Sunday 29 November 2009

The case of the Missing Prawns (or the wickedest whippet in the world strikes again...)

I thought I was being so clever this evening but she’s gone and done it again. My pesky whippet puppy has eaten all my prawns – and I hope she gets a very poorly tummy. Though saying that, if she does she will probably land up regurgitating the whole lot on my bed knowing my luck!
I had been very indulgent and had bought - dare I say it? - a ready-made Chinese meal the other day. Beef and Black bean sauce, egg fried rice and crispy prawns with sweet chilli sauce courtesy of those goodly people at Waitrose. I was so looking forward to it, wrong we were both SO looking forward to it.
This evening I had it all sorted. Dear Charlie was soaking in a bath trying to warm up – poor chap is feeling a bit crook and awful cold. I was going to surprise him with a real treat, which we could eat in front of X Factor.
Everything was done for once and I was ahead of myself. The children were fed and in bed, chickens were all shut up for the night, laundry was done, table already laid for breakfast, washing up done. All I had to do was slam the dinner into the oven for 25 minutes and Bob’s your proverbial Uncle.
However, the prawns did not take as long as the sauce to cook. The idea being that you place the sauce in first then half way through place the prawns on a baking tray separately so they don’t go soggy.
So what to do with the prawns for the seven minutes before you place them in the oven? Of course, put them on a separate baking tray and leave them on the kitchen counter high enough, you think, to be out of reach of the dogs.
I hadn’t counted on EBJ’s tenacity had I? Nor on her ability to problem solve. In fact I keep forgetting she has a brain. I must admit it is not one of her most attractive qualities. The other whippets are blissfully brainless – that or they have better manners and/or are not quite so greedy.
However, I leave the kitchen for a few moments to check on Dear Charlie and tell him supper will only be ten minutes, and when I return everything seems fine. Nothing has moved, there are no tell tale marks to indicate anything is wrong. The baking tray is where I have left it but because I don’t go right up to it I fail to notice that there is nothing there until it is time to place the prawns in the oven and they are gone, not a crumb has been left. For a few moments I am bewildered. I question my actions and run through exactly what I did and come up with the conclusion that I must have put the prawns in the fridge. But they are not there. I am genuinely puzzled because there seems to be no way the dog could possibly have half inched those prawns without making an awful lot of fuss or else flying and I had heard nada, nothing, not a dicky bird. I only left the kitchen for two minutes - if that.
But as the Great Sherlock Holmes stated “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.
All I can say is, I have no idea how she could have done it. She is not a cat and to have leapt up 90cms to land on top of the counter which is only 30cms in depth without breaking anything or pushing anything off is incredible.
By a process of elimination I can hazard a guess as to how she might have achieved it but the complexity of the solution seems a bit beyond a ten-month-old whippet.
However this is what I think she did: she walked away from the counter top to the other side of the table where there was a chair slightly pushed out. She climbed on the chair and jumped onto the tabletop. She then walked along the table and jumped about half a metre onto the counter the other side of the oven from where the prawns were sitting. She then walked back along the counter, jumped over the hob without knocking over any of the pans upon it and ate the prawns on the baking tray. Then she retraced her steps. And quietly curled up in her basket.
If it wasn’t for the fact that she happened to have a few tell tale crumbs round her muzzle and for once looked particularly guilty when I glared at her, I swear I would never have known.
I am afraid I reprimanded her for all of two seconds. She seemed so abjectly sorry and it is so out of character for her to show any remorse at all that she was swiftly forgiven.
Dear Charlie mutters that the dog is a serious weasel and is not to be trusted ever and that this is just another ruse to add to her repertoire. Needless to say I suspect he is right. But she’s so cute…

Friday 27 November 2009

One almighty strop....

I love my boys very much and like most parents I would do anything for them but sometimes there is nothing I can do; they just have to work it out for themselves.
Downstairs now, Bog Boy is lying on the floor in one almighty strop punishing me for some transgression I have yet to work out that I did or said or in his case not did or not said – I don’t know which.
Being a parent can be very confusing…nay exhausting, emotionally as well as physically. And it feels like I blunder about it in all the wrong ways.
I mean where do you stand on discipline? How far do you take a threat? What about treats? And do you think you can ever praise enough? Can you priase too much or does it devalue your intent? The same goes for punishment - if you do it too much does it just become tsoemthing that Mum does?
And why oh why is it always me?
I shall potter downstairs now and give Bog Boy a cuddle and our tiff will be forgotten and forgiven just like that - would that the nagging doubts could be cleared aways so easily...

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Dark doings down on the Farm...

Tonight is the night. Tonight my husband is away. Tonight I will pluck up my courage and do the thing I have been meaning to do for ages – I will kill my surplus cockerels.
It seems pathetic that I cannot kill my own chickens. I will go to great lengths to avoid it – my usual excuse being that we never meant to have any chickens in the first place. However, they came with the house.
I remember first seeing this place. Dear Charlie’s best mate P had returned to Suffolk a year earlier and was looking for a suitable home for us while we were in London and then in June just after we had moved into rented accommodation he loomed large at the door while I was de-fleaing one of the cats at the kitchen table.
Him: “You pregnant yet?” (back then P was very keen that we had children as quickly as possible perhaps because he needed Dear Charlie to join him as a new dad to bemoan the sleepless night that he was clearly suffering).
Me: “You found me a house yet?”
He had just heard that this place was coming onto the market begged me not to get excited and: “For god’s sake don’t say how much money you can spend!”
Both bits of advice went in one ear and out the other and I dived headlong for the car leaving P to handle an extremely explosive cat still in its towel vice.
Although I couldn’t actually look at the house; I could drive past it, which I did several times – we’d been looking for so long it seemed and nothing we had viewed was ever quite right. Could this be it?
Then I saw the most extraordinary sight. Just after the turning for the house and before the 90 degree bend in the road, a massive great lorry had ground to a halt; it sat there a-huffing and a-puffing and not doing very much. I stopped the car – what was going on?
Then I noticed that just in front of the juggernaught a chick was quite unconcernedly was pecking away in the middle of the road at some fallen grain; then I looked again, there was whole group of them plus a very harassed motherhen,who had quite literally taken on the lorry. Her wings were aggressively spread, her neck all ruffled up. The HGV didn’t stand a chance. Minutes later all the chicks were across the road and into the corn field then the hen swivelling on short bright yellow legs, dark chestnut and black feathers immaculately in place, strutted after them. My first encounter with the Rookyard brood; how I would grow to love them and to curse them over the next eight years!
As far as looking at the house was concerned I could hardly see a thing just a glimpse of Suffolk Pink up a dirty concrete drive massively overgrown with jungle like vegetation – I just knew it would be ours and drove off in a hurry to tell Dear Charlie that I had found our "Forever" house.
I don’t know why I feel I need to tell you about how we got this place and what it meant but if I don’t, then it will all be forgotten. I need to bring you up to speed so you’ll know what I’m going on about – it’s not really a blog. But if you don’t know the story of the hens, the house, the children, the dogs etc you won’t know me…
That hen with her chicks was what I wanted to be – a mum.
Now as a responsible chicken owner I need to protect my brood and too many cockerels is not a good thing. I will grab next-door neighbour Roger and we will do the deed tonight!

Monday 23 November 2009

Swimming like fish...(or the impossible joy of being there when they finally do something amazing!)

I'm writing this sat on a bench overlooking to pools in the local swimming baths keeping an eye on each. To the left of me Bog Boy is sitting expectantly on the tiled bench like windowsill in front of the gigantic picture windows overlooking the car park. He's intently watching the children in the class before him bobbing up and down in the water doing "Ring-a-ring-o-rosies". It looks like he's using all his will power not to jump in with them. He knows he has to wait his turn. I can see he's quivering with anticipation.
To the right of me, my eldest, The Boy, lounges against the wall, arms and legs crossed. Totally unfazed by the steamy atmosphere, seemingly unaware of the cacophony that billows and buffets around him.
One session ends and with a squeal of joy Bog Boy is in the pool, doing big jumps across it. "Look at me! Look at me Mumma!" he grins at me and then jumps faster to catch up: "Boing! Boing! Boing!"
The Boy on the other hand gracefully slides into the pool and that's where it ends. All that loose-limbed gracefulness fades and well let's say he's the opposite of a swan. On land he's beautiful, streamlined (for a boy of 6) and dreamy - in the water well, it's just painful.
He pushes off from the wall and all seems fine for about a metre and then there is a frantic flailing of arms, and I presume legs, and I watch him slowly start to sink. It is agonising. His shoulders disappear beneath the water then his head until all that is left is his face screwed up with concentration as he desperately tries not to touch the floor with his feet; he sinks beneath the water, then briefly remerges before sinking down again, then up and spluttering as his teacher’s voice like a fog horn utters: “Oh No! You’ve put your feet down AGAIN!”
To be honest, I am quite glad, as for a minute there I really thought he would drown and was about to draw the attention of the gaggle of teenage life guards standing in a group chatting to each other over in the far corner.
Panic over, I glance over at the other pool to watch Bog Boy’s progress. I’m afraid to say Bog Boy is the loudest in his class. He does a running commentary and with blithe disregard chatters to all and sundry especially his brother:
Bog boy: Boy! Boy! Look at me! Over 'ere Boy! Look!
The Boy looks over and grins giving Bog Boy a thumbs up sign before being brought to brook by his swimming teacher and told to concentrate.
Bog Boy’s swim teacher knows not to bother doing that to him for he’ll just ignore it and do what he wants. As if on cue he calls to me.
Bog Boy: Mummy Mum, Mummy MUUUMMMEEE!
Me (trying to act as if chatting to a 3 year old across a 15m distance is a normal thing to do): Yes darling?
Bog Boy, as he gets out of the pool in the middle of being asked to do something: Mumma?
Me, smiling apologetically at his teacher: “Yes love?” Expecting him to say that he needs to go to the loo and very aware of everyone else listening in.
Bog Boy: “Can I have some crisps?”
Me: slightly non plussed: “What Now?”
He nods.
Me: When your lesson’s over love.
I am acutely aware that I have gone a deep shade of red and I can hear people trying not to laugh. I watch Bog Boy rejoin his class supremely unaware of the embarrassment he has caused and I turn to watch my eldest in an effort to compose myself.
His teacher is making him swim without support again – a whole width!
He’s starting off well, good strong push from the wall that gives him 1m.
Now kick those legs.
Keep those arms moving.
Doesn’t matter about the water in your eye, just shut them!
Try to keep going forwards.
Legs! Boy legs! Keep kicking.
Over half way now. I know your sinking but really you’re almost there!
Come on Boy! Come on!
Kick! Kick, kick, kick.
Keep going! Keep going!
Go on MY BOY!
The Boy has swum 5m all on his own – OK, not stylishly and to be honest I thought he was drowning most of the time, but he went from side-to-side without putting his feet down!!!!!
I suddenly realise that everything has gone quiet, I clap my hand to my mouth and I flush again. In my excitement I have leapt out of my seat and punched the air obviously yelling at the top of my voice in excitement.
The deafening silence is broken by a cherubic little voice:
Bog Boy: Are we going home now?

Saturday 21 November 2009

Taking down things that were once agricultural perspective.

Thud, thud, thud… Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Whee! Whee! Thud! Bang! I would at this point like to say that the builders are in - but it is only Roger.
He is in the process of dismantling his old round corrugated iron grain store and as I write the evening is being punctuated by clashes and clatters then the frantic wheeing of the angle grinder followed by vicious thuds, a couple of bangs then silence. Then just as the rest of us, and the wildlife, recover from the assault; it starts again.
I have witnessed the beginning of this project some three months ago not asking why Roger was doing it as you never ask Roger anything ‘cos the result is you are never any the wiser with the answer.
The grain store hasn’t belonged to Roger for six years but like everything round here that doesn’t count for much. Roger does, as the Boy so succinctly put it, “Roger things”. So on a saturday morning in the cold of November Bog Boy and I watched along with J, who hires one of our barns, as Roger tackled the job of dismembering what was once his.
Roger: “Well I put it up so I suppose I’m the best one to take it down again problem is I can’t remember exactly how I did it, I will once I take it down though.”
We watched as Roger swung precariously on a rope yanking it backwards and forwards.
Roger: “It wholly keeps you warm this!”
And he began to climb to the top. For a man closer to 70 than I would care to think; Roger is exceedingly fit and strong but how he has survived for so long without killing or severely injuring himself I have no idea. Health & Safety are not his watchwords – in fact I don’t think he even knows they exist.
The grain store stands roughly 30ft high, is cylindrical and rocks a bit in the wind. Roger says it’s always been like that and he built it so deliberately otherwise he informed me it would have been blown down long since.
Me: “Right Roger, I’ll believe you…”
With that he looked at me and grinned and carried on climbing.
Roger: “Oh I can see how I did it now!”
J and I looked at each other then chorused: “How then, Roger?”
Roger: “I did it with scaffolding poles - then winched the roof up and added the walls a level at the time!”
Right then - ingenious - but not exactly safe! And to think he used to do all the building work on the house! Shudder At the Thought! But then we’ve seen most of his handiwork at some stage or another.
J and I then took bets.
J: “He’s fair going at it – two months!”
Me: “Yeah, right more like a year! More bloody bits of metal round the farm.”
J laughed, took another drag of his cigarette and headed back in to the barn where he works. I continued to watch Roger, half out of curiosity and half because it is something I always do when Roger is working around the farm. Roger has diabetes and we all keep an eye on him. He’s so enthusiastic that he forgets to eat properly and then forgets to test with the result that he either gets too high or too low and becomes quite uncontrollable, very loquacious and garrulous and sometimes argumentative - pretty much like he is always - then he falls over. To avoid this we all remind him when we get suspicious. Dear Charlie says he reckons he sometimes puts it on just to see us rise. Teasing us is one of Roger’s favourite past times.
Eventually I left him to it and after a few days it all stopped. I did ask why he was doing it and he said it was because Mr W was going to build a clamp for sugar beet and had wanted to remove the grain store before the winter so Roger said he would do it so long as he could have the metal. Mr W agreed – happiness all round.
Roger will take the metal to the scrap merchant and that will be his pay – but I suspect that it will keep him busy and entertained for a few more months. I’ll just put up with the syncopated orchestra for a few more evenings….

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Why I am giving a goat for Christmas this year...

Picture this, a town in an arid dry region on Northern Africa, water is scarce and the area poorer than you can imagine. Everyone who can has already fled to the richer towns and cities looking for work leaving behind young children, women and old people. There seems to be little hope. Food is scarce hope seems scarcer still.
Then comes along a group of travellers who bring gifts from the children of their countries and start giving them out to the poor children in the town. It is like manna from heaven and the children are excited and happy.
The older folk get to hear and come along to see. The Elders talk they are not happy that their children should get things for free but it is difficult to say no. Times are hard and they are poor.
The travellers talk to the elders and say they are only there to help. The Elders nod, uncomfortable but in the light of such simple pleasures it seems churlish to send the travellers away.
The travellers say they would like to stay and help educate the children to become doctors and teachers and skilled workers who will help the impoverished community. The elders nod and say this would be a good idea because it is good. But what the elders do not realise is that their children, their future and their culture will be pushed aside and in return for providing this bounty the travellers will demand that the children become good Muslims. All because of a gift some children in a Muslim country thought they would like to share with others less fortunate themselves.
It’s only a story but it seems pretty scary to take advantage like that.
But what if I said that a Christian Charity looks to be doing the same thing in that it offers relief to peoples all round the world and then peddles its beliefs to the very people it has just helped whether they are Christian or not? Isn’t that taking advantage? Doesn’t it make you worry? What if I said it is happening now and that last year I participated in this unknowingly. What do you say then? Is it shocking still?
The web site for Operation Christmas Child with it’s shoebox appeal says quite rightly that “religious items are not on our suggested list of gifts to put into a shoebox, as we want to be sensitive to the indigenous culture where shoeboxes are distributed and we also want to place an emphasis on education and fun. However, we welcome appropriate items such as Christmas cards or Christmas colouring books”
It adds that: “Christian literature is sometimes distributed with the shoebox.”
However, on the web site for Samaritan’s Purse the charity behind Operation Christmas Child things start to get me concerned. Samaritans Purse says it is inspired by the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), which it says gives a clear picture of God's desire for us to help those in desperate need wherever we find them. After describing how the Samaritan rescued a hurting man whom others had passed by, Jesus told His hearers, "Go and do likewise."
Samaritan’s Purse has done so in it’s own way for over 35 years, it says it has “done our utmost to follow Christ's command by going to the aid of the world's poor, sick, and suffering. We are an effective means of reaching hurting people in countries around the world with food, medicine, and other assistance in the Name of Jesus Christ. This, in turn, earns us a hearing for the Gospel, the Good News of eternal life through Jesus Christ.”
OK I can just about cope with that but it starts to make me uncomfortable. I explore the web site further and I read about Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, who heads up the charity. He has recently visited Asia and wrote in a Newsletter about his trip.
“In the Philippines, where typhoons brought floodwaters so high that people were forced to their roofs for safety, we worked hand-in-hand with the country’s Operation Christmas Child leadership team to bring emergency aid to over 70,000 people. More than 350 local believers were mobilized to distribute supplies alongside our staff. In some areas, flooding left thick, knee-deep mud in many houses. With our support, church volunteers did the back-breaking work of removing the muck and debris, so families could move back home.
“Our motivation is not just to help people,” said a volunteer. “We want them to see the Savior.”
By now I am very concerned. I continued to read.
“When the Indonesian city of Padang was rocked by two powerful earthquakes, Christians traveled from towns several hours away to work with our team to provide relief. They loaded trucks with food and other supplies and drove through the night to reach the affected communities.
Padang has a long tradition of hostility to the Gospel. In fact, many of the residents are proud that there is no church in the area. Our partners, however, are committed to bringing the light of Christ to this dark place.”
I am not saying that Samaritan’s Purse is not helping an awful lot of people. I know it is but I just wish they had made it perfectly clear that the shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child were used as a conduit to further their evangelical aims.
I am sorry I do not like to feel used. I do not want my children to be used to further an evangelical organisation whose aims are to bring the gospel to the indigenous locals even if they do not want it. It’s not just evangelical Christians it’s any religious groups Muslims, Hindus and jews.
I have an awful feeling I am going to be slammed for this post and I have no wish to unduly upset people. I prefer to have a clear view about the charities I support.
I am not doing a shoebox this year instead my family is giving a goat through Oxfam Unwrapped one that will last far longer than just one day.

Monday 16 November 2009

The most evil dog on the planet...

...and it is sitting right next to me.
I could quite cheerfully strangle the awful toad. She is SO naughty. Nothing is sacred, I mean nothing.
Tonight in a fit of boredom she chewed my antique eiderdown and there are feathers everywhere, everywhere all over the spare room, all over the dog and all over the upstairs landing.
I should never, never have got her.
But I did.
I wuz conned. Right royally.
In case you don't know, the Evil Black Job or EBJ for short is a ten month old black whippet acquired foolishly by me after we realised that Gemma our four year old whippet really didn't like dogs and would never ever allow herself to be mated thank you very much. So having promised Bog Boy a puppy from Gemma's litter (Note to self don't count your puppies before they are born/female dog is mated), I had to find an alternative - preferably a whippet.
So I casually asked Paul, who bred Tattie, Gemma's Mum - is this getting complicated? Come on keep up it's really not that hard - if he happened to know of anyone who had or was having puppies. He equally casually said: "Funny that I just happen to have three in the garden shed." - as you do.
Ok you are a bit lost as to where Paul came from; well I had got reacquainted with Paul after spending an afternoon in his Garden during the previous Summer while his Dog was tied to my Tattie for an hour. That mating did not work and we decided we'd try Gemma and well that didn't work despite three attempts and it was at this point, when we basically felt that it was unfair to subject Gemma to the indignity again, that I asked about puppies.
Now as everyone knows puppies are adorable and whippet puppies are probably the most gorgeous of all and that was it, I was smit.
I was also privileged to be able to choose our new puppy's pedigree name and I oh so stupidly called her Nemesis. At home she's normally known as Sassy because she is but more often than not we call her EBJ. She will always be someone or something's nemesis.
Her kill count to date is: 15 loo rolls shredded and gleefully strewn round the house; four teddies causing many tears from the Boys; one toothbrush; one chilli; one sack of potatoes; four wire scrubbers; one porcelain bowl; a whistle; three DVDs; a toy Story " video; three pairs of knickers; two pairs of tights and eight socks (always one of a pair); one antique eiderdown...

She shows no shame and has no remorse. She jumps on tables and wanders down the sideboard. She is a pest and I really should hate her but I don't. I really do love her...

Friday 13 November 2009

A star is born

Pushy mothers know no bounds especially when it comes to the Christmas Nativity play. Up until now The Boy has in effect been a bit player, an extra, but now at the tender age of 6, and in Year Two to boot, stardom beckons. This is HIS year to shine.
There has been great expectation in the playground; one hopes that not too many will be disappointed, however, there is an inevitability about it all. I mean, let’s face it the Christmas Story doesn’t give that many lead characters – well not enough for the whole class anyway.
Ever since half term there has been an air of anticipation, suppressed excitement and in some cases hysteria in the car park. The Yummy Mummies have been ever so attentive to our class teacher; little bequests are brought in; a case of freshly pressed apple juice here, a Cath Kidston car rug now the days are getting colder there. Suddenly Miss M is feted in the playground her opinion now more eagerly sought out than ever before. Some Mummies opt to bring in the big Guns and there is a marked increase in the number of Dashing Dad’s appearing at drop off. It’s a major charm offensive.
Will the class princess land the role of Mary? Will the richest kid on the block, whose parents are rumoured to have pledged thousands for a new music room, secure more than the one line he really deserves? Will the weedy nerdy one be relegated to herding sheep and being upstaged by a ringletted dancing snowflake? And what of The Boy?
Of course he should have a leading part, I mean he’s perfect, he’s beautiful, he’s already a damn fine actor – especially when it comes to making up excuses not to go to bed. But, I’m nothing if not realistic, The Boy has a hard time reading as yet and with his Absence Seizures, dramatic pauses might go on for a tad too long and be in the most inappropriate of places or he might just totally forget what he is doing and just wander off or even ad lib something from Merlin or heaven forbid Power Rangers which might not go down to well in the annunciation to the Virgin Mary.
I wait with the rest of the parents in the playground and look expectantly at the children as they file out trying to read in their expressions whether any of this is as important to them as it seems to be to us.
I do not quiz him there and then – I wait until we are in the car and then subtly I think, casually drop into conversation questions appertaining to what part he has been allocated.
Him, suffused with pride: I’m a King and Mummy I’ve got lines to learn! And Mummy we’ve got to get my costume right and I need a sword and a crown and Mummy don’t you think you ought to buy me a costume and not do it yourself and will you listen to my lines…
He’s taking it very seriously indeed and in fact we’ve even got a back story so that he’ll have the right motivation for his pronouncements – all three of them!

Monday 9 November 2009

If you invented something what would it be?

The greatest inventor ever has to be Heath Robinson. I have always adored his view of life. It greatly appeals to me.
If you invented something what would it be? Bare Naked Mummy invented this one and I think it has legs...

Seemples - an automatic time organiser.
Something that helped you to have enough time to do all those things you have to do so that you are never late, you never forget things and you are Mrs Ohsocalmandserene.
Just think of it.
All the things done. Everything organised.
The relief. The bliss.
(And the fact I wouldn't be bolloxed by my boss for failing to hit deadline - AGAIN!)

For the fun of it what would you invent?

Picture shows: Testing artificial teeth by Heath Robinson

Saturday 7 November 2009

The best day in my life....

Just finished a wonderful dinner party - yes they still happen you know.  And we were all talking about things past, girlfriends, boyfriends things we got up to in the 80s (OK I'm showing my age here) and of course celebrating the fact that we had been married 10 years! I was asked what was it like. What was the best bit and I remembered what it was - finding out I was pregnant not for the first time but the third and realising that THIS time it would be for keeps. This time I wouldn't miscarry...I wrote this at the time in 2002...

I have NEVER been so tired in all my life and the effort to do things just makes me feel even worse. Then I get really annoyed and start to worry and get all muddles up which of course makes me even more tired.

When will it end!!!???

But the good news is I have a baby in me – yippee. I went for my scan last Friday and the first thing they did was go straight to the wee sac and I could see immediately that there was something definitely in there and it had a heartbeat.

I burst into tears - up until then I had no idea I was so worried – another reason for my tiredness says Mum. Charlie blew it all though because he says when I saw the Doctor I made him and the doc uncomfortable “going on” about how scared of the medical profession I was.

He’s not the one having the baby as I righteously pointed out. I did not think I was going on and I tried to explain to him that I have only had one real fear in my life and that was giving birth and now I have actually voluntarily put my hand up for it! I don’t think he understood at all.

I was only eight years old when I had my sex education at school and I will say so myself I was very young for my age – not that I was stupid or anything just naïve with a very big imagination and a deep sense of empathy.

The whole thing was very shocking to me and they did a no holds barred natural birth plus sound effects. Absolutely horrendous and this was 1975 – a real long time ago. Up until I was 27 I was determined never to have children because of it. Other peoples birthing horror stories and the portrayal of birth in the movies and books etc did not induce me otherwise. Luckily I suppose common sense has prevailed and a sense of the great scheme of things has put everything into perspective. I am still very concerned about it. I am sure that if I weren’t frightened of doctors as well it would help. I am not good on needles….

I really don’t know how I am going to react. I do know I have to do something about it fast or the whole experience will ruin the relationship I will have with my baby. It did for my mother. They were barbaric – that doesn’t help either….

I am going to try to attend all the antenatal classes plus relaxation ones too; I am also getting in touch with a hypnotherapist as I read about it in an article since I really am sacred of needles etc. We will see.

Oh as well as the tiredness, I am now feeling permanently slightly motion sick – sipping hot Ribena helps and keeping off the fatty foods does too. Nice clean foods is what I need but still can’t face eating my greens – sense of smell highly acute and the smell of milk, cheese and meat is horrendous – Dear Charlie and the builders are eating out most nights I sip consommé soup and eat lemon sorbet and strawberries – yummy!

PS Picture shows Woman in Blue by Johannes Vermeer. There is great debate about whether some of the women in Vermeer's paintings are actually pregnant.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Twenty Four Hours - my place!

Minding my own business as you do and pottering around the blogosphere I chanced upon Marsha Moore via Expat Mum’s blog. Marsha has hit upon a great idea whereby she tells you what you can do in London for every hour of the day! I mean there you have it 24-hour London or as Marsha calls it: - 24 Hours: London - an insiders guide to London's Best Kept Secrets,.
The idea got picked up by Mike from Postcards Across the Pond, who did one for Horsham – I never knew that you could do anything in Horsham by the way but obviously you have to do something, then Brit in Bosnia did one for Tuzla. Exotic – well cold actually. And now for your edification I shall try my hand for my neck of the woods…

24 hours Rookyard…

6am: For those of you of an energetic frame of mind on a winter’s morning, a bracing jog round the village is what’s called for. And for those of you who elect to stay in bed: FORGET IT! The Boys heard Dad leave and despite the fact it’s still dark outside they need to get up – NOW!

7am: Indulge your inner child and your outer one’s too with Breakfast by Candlelight because all the lights have fused yet again and Dad took the torch with him on his early morning jaunt to see where he was going – he has yet to return…

8am: For the more adventurous this is the best time to see the only traffic jam in town while you do the school run. The powers that be put on a special show of closing the railway crossing for no apparent reason ten minutes before the train is due to pull into the station. After this delight the excitement intensifies as you try to beat the clock to the school gates avoiding all the traffic lights that are bound to be against you and not running over any of the ducks that always seem to have to cross the road when you are already a quarter of an hour late.

9am: Play Russian roulette with your hands and try to push the broody hen off the eggs. This hilarious pastime can last for hours as you pluck up the courage to thrust your hand underneath the hen one more time in search of eggs that may or may not be there.

10am: Exploration is the order of the hour. Traipse over to the dilapidated ruins, which purport to be barns and stables, as you search for the main power switch for the house. Don’t forget your karabiners, hardhat and climbing harness. Mind the old bats – No! Not me! The Pipistrelles!

11am: Exclusive Goat Herding unique to Rookyard takes place every morning at coffee time. Learn how to identify individual goat breeds and what they like best to eat. Watch in amazement as they opt for prized specimen plants instead of the brambles and nettles you are assured by their Keeper that they prefer. Learn the local Anglo Saxon dialect first hand from your hostess. Help the Keeper take the Goats to pasture and chain them there.

12pm: Get connected or not as the case maybe depending on if there are “works” being carried out on the mainframe/server/aerial/satellite dish. Opt for landline connection and become an expert Lexulous player in the time it takes to download a 1kb e-mail.

1pm: Lunch at the “Like it or Lump it Café” – speciality of the House; piatto di spaghetti al pomodoro served al dente. Possibly luke warm as well.

2pm: Escape to the countryside without leaving the house. Nip to the upstairs privy to pick your own toadstools in the damp corner by the window and to get better acquainted with a family of Starlings, via a small gap in the plasterboard, who for reasons of their own insist on having a concierge service to exit to the outside world.

3pm: Fashionistas, it’s time to dress up to the nines for the Yummy Mummy Run to collect the kids from School. Watch out for Christian Dior, Chanel, Ben de Lisi, YSL and Burberry. For those on a tighter budget there’s Crew, Jack Wills and of course every Mummy’s favourite Boden! (Please note that those wearing St Michel, De Nim and George are not necessarily the blood relatives of the children they are picking up and/or not desperately popular and yes I know nobody is paying me the slightest bit of attention…thanks for pointing it out.)

4pm: Musical interlude: marvel at the dexterity and aptitude of your hostess as she pins her eldest to the piano stool for the “5 Minute Practice” sonata. Please note that this modern piece is accompanied by whines and moans from both hostess and 6-year old pianist.

5pm: Feeding time at the Zoo. A family favourite. Watch how the mother lovingly slaves over a hot stove to provide a nutritious and visually delightful dinner for her two younglings. Chortle as they demand Beans on Toast. Laugh as they refuse to eat anything without lashings of tomato Ketchup and promises of cake and sweeties for afters. Smile discreetly as you notice how much is passed beneath the table to the ever-hopeful hounds…

6pm: Thank God! It’s Drink Time! Raid the under stairs cupboard for your favourite tipple. Gin can be supplied neat and in emergencies intravenously….

7pm: Try to remember if you’ve helped to put the kids to bed. Note that hostess is slumped over the Kitchen table face down in a plate of tomato Ketchup still clasping an empty bottle of gin in her right hand….

8pm – 9pm: Join in with the grown up rituals of TV supper and bed – the night is never long enough and the morning comes too soon.

Why not have a go yourself? Take up the meme, and let Marsha (the author of the original book) know as she is putting together a list of these guides.

PS: Picture shows: Francois Boucher's Interrupted Sleep painted in 1750. The painting can be found in the Met Museum of New York. 

Sunday 1 November 2009

Words and meanings (or why are grown ups SO slow!)

Well come on now you've just been yelled at by an irate three  and a bit year old and it looks like he's turning puce. The word used was: "Anbarrow."
What is it?
What is an Anbarrow?
Come on! Come on!
"Oy want moy ANBARROW!!!!"
OK he's losing it and you are failing as a mother. Every mother knows what an Anbarrow is - don't they? I mean it's obvious isn't it?
Not really.
I have no idea what Bog Boy wants and he's getting louder and louder and more and more frustrated. He obviously thinks that acoustic bombardment will help his cause and I feel incredibly stupid. Do you think the French feel this way when we ask them the directions to say the Eiffel Tower? In ever increasing English? Do they feel our frustration and are frustrated in return because they do not understand what we are trying to say even though they can see it's obvious to us that we know that what we are saying should be perfectly understandable?
Me: Bog Boy what do you want?
Me: Bog Boy what is Anbarrow? Is it your teddy?
Bog Boy just looks at me, his big blue eyes incredulous. He says very slowly and succinctly: Ann Barrow
Me: Is Ann your friend?
Bog Boy just stares at me for a few moments. He is quite stumped and so am I. There is an impasse. OUr relationship stands in the brink. Communications seem to be failing. He looks at me more closely and you can see the concentration. He says a name. Robin Hood.
OK I'm game we'll try this then.
Me, cautiously: Maid Marian?
Bog Boy, firmly: Robin Hood.
Me, questionably: Sheriff of Nottingham?
Bog Boy, getting cross: Robin Hood. Anbarrow.
Me, flummoxed: Bow and arrow?
Bog Boy delightedly hugs me: An barrow!
Of course Anbarrow is Bow And Arrow. In the same way that heehiles are High heels, Tissing is Kissing and we always Trush our hair all by me own!

Go on you know you want to...


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