dined at Inamo - a wonderfully hi-tech eatery in Wardour Street with interactive tables ( thanks for the recommendation Mary Anne) and took in China Town on the way home including the wonderfully tacky China Town market - a haven for lovers of kitsch ( that includes me) and then home. Not a cross word was exchanged and we didn't lose youngest son's brace for a change.

Friday is usually a chance to re-group ie. spend nothing for at least 24 hours and allow the bank balance to get over the shock. Then comes the weekend usually spent locating lost items of sports kit, and wondering how to fill the next 48 hours on a tight budget. The children start becoming a little fractious - fed up with eachother and me and counting down the remaining hours of freedom.

School holidays aren't cheap but you can still have fun without financial pain - this afternoon's trip is a bike ride to the Woodland Gardens , a pack of home-made Chocolate Brownies and a shady spot to finish my book before our Book Group meets again on Tuesday. The boys, in theory will spend many happy hours splashing through the streams and climbing trees. The reality is that someone needs the toilet for a pooh ( no WCs at the Woodland Gardens) and there will be an injury of some description with no plasters to hand. However at least it won't have cost an arm and a leg , maybe just an injured arm.

I used to get £50 from the shiny money machine in the wall where the boys used to think you got money for free, at times , I think they still do. This used to last a few days. Now it only seems to last a few hours. As the old saying goes ... Money Talks ... Mine says Goodbye.

The moral of the tale ? Marry someone rich.
Only joking , what I really meant was marry someone VERY rich.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Eye Candy

These beauties arrived today . They're business cards from a company called MOO and they're free ! The marketing ploy worked, I'll certainly be ordering some more.

And then these turned up ... all the way from Singapore. Now I know I could buy some crochet hooks and all different colours of wool and a book about how to crochet but then where would I put it all , where would I find the time and it would cost a whole heap more than the few dollars these cost and these ones actually look like flowers whereas mine would no doubt turn out like knotted clumps. Mind you they're WAY too nice to use on a scrapbook page . Think I may just have to turn them into a brooch or two. Not only that but they were accompanied by a sweet hand written note thanking me for supporting her home craft business.


As their name suggests , they are an opportunity to retreat from daily life, step back , breathe out and do something you love. I think they should be available on the NHS. A delicious way to restore balance to your life and restore your faith in womankind. I've just returned from Scrap A Jack's retreat in Stratford, What a wonderful way to spend 3 days ... in the company of some of the loveliest people you could wish to meet , playing with pretty products and learning new techniques. Not only that but you come home armed with layouts about the people you love... it's the gift that keeps on giving as they say. I'm still enjoying the memories , the laughs, the inspiration, the sight of all those decorated bras in the challenge to raise funds for Shenna's Moonwalk in aid of Breast Cancer ( Well done Sheena - you are an inspiration) and the way Mary pronounces GORGEOUS ... a new catchphrase in our family. Thanks everyone for making it such a lovely weekend.
And is if all of that wasn't enough ... I got to do it all over again at Scrap Revolution's Retreat this weekend. More inspiration, laughs, stoic stories of people overcoming obstacles and difficulties in their lives , a never ending supply of toffee ( thanks Kate) a dozen fresh eggs to bring home ( thanks Emma ) . A real tonic .
Roll on June and the Scrapa GoGo retreat. I'm feeling very guilty that I've had the opportunity to indulge to this extent ( although I was 'working' if you can call it that ... way too enjoybale to be called work ... at one) but then it's a lot cheaper than therapy.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

My husband's mother died today. After a long illness she passed away, finally, in her sleep, thanks to the wonder of morphine. Although we'd had 14 months to prepare for this,since the onset of her terminal illness,it still takes you by surprise and wanting to have said more in the final weeks.
The boys' reaction was as you might expect for their respective ages - incomprehension mixed with disbelief at the finality of it and the dawning that they will never see or talk to her again. Lots of questions, fear mixed with curiosity as to what happens to the body . I was pleased that they were able to talk freely and openly about it and weren't afraid to ask questions. I feared though that my answers were ill-prepared and unsatisfactory although I did attempt to answer them with honesty. It's a fine line though between truth and not wanting to distress them.
I will remember her as being the most wonderful matriarchal figure in the nicest sense of the word - loyal wife, wonderful mother to 3 children, doting grandmother to 8 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. Stoic, resourceful , razor sharp wit , modest, a great sense of duty and humility and yet very much her own person and able to hold her own. Glamorous, generous, cheerful and a great friend. She treated me like her own daughter for which I will be eternally grateful, having lost my own mother way before her time. Who could ask for more ?

Sunday, 3 May 2009

New addictions

Yoghurt and cycling.

Did I ever think I'd say either of those things in the same sentence as addicted ?

I'm just hoping that the fact that I'm eating my own body weight in fat free yoghurt doesn't mean I'll go off the stuff. Adding the Food Doctors Omega mix of seeds helps. It takes twice as long to eat the stuff so you feel fuller quicker or something like that.
This evening I felt quite twitch by about 6pm because I hadn't been out on my bike. I'm not talking full body lycra , cycle helmet , water bottle stuff , just a gentle amble through the park perched on my ladylike bike that has a lovely wicker basket up front and now a new bell which I felt obliged to ring just to test that it worked.

There's a kindly camaraderie amongst fellow cyclists that makes you smile inanely as they pass by. A sort of nod to the fact that you've discovered what they've known all along. Even my gel saddle seat is beginning to feel quite comfy or maybe my backside is just hardening up.

I hope this new love affair continues at least for the summer. Can't imagine peddling through a lashing rain storm in November , but whilst the birds are singing and the trees are in full bud , it truly is rather exhilarating.