Almost daily diary!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


An Xbox. He wanted and Xbox and that's what he got. Well we all have it really, it's not been off for more than a few hours overnight and I reckon I could hear the bullets firing in my sleep -or is that just the noise of living in the city?!.

Apparently it's his best (and only this Christmas, though he didn't seem to notice that bit) ever present, though I have to say I have my reservations, we only have a small living room and we are currently all in it. Small Sprog  is on the small sofa with the slightly deaf -luckily, as his head is inches from the speakers on the telly- and grumpy cat. Small Sprog is shooting Spartans randomly and has been banned from having the sound up when his sister is in the room! On the other side of the room, lying out on the sofa bed which Lovely Man assembled for me, I am nursing a head cold which Santa kindly gifted to me on Christmas day. I am still unwashed and undressed -though sporting a fluffy dressing gown which renders me more like a marshmallow than a stylish 40 something I would like to - delusionally - believe I really am! Next to me is Tall Girl sporting one of her many Christmas lounging type outfits, this one, a blue and white striped onsie, vaguely reminds me of a convict suit though she prefers to imagine it as looking 'Very French'. Lovely man is sitting on the bean bag as the last remaining chair is squashed behind the Apple Mac(which doesn't usually live in the middle of the room) on which TG  and I are watching catch ups of Christmas comedy which we only watched yesterday. There is a pile of tissues next to me and TG has crumbs down her Onsie which she informed me would be OK as they would drop out by her ankles later should she ever leave the sofa bed today. Lovely Man has made us all lunch, I have been spoilt and although this is not necessarily how I imagined today would go, it is, without doubt Boxing Day bliss... Well maybe not for the cat but hey ho, you can't please everyone all of the time.

"Oh look, I've got no Jelly Beans left" Small Sprog says gleefully with a sugar induced grin. There's a fairly spacious box of chocolates near my feet and I slyly attempt to pull it towards me using the duvet as leverage.While he is shooting things he is randomly shouting out phrases from the most recent Out Numbered Christmas Special - as if I don't already feel as though I live on the set of that particular sitcom already! If only he could remember his school work like that rather than a handful of random one-liners. 

Tall Girl wanders off to wash her hair- and use all the hot water I anticipated using in my bath-before she gets to work with her new 'Styling Wand'.

Lovely Man at last gets a go on his Apple Mac and the cat gives me a look that could kill as I do an uncontrollably massive sneeze - I knew he wasn't that deaf- curls up again and puts a paw over his ears - like that's going to stop the rain of bullets firing just above his left ear.

And so life goes on

Happy Boxing Day everyone

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Small Sprog is bouncing off the walls, as usual at this time of year, there's only 3 hours left until 'The Big Day' and if he asks for a present one more time I'll explode and so will his sister. At the moment he is in a sugar filled rush resulting in an explosion of energy and random noises. He managed a whole packet of Jelly Beans before I realised what he was up to...this evening may be Very Long!

We have just spent the day with Mum, (the cause of the Jelly Beans meeting with Small Sprog in the first place) we have opened gifts together as she will not see us on The Day and she has fed us well.

While we sat around the dinner table talking, laughing and generally messing about, for some reason the topic of conversation turned to lesbians!
"Of course you can still have a baby if you're a lesbian!" I state
"Well, yes, I suppose you can" She admits "But Elton John couldn't have a baby could he?"!
"But he's not a lesbian!" we all chorused.

Sometimes conversations with my mother are so random!

Anyway, the presents are wrapped, the shopping is done and here we are, another year nearly done. I am thankful for so much, what a brilliant year we have had.

Meanwhile I wish you all a 
Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 
full of all the things you would wish for yourself.

(...Anyone need a small boy full of sugar?...)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Vile but Festive Small Sprog post (not for the faint hearted!)

I picked the children up from the freezing bus stop at 3.30pm. Small Sprogs eyes had that look of mischief in them, the look that I recognised long ago almost from the day he was born. He's 'cooked up a plan' I thought as he grinned his way along the icy pavement toward me.

He'd only just managed to get his body in the car, and his sister was still struggling with bags when he pipes up "Jacob and I thought of a joke today!"
"Really" I say, not as a question you understand but more of an-Oh My Goodness do I really want to hear this?-sort of a way.
"Yes" he says, "do you want to hear it?"
I try to ward off the impending moment of disclosure by striking up a conversation about school.

Warning...if you are not up to the rude, vileness of 13 year old boys then read no further, he really is disgusting...

"Do you want to hear it?" he insists
"Not really" I state knowing full well that it will fall on deaf ears.
By this time we are home and through the door.
"Jingle my balls bells and I'll give you a white Christmas"! he shouts out and then runs off up the stairs.
"Eww" I shout up after him
"Jessica laughed her head off when I told her" he shouted down before disappearing into the bathroom.

"You told a girl?" I look at his sister who rolls he eyes and says something derogatory about men in general. She was in a fairly depressive mood what with mock exams, coursework and the cold weather and I did think, at that moment, that the evening could go either way.

I mean, he might be vile but at least he's festive!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

Small Sprog has completed his Christmas shopping; in like a ninja and out like a Bargain Hunter on the first day of The Sales. He loves it, shopping with purpose, thinking of what people might like, making decisions. He is generous to a fault, he was born that way, I think I may have mentioned it before.

As we pottered around the gift shop he found the perfect little cream jug for Granny, and something appropriate for Lovely Man. As we browsed further he found a pair of socks that were black with white words saying 'Bah Humbug'. "These would be good for Dad" he giggled.
"You don't think it will offend him?" I ask. Small Sprog looks at me
"Do you think he will be?"
"I'm not sure"
"I'm going to buy them anyway" he decides. Very apt really, I think to myself...

This year Ex is having the children the day after Boxing Day for a week, however he has already told them he's not going to bother with a tree. When Tall Girl told me this it made me sad. When he picks them up and takes them home on 27th surely that will be their Christmas with him? He can make it special and they will still have presents to open (though they may not be surprises as he's not great at buying presents). And as well as feeling sad I feel miffed. If he's not going to have fun with them then why have them at all? I'd really like to spend more time with my children over the holidays as we finish school so late this year.

Recently I have had the feeling that they are more reluctant to visit him, just a little, it is barely perceivable, they are far too loyal to say they don't want to go. Yet I've picked up on bits of conversation; "we won't be doing much this weekend. Daddy watches sport on the TV all day" those sorts of things.

I have come to the conclusion that he has forgotten to cherish them. So many reasons why I left him; a leopard never changes his spots...

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in suburbia, and it's feeling good.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Stealthy Small Sprog

Lovely Man's brother arrives bearing gifts; a bag full of beer bottles and a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts for the children - the doughnuts that is, not the beer. There is also a vague smell of fish in the room...

Small Sprog is upstairs at this point glued to a screen.

As Lovely Mans' brother is leaving I call up to Small Sprog to say that someone has brought a gift. No reply. Sometimes I despair of that boy, life seems to pass right by him when he's in cyberspace.

Later on he comes downstairs expectantly. "What are you after?" I ask
"A doughnut" he replies
"How do you know there are doughnuts?" I say
"David brought them" he says with a grin, 'and he brought beer as well as a big bag of cod"

This is the boy to whom I have to bellow up the stairs at least 4 times before he will come down for a meal. In reality though, nothing gets passed him and he has perfected his cover.

Scary to think what he really hears when you think he's not listening ... no, I'm not even going to contemplate!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Big Knickers and The Germans

I am watching Telly with Tall Girl tonight, drinking in the last few days of the school holidays and the feeling of seemingly endless time which, inevitably will come to an abrupt end on Monday morning. We watch an advert between programmes for some sort of ladies underwear that 'sucks you in' (no guffawing please!) and we mutually decide that it looks vile and vaguely reminds us of the part in the film Bridget Jones Diary where Hugh Grant starts to undress her and Bridget is embarrassed because she has her 'Big Knickers' on.

"I tried on some big knickers once" I confessed to Tall Girl
"You Weirdo!" She retorts
"Why?" I say, slightly offended "I just wanted to see if they worked and made me look thinner"
"Oh" she said "I thought you just wanted to see if it was nice to wear Big Knickers"!


It becomes an evening where we are all on devices with screens. Tall Girl and I watch  Me and Mrs. Jones on iPlayer, Small Sprog is watching something (goodness knows what but it makes him giggle intermittently - I really hope it's clean) on YouTube and Lovely Man is watching something on the Apple Mac.
"What are you watching?" Small Sprog asks Lovely Man inbetween clips
"Colditz" He replies
"Cold Tits?" Giggles Small Sprog loudly before putting his earphones back in and returning to what-ever-it-is he's been chuckling at.
I am dismayed!

Honestly,sometimes you have to live here to appreciate the fineness of the moment!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

The Party

Tall Girl is excited. She has a party to go to. She lives a quiet life really -thankfully- and party's are not run of the mill, yet. She has been planning her outfit for days, no weeks, and at 3.30pm she starts to get ready, the party is not until 7.30.

At intervals I am called upstairs for a fashion second opinion as well as to help with crimping the back of her hair; I am aware these are special moments to treasure and I will.

Later she comes down stairs fully made up and ready to roll. She looks fantastic, false eyelashes and all - she has been saving these for a special event - Sweet Sixteen is only 9 days away.

 My job, obviously, is to play taxi driver. We leave home at seven and pick up one friend before driving out of town. I am conscious to stay fairly quiet and leave them to their conversation, the rule has not been stated but it hangs in the air.

Within 20 minutes I have dropped them off. It is a house party, no boys have been mentioned and parents are at home. She is due in after 11pm, however she has managed to secure a lift, which is a relief.

We drive home, Small Sprog and I, "It's just you and I now" I chirrup
"Hooray" he says less than enthusiastically!

During the evening I resist texting her to see if she's having a good time and just hope that she is instead. I also try not to fall asleep and the TV, as usual, is not providing any material to aid the situation. Then, just as I become riveted to a fairly basic documentary, there is a knock at the door. She is home.

I wave off the parent who brought her home and welcome Tall Girl in, she looks exhausted but is chatty, very chatty, and very slightly slurred. She confesses to having some Smirnoff Ice. I am not cross, but puzzled as to where it had come from. Apparently some of the girls came with alcohol that their parents had provided. Tall Girl is nearly sixteen but most of her friends are still 15 until spring or summer next year. Am I being prudish I ask myself inwardly as she babbles on excitedly? I think back. I was drinking at sixteen, I was working at sixteen too and I can remember thinking, at that age, that I was now an adult.

"I knew they would have alcohol" she says "But I didn't think you'd let me go if I'd told you" I assured her I would have but would have asked her to be careful. Instead we had the same, 'be careful' conversation before she went to sleep. She is reasonably sensible and I will talk to her again today, when she emerges.

So, it was gone midnight by the time we both got to bed. At 2am Small Sprogs alarm went off! Something to do with him taking out the batteries earlier in the day in an act of desperation to make some electronic device or another work. It takes a while to work out what is making the noise and I nearly walk into his room naked in my dazed and confused state. He is sitting on his bed looking puzzled "I can't turn it off" he sighs. I sort it out and return to bed. Never mind, it is Half Term, no need for an early morning. A lie in is definitely on the cards.

At 8am this morning Bristol Water start to dig a hole in the road just outside our house. Tall Girls room faces the street. We all stagger out of bed and look out of the window, muttering profanities under our respective breaths. Divine retribution? Tall Girl looks like something from Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' video and I have to remind myself that Halloween is now over. I make a mental note to have a talk to her about make-up remover and skin care at some point.

The cat runs up and down the landing as the vibrations confuse his dementia and it begins to dawn on me that this might be a very long day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Being believed

As the Jimmy Savile affair blunders on relentlessly gathering distress and revelations along the way I can't help but reflect back to those times, in the '70's when what was seen as acceptable behaviour then seems so different, in hind sight, to now. Not that his behaviour was in any way excusable in either time frame but back then men seemed to have even more of an upper hand than they do now. Or is that just me?

Listening to some of the news items makes me remember my own struggle at home. Unlike many, I can't say it has ruined my life but it has, in some way shaped it I guess, otherwise I wouldn't be thinking about it now.

And as we all wonder why no one spoke out then, I have begun to think about what happened when I spoke out, back in the '70's. Nothing. No retribution or recriminations, just non belief - or that's how it seems. Perhaps some of those girls did speak out then and received the same treatment? Survivors, they say, often doubt their memories and when I heard this I realised I too doubt my own, is this because we have not had them validated?

So as much as I have forgiven, and it's taken a very long time to do so, I cannot forget - even if my memory doesn't serve me well, I'm pretty sure most of it is as I remember.

Why am I writing this? Because it still bothers me, and the bit that bothers me most is that I don't know if my mother believed me. That is my Big Thing. So I hope that all the victims, whether we feel that the abuse was real or not, will find peace form having their memories validated. No one can help them now, only by knowing that whatever happened to them cannot be forgotten.

My mother is too old now to open up old wounds, and I know she will go to her grave and I still won't ever know whether she believed me or not. But perhaps, as she took no action, that's a good thing. The lid is still firmly on the box, for us all.

Friday, October 26, 2012


He sits in my kitchen (at times like these the 'my' is so important) and drinks tea while Tall Girl shows him her recent art coursework. He makes the right noises, sort of, and then looks at his Blackberry and I resist the urge to kick him under the table! Her work is so important to her and worth more than a cursory glance, no wonder she is only productive in this house - she never does her art with him, which is OK except that she gets behind with work sometimes.

He likes to talk about what he did today, the recent show he went to, he has photos on his phone and I am making the right noises while (isn't it funny how your brain can do this) thinking that he has always been self obsessed but now that I don't live with it day in, day out, it is more obvious.

Later on we talk about different things; things we used to have in common; a game we used to play (on the extremely large PC we had in the '90's) until the small hours and how 'things have changed'.

We had fun together once, then. We were self obsessed together, we made a close world of two, became happily isolated. Then we became 3 and then 4 and it then it fell apart very very slowly, imperceptibly so. Funny isn't it?

Except for losing my children to him now and again I have no regrets, not one.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Self doubt

We are nearly at half term, it's been a very long term, and I have been working in my new job for nearly 2 months. I am enjoying the work, it is incredibly busy and the days and weeks fly by. I have some degree of autonomy - partly because my line manager has too much on his plate and has no time, or inclination, to organise otherwise. And yet...

It sneaks in slowly, that feeling of self doubt and mostly I don't even hear it coming until it is upon me like a suffocating cloud. How am I doing? Should I know more? Do I fit in? That is the big one, do I fit in? So much self doubt.

Education is a funny thing, you work with adults but it's the children who absorb all your time, and, having children of my own, I have missed the last two social events. I feel more of an outsider now than I did in September. Is it me? I suspect so. Why do I have this constant need for approval? Right now I am fighting the feeling to retreat into my shell.

I am not missing my old job one bit but I am missing the companionship of people I know well. There are many staff at my new place who I'd love to get to know and be friends with - though I could probably be a mother to quite a few of them - but how do you do that 'making friends' thing, especially when people already have established friendships? I just can't remember what to do, I feel destined to be an outsider for ever. Sometimes it's just so much effort to try to be someone that another person would want to be friends with. And there you have it, can I be myself or do I need to be more amusing and more interesting? Am I myself at work at all? Frankly I don't think I am, I wear a persona, a mask, teaching is a performance, I play to the audience and no one knows me for who I am. Inside I know that if they did they probably wouldn't have even employed me...there it is, all the self doubt.

An email appeared in my work inbox this week with details of the 'Christmas Do'; pizza, bowling, karaoke, dancing. I can cope with the pizza, and enjoy bowling, though I'm frankly crap at it, but karaoke and dancing?  I'd be fine with old friends, it would be fun but I don't feel I know these people well enough to let my hair down, and as I write I think I could only let my hair down with close family in a karaoke booth!

So what to do? I don't want to look 'standoffish', I want to make friends but I'm not sure if I can bring myself to go.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Koko Cat

So we brought home a sixteen year old cat with issues.... Here he is stealing food from the pot during a TV dinner - it was risotto. His back end resembles that of a sloth - and smells quite similar believe me.

Now this might look as though he is an interesting and adventurous cat, however that is far form the truth! No, dear reader, he is the most boring cat in the world! So boring, in fact, that I am tempted to make up an on-line personality for him. Well he is 16 I guess and quite an old man in cat years, but to be honest, he really is a massive drain on resources and a huge nuisance but we still love him dearly (though Tall Girl is already fantasizing about having a kitten when he is 'gone').

The worst thing about him is the noise he makes, he may be quite deaf, so he miaows extremely loudly when the house is quiet, and when might this house be at it's quietest? At night. So now he sleeps in the kitchen so that the rest of us can get some beauty sleep.

However as I was ironing the children's school uniform this afternoon - yes I am Domestic Goddess and have washed AND dried the uniform for Monday ALREADY- and I realised there was more cat fluff on the black trousers and tops when they came out of the machine than when they went in. How did that happen? And then I remembered... Koko Cat sleeps in the kitchen at night. I reckon he slips fur balls into the machine overnight just to get his own back!

Yep, that must be it. Here he is, caught in the act.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Small Sprogs view

I was bringing the 'not so small' Small Sprog home tonight when we stopped at a junction to let some young women cross the road. His running commentary is as follows...
Fake tan, check
Big lips, check
Lots of pink, check
Bad accent, check!
We laughed - appropriately or not!

He overheard this recently, said in a true Bristol accent:
"E bited me!" -child to mother
"E bited you?" -mother to child!

That is what he meant by bad accent...have I raised a snob or a boy with sharp social commentary skills?!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Girl, The Hamster and The Five Bodyguards!

So Koko the new family cat is settling in, he has his own unique personality and considering he's around one hundred years old in cat years, he's not as grumpy as he could be though he does have a bit of an old mans face! However, the last few months of his life before he came to us were pretty miserable and when I picked him up from the rescue centre, four weeks ago now, I was slightly shocked about the dull sad look in his eyes. Now if you're not a 'pet person' you will think I'm mad, but he did appear depressed. Four weeks on and he's slowly coming out of his shell, he is more sociable and recently has been more 'interactive'!

Anyway today he needed to go for a blood test. Honestly Stinky Cat hardly cost a thing, he was free to a good home and only needed the vet at the end of his life; we probably could have sold the copious methane output from his rear end at a profit too. In contrast Koko has already cost a fortune - though is far less stinky!

So off we went to the vets, Koko vocal all the way. When we arrived the waiting room was fairly empty and, as usual, reasonable quiet. However this didn't last for long, the door opened and in walked a pretty girl in her 20's carrying a small rodent in a carry case no bigger than her cupped hands, shortly afterwards in came her friends, 5 of them, all blokes and very bloky at that. It was a hilarious situation, one small hamster and several burly blokes, I mean what were they doing in there? The waiting room is quite small and they practically filled it single handed. I watched intently as their body language showed their discomfort in such a small and quiet room, and this discomfort oozed form them in noisy macho posturing, it wasn't at all aggressive but a little embarrassing to watch. I looked at the nurses on the desk, they were trying not to laugh as was I though Koko wasn't really concentrating.

When it was time for Koko to see the lovely vet she commented on the noise level and I told her about the girl, the hamster and the 5 bodyguards - anyone would think she had a dangerous dog out there. The lovely vet giggled "Oh my goodness" she laughed "I hope they are not waiting for me" (there were 2 vets on duty)

As I was leaving I noticed that out of the 2 pets waiting, the small dog went into the other consulting room. I looked at the lovely vet "I think they are yours!" I said and she walked back into her room barely able to hide her giggles.

Over by the animal weighing scales there was a sign asking parents not to let their children play on the equipment. At that moment three of the blokes decided to see how much they weighed, standing on the scales one by one. I had to look away...Well I guess they didn't have their mums with them did they?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Whatever next?

Mum was here. It's always a bit of a lottery when she visits but this took the (dog) biscuit...

We were having a conversation, all of us together, about lovely man who had eaten a dog biscuit in a moment of bravado the other weekend - shortly followed by stern looks from me. Why stern looks you ask? Small Sprog is my answer, I mean, as if he needs encouragement into silliness.

And suddenly, as we are discussing dog biscuits Mum chirps up "Well people eat tinned dog food sometimes don't they?"
We looked at her questioningly "No one eats dog food as a matter of course"
"Yes they do" She was adamant
"No" I argued "It's dangerous. Don't they say you can get salmonella from tinned pet food?"
"Well who exactly would eat dog food as a regular addition to their diet?"
"Asian people"
I gasped. How could she? "Two thirds of the world then?!" Sometimes I am ashamed!

It must be her age...

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Another addition/addiction!

"Oh Billy!" She always calls me that, and this intonation is an exasperated one, "Think of all the vets bills!"
"He's an indoor cat" I say "At least he won't get into fights with other cats and cost a fortune in antibiotics"

I know she's right, Mum's often are...

Tall Girl and I climb into the car for a 4 hour round trip to pick him up, we are full of hope and potential love. There have been many conversations before this point, mostly with the crazy cat lady who owns the 'safe house' where he is currently residing. "I'll tell him you're coming" she says on the phone the night before - scarily I think she probably did.

We arrive dead on time with Tall Girls fine navigating skills and a sat nav; two straight lines really M4 and A34, and it was just as well they were straight roads as the silly thing stood up most of the way home, with his strangely long and gangly legs - permanently pointing at 'ten to two'- slipping about at any bends in the road.

He grumbled his way home for 2 hours, a gruff scratchy voice, much like Stinky Cat's, and I wished I could tell him everything was going to be ok, or at least that he would understand that it would  be.

So here we have him, a 16 year old bag of bones covered in fluff, knotty fluff at that, with a slightly grumpy demeanor! He comes to us as a house cat and to be honest Trading Standards would have a field day with the description given by the rescue centre... Chunky they said - boney he is! Indoor cat they said - out of the back door like a shot on the first day he was! Can be chatty they said - goes off like a car alarm at intervals during the night he does.

Watch this space...

Meanwhile I am starting my new job tomorrow and having a massive crisis of confidence, where did all those weeks of school holiday vanish to?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Photogenic Duck!

You couldn't fail to want to feed him.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

All things Arts and Crafts

I love the style of William Morris so spending the day at Standen in Sussex meant I was in heaven again, feasting my eyes on many of his original prints and fabrics all together in one place, as well as seeing furniture, pottery and other beautiful objects by well know crafts people of the time.

I hope you like the photos, some of which are not too clear as no flash photography was allowed...

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


What can I say? I just fell in love with this beautiful garden designed by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson in the 1930's. Hope you like the photos, I took hundreds!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An Emotional Roller Coaster

What a massive ten days it's been! The job I'd been waiting for became vacant and was advertised briefly on the website with a short closing date. I spent a long time (why does it always take me so long) filling in the application form and writing my Statement of Application. I dropped the application form in in person and crossed my fingers. Later that day, mourning the loss of my darling Archie Cat, I howled out loud in the car on the way home. Hope and sorrow all in a matter of hours. I had 4 days to wait until I would know if I had been shortlisted for interview.

Sure enough, Thursday afternoon brought good news via email. My interview was the following Monday at 8.15am.

By Monday I had a hideous cold virus, I haven't felt so ill for a long time. However I dosed myself up on Ibuprofen and Paracetamol and off I went for a whole morning of interview, I felt as though I was talking through a plastic bag but got through it all the same! I came home and went to bed.

At 3.30pm my phone woke me and I was offered the job! Wow, I could hardly believe it, I texted everyone I knew! It was only a week since Archie left us, what a roller coaster of emotions. That was last Monday.

And today I said goodbye to my old job, my colleagues, and what has been the hardest of all, the pupils. I hoped to slip quietly away but word had got around and I ended up on stage being presented with flowers and having to say my thanks in front of over 300 children, staff and parents. Not really what I had visualised!

The last day of the summer term is always emotional as we say goodbye to all the year 6's who are about to start senior school but this year was more poignant.

When I started this job Small Sprog was only 5 years old and I had no idea what upheaval was in store for us all. Everything since then has changed, except my job, but now that has gone too, a new leaf has well and truly been turned over and it's all very exciting...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Visitors

Magpies. A whole family of them. I watch them from the kitchen window, they are playing, at the bottom of the garden, on and under the new 'steamer' chair that I had for my birthday, one hides underneath and one pecks from above, they seem to show great delight in the game.

At the same time another one has worked out how to get seed from the bird feeder -meant for the little birds which I have tried to encourage for the last year or so. The house is new, and the gardens all non existent when the owners here moved into their new homes over the last year or so. However at the bottom of the garden is a rugby field with many mature bushes and I can hear the little birds well, so I know they are there, so far only a few have ventured into the new garden that provides only a little shelter in bushes that are still not mature. Anyway the clever Magpie birds, though much too big for the feeder, have worked out how to climb onto the stem if the feeding structure and then push the feeder so that it spills a little of its contents (to be eaten later) and, at the same time, when the feeder swings towards them, they climb on board and can balance for an instant - just enough time to grab a seed or two as a prize. The are clever birds, a delight to watch, corvids with brilliant bird brains!

I have become fond of them and put out food for them most days. However they have no scruples! I looked out yesterday to find them, the whole family, shredding my bright orange nasturtium flowers. They were shrieking with delight in their scratchy voices and making a complete racket. Each piece of flower that they had shredded they carried in their beaks as they strutted confidently down to the patio to let go of it in the breeze. As the petal strip started to blow around they would each chase it in turn, like a dog with a ball, as it blew across the slabs. They were amused, they had made up a game, at my expense; though nothing much is flourishing in the garden in this unusually wet summer that we are having. Typical, I thought, I feed you all and this is how you repay me. That and waking me up at the crack of dawn calling to each other with their scratchy little voices and 'laughing' loudly in the new light of dawn.

I am considering putting something shiny outside for them to explore, perhaps it will divert them from their flower wrecking ways?!

Monday, July 09, 2012


Such a beautiful boy,

The smallness of his little life snuffed out in an instant as the needles' contents infuse slowly into his leg.

Gone in a second, his body lies empty, a case, a shell with the essence lost suddenly from within him.

It seems so amazing (as I gaze upon the empty body) that we are all made up of something we cannot see, for when it is gone the body is but an object.

Where did it go, that essence of him?

Is it in that small place in the garden under the rosemary bush or behind the fennel where he used to nap?

Or in the corner by the fence where he would bake for a while in the sun?

Or is it on the landing where he found comfort last night?

Or on my bed, that lovely warm lump curiously heavy, by my legs in the waking hours of the dark?

Everywhere I look there is a trace of him, a memory, a feeling and now a loss.

I clean out his bowls for the last time,

Gather up his toys

and store them away.

My beautiful boy, at peace now.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Don't leave yet Archie...

This is Archie, my beautiful Burman cat - known rather unkindly as Stinky Cat due to his litter tray habits.

Since we rescued him in November he has 'blossomed'; his fur looks healthier and he has a sort of cat smile, he is content and has enjoyed the garden since the weather has got warmer and on a rare sunny day he will doze outside under the fennel bush for hours which, for an old boy, is hopefully bliss.

But recently he has become fussy with his food and then at the weekend he stopped eating altogether. He has stopped playing too and become quiet. So yesterday I took him to the vet. It was the first time he'd been in the car since we brought him home and I hoped he didn't think he was about to be abandoned again, it's such a shame that we can't tell them what's going on and vice versa, as he might be able to explain what was wrong.

The vet was the most wonderful person, so genuinely caring and I felt we were in very good hands. Archie was the model of a good cat because there's not a bad bone in his body. She checked him over and took his temperature (ooch!)

To cut a long story short, she gave him some antibiotics and a pill to improve his apatite to start with. If he doesn't improve it could be something much worse and I am stealing myself for the worst. I really can't remember life without him now and I have had a chat with him and told him that it's much too early for him to leave us all just yet.

So today he has eaten, which is good. He has eaten sporadically and little and often and is drinking too -mostly from puddles outside the kitchen door! But there's something not right... The cat smile has gone; he looks uneasy, agitated in a way, he can't settle, he curls up but moves again fairly soon and his breathing looks just a little more laboured than usual - or am I imagining that?

I am not sure how long the pill for his apatite will last. We have an appointment on Friday to see how he's doing so I will just have to wait, but in the meantime I am wishing for his contentment to return.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Work Experience

Tall Girl has just completed her week of work experience. She went to an award winning florists shop in an affluent part of the city, this is the frontage - not a good photo from my phone but you get the general impression.

She looked so grown up in her new 'work' clothes that we bought before hand. She had to wear black and she doesn't normally except for school. Anyway, she looked about 19 and completely ready for work.

I am so proud of her work ethic, she has worked very hard, lots of cleaning and scrubbing but it didn't put her off at all! Every evening she would come home and be excited about returning the following day, although by the end of the week she was quite exhausted, 9 to 5 is such a long day compared to the time she usually spends at school. The company have been so good to her, giving her lots of varied jobs to do and taking her to the flower markets and on deliveries to posh places! The staff were all so friendly too, they put her at ease and my shy baby blossomed and became a confident flower, it has been lovely to see.

I had a fantastic week with my first born. Small Sprog was at school camp and Lovely man was working away so we had some quality girly time together eating, drinking 'mocktails' and watching films. We met for lunch too (her request) and took sandwiches to the 'Downs', sitting in the sun watching the world go by. I shall always remember our time shared together, it was rare and precious.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Small Pleasures

When I moved in here about 15 months ago the garden was pretty much empty apart from weeds/wild flowers - depending on perspective, and a few survived, the Chamomile, Love-in-the-mist and Violas are still nestling amongst the more cultivated plants. 

It has been an unexpected delight creating a small garden, and although there is still lots to do, I realised, this week, that I have already fulfilled one of my goals - to be able to pick flowers from the garden to bring indoors.
Roses and lavender.
The lovely thing about gardens is the way you gather the plants. I have bought a few things from the garden centre but have been given far more plants from friends and family; unwanted plants from overcrowded boarders, cuttings taken with care, presents for birthdays, seedlings, all have their own story which I can tell myself as I wander around checking on growth and progress (I am quite an impatient gardener) and hunting for slugs!


So here are some photos of flowers recently cut. Now I can't cut swathes of beautiful bunches yet but I can pick poesy's. The red rose bush was a present from a good friend for my birthday last year and were in full bloom on my birthday this year. Somehow it felt very indulgent to cut them, place them in a vase that belonged to my Granny and put them on my bedside table on my birthday.

 The sweet peas seem to have taken ages to bloom - see I told you I was impatient - but I guess the weather hasn't helped, there's not been a vast amount of sun and if I was a sweet pea I think I'd be reluctant too. Anyway, so far only a handful of buds have opened but there are masses yet to come so loads to look forward to.
I have planted quite a few nasturtiums over the spring bulbs which faded back in May. They too have loads of buds but not many open flowers yet.

So there you have it. I love to go out every day and see what changes I can see in the plants around, it cheers me up. Each little  bright bloom..small pleasures indeed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mellow Small Sprog

Small Sprog was his usual animated self at the dinner table last Thursday night. "You need to be calm" He said to his sister "like we were in REP." (Religious Education and Philosophy)
"What did you do in REP then?" I asked him, so he went on to describe how they took their shoes off when they entered the class, sprayed something on their hands - apparently the lemon scented one was the best-   and took 5 deep breaths before working calmly through the lesson. "Wow!" I exclaimed, thinking that the teacher was quite brave trying to get a whole class of 12 year olds to take that seriously. "Did everyone do it properly?" I asked.
"Yes" he replied "Even George the Gypsy"!
"Really?" Now that was impressive!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Feeling Blue

Delphinium in my garden
It was my birthday last Wednesday. I awoke to the sun streaming through the curtains and a familiar warm lump by my feet; Stinky cats favourite place to spend the night. He looks at me and I know he is thinking instantly of his breakfast. We walk downstairs together, he does that familiar weaving in and out of your legs thing that cats do, sometimes I wonder if he's plotting my demise, but then who would feed him his favourite food?
I flick on the kettle and feed him hastily before he yowls the house down. I take my breakfast out into the garden and sit in the sun for a precious few minutes before I need to get ready for work. Stinky cat joins me, rolling around in the beginnings of the heat of the morning. It feels strangely quiet, the children aren't home until the afternoon and Lovely Man is working away...and Mum is not talking to me...
Birthday lunch

At lunchtime, after work, I eat in the garden again, Stinky cat follows me like a dog - I am never sure if it is just 'cupboard love'. I relish the last hour of quiet yet I have a small ache somewhere inside me; I check my emails every 30 minutes in case she sends a Happy Birthday message like she usually does on my does not arrive.
In my garden
After picking the children up from school we follow our normal routine; I make sandwiches for the next day and dinner for the evening. Lovely Man returns, we eat and go to bed. Every now and again I remember it is my birthday and then I realise why the small ache is still there.
Sleep takes a while and my eyes fill with tears. It wasn't the day I'd planned, though maybe that's because I didn't really plan anything and I have learnt over the years that if you want to have a good time then you definitely have to organise it first and not just expect it to happen around you but I didn't have my heart in it this week. I could have suggested we go out or do something fun after school but actually I just felt a bit flat.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Country Show

I am a complete sucker for farm animals, so at the country show - seeing as I couldn't smuggle any out - I couldn't resist photographing some. Hope you like them?

This sheep below was sporting a cool and trendy fringe.

These two appeared to be friends

Inscrutable sheep with attitude
(look at his eyes?)

Piggies in love

I fell in love with this cute highland calf, she was adorable-they all were..           

Alpacas, always look quite ridiculous!

And this beautiful bunny, what an amazing colour?

All in all, despite the rain, we had a great time.

For more animal pic's go to Tall Girls Blog !