Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Prouder than a proud thing

It has been the dance school’s production of The Nutcracker this weekend. The tension and excitement has been building since Eldest was cast as Clara, and the relations and friends were primed and ready to attend so that someone would be watching her at each of three performances. We went to the last night last night. It wasn’t enough! Mother of Leading Boy14 had been on Saturday night as well, and I wished I’d done the same. Eldest was lovely; the whole school had gone up a notch since their show three years ago, and it was impossible to take it all in in one go. Miss Dance Teacher had done wonders with choreography so that all the children had the potential to look good even if all they could really do was ‘good toes, naughty toes’. The sweetness of four little angels helping the fair godmother pick stars from the sky! And the costumes were wonderful: tutus in all directions! From the smallest child who sat on the stage too struck by the presence of the audience to actually dance to the Sugar Plum Fairy in all her technical pointe shoe glory it was a delight.
Inevitably the 5 boys in the school were particularly noticeable: four of them doing a Russian dance were an absolute scream as the two little ones made a terrific stab at doing the leaps of Leading Boy14 and Leading Boy15. Wonderful! And their presence meant we were treated to pas de deux by both the Sugar Plum and her Prince, and Clara and the Nutcracker. They’re boys not men so their role was supportive rather that any sort of lifting or ‘real’ help, but what fun!
Now she is back down to earth with sore feet and a worry that it will be her last show – in three years time she will have left school.
We await the hideously expensive DVD.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Homemade is best, maybe!

As usual I’ve been thinking about my contribution to the family pot which as you know is not a financial one, despite the fact that it is me who spends the bulk of our income. This means I decide how best to spend our money, and make savings or economies where I see fit.

As a result it doesn’t matter how much I love all the folksy stuff in the shops right now I feel quite unable to buy it: I could make it myself! The problem, as Eldest points out regularly, is that I don’t! So I’m working on revising her view…
To that end I’ve had a lovely time cutting out squares and am in the throws of producing cushions and hearts for my girls: Santa’s Little Helpers are very busy!
It remains to be seen if this is a sensible use of my time. Past experience tells me that people are not always appreciative of things you make as presents. The year I gave our siblings home made hampers that included my chutney, mincemeat and fudge there were one or two distinctly underwhelmed thank-yous. It is hard to believe that someone else’s ‘home made’ produce would have been more appropriate, but I would have spent money (instead of time)…
To be fair the girls are usually pleased with homemade items. In their time they’ve received clothing, dressing-up clothes, curtains, quilts, cushions and bags. Husband has been given a waistcoat, cummerbund, bow tie and a tiny teddy all made by his wife. And he’s worn them! I have made wedding and bridesmaid dresses for several friends and relations; my labour being their wedding present. These are labours of love that people have been pleased with, but it is not always so!
An early gift of a garage for my younger brothers, suitable for their matchbox cars, and made in secret from a Weetabix box and a great deal of Copydex was, perhaps deservedly, looked upon with derision, although my kind mother made them thank me. I have no idea what the uncles did with their polystyrene boats, made the same year. Blue Peter has a lot to answer for.

Friday, 6 November 2009

A Dependant's Tale

There has always been a soldier in my life. When I left home, and before I was married, I was not strictly dependant upon one, but my ‘escape’ was relatively brief.
I was born in a British Military Hospital in M√ľnster when my parents were in Germany with the Royal Artillery (the Gunners). At the time they were living in a caravan because they were considered too young to be married (they were 22) and so the Army wouldn’t provide them with a married quarter. My imminent arrival resulted in two house-sitting arrangements until a quarter could be found. We later moved to Hanover and then Hildesheim, before moving to Larkhill on Salisbury Plain in time for me to go to school. We moved again as Father’s career took him through further training at Staff College, first at Shrivenham, then Camberley and on to Barton Stacey. I went to 4 schools before becoming a boarder in Kent when I was 10. I stayed at that school for 6 years, moving to another for the 6th form. My parents and ‘home’ continued to move, including another posting to Germany and one to Northern Ireland. By the time my parents bought a home of their own I had lived in 15 quarters, 2 schools (at 4 addresses) and 4 student addresses in London and Leeds. I was 21. This is not unusual in the services.
Husband was a soldier for 30 years; he left the Army last month. We were married as the first of the recent Gulf Wars came to an end in 1991; I was very glad he was in a desk job, as he has been during the current conflicts. We were separated soon after Eldest was born when he did a tour in Northern Ireland, and again when he served in Bosnia (he missed her first two Christmases). As a 'dependant' you have to expect this, it is their job after all, but none of us like it. Lucky Youngest has never been without him. Since we married we have lived at 9 addresses and this we plan will be our last.
My uncle and one of my brothers both missed our wedding as they were in the Gulf, one an RAF navigator and the other a Gunner, like Husband. Father did three tours in Northern Ireland in the 1970s when I was away at boarding school. I got all my friends to write to him!

Paternal Grandfather was in the Army Education Corps. He and his family were in Singapore when the Japanese attacked in WW2, and his wife and children were evacuated on the last ship out. He died in Changi. On my mother’s side, Great-Grandfather, commanded the 1st Battalion The Black Watch and was killed in early September 1914 at the Battle of The Aisne. He left a wife and four children. His only son was also in The Black Watch, and was killed in France in 1940.
I will count my blessings on Remembrance Sunday once again.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Circular skirts

From six of these!

Not as easy a trick as I might have hoped. Youngest considered the fabric 'so lush' she wanted something made for her, but it came from Miss Danceteacher with a request for circular skirts for the Liquorish Allsorts. Eldest is performing in The Nutcracker with her dance school and I had offered my sewing skills once more. Miss Danceteacher's mother had already made 6 and had lost the will to live, so would I finish the job? Polyester satin that will look stunning on the modern dancing Allsorts with matching leggings and black T-shirts, but the fabric was thin and slippery making level hems frankly impossible. They do not bear any sort of inspection but should hold together and look great on stage!
This weekend we have to report on Saturday to learn what hairstyles and make-up our children will require, and then on Sunday they get their photos taken so they can make a bit of extra money when we all see our darlings caught in costume! Of course we've already contributed to the cost of costumes and bought tickets to the shows, not to mention the families' commitment to all the rehearsals.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Half-term break

That's half-term over for another term then. The girls and I have been to our favorite other place: the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. We've had glorious weather, enjoyed a number of fine walks, eaten a scrumptious cream tea (well, strictly speaking only I ate a scrumptious cream tea. For some unknown reason Eldest doesn't like clotted cream, and Youngest prefers a toasted teacake. Foolishly they dared me to eat both portions of clotted cream, something that I'm able to report I had no difficulty in achieving.), read several novels, did lots of Times puzzles and generally chilled out. The cottage is petite and there is no TV so it is a great place for quality family time.
But the best laid plans can go awry! Husband came down after uni on Tuesday night and joined us for a walk and pub lunch the next day. I put him back on the train on Thursday at 6.20am and he stayed in a hotel overnight. Got a call on Friday saying he was on his way. The train broke down: it took him 2 1/2 hours to get from Bristol to Bath where he gave up and cadged a bed off the in-laws. On reflection it didn't seem worth his while to come south on Saturday since we needed to get back early on Sunday for Eldest's inevitable ballet. So we came home on Saturday afternoon so he wouldn't be alone and we wouldn't be under pressure on Sunday morning.

The girls are convinced I kiboshed British Rail so we could be home for Strictly......