Saturday, 18 December 2010

Let it snow

This is more like it.  Let it snow and the whole world becomes a friendly place, where people talk to you, very britishly about the weather, then invite you back to theirs for tea to admire their wallpaper.  I kid you not...

So, I had had about three hours sleep, Jam said he would take Rowan for a walk and when he looked outside there was a gorgeous blanket of snow everywhere. 

The child inside yelled 'get out there girl, sleep shmeep, plenty of time to do that when he's left home'.... so we togged up and skipped, well trod carefully outside, over the stile, onto the circuit that takes us to the farm, through the field, up the hill to the church then back down through the village. 

We crept through the fields, stopping for a quick photoshoot, guessing which animals had made their tracks in the snow.  At the top of the hill by the church we met a local man and pondered whether there were cows or not in the field in the distance, he was convinced they were a shed of sorts but on his zoom lens of the camera they were definitely two cows, looking frozen around a bale of hay. 

A small crowd of people were out sledging, I guess that will include us in a couple of years, everyone was smiling and laughing. 

In the local shop we bumped into a lady we'd met in the lane when we had first moved in and she invited us back for tea. A cuddle with Rowan, a spot of piano playing by Jam and...

 the wallpaper...

What a treat.  What a day.  We got home, kindly turning down more offers of tea from more neighbours in need of getting home to change the babe's nappy and make some lunch, have a nap, make some gifts, have a laugh and look at the sunset...

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Wallpaper Strip - Part 4

This week finds us in the hallway and stairwell.  Now if this wallpaper was in a room where you had to sit down and look at it, it wouldn't work.  One wouldn't work for sure, one would be far too busy looking at the wallpaper itself.  One would also pass out after half an hour.

This wallpaper is 3D.  I all sticks out.  All the wallpaper throughout the house has been put up meticulously I must add.  Not even a millimetre out of place.  That takes some doing.  I remember as a child helping my Mum do the wallpapering and getting into a bit of a muddle when it came to lining the drop up properly.  It's quite a messy job too.

Tuesday's Tantrum - 3

I knew it.  Stuck already.  I mean, what have I got to grumble about really?  I have a gorgeous husband, a beauty of a baby boy, a roof over my head, a great bunch of friends, good health and I am sitting by an open fire, with a glass of ginger beer.  Pushing the boat out I know.  What can you do?  I even had a scone earlier.

Ok.  Perhaps I'm going to have to rethink Tuesday's posts in future.  Maybe it should be Tuesday's Tickle?  Maybe I'll just go back to the days rolling into one and not give a hoot about what day it is.  Maybe I'll have a tantrum about not having anything to have a bleeding tantrum about.  Actually I really ought to take a deep breath.  I'm beginning to get palpitations...

...and in fact I have got something to have a tantrum about - my shoulder, it really hurts, from lying stupidly on the bed whilst feeding.  But that's not really a tantrum.  Oh I give up.  I'm going to have a strop instead.  No, I'll write a quick off the cuff poem, that usually works.

Grrr, Brrraaaa Grrrr.
Shouted really loudly.
It's not fair cried the silly little girl inside me
The days are too short
The nights are too long
I can't even remember my favourite song!
This lack of sleep is making me weep
Oi, let me out here in this field of sheep
I'll count them forwards and backwards
And side to side
If it will only make the days seem wide
For wide days could make sense of this
Leading to a life of ignorant bliss
Where silly little girls sleep all day
And when night falls come out to play.

Slightly random, but that feels better, time for bed, good night zzz

Hmm - I had scheduled this tantrum to post automatically last Tuesday and it didn't, or did it, I'm not sure now. I can feel a technology tantrum coming on!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Make Monday

Gosh! Is it Monday again? How on earth did that happen?  That was incredible.  The days must be getting so terribly, terribly short, surely I missed a couple?  Well, all I had time to make today was a list...

1) Get up and get Rowan and I dressed and out of the house before 10am, for the baby group
2) Eat and write shopping list for tomorrow
3) Tidy up
4) Make something out of the old jeans
5) Write my blog
6) Write at least one card
7) Stay positive
8) Help Jam with his work
9) Laugh
10) Sort out photos
11) Do tax and accounts
12) Phone a friend
13) Sort out clothes
14) Sell things on Ebay
15) Have a bath

Now lists are all well and good, but things hardly ever go to plan.  It was so foggy this morning and the neighbour told me that he'd seen cars wrapped around every lamp-post on his way to work due to the black ice, then Jam had a phonecall from the hospital to change his appointment for his shoulder to earlier, so we couldn't go to the group, so number 1 on the list didn't need to happen, although we were up and dressed and ready to do something by 10am, which is a great achievement in itself!

We did eat, the rest of the soup from the weekend, then a fabulous dinner this evening that I started cooking and Jam finished  - can't beat a spot of teamwork! I didn't get the shopping list done though, but who writes shopping lists these days anyway?

I did tidy up, but it doesn't seem like that now.  I'm writing, but not about the items I didn't get round to making.  I wrote two cards, double what I expected.  I helped Jam stay positive about his work, although I wasn't positive much myself, until I phoned a friend, laughed, then I was a lot more positive!  Photos and Ebay will have to wait until a rainy day and why does that naughty three letter word always seem to get onto any list I write?

Some tips for myself regarding lists ~
Lists should definitely not be longer than 10 items, but preferably be only 5 things. 
Items should be doable tasks rather than long term goals or desires. 
Items should not be things that you will definitely do for sure (like get up...) unless really struggling
At least one task must be something pleasant for you.
Under no circumstances must TAX appear unless it's the day it's due and it's not been done.
It would be much more satisfying to write a list at the end of the day of all things achieved, rather than have a list of things to do that don't get done.  Maybe then the tasks that don't get done might get done, in order to have the satisfaction of writing the task down on the list!

Well, the little nipper has settled, so I think I might go and have a soak in the bath.  Tick.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Wallpaper Strip - Part 3

This week's 'Wallpaper Strip' comes to you live from the Snug.  A cutesy name for the dining room, the back room, the room where it all happens.  Indeed it's all happening here.  This side of the house is a little lower than the other side.  Jam has to duck to go through doors.  I can just about scrape through unless my hair is tied in a bun on top of my head, which it often is these days.  Well, nobody's watching...

So imagine this on every wall, in one of the smaller rooms of your house. 

Don't forget the border.

And the curtains with the boxed edge - not sure what the proper name for that is...

And the wall lights.

With second choice of shades.  Bonus!

These are the ones being used at the moment.  The lining has worn on the other ones.  So, there you have the Snug.  Next week, prepare to be completely dazzled with the stairs and landing area.  You may need your shades!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Make Monday

Forgive me if it is a little tedious for you, all this Monday Make, Tuesday's Tantrum, Wednesday's Wallpaper, but I find it useful to know which day I'm on.  So Monday's I endeavour to make something.

Now our house is a bit chilly at the best of times.  It's not insulated, it has lots of little extras built on to it from the outside.  So the entrance porch, you know the one with the cute window and the crazy wallpaper, was the outside and it's freezing out there.  All the heat from the fire was escaping outside through this door and so I decided to do something about it.

I found an old heavy looking blanket up in one of the cupboards.  Firstly I found a couple of rather fantastic curtains that are just so amazing I want to make a jumpsuit out of them and wear them always.  I'm quite glad that Jam thought they would clash with the wallpaper!  Perhaps this is another Monday's Make item...

I snipped little slots all along the top of the blanket, wide enough for loops of ribbon.  I have a great ottamon box with loads of odds and ends in and find it immensely satisfying when something I've been saving comes in useful, this time it was the golden ribbon.   I sewed the hoops by hand, then folded the ends back on themselves to create a fold that hangs down to try and cover up the slit in the blanket, not that anyone is going to come in and inspect the hoops but once a perfectionist it's hard to give it up!

Time is obviously of the essence here, losing the heat so quickly and wondering when the next feeding frenzy will be.  I was amazed that it took me less than an hour start to finish and the little boy slept through it all.

Now for my next trick, I'm doing something with a bag of old jeans...

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Saturday's Snack

Jam made some porridge for our breakfast yesterday, he made enough for 6 hungry people and piled it high into two large bowls.  I ate as much as I wanted, then said ~ well there's only one thing for it - Muffins!

I looked in the larder and thought hmmm.  After consulting my favourite 'Muffins Galore' cookbook, I found a lovely looking recipe for oat and cherry muffins, then followed it very loosely, for we didn't have half the ingredients and I never really enjoy following recipes much anyway.  Why is that?  It's so much fun wondering if it will turn out edible or not I guess! Maybe I should do an experiment one day... so...

In a bowl I put half a bag of bread mix (that was the only wholemeal flour or near to that I had), some brown sugar, gave it a stir.  Then added sunflower oil, about 6 dessert spoons to two eggs and beat.  I combined the egg mix with the oats, the oats had milk, apple and dates already added.  This I then mixed into the dry ingredients.  I spooned it all into a 12 cake tray and baked in the oven for about twenty minutes, probably a little too long.  Obviously I put the oven on first to warm up and greased the baking tray.  I mixed some icing sugar with a little water and some hundreds and thousands and spooned a little on top of each muffin.


Jam thinks they look like meatballs and are too burnt in the photograph, but was amazed and thinks they were very tasty ~ the best use of leftover porridge!
I even surprised myself.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Little Miss

Oh I miss my friends. 
I miss having fun. 
I miss Friday nights out. 
I miss lots of things beginning with 'F' - family, fish from the fish market, feeding the ducks, my feet being tickled, feeling sexy, fu**ing without worrying about waking the baby or squirting milk everywhere, fu**ing generally, farting, errr actually I don't miss that, in fact that was the one thing yesterday that made me realise how much I miss everything else!  It made us laugh so hard like we'd not laughed in a long time, tears were rolling down my cheeks, I nearly dropped the baby!

I'm not complaining here, I'm fully aware that I've chosen this path and I am very grateful for everything I have and don't have, I am just having a moment of missing.  Missing the boat and all our beautiful neighbours up there.  The ones that would just give a nod as they walked by, shout a greeting and make you smile.  There's none of that down here.  We're locked up in a little house now, without hoards of people walking by asking how much it costs to buy boats these days or whether or not they can have a ride. 

No short walk to the market to catch the latest bargain or the weeks fresh vegetables, or to meet a friend for a cuppa.  Nobody calling to say hey, what you up to, I'm in your area, fancy meeting up?  No crawling in at 4am after a crazy night out. No lie-in.  No good night's sleep. 

Ok enough of that! No need to dwell on the negative here.  I'm going to start sounding like I'm suffering with post natal depression, maybe I am?!  I'm not. Don't worry. It's just a moment.  It's that time of year too.  Silly season.  I accept that I am a grown woman now, with responsibilities.  My mispent youthfulness can be channelled into something else more productive.  It's fun to have new and interesting projects.  It's fun to not get much sleep and see how crazy it makes you.
Life is fun.
It's Friday night.
It's time to... oh, the baby's woken up...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Wallpaper Strip - Part 2

I hope you enjoyed part one!  Today we are heading into the Living room.  This wallpaper is interesting, it has a stencil etched panel that changes in the light.  Again it is hard to photograph, if you're ever passing this way in your motorcar you should pop in for a look and a cuppa, you'll leave with your senses invigorated and inspired and maybe even with some home-made goodies to boot.

Quite something hey?  Can you imagine how long it must have taken to put that border up - the walls aren't straight and the border is cut down from another style of wallpaper.  The main pattern running vertically along has the stencilled effect running next to it, then when you tilt your head slightly the whole wallpaper has another shiny, sparkly effect across the whole of it.  Special.  Not my favourite, I'm saving that for another week...

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Tuesday's Tantrum - 2

Mothercare.  This week my rant is about Mothercare.  I have a splitting headache, as I write, Jam is changing the little fella's nappy upstairs and the screams are penetrating my eyes downstairs and so I will try and keep this brief.  I think lack of sleep could be next week's rant.

It may be easier to relay in dialogue.

Jam - Honey what can I do to help you?

Me - Oh, the baby alarm is ready to collect from Mothercare, you could take the little fella and collect it, that would be brilliant.

Jam - Cool, get some sleep darling, we'll be a couple of hours.

A couple of hours later...

Me - Why the long face? Everything ok?

Jam - No, they wouldn't give it to me, said you have to have received a text.

Me - But I did receive the text, that's why I said it was ok to go.

Jam - Well they wouldn't let me have it and didn't look to see if it was there.

Me - And you showed them the receipt?  God I can't believe this!  Look... oh, the text message has a reference number, but they should have checked anyway, they are usually so helpful, I'm going to call them and complain, I'm so upset, who served you?

Jam - A lady called Rebecca.  Think she was the same woman that served us when we bought it.

Brrrring Brrrring ...  Brrring Brrring...

MC - Hello Mothercare, Taunton, Rebecca speaking how can I help?

Me - Hello Rebecca, I'm calling about an order that my husband has just been in to try and collect.  I'm very upset.  They wouldn't give it to him, saying he needed to have received a text, but I had received the text late the night before and read it as 'Your order is ready to collect' and didn't realise it had a reference number, we had the inlaws here and so I just glanced at the text, so this morning my husband said he would take the little fella out for a drive and I said he could go and collect the baby alarm because it was in the store now and he drove all the way there, we're not local by the way, and was hoping to collect and was really disappointed because they wouldn't give it to him saying he needed to have received a text and we had, and I'm just really upset...(I think I said 'I'm really upset' quite a few times...)

Rebecca - I'm so sorry to hear this, do you know who served you?

Me - My husband said it was someone called Rebecca...

Rebecca - Ah, well it wasn't me, there are two Rebecca's working here.  I shall go and have a look for you, just hold the line a moment...
Yes, your order has just come in now.

Me - But my husband was there less than hour ago, so it must have been there then, or the text wouldn't have been sent last night if it wasn't there.  I'm so upset about this, they should have at least checked, he had the receipt and everything.

Rebecca - Yes, I'm not sure what happened there, I shall have to go and find Rebecca and see what happened, we can send it out to you, but it won't go until Friday now. (This was on Wednesday)

Me - Well that's no good, it won't get to us until next week, I shall just have to come back in again tomorrow.  Thank you anyway.  Good bye.


Jam - You just said you were really upset loads of times, you didn't get angry at all!

Me - I know, what am I like! I've lost my knack.  Oh I'm so stupid.  I should have said that I write a really popular (!) parenting blog and shall post something about this poor service.  That's what I should have done. Bah! I should have read the text properly and passed it on to you.  You should have called me to tell me and see whether or not I had received a text! Argh...

The next day...

Me - Hi.  I've come to collect an order.

Donna - Ok, I'll just see if it's there.

Me - It is, my husband came to collect it yesterday and they didn't give it to him saying you had to have received a text, which I had and that's why I sent him to get it, oh I was so upset!

Donna - Oh dear I'm so sorry, you shouldn't have to show the text to get it, that's ridiculous.

Me - I know, and I called to complain but couldn't really say anything else except I'm so upset - I should have said I write a parenting blog and am going to say something about this...

Donna - You should!

So, we got the Vtech alarm home and tried it out and it didn't work properly! We could hear him crying his eyes out and the alarm wasn't registering it.  We thought it was a good one, it had a broad range of features and some good reviews, but then when we looked into it again, there were far more bad reviews saying it shouldn't even be sold as an alarm.  It was very distressing for all of us.  So Jam took it back, they said they had had no problems with it and it flew off the shelves, but we beg to differ.  We ended up paying twice as much more and now have the BT monitor, fingers crossed it will work.  Tonight we will see.

Anyway, I have just had a cup of normality (normal tea) and my headache is clearing, I realise I've not had a cuppa for a couple of days and this could explain the headache - withdrawal symptoms, so good old tea - the greatest headache cure in the West! I'm hooked again.  Well you must have at least one vice in life!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Saturday's Supper

I took myself and the little fella off for a walk in the town of Taunton.  We found a carpark, it was a multi-storey one and when we got in the lift I'd forgotten to check which level we were on.  Lucky for us there was a lady getting in the same lift on our return who knew by my description where we were.  Unfortunately someone had dented the side of our car, but that's another story.

In town, I decided to walk around and around and around, with no particular aim except to explore and find the charity shops.  I knew they were by the lovely old looking blue bridge we'd crossed one evening coming back from visiting Grandad.  It was the bridge I was looking for.  I found it and felt a sudden burst of nostalgia for London boat life.  There were coots and ducks and the usual piles of rubbish on the waters edge.  Water, there was water, splashing and flowing and everybody marching past without even a nod to it.  Oh how I longed to just jump over and swim through the rushes, but it is cold and in fact is that snow? Crumbs, had best jump into this shop, oh look, it's a charity shop. Nice.  The young man working there told me that Taunton was in fact the 'town on the [river]Tone' ~ 'town-tone'.  So you learn something new every day.  I also grabbed some fabulous bargains before heading back to the car, in the snow.

We drove home and then I made some supper.  Butternut squash, roasted, then cut in half and seeds scooped out, with diced carrots, leeks and sunflower seeds cooked in olive oil, piled on top, all on a bed of quinoa, with a handful of sprouted mung beans on top.  It was delicious.  I forgot to take a picture of it before we started, it looked quite fallic so it's probably for the best and you get to see the retro plates we have too!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Wallpaper Strip - part 1

Did I mention that we are living in Jam's grandad's house, complete with all of its idiosyncrasies and amazing wallpaper selections in each room?  I'm going to slowly take you on a psychadelic journey through time and our cottage.  It may make you slightly giddy if I rush through it all in one post, so I shall draw out the pleasure, room by room.  If we play our cards right and keep the cottage, I'm planning on keeping the wallpaper, perhaps not whole walls of it, but definitely a framed picture's worth of each strip!

Here goes -

The entrance porch.  This little room houses our large pram, coats and wellies and a large wooden trolley of wood for burning.  It was quite difficult to photograph with the right light, but I think you'll get the idea.  There's a lovely window with a rather sorry looking spider plant, in it's old style, original to the house, plant pot.  This is Jam's favourite wallpaper, although he wouldn't want it in the living room.  I think it has that certain man quality to it...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Tuesday's Tantrum - 1

Well, I've decided to try weekly themed slots of entries to keep me regularly posting.  I'm very excited about Wednesday's slot - The Wallpaper Strip - taking you, my dear reader on a vociferous, sorry vicarious (knew it began with 'v') journey through my cottage and its terrific wallpaper designs.

Tuesday's are going to be tantrum day.  I don't know why, well apart from the fact it begins with 't'.  That's about as far as my brain is travelling today!  So every Tuesday I shall try and have a tantrum about something and become a better person for having got it off my chest.  I tend not to be a tantrum person, so I may have set myself an impossible task, but persevere I will, with some humour thrown in too, if that's possible.  Any issues you wish me to have a tantrum about, please let me know.  Jam by the way is horrified about this, he fears that you will get the wrong impression of me and not only that, he'll have to sit through my weekly tirade as I type it.  Get over it I screamed, rather insensitively...

Now, when I started this I wasn't sure what I was going to tantrum about, but suddenly there's a million things and gosh, where do I start?

Parenting methods - why do some people think it's ok to tell you how to bring up your child?  There's always a throw away comment, 'creating a rod for your own back', 'mine were in their own beds by day two', 'mine slept through the night by six weeks', 'you've got to express or you won't have enough milk', or a million other things said that make you feel lousy / bad Mum / useless / angry or all of the above.  Of course all these people are your nearest and dearest and are only trying to help in their own way and would be most upset to know that they have upset you and really, you wouldn't be upset normally but on little sleep those raw nerves are quite prominent. 'Sod off!  I'm doing it my way!' you shout at them, in your head of course, but it doesn't make you feel any better. 

One friend of mine has her mother constantly saying to her 'why don't you put her down, why can't you do it like so-and-so, she follows such-and-such a method and it really works'.  That would drive me mad!  It's such a personal journey bringing up children and parents are often made to feel that they are doing it wrong, when instinctively they are doing everything right.  Our parents and friends who have been there before, may have all the answers, but those answers were for their children and are not always translatable to your own.  Often advice is given without it being wanted.  I always think it's best to give advice only if you're asked for it, or put it in such a way that it doesn't sound like you're telling the person what to do, make it constructive rather than critical and be supportive.  Teach don't lecture! (said Jam, with a face full of food and arms in the air - peach flavoured ketchup is what I thought he'd said! Odd.)

So.  Should I go on? Have I made a point?  Was it well argued?  Probably not as well as it could have been but Rowan is gurgling in agreement at me so it's time to put this out there and go out for a walk.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Christmas Fair time

It was the local primary school's Christmas fair today.  I have been excited for the last week an a half!  I saw it advertised on the local church newsletter that arrives in the post every month.  You can tell I don't get out much these days.  Our lovely neighbour said she would come with me, so we walked up together, collecting one of the other neighbour's young boys to come along too.  It was primarily games for the children to play with lots of prizes presented at the end, a few stalls selling all sorts of goodies and, big drum roll, the TOMBOLA! 

It was the fact that there was a tombola that did it for me.  I am a tombola addict.  For the last few years I have attended the fabulous Save the Children Christmas fair held in London at the Banqueting Hall.  It is rarely open to the public so it's a wonderful opportunity to see the incredible Michaelangelo painting on the ceiling whilst shopping for a worthwhile cause, with endless amounts of canapes and a glass of wine included in the entrance price.  Do go if you get the chance, I think it's on December 7th.

I  always end up spending most of my time hovering around the tombola, with a surprisingly good streak of luck each time.  One year I won a wonderful woven basket with leather handles, a rather freaky porcelain doll, which I gave to a neighbour who happened to collect them, beautiful jewellery and heaps of fabulous gifts for friends and family.  I love the fact that the money is for charity and the prizes are brilliant, top quality. 

As soon as we walked in to the fair, we headed straight to the tombola and we bought two strips of tickets from a woman who was holding tickets in a basket.  She was busy admiring our pram, we were busy thinking she was the tombola ticket woman, but NO! She was the raffle woman.  Ah well, that was fine, we stayed for the raffle too, but had zero luck on that.  However, the tombola was a different matter.  Now the gifts were all food items, not that appealing some of them either.  Tins of chopped tomatoes? A can of shandy?  Where were the fancy gifts?  Anyway, not being deterred, for £2 we bought ten tickets and won five things!  The prizes were for tickets with numbers ending in a '0' or '5'.  That was pretty lucky!  Our neighbour bought 15 tickets and only won one thing - the can of shandy, which she gave to Jam for she doesn't like it!  We bagged a bottle of tasty ale, lemonade - which we gave to our neighbour, a tin of baked beans, a tin of sweetcorn and a jar of chutney.  Not such a lucrative tombola, but fun all the same.

The fair was a perfect opportunity to see the school, meet some of the teachers and local people and offer Jam's music teaching services and mine too to the local pre-school.  Everyone was extremely friendly and we were made to feel very welcome.  Rowan was a delight and made lots of people smile.  I also managed to buy lots of Christmas gifts and talk myself into buying a full length green leather coat, some jeans, a dress, two tops and some jogging bottoms - all for just ten pounds!! The clothes were all mostly new too!  Result!

Isn't it amazing what a little therapeutic shopping does for the soul, combined with giving to charity and supporting the local school - it's a wonderful feeling!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Northcott Mouth

We made a trip to Northcott Mouth near Bude this weekend for a friend's 30th birthday.  The cottage we stayed in was right on the beach and beautiful, if not a little cold in the bedrooms.  Luckily our house is also quite cold so we weren't worried about freezing the baby.  We arrived late at night and couldn't find it, asking a security guard at a holiday camp, who said he couldn't tell us - we weren't sure if he knew but didn't want to say or not!  In the morning the view from our bedroom was breathtaking.  After breakfast, we walked along the beach, Jam did some rock stacking and I played the violin whilst Rowan slept in the sling.  Some of the others donned wetsuits and went for a dip.  A couple of the gang made a white spiral line with all the stones that had white lines running through them.

We ate organic roasted vegetables and soups with chunky home-made bread.  We skipped up to the clifftops to drink port and watch the sunset.  We had lots of instruments and music was played morning til night.  Folky bluegrass music, sometimes a bit too bluegrassy for Jam's liking and I did some spoof rapping and silly song singing on top of it on the second night, after a glass of port! I felt like my old self made an appearance that night, to a new audience.  I made them laugh til they cried and it reminded me of my old friends now in pastures new.  I didn't get much sleep due to my boobs being in constant demand through out the night, but the huge grin on Rowan's face more than made up for it every time and at least I slept soundly in the car on the way home.

On our way there we stopped off at Gantie's ( a cross between grannie and auntie) so she could see Rowan.  She's been poorly lately and hasn't been able to visit.  I was horrified and slightly amused when she tried to feed him some chocolate on her finger - 'No'  I screamed, on deaf ears, 'No' again much louder, 'don't you dare, he's only 4 months old!' 'Oh, but I just want to treat him dear'...  I can see we may have problems there in the future, hopefully I nipped it in the bud, bless her!  She gave us a beautiful sheepskin for him to lie on and he loves it, even if he was a little bit sick on it, it was a godsend at the cottage to keep him warm and content.  She plied us with goodies, bulbs for the garden, a beautiful hand-knitted hoody cardigan for Rowan, birdseed, peanut butter, schloer and kind hearted god fodder in the form of small daily strength bible reading books. Hmmm.

Brain dead

I am brain dead.  I have lost the ability to think.  I cannot remember the last time I sang a different nursery rhyme to the little boy other than the one that keeps going round in my head, I don't even know what it's called and I picked it up like a nasty cold at a toddler group.  I used to run a music group in London with a plethora of songs and yet - blank.

My feet are cold.  My hands forget what they are doing and my face cannot remember how to smile.  I don't feel miserable, sad, lonely or blue, just brain dead.  I'm wearing the same clothes as yesterday and the day before and the day before that?  Just changing my underwear, I think.  Did I eat breakfast?  What do I want for dinner?  What's the date?  I just want to eat chocolate.  A cup of tea please with a chocolate biscuit. NOW.

This is just a temporary state of mind, I assure myself.  It's something like the morning after a night out feeling, if I remember that correctly.  The problem is I don't think I can allow myself to feel like this.  Zombified.  Frozen in a timewarp.  I mean I'm a mother now.  I have a house to run, responsibilities, a husband to love and a darling child to amuse.  No room for mindwandering.  Washing to be done.  Bloody chutney to make still - why won't the marrow's just get bored of waiting around looking larger than they should and wander off to pastures greener?

I need a maid.  Someone to come and clean my house.  Clean me!  Clean out the cobwebs in my brain!  Make room for some life!  Help me find the energy to be me again when the day is done. Brain dead. 

Friday, 5 November 2010

A rainbow walk

Rainbow Walk
 I took Rowan for a walk in the big pram, it's like a Silver Cross pram, huge and blue.  I walked up to the village, pulling in to let a couple of cars go by, stopped to say hello to the lovely australian lady that runs the village shop, the only shop in the village, and let an old lady coo over the babe ~ she actually shouted me to stop from across the road, saying how wonderful it was to see a mother pushing her baby in a 'proper' pram!

On the way back, it started raining and this picture was taken in the lane.  It's like one of those pictures that if you stare at it long enough you see creatures in it.  You know what I mean right? Can you see the bunny rabbit? What else can you see?  Am I spending too much time on my own?  Come on...I LOVE IT!!

Monday, 1 November 2010


This is the first year in ages that nothing much happened on Halloween.  No fancy dress party where we get madly dressed up and trek around London to as many parties as possible! (An example of our dressing up escapades can be read and seen here )  It felt quite strange, spooky in fact!  We just had a quiet night in, as is the norm around here, in bed by midnight and not a single knock on the door from a trick or treater.  We didn't even carve the pumpkin, we chopped it in half and roasted it instead.  Yummy. 

Next year will be different though.  Next year, little Rowan will not be so little and we will be a bit more mobile and we will go to the ball!  So we have a whole year to try and come up with an even more exciting costume idea than the one we had last year.  Deep down, I was quite relieved not to be doing it this year.  It must be old age, lack of fun, dead brain cells or something happening in there to make the spark go out, but it always took me a while to get into the whole idea of dressing up scarily.  It was always fun once there, but took a bit of effort!  Maybe with a sabbatical rest from the whole dressing up, fresh ideas and a renewed lust for it will appear. 

Perhaps that is the way forward, have a rest from doing something (like working) and when you go back to it you will have a renewed energy and spark.  I sincerely hope so, I have no idea what I am going to do and how I am going to focus on it...

One small step at a time!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Has anyone noticed?

Has anyone noticed that each of my October posts have begun with the letter H - for no particular reason and I didn't even notice until the fourth one.  Honestly, who cares I hear you cry?  Have you gone mad I say to myself, quite loudly.  How come each sentence is beginning with the letter H now? Have you not got something better to do like say hello to your husband, hoover, have a bath, hug your neighbour???

I did do that today actually, hug my neighbour, it was the first time I met her, lovely lady at the end of our row of four cottages, her Ukrainian husband died 6 years ago, she is 78 now, wow she's amazing for her age, I couldn't believe it, in fact, most older people I meet down here are just rocking it, must be the air?

Help - the baby wakes I shall have to come back to this one.... ;)

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

How to get through the day without any sleep

Having a little baby that won't go to sleep at bed time can be hard to cope with, especially if they are not sleeping through and waking up for feeds during the night.  The lack of sleep soon starts to show. You know, forgetting what day it is, using salt for sugar and making gravy with coffee granules, leaving the baby on the bus (did anyone actually do that, I wonder?)

They say you should tank them up during the day so that they don't want to drink at night time, but that has seemed to have the opposite effect and makes the young lad want more during the night, although I realise now that it s a growing spurt and he had his immunisation jabs too, which can leave them out of sorts for a few days. 

We were co-sleeping which was so much easier for the feeding, but we are now introducing a cot, so attempting to soothe him with shushing and patting and lots of love.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, it is still early days and he's sleeping in the cot during the day time naps so we can't complain.  He doesn't scream loads at bedtime, just gets a bit grizzly and doesn't settle.  I've taken to doing some baby massage to relieve the wind, that works and I'm going to start the routine a little earlier because I'm wondering if he just gets overtired. 

I shall start to introduce water during the night-times too so waking up doesn't seem so appealing.  Drinking plenty of water yourself rather than coffee helps to keep the body surviving on 3 hours sleep and trying to eat healthy food that nourishes the body rather than always reaching for the biscuit barrel...

So you can try lots of different things to help the sleep through, but in the meantime my best advice to myself is to sleep when he sleeps!  So simple, easy to do at the beginning but tougher when you start wanting to get on with the household chores.  Having a thoughtful husband who takes him off for a couple of hours on a weekend morning gives valuable catch up sleep time too. 

He's sleeping right now, so what am I doing?! zzz

Monday, 18 October 2010

Home alone

Jam has been away presenting his new instrument in London, combined with our old neighbour Paddy's birthday party and a stag do ~ so we're home alone.  He's sounding quite good considering the amount of partying he's been doing, but we're not even slightly jealous here. Fun and games all the way...

Day one.  I couldn't seem to get the fire going in the living room.  You'd think with all my practise from living on the boat I'd be a dab hand at it, but it's a little harder with a small baby in tow.  On my first attempt I managed to smoke the house out!  Rowan was needing attention so I opened the windows and doors and shut the door between the two rooms.  The next day I went back in to find the fire had a few burning embers at the bottom still, I was amazed and loaded it up and we had a lovely fire and a warm house, for the fire heats the back boiler.  My third and fourth day attempts at fire starting had no such luck, so the electric heater in the bedroom sufficed and we camped out there.  It's been quite chilly in the evenings and mornings.

On the second night Rowan had a really full nappy, I was going to leave it, but thought better of it and got up to do it.  Just as I was opening the new nappy out he rolled off the mat, thumping onto the floor.  Owch, thankfully the carpets are lovely and thick, I picked him up and cuddled him straight away, it all happened so quickly I didn't even remember how he landed but couldn't find any bumps or scratches and he was soon soothed and not complaining at all.  I on the other hand felt weak at the knees and quite sick and spent the rest of the night checking he was breathing.

On the third day, we made more chutneys and apple sauces, everything going really well, even vacuumed downstairs, then whilst putting dishes away managed to drop my favourite saucepan lid, glass shatters everywhere...

The fourth day was immunisation day.  Jam had been held up in London and so couldn't be with me.  I cried in the surgery and felt like a right wally.  The nurse wasn't particularly sympathetic either when I said that I had been wondering if I should immunise or not and had been reading things about it on the internet.  She said you can read an awful lot of rubbish on the internet, if you have any worries you should talk to a medical professional.  I left feeling like a small child, but Rowan gave me a huge grin as I strapped him in the car seat and we laughed all the way home.

He's asleep on my arm now, doesn't want to go to bed, so one handed posting this is and only a few hours to wait until Jam returns. 

So all in all, I made four jars of apple sauce, nine jars of 'MATCHUM' - marrow, apple & tomato chutney - jam, made up the name there having found that this batch of chutney was somehow like jam, chutney jam = chum.  Yes I know, spending too much time on my own!
I fed myself properly and healthily with home made soups and lentil dishes. 
I was up and out of the house before 10am on two occassions! I even impressed myself with that one! 
I finished a poem I've been writing for my sister. 
Watered the plants in the greenhouse.
Was in bed by 9pm every night. 
I did all the washing and cleaning, even did my filing! 
Played guitar to Rowan and sang him songs and he didn't cry.  In fact I'm sure he was tapping along with me.

What a scorcher of a weekend ;)

Friday, 15 October 2010

Healthy eating

Fruit then muesli for breakfast, lentils with beetroot and feta for lunch, carrot soup for tea. Super healthy eating, plenty of water to drink too and oh dear, what's this - a cup of rooibus tea and the biscuit barrel...

That's a picture of Rowan Atkinson on the front of the tin, playing Fagin in Oliver the musical, taken from my Equity magazine. So the Equity subscription is worth it just for that, oh and the diary of course!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Healing nicely

Rowan is thirteen weeks old on Friday. That's thirteen weeks since I had the C-section. Not sure why it's called a C-section to be honest, in fact I will add that to my list of 'things I always thought I knew but didn't' for solving at a later date. Still, healing nicely I hope. I haven't had anyone probe around down there, my six week check, at nine weeks, involved me telling the doctor my life story, Jam was there, and I even mentioned that sex seemed a bit clicky, to which the doctor said, I beg your pardon, what did you say? I definitely said clicky, afterwards Jam said he thought I'd said kinky, lord knows what the doctor thought I had said and what on earth possessed me to say it in the first place? Clicky sex? I was feeling quite strange. Still do. What is it about the doctor's surgery that makes you want to wax lyrical when you know you only have a five minute slot and should just get on with it.

What am I writing?! This is like a brain splurge. End of another long day, not sure what I'm doing anymore. Feel a bit lost, totally in love with my little boy (and my big boy of course, who's out in the shed tinkering...) emptied a few more boxes that had been lurking around in the living room today. We've been mainly staying in the dining room, but Jam managed to get the fire cleared out so the back boiler will work and now when the living room fire is on the radiators heat up around the house. That's neat, the washing dries quicker when it's a wet day and we all feel warmer.

And the baby boy awakes...

Monday, 11 October 2010

Hot air balloon

Wow! I heard some noise outside, the neighbour having a shout and thought I'd best go and investigate. I stepped outside, holding Rowan and was astounded to see the hugest hot air balloon I've ever seen approaching fast. It was exhilirating! We thought it was going to land in the field next to us, but suddenly a burst of flames shot up and the balloon rose high again. The balloon was so close it almost touched the top of the house! We waved madly and shouted greetings to the people on board, I called for Jam and asked him to bring the camera out, sadly we didn't get a shot of it close up, but this was what we got...

Apparently the neighbour said that if the balloon does land in your field then you are entitled to a free ride. Shame it didn't and shame it isn't our field! Jam and I have been saving in a special money box ever since our wedding to go on a hot air balloon trip, so you can imagine how excited we were. Soon...

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Home made wine

So we've just had a baby, moved house, made umpteen jars of chutney and jam and are now embarking on the home made wine ~ are we mad? Of course!

The wine idea came because Jam's Grandad's greenhouse hasn't been touched for a couple of years and it was completely jammed with grapevines. A massive trunk grows up through the greenhouse, along the top on the inside and out and around the top on the outside. It looked like a bit of a mission to get sorted and was quite a task that took Jam a lot longer than he had planned. (As do most of his missions but that's another story for another time...) How amazing though to actually see inside the greenhouse and marvel at the fact that we actually have a greenhouse, how very grown up!

What to do with the grapes though? There are so many and neither of us have the first clue about wine making. Jam has made cider in the past and we both made some sloe gin last year with sloe's from our boating neighbour's M&M who had gone on a mission down the river Lea especially for them, delicious stuff it is too, me having my first wee taste of it last week, ooh what a treat!
We looked up 'how to make wine' on the internet and found various solutions and then realised we were in the middle of nowhere and needed to acquire all this special equipment to do the task. A neighbour gave us a large barrel to ferment it in and Jam found a health food store in Wellington that funnily enough has a home brewing section. It's rather pricey for the stuff but seeing as though the grapes had been harvested we didn't think we had much choice. I did go off on a mission to find somewhere in Taunton selling the kit but had no joy so the health food shop it was.

Right now Jam is crushing the grapes, thankfully NOT with his feet, we were thinking of letting Rowan crush them, but I'm not sure he's strong enough yet! We're building him up though to defend himself against the country hooligans! And, as I'm sure you're wondering, he is doing just fine, his little face has healed nicely and he's laughing the whole thing off and we've found another group to go to with children the same age as him!
'Ooh I could crush a grape' ~ am I showing my age there? Or strange sense of humour / memory for remembering something like that from the Crankies! Well, it's late, everyone goes to bed around 9 down here, so I ought to get some sleep and update on the next stage of the wine making another day. Jam has just come in saying he's got at least a gallon so far, and that's only half the grapes, and added 'I've got quite a good method too' sounding rather pleased with himself, then proceeded to explain his method, likening it to milking a cow, so on that note I think I shall turn in and look forward to the strange dreams of cows producing wine and such likes ~ oh now wouldn't that be fine, cow's producing wine!!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

'City boy mauled by country kid'

Oh my. I know it happens sooner or later, but I was hoping for a bit later. I took Rowan to the local baby and toddler group today, I was hesitant about it because when I went last week there weren't any other babies, only toddlers, but I had met some nice people and thought maybe some more might be there with babies. So we walked up the hill in our little old-fashioned pram - quite a stylish original Maclaren, Jam was in it himself, his father had stored it all these years and it's still in good nick!

On the way Rowan fell asleep, but woke up promptly when we got there and heard the other children playing. I lay him down on a pillow in the play area, turned my eye one second to pick up a giraffe toy to show him and another child came out of nowhere and grabbed at his face, scratching his eyelid quite badly. Oh my god! The boy's mother told him off and made him say sorry, Rowan was screaming, I was cuddling him then when I saw his face I burst into tears too! I got up and we went to the tea making area, one of the other mother's got me some hot water, to cool and wipe his eye with, I calmed Rowan by feeding him, he didn't seem to mind too much, it was me that was more upset! The child's mother took her child away, apparently she is having trouble with him at the moment doing things like that, one of the other children had scratches on her face from the week before!

Once things had calmed down and the session was ending, Rowan had fallen asleep and so I popped him in his pram so I could help clear up and suddenly another child was at the pram scratching his face, copying what the other boy had done - oh my god! This was even worse, Rowan screamed blue murder, I cried even more, feeling stupid for having put him down, even though the first boy had left, I just wasn't thinking and poor Rowan's face, covered in scratches!

All the other Mum's were really sweet and had kind words and stories to tell of similar experiences. They insisted I come back next time but I'm not totally convinced. It's amazing the way you feel so protective for your little ones. I feel so guilty every time I look at his face and have flashbacks to the scene itself. It stirs up all the emotions. I shouldn't have taken my eyes off him for a second - lesson learnt.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The View at Night

It's not quite the same as looking down the canal, but it's not a bad view either! This was after a beautiful day of sunshine and I am standing right outside our front door, or is it the back door, it's either or, really, for they are next to each other, which is slightly odd in the first place and certainly confuses guests who aren't sure which door to knock on, although both doors have doorbells, which are very loud, which is a good thing, for if doorbells were quiet then what would be the point?
Ah, distraction, there I go again, started talking about the sunset and ended up on the doorbell, which doesn't actually get rung very often anyway and in fact the first time it did it startled us - what was that? A doorbell? You mean there's somebody outside wanting to see us? But we're in the middle of nowhere! Who found us? Well, of course it was the postman, asking if I didn't want the parcel he had conveniently placed beside the front door when we were out last week and I hadn't seen it, for being used to the city I wasn't expecting post to be left outside my door and still be there a week later! He said he had posted a note through on the back of another envelope, but I fear that may have fallen straight into a recycling box behind the door and luckily I phoned my friend who had sent me some books to confirm they had actually arrived just as she was in a very long (London) post office queue trying to ascertain where the parcel was!
She sent me the second two books in the Millenium trilogy by Stieg Larsson, which I wolfed down like a hungry bird. What a great read and what a great thing breast-feeding is! So much time to read! I'm open to any suggestions of good reads out there please?! Ooh, time for the next book I'm gulping down like a new mother out on the town that's not drunk alcohol for over a year - The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien (I'm not drinking alcohol at the moment really, although I did try some of our slo gin that we made last year - ooh, very sweet and yummy, must work like medicine for the little boy!) ;)

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Monument walk

On one of our first days here we popped to the shops to get bread and milk, but Jam was so happy driving around and seeing the countryside that he forgot about the shopping and we were suddenly in the car park to walk up to the Monument. I didn't want to be a killjoy, but had to for Rowan was screaming and the shops were shutting - we're not in London now man! So we carried on with our errands and decided we'd do the Monument another day.
So a few days later, we decided we had done enough unpacking and needed to stretch our legs and go for a bit of fresh air. We got in the car and headed out along the windy roads to the top of the hill and parked the car in the carpark for the walk up to the Monument. We took our super huge pram with us, that we had been given by a friend who had spied it on freecycle ( a great website in London, I wonder if there's one here...) and off we trotted.

It was a breath-taking but brief walk. Beautiful trees whispering all around us. A wide path through the woods and at the end of the path there was the Monument, which is leaning slightly and has railings around it for that fact. The Monument is a 175ft/53m high triangular tower located at the highest point of the Blackdown hills, built in honour of the Duke of Wellington, who was actually called Wellesley and only went to Wellington once in his life. We met some other people out there who had always seen the Monument driving by and thought they would stop and see it close up. We read the information about it together and you could get a key for the tower from the local landlord, so we said we'd race to see who got there first, but we were jesting for it needs some work doing to it now and there is a great fence around it.
Heading back Rowan started to get quite upset for he was hungry, so I said we should stop at a bench, but Jam suggested I get in the pram, which was not such a bad suggestion, as you see, the pram is really quite large and it was quite a lot of fun, so much that I almost wet myself laughing! Must go and practise my pelvic floor...

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Welcome Home!

Hello dear friends,

For those of you who have been following me on Londonboatlife ~ prepare for something totally different! If you're just joining me ~ hello, here's an account of our new life in the country, a lot has happened in the last month and I shall endeavour to update and regail you with all the fabulous stories that unfold!

I change the names of people I write about to retain their anonymity, it's also quite good fun doing that!! My name is a nick-name I acquired a few years ago and it's stuck. It's taken me this long to think of another blog name, I thought I couldn't really carry on with Londonboatlife, not living on a boat in london anymore. Last night just before falling into bed exhausted after a long day, it came to me ~ Country Mumkins! Combining the Mummy aspect, with the country and the endearing tendency for everyone on Jam's side to add 'kins' after our names ~ when Rowan (his real name!) was still in my tummy, we called him Squirrel, and we had the inevitable 'nutkins', which I really didn't like!! Ha ha! 'It's Squirrel not nutkins!!' Honestly!

So here we go ~ waking up to the sound of the cockerels in the neighbour's chicken run - aptly named 'Peckington Palace'!! That was Derek's first comment to us when we arrived ~ 'here look, you come from London, look, Buckingham palace you know well, now meet Peckington Palace! See, eh, what do you think?' Great Derek, great, let's try your eggs! Ooh and we do, and they're lovely and yellow, and half the price as in London!!