Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Youngest's December

The trouble with the computer not working properly is that I’ve got out of the habit of visiting. Perhaps Husband will sort it over his holiday?

I still have 35 cards to write (and must therefore make 10 more), and most of my relations have a present: the ones that haven’t are the brothers and father of Husband, so I’m laying the lack firmly at his door to sort out. Most of the presents are even wrapped!
This organisation is due to the fact that the family all break up from school on Friday so ‘my’ time is running out, and tomorrow is Youngest’s 14th birthday and always provides other complications – though this year we have agreed not to have a party.
Of course this doesn’t mean we’re not celebrating! On Sunday we had the Grandparents and Godparents to lunch and a birthday tea – roast chicken for 14, and a gluten-free cake. Tomorrow there will be various other presents that have arrived in the post, plus ours, and a light fruit cake (must sort that!). We have had to promise to get her friends together in the spring: she couldn’t possibly do something now.
Youngest is an enthusiastic participator in life. Last weekend we had one lot of Godparents staying on Saturday night, and one set of Grandparents on Sunday so we weren’t free to do a party, and Strictly is unmissable! Not to mention the job: Youngest gets up in time to be at her Saturday job by 8am where she spends a happy couple of hours variously mucking out, milking, grooming and feeding goats, a horse, sheep, chickens and (I think)pigs. She comes back cold and filthy but happy and richer! (She is saving for a Guide trip to Switzerland in the summer.) On Monday she helped fundraise for her house charity at a Parents’ Evening at school. Last night there was a house trip to Bristol to see a pantomime. Tonight she is singing at the school Carol Service. Friday there is a Guide night hike and sleepover, so the goats will have to wait ‘til Sunday… We have visitors from abroad staying on Saturday night, and the Strictly final. There’s no time for a party!

In case I don’t get back here: Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Not technical

Our computer is playing up: it won’t upload photos and the internet access is getting slower and slower. Husband has bought a brand new one that is going to solve these issues. It also has a wireless option so that the girls’ computer will be internet enabled. Until now they have had to use the ‘family’ computer for access which meant we kept an eye of sorts on their use. But they are 16 and almost 14 and need regular access for homework never mind friends. It is time to let them take charge. Husband wants his study back now he has marking and lesson planning to do in the evenings. And I get this old one!


Why is there always a but? The two week old computer plays beautiful war games and uploads photos but so far has shown no inclination to access the internet, never mind set up a wireless system. So both computers are sat in the study, neither of them fully active, and my surfing distraction has been halted. Still, I’m making good progress with the Christmas shopping. A very good thing if the snow’s going to continue to make journeys difficult!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Remembrance Day

It's that time of year when we will go once more to the village war memorial on Sunday and remember people we have lost. Husband no longer attends in uniform, but the Gunner tie will be there as code, and I shall wear my poppy pinned with my Gunner brooch. And the girls will be there on parade with their Guide unit.
If you'd like to read the post I wrote last year about my family ties you can do so here.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

A bit of thrift

Favouriteaunt visited recently and was amused at my wodge of old documents torn into four and held together with a clip and used for all types of message and note. “Just like your Granny!” she said.
I spent a lot of time with Granny, particularly in my teens when my parents were abroad and I at school in Kent. She was a remarkable woman and I was delighted to be found to be like her, if only in such a small way.
She came from a privileged background except that there was little money: her mother came from a titled family, but her father was killed in the opening month of the First World War. Granny was the eldest of four. She was presented at court as a teenager, and again on her marriage (as was traditional) which was reported in all the papers. She wore her mother’s wedding dress and her Grandmother hosted (and presumably paid for) the wedding breakfast. Granny met her groom at Oxford where she was studying French, and he the Classics: she became a vicar’s wife, bringing up four children of her own and supporting her husband’s role in their community.
The vicarage always seemed to be full of people, and though Granny would never claim she was a cook she fed everyone, apparently effortlessly. Roast lamb with all the trimmings followed by industrial sized apple meringue with cream is the meal I most associate with her. And Granny Buns: her own particular take on rock cakes; and cupboards full of home-made marmalade and bottled apricots. She knitted, crocheted and sewed (she made her daughters’ wedding and bridesmaid dresses), mending anything and everything. Thrift was her watchword.
Many of our gifts were home-made, and birthday cards were rarely new: she kept the unwritten on parts of all cards she received, and recycled them as necessary. The half cards arrived in envelopes re-addressed and stamped and closed with Sellotape. Her desk drawers also contained wrapping and brown paper for re-use, Christmas cards as present labels, and lengths of ribbon and string retrieved from parcels received.

I didn’t show Favouriteaunt the drawer full of carefully trimmed wrapping paper, nor the drawer full of rewound ribbons, nor yet the box full of Christmas cards waiting to be cut up to make ‘new’ ones. I’m just keeping a bit of thrift of my own.

Thursday, 14 October 2010


Husband is enjoying learning to be a teacher. It’s all new and different to his previous life. He has even signed up to help with the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme after school. To help he will of course need to be trained and has duly to been signed up to go on a course to learn about camping and map reading. Clearly thirty years in the Army will not have trained him in the specific needs of teenagers.

Today it turns out there is further expense required for him to become a teacher: he has to go and take three obligatory tests to check that he is not only computer literate, but numerate and (ordinarily) literate. I know that qualifications are accused of being dumbed down, but really! He has both a Law degree and a Maths degree (and a Masters in Statistics we hope!). Still I guess they ought to check he can use a computer…

Obviously it will then be possible for his employers to say, should the need arise, “Well, he’s been trained so it can’t be our fault.”

Friday, 8 October 2010

A new occupation

I’ve found an upholstery class, and I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying it!

Husband was less keen: “You can’t take one of the dining room chairs: there are 8 and you’ve never done it before.” So I bought a chair in a second-hand shop for ten quid.
When he saw it: “When are you going to do the dining-room chairs then?”

This is the first…

 ...but look what I’m going to do next!

When will I find time to read the blogs, never mind write one?

Monday, 27 September 2010

Boarding school updated

We were visited at the weekend by Youngest’s friend who has just started at boarding school. Her parents had moved to yet another foreign posting and the international school she was attending there for the last year was proving unsuitable. She is happy to be at the boarding school, settling in well and loving being with her big sister who’s been there a couple of years – to do GCSEs and now A levels. The food is only OK, the work stimulating, the children friendly and the pace pretty relentless… while they’re there. They work longer days than my girls in their comprehensive school, Monday to Saturday lunchtime, but have much longer holidays.

We enjoyed a lively discussion driving home on Friday evening about how much boarding had changed, and how much had stayed the same. Although hers is a mixed school the boys and girls live in separate houses. They sleep 3 to a room in bunk-style with their own colourful sheets and duvets, use the washing machines and tumble dryers in house, choose from a buffet style selection of food in a whole school dining-room and do oodles of sport. They can be full boarders or part-time, and they can be away from school every weekend – assuming they have somewhere to go. (Last weekend her Mum was still here so she was out with her, this weekend to us, next one to Granny, the one after on a French trip and then half-term when she and her sister will fly home for a fortnight.) Eldersister has only visited us once in three years, she prefers to stay in school with the other children who live abroad. I wonder if this is her way of coping? 
At my boarding school we slept in dormitories on iron beds with hospital-cornered, crisp, white sheets and blankets. Our laundry went to a laundrette once a week in a little box tied with string: mending and sewing on nametapes were an important Saturday morning activity if you wanted to see your stuff again.  School meals were not chosen but served at the table and we ate what we were given. I learnt to drink tea and eat pretty much anything because otherwise you went hungry (and famously got into trouble for not eating cold pilchards and coleslaw, a Sunday night delight.) It was largely traditional fare, but curry in the early 1970s was a revelation, and kippers a shock! (Apparently I had to eat all the bones; I like kippers now, but as an 11 year-old...) We had the half-term break plus two weekends, one in each half term, and a couple of days. When my parents were in the UK I went to them, if not to my Granny, usually taking a friend who lived abroad.

I rescued Friendabroad, and mother of Youngest’s friend, last Monday. She rang in bits having said good-bye to her girls the night before. Together we finished the tasks she needed to complete before she flew home, and then I cosseted her here and took her to the airport on Tuesday. She and her daughter had a long phone call yesterday. They text one another too. And e-mail, and skype. Mother and I wrote once a week without fail.

They are a demonstrative family: emotion is expressed in word and hug. With them we do the same. And we have other friends with whom likewise. But not with them all! Schoolfriend and I have to make a real decision to hug: it just wasn’t what we did when we were 14. Ditto with Mother. She and I developed, from the word go, the walk-away-and-get-on-with-it mode of parting. (I tease her to this day about the promised cream tea in town with her on my first evening in boarding school that turned into beans on bread and margarine with the other girls!)
It is lovely to show you care, but there are times when it is much easier to cope if you don’t.

Friday, 17 September 2010

A little something for the weekend

I’ve had a very quiet week. I have idled away the time on my own. I have tootled around the blogosphere thinking how much more erudite and focused other people’s blogs are than mine, and generally wondered why I bother. But as you can see I am back anyway!

I have vacuumed the house. I have swept the floors. I have picked raspberries, blackberries, runner beans, purple French beans and courgettes at the allotment. I have bottled apricots.
And I have baked a banana and walnut loaf using a combination of recipes to produce a very pleasing result that Eldest has been taking to school in her lunchbox, and Husband and I have indulged with a cup of tea. (Youngest has been eating the wedding cake we brought home from that occasion which is much more to her taste.) So I thought I'd share it:

Banana and walnut loaf
4 ounces softened butter
8 ounces plain flour
6 ounces soft brown sugar
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
6 ounces toasted walnuts
2 mashed ripe bananas

Mix together all the ingredients except the banana and nuts which should be folded in once you have a smooth mixture. Turn into a 2lb loaf tin (I line mine with Lakeland loaf tin liner) and bake in the oven at 180°C until risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool and eat slices spread with butter.

I'm afraid recipes still come naturally in ounces...

Monday, 13 September 2010

What's in a name?

There were oodles of children at my cousin’s wedding, around 200 guests. The groom has a sister and the bride 3 siblings: all are married with children. So the exclusion of the cousins’ children was simply about numbers. No offence taken!

Noisy church service with lots of guitars and songs; Mother, Favourite Aunt and I enjoyed a good sing; our husbands were resigned to silent horror or surreptitious eye-rolling. The service was a great deal shorter than the previous wedding ceremony in this part of the family (I’m afraid they were taking bets).
My cousin is training for the church (following his father and our mutual grandfather and great grandfather), so every other person we met seemed to be church of some sort.
We were given tea and tiny sandwiches while the photographs were taken outside church which we all thought was a great idea - and Pimms while we stood waiting to meet the bridal party at the bride’s home. The garden had been cut down over the previous year to allow the erection of a marquee for the occasion, so there were (small) fruit trees inside it and a considerable slope to the ‘room’. It was imaginatively decorated with bunting and place settings made from a mismatched collection of tea cups and saucers, a sale style label with our names and a little muslin bag of sweeties. The bride and her mother had made the chocolate coloured bridesmaid dresses with royal blue sashes, co-ordinated male accessories and the similarly co-ordinating bunting. The dress was an off the shoulder scoop-necked, drop-waisted and trained fitted frock in lovely cream lace: very pretty!
Supper was extremely good, and generously wined. The speeches were generally good with plenty of laughter in amongst the obligatory thank-yous. We were clearly too old for the disco’s music and decided to call it a day at around ten.

My Church Uncle and Aunt are unhappy with the groom and bride’s decision to opt for a hyphenated combination of their surnames. We are a largely female line of the family and there are only two ‘boys’ with the necessary surname left. One is so far unmarried and nearly didn’t attend for fear that everyone would say “Your turn next”, and the other has this weekend ‘abandoned’ the name. My Family-Historian Uncle was understanding, but provided a list of example family names where this had happened before (some with hyphens, some with as many as 4 names strung together). It may be conventional to take your husbands name, and it is certainly the simplest solution, but it is definitely not the fashion… I expect, as I type, a spray of spluttering about female identity, independence and general disagreement!

Monday, 6 September 2010


My brother says he won’t come to our cousin’s wedding because his children aren’t invited: isn’t part of the marriage service about the procreation of children, so why would you exclude them? (He was in full grumpy old man mode.)

Of course, they’re not excluded. Cousin’s nephew and niece are certainly attending, and there may well be others, but can he really be expected to include his six first cousins their 5 spouses and their 10 children? By not inviting the children, but inviting his uncles and aunts he has also removed the obvious child carers, Granny, and reduced at a stroke the number of guests needing entertaining. I am torn between the waste of an occasion when we can’t get the next generation together and my understanding of the need to keep the numbers down.
When we got married there were few children around (and some of them were my first cousins!) so they came, or didn’t, according to their parents. But I’m as guilty as the next woman of thinking hard who to invite to occasions… 'though I tend to include the children and restrict the invitations accordingly. More children mean fewer adults! I’d have been disappointed not to be asked at all, but when your parent is one of 4, and their mother was one of 5 you will understand that there is a large extended family out there!
So no outfits needed for my girls, and I’ve remodelled the dress I wore to the last wedding we went to (a very intimate affair that included the children of the people who attended), don’t know what to do about a hat. Now I like a hat but haven’t one to go with this outfit. Do I shop or go without? If it’s going to rain I’m better off without, and the high heels in a marquee may be a mistake.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Catching up

The birthdays were both deemed successful; the camping, fun.

Eurostar and the TGV to Lyon were brilliant. We had a busy trip, eating too well and all managing to speak a little French: it’s amazing what you can manage if everyone has to order their own food or go without.

Eldest got nine A* and an A.
My trainee teacher has started work.
My girls have gone back to school.


I may take the day off; eat chocolate with a good book; think in the sewing room; play in the garden… or perhaps just take delivery from Sainsbury, do the washing, tidy the sitting-room and catch up on what’s been going on on the blogosphere, all while listening to Radio 4 with no chance of anyone turning it off.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Busy bee

I’ve been doing quite a bit of sewing lately. Last seen delivering prom dresses, more recently I've been measuring up for some outdoor seat cushions and being asked whether I’d consider making cushions for someone to sell on E-Bay, or perhaps sell something for myself. (I still don’t think I could command the money needed to make it interesting to be making the same thing over and over.) As Likeminded friend-from-round-the-corner discovered when she came to play with me: I’m not always capable of finishing projects I’ve got bored with. She and I talked about our collection of sewing machines and compared presser feet, we considered patterns, fabric and embroidery. It was all very pleasurable!

I’m getting very little time to myself. I’m still not used to having Husband round the house, and now I have Eldest as well. I love them both of course, but my routine is shot! I’m keeping on top of the washing but the cleaning and gardening are never really planned as such: I tend to do the thing that shows most in the hope that it will demonstrate that I have done some useful work rather than idle about in a novel or the Blogosphere. In fact I’ve barely been here of late, and probably won’t make it again until after Eldest’s birthday, family visits, Youngest’s Guide camp, Husband’s birthday and a holiday travelling along the Rhone.
If I don't make it back, have a great summer!

Monday, 5 July 2010

The Prom

     It was the Year 11 prom on Friday evening.

Eldest had her first visit to a beauty salon to have her nails painted and her eyelashes dyed. She spent the morning wearing a pair of paper flip-flops provided by the salon as neither of us had thought about wet toe nails. (I took Youngest to Town for a guitar exam so couldn’t whisk her home.) I was allowed to wield a set of heated rollers leant to me by a friend to get an evening look for her hair, but not to help with make-up since she rarely sees me in any and didn’t think much of my suggestions. (I mostly can’t be bothered and Husband doesn’t like it.) She went to the hotel with her friends in a 1947 fire-engine (they loved ringing the bell and the journey seems to have been a bit of a highlight) and was picked up again at midnight by her Dad. She’d had a lovely time. (And we were much relieved that she had abandoned a ‘plan’ to set up tents in an unknown field to continue partying…) We are very proud.

The other prom dress was also a success, pictures will follow on receipt.
No, I don't know when an end of year dance became a prom: it just seems to be so.

Thursday, 24 June 2010


In between other things Youngest’s room has been redecorated, refurnished and cleaned several times. She arrived home on Saturday in time for supper with Doctor Who. On Sunday we treated the man of the house to breakfast in bed, some bottles of posh beer and some boy’s DVDs. He then, of course, watched the football…

If you have missed Lynne Truss on the Today programme on Radio 4 you have missed a treat whether you care for the football or not. I’d give you a link to listen but they don’t seem to think anyone would wish to hear it again! However you can read her thoughts here.
In other news: the GCSEs are over and the planning of the prom ensemble begins in earnest.

Saturday, 12 June 2010


This week we’ve been madly planning the church fete and panicking about the appalling weather forecast. By Thursday lunchtime it seemed obvious we must put up tents, if only so we could set up during the day: no good the sun coming out for the evening if we weren’t ready to go. The clouds looked billowy and grey periodically on Friday, but in fact I now have a ridiculous T-shirt tan that will take weeks of sunshine to loose. I’m not complaining you understand: the glorious weather brought out the village and its surrounds en masse and we had a great evening (well, I expect we did. I don’t know how much we made yet, was busy running my allotted stall and hoping the llama had turned up, but you know what I mean.) The llama was much admired ‘though I never met the kind owner with whom I now have an e-mail relationship. Must thank him! Packing up this morning everyone was congratulating one another on a great evening.

Also this morning I have packed Youngest off on her French Exchange. She suddenly got tearful and has been worriting. I suspect she isn’t sure she can keep up good or even merely tidy behaviour for a whole week. But I’m looking forward to hearing she’s having a lovely time and managed not to be sick on the journey. The photos are the two sides of a tea cosy which I have sent to the French mummy. (Her daughter bought her a teapot when she visited us.) I am very pleased with the ‘ensemble unique’ of it all!

Monday, 7 June 2010

A Good Read

Have just finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: I couldn’t put it down. And yes, there was lots of revolting violence. 

I always have a book on the go. I love a well plotted thriller. I’ve read everything I could find by P .D. James and have to wait for her next. I’m now onto the other things Henning Mankell has written because I’ve read all the Kurt Wallanders. There was a time when I read everything by James Clavell, Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum, Alistair MacLean, Wilbur Smith, Len Deighton…. They’re not all strictly crime writers, more adventure storytellers, but they have their share of graphic description of appalling human behaviour.
What I’m getting at, perhaps too heavy handedly, is that crime fiction is full of nasty crime. The first in the Millennium Trilogy is brilliantly plotted, full of interesting characters and largely well translated (I had issues with some odd sentences that didn’t sound quite right).
I love a mystery to solve, but I prefer to read about them: I don’t want to see the bloodbaths and brutality. My imagination is sufficient illustration. So I haven’t watched Luther, or Waking the Dead, Trial and Retribution, Silent Witness and Wire in the Blood which have exercised other people so much, and I doubt I'll go to see the Dragon Tattoo film. It’s not that I’m not prepared to see any violence, or a horrific crime scene, but I like something with an engaging narrative, the possibility that I could solve the clues and that isn’t relentlessly grim. I watched early Waking and Witness episodes and found them unlikely frankly. And I loved Bond and Bourne at the cinema! They were exciting films, although in these more graphic days some of the scenes were very hard to look at – I’d have been behind the sofa at home.
Will need to find out what next is in store for Lisbeth Salander, ‘though I suspect it won’t be any less horrible.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Wild Life and Death

We found a fledgling in the garden on Saturday afternoon. A starling, lying on his side, very still. He tried to escape when we approached, but it was fairly half-hearted. When he was in full sun we moved him gently into the shade. When there was still no sign of his parents and there was no shade left, we scooped him up into a box and took him indoors. Youngest spent the rest of the afternoon and evening getting water and soggy bread into him. We did not expect him to last the night. There were tears.

On Sunday he ate little bits of hamburger and got stronger. He spread his wings, he stood up very briefly, he went round and round in circles on his side. And he chirped. But we did not expect him to last the night. She was braver.
A school day, so Husband and I spent the morning feeding him raw mince. We were rewarded by much more chirping. I rang a local animal sanctuary, the vet and the RSPCA. We now know we should have used mashed hardboiled egg and bread is not a good idea for young birds. According to the animal sanctuary the vet must look at wild animals for free. According to the vet you should call the RSPCA to get a log number so that they can be paid. And the RSPCA will log your creature and send you to the vet, but would like you to sign up as a member. I’m afraid I only promised a donation.
The vet himself was sympathetic and complimentary of the care given, but on closer inspection found that the ‘poor little chap’ had a claw wound in the side of his head. We thought he had fallen from a nest on the roof of our house, but it seems he had fledged but got caught by one of the local cats. The vet felt that he might live, but he could never be a self sufficient starling. A lethal injection was administered. A quiet death and he had had some comfort, not a brutal end alone. I don’t think a cat counts as a natural predator. I don’t like it when the sparrow hawks pinch a sparrow from under our noses, but I’m very excited to see them!

The garden is full of wildlife at the moment. There are birds everywhere. The nests we know about include the starlings, some blue tits in a nest box in the pyracantha and ‘our’ house martins are at home. Last week we were playing spot the frog, this weekend there were half a dozen in the pond. The tulips are over, but the lilac, irises and aquilegia are in full bloom and the roses are covered in buds. Life goes on.

Thursday, 13 May 2010


Looks like they’re going to try and play nicely after all. I don’t suppose the media will help that last.

Yesterday Husband and I went shopping. Five years ago, when it became clear he needed civilian shirts and suitable attire for dress down Fridays in his then job, we went shopping for chinos, cords and stripy shirts. This time we bought jeans and casual trousers suitable for being a current student and a future student teacher. Of course we still needed stripy shirts and a tie or two that doesn’t have military meaning. (Army officers can find one another even out of uniform!) As Husband wisely remarked, and with some relief, we won’t need to go shopping again for another five years.

The apple blossom looks promising for a bumper crop - and pretty too.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Play nicely?

What I feel they need is a Mummy to bang their heads together!
The election has been notable for its lack of women, and the resultant ‘our party’s better than yours’ seems to be the inevitable consequence. Where are those compromising women to pour oil on troubled waters? The electorate may have got what it wished for, a hung parliament, but they can’t have understood that would mean this ridiculous muddle surely? And having made us think we were indeed electing a leader for the country the politicians are now going to look madder than ever if we end up with someone who didn’t take part in the leadership debates. I know that, constitutionally, it’s perfectly normal for the MPs to decide on their leader, but that won’t stop it seeming like the PM is ‘unelected’, as indeed the present incumbent knows to his cost!
I seem to be glued to Radio 4 even more closely than usual.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Vote now!

She has gone. Youngest is exhausted from the constant company, but they have had fun together. They got a lot of practice of vocabulary playing Uno using a Duplo train set to pass the cards! Lots of giggles. They enjoyed one another’s company, but there is no let up, no space. Youngest missed her chill out time prostrate in front of the TV scoffing yoghurt or biscuits between meals.

And I have a new friend with whom it has been fun exercising my school-girl French via e-mail. Nuance is a very tricky thing, and translation via a dictionary isn’t always what you meant to say! We are working on exchanging our big girls once they’re through their exams…

I have always voted. I don’t take my vote for granted! Women went through hell to get the vote for me, and I shouldn’t waste it. But what if it is wasted?
It seems that we are being asked to vote for who we’d like to be Prime Minister, not which party we’d like to be in charge. I fear we’ve got what we deserve: none of the political classes can say anything from the heart. It might be right, it might be wrong, but it will still be news and they’re bound to offend someone whatever they say. If they’re not spinning for themselves, they’re being spun by the opposition or the media.
Tomorrow will be interesting! I wonder if anyone will win?
I have performed my civic duty: I've voted anyway.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Steering Wheel

Little French girl is a delight! She understands lots and responds with short English sentences or phrases. She’s a year older than her sister was when she visited, but I still think it’s pretty brave to come and live with a bunch of foreigners.

We mothers put up with a lot don’t we? Monday’s request went something like this:
“I need a steering wheel for the bus.”
“We’ve agreed it will look better, and I need it for Friday at the latest, ‘though it would be better for Wednesday’s rehearsal.”
Then the Look! I produced a wire ring from a lampshade that for some reason I had thought might come in useful, but it would need a transformation, and a proper wheel would be better.
The lovely man at the Mini restoration garage on the edge of the village produced a grubby white leather steering wheel and said it would cost me 15 quid unless I promised to bring it back. Eldest looked down her nose, “It’s very dirty.” I wiped it down and offered to do a more thorough job if they decided to opt for it rather than the ring.
The rehearsal was OK I gather and the gang want the real thing. Their GCSE performance for the examiner is on Friday. I’m washing the costume shirt. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, 24 April 2010


I seem to be busy but have few excitements to report!

Eldest passed both her ballet exams – Grade 7 and Intermediate – a consequence of which is that she has moved to the Advanced class on a Friday evening instead of Inter on a Monday. As you can imagine this has thrilled the family! At least the whole Grade 7 class took the exam so they have simply become the Grade 8 class.
We are about to be visited by Youngest’s French exchange student. She is the younger sister of Eldest’s exchange student from 3 years ago. Eldest’s FES was a delight! She understood some of our English (and even some of our French), could say “Yeuss”, “No sank-youze” and shrug a wonderful shrug while sporting a beautiful smile. We loved her! Incredibly brave at 13 to come to the UK for a week without her family and take on a bunch of foreigners who’ve been advised by the school not to speak French as ‘they’re supposed to be practicing their English’!
Eldest was most grateful that the French father spoke good English, and at least she knew something of the Family having spent a week with her opposite number. Eldest and her FES still exchange e-mail from time to time: not bad I reckon.
We await the arrival of little French girl with interest.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Everything in the garden is yellow

Everything in the garden is yellow: there are daffodils and primulas in every direction. But when you get up close there's my favorite blue!
From top to bottom: omphalodes, pulmonaria, viola, muscari.

Monday, 12 April 2010


We’ve had a good time in Dorset and staggeringly fair weather, but it’s nice to be home. We walked every day, read lots of books, ate out several times and went to the pictures twice. Alice in Wonderland was wonderful – even Husband enjoyed it – and How to Train Your Dragon was OK. Youngest had a friend to visit and has come home exhausted from too much chat and too little sleep... she’ll learn one day that beauty sleep is essential.

Poor Husband is busy taking exams, two last week and five more this. He’s been swatting hard and I’m crossing my fingers as he’s anything but confident – most unusual for him. If nothing else he’s setting a very good example to our GCSE student!
I’ve had a lovely weekend catching up with all the laundry and pottering in the garden. There’s something very satisfying about piles of freshly laundered clothing – not ironed of course, just smoothed when folded - and it's amazing what a week of warm weather has done to the plants. All the excitement of the dentist and shoe shopping this week to look forward to. I wonder if the girls will get up today?

Sunday, 28 March 2010

I can sew

I told you I was being distracted from my ‘proper’ chores didn’t I? I hope you’re as pleased with the resulting cushion (both sides) as I am! It is destined to be a gift for one of Youngest’s friends.

I have both an O and an A level in Needlework. For the O level I had to make a garment (I made a halternecked evening dress) and a piece of craft work (I made an embroidered picture, hand and machine, of Noah’s Ark). The dress is long gone, but the picture lurks in a box in my sewing space. Then there were two exams, one written and one practical. I did OK and I loved to sew so I moved on to the A. For this I made a Viyella dress, a lined needlecord jacket, a macramé lampshade and a machine embroidered picture which still adorns my parent’s spare room. The practical required me to make a lined waistcoat which I found easy, but the written paper was a different matter. The knowledge required included home dressmaking, fabric types, soft furnishing construction and design, and the history of costume. I was rubbish at the history part and have an abiding memory of being asked for the history of the pocket in womenswear… and something about providing instructions for making all the soft furnishings in my new house…
I tell you this to help explain my reservations about Youngest’s plans to take the sewing option as her GCSE Design Technology subject. She won’t need to decide for another year, but I have a specific concern! For the first 3 years of secondary school they alternate the DT subjects and in the sewing terms they do 3 projects: they design and make a bug, a hat and a pair of shorts. That’s what Eldest did, and Youngest has done the bug and expects to make a hat next term.
At my secondary school we had been timetabled to do Needlework classes weekly regardless of stream – you could only cook in the C form! We made bags to hold our sewing, and Science rolls to hold our scalpel(yes, knives in school , as required kit!) and other tools. Lots of straight line machining, name taping, chain stitch embroidery and oversewing. Basic, dull and useful! We were taught to darn, mend a variety of tears and different methods of sewing seams. Then we smocked aprons with shell-edged strings for our mums. At last we chose garments to make for ourselves. As a boarder I spent two hours every Saturday morning in ‘mending’ where we sat around sewing on nametapes, darning socks and tights, sewing on buttons… All those things I now do for my girls and have completely failed to teach them.
There is no sign of anyone teaching them to sew at school either.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


I am ridiculously excited watching little flower heads popping up all over the garden, buds budding on the trees and birds house hunting, but please could it stay warmer and stop raining? I can’t make a plan from one day to the next and, ‘though Youngest needs some room decoration (if only she could keep it tidy), the house always needs more tlc than I can be bothered with and I’m supposed to be making a prom dress, I’d rather be gardening.

Friday, 19 March 2010


I’ve been shouting at the television. Has anyone else been able to stomach Women on BBC4?

I grew up in the 70s aware of the Women’s Liberation Movement and absolutely convinced of my right to be equal to any man. This does not mean I subscribe to some of the dottier things they did. I’ve generally thought my bra quite supportive even if I have wished for a smaller bust that wouldn’t need one – if only I was young enough not to find showing the straps acceptable!
Like the brave women who fought for the vote I applaud the ‘liberation’ of women. In my teens and twenties I had no interest in settling down with a man and a family; I was going to Save British Industry.
The first episode interviewed the chief activists (all mad according to A A Gill in the Sunday Times). The second interviewed a (very middle class professional) tiny set of mothers and their other halves about how they ran their marriages and who did what work. The key question seemed to be ‘In what way is your life different from that of a fifties housewife?’

It was at that point that I started to shout! The difference is that these women (and me too, being a middle class professional!) had chosen to lead the life they were leading. Some had given up work, but others were juggling work and family. There was some pointed stuff about who cleaned the bath, but little was made about the lower standards that we accept today. (Go on then: how many of you scrub your doorsteps, dust and vacuum daily?) And, since she was interviewing people with money, they all had washing machines and dishwashers. The hours my mum spent bent over her twin-tub, or my grandmother using her mangle, have been replaced by a machine that largely does the work while you do something else. The fifties housewife, of course, not only rarely did the sort of managerial work that a woman can do today, she also had to give up work if she married.
There’s a way to go! I’m not saying we’ve got equality. My adult life has been more different from my mother's than hers was of her mother's. I had a successful career and was on level pay with Husband when I gave up work to follow him to Germany. We had discussed our work and our wish to have children and made a conscious decision that he would support the family that I would bring up. As it happens Husband does a great deal more in the way of domestic chores and childcare than Father ever did. Regular readers will know that housework has never been of great interest to me. The things I do do are many and varied, but while Husband is bringing in the money it must be my task to spend it wisely… as well as do most of the chores.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Catch up

At last a chance to post! These are the pent up scribbles of a frustrated blogger in the order they might have found voice:

They’re in shock: their mother has been into their secondary school to ‘meet the leadership team’. How embarrassing is that?! Headmaster was remarkably frank about the school, both good and bad points. An interesting morning. Under specific instruction, I studiously avoided catching sight of my girls and received a stuck out tongue from one and a lopsided grin from the other for my efforts. Other Mums were sought out and given kisses… Eldest says they’ll grow out of it.

Been struggling with AOL. Can’t get on line for long enough to read my e-mail, never mind place my Sainsbury’s order and there definitely hasn’t been time to post my blog and I’ve been missing my fix of a spot of cruising through the blogosphere. Mind, that’s not just AOL, that’s Husband being at home and hogging the study. It is his study, but the deal has been that the computer was my toy when everyone else in the house is out: how dare he be home?! He wants to eat lunch too, something I only do at weekends and during the holidays. There are up sides of course! We’ve been able to go for a walk, exercise is something we both need to do more often – particularly if I’m going to be eating lunch every day.

I am an occasional church goer. As a child I went on high days and holidays when we visited my maternal grandparents at the Vicarage. In our little corner of Wiltshire, church has been another place to meet people. And, as a result, I have been drawn in to other activities. I sit on a church fete committee- meetings have started for this year’s event in June- and this week I hosted one of the four Lent lunches. The deal is that the host provides a bread and soup lunch followed by cheese and biscuits, fruit, and then coffee. The guests make a donation to the church funds. It is a great opportunity to clean and tidy the house which Husband much appreciates- and Kindneighbour helping provide waitress service also commented upon!! I used up pumpkin and beetroot from the allotment to make three sorts of soup. It was all very jolly, so I expect I will agree to do it again if I’m asked… which will presumably depend on the feedback!

Having been so rude about Quorn pie (here) I thought I’d better tell you how delicious Eldest’s offering of Chelsea Buns were this week. Gone in an instant! Sadly more than can be said for Youngest’s Scotch Eggs. She was so underwhelmed that she didn’t bother to collect them at the end of the school day, which at least saved me from having to make the decision to throw them away untasted, or agree to show willing and try them.

Friday, 26 February 2010


High time I put up a recipe – like others I don’t feel I can photograph my efforts with the family around. This is Granny’s Flapjack, although she would have melted and mixed in a saucepan and I use a microwave. It is something I remember making with her as a child; a fond memory: she was a very slapdash cook who rarely weighed things and didn't seem to mind how much mess we made. This is a very easy recipe that both my girls can now make on their own, but they too have been making it as long as they can remember.

8oz butter
6oz sugar
8tbsp golden syrup
1lb porridge oats
Melt butter and sugar together.
Stir in sugar.
Stir in oats.
Turn out mixture into 12x6.5x1 inch baking tin.
Bake for 30 minutes at gas 3/160C.
Cool for 5 minutes then cut into squares and leave to cool completely.

Note: Eldest likes this with glace cherries mixed into it, Youngest prefers it with raisins. At Christmas I like to put in half the mixture, then a layer of mincemeat, and then the balance of the mixture spread on top. We all like it straight from the tin while it’s still warm!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Matching families

We have received two lots of visitors this weekend. Both are friends met through the Army, both have ‘matching’ girls.

In the first lot, both parents work and the girls went to boarding school when they reached seven. All are content with their lot. They value the limited time they spend together which is why getting all eight of us in one place probably only happens once or twice a year. We had a family dinner party where everyone participated in the conversation and then played a version of Trivial Pursuits in teams of two. Raucous!
Mother1 and Theireldest1 had seen the Channel 4 programme Leaving Home at Eight and been as unimpressed by it as I had. The programme focussed on four military families for some reason and then did not explain why such families might pick the boarding school option, nor what the alternatives would be. And we all agreed that being in too much contact with home (one mother seemed to ring every day) is a disaster in the settling in stakes.
Our next visitors were just Mother2 and Theiryoungest2 who were in the UK from a foreign posting to spend half-term with Theireldest2. She started boarding when she reached Year 10 and started her GCSE courses. Previously, like her younger sister, she has gone to school wherever her parents have lived. Largely this has worked, though Theiryoungest2 is bored by her latest school such that her parents are wondering what to do. This family are all finding the separation difficult; they have moved even further away for this, the actual GCSE year, and the distance in both miles and time doesn’t help.
For Youngest and myself it was a treat to have our friends with us, however briefly – Husband and Eldest missed theirs.

Perhaps I should add by way of explanation that you could see something about my boarding school experience here.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Home thoughts

Half-term beckons and we are off to the smoke to stay with my parents.

There will be dark mutterings afoot regarding the large piles of paper Father cannot throw away. When asked to sort them they move, but they never get any smaller. Mother is no more interested in cleaning than her daughter, but she’d like to present a tidy front.
Father’s complete failure to do any household chores has long been a bone of contention. As a teenager I was very aware, when I was home from boarding school, of just how rebellious Mother was feeling. Married in the late 1950s, and to an Army Officer, she gave up paid work to follow the drum. By the early 70s, with her children away at school, stuck in Germany expected to help run the wives club and entertain all and sundry, she was understandably kicking against her world. Her reading material reflected the times, I remember, and I’ll confess now to some concern for their marriage (they’ve done over 50 years now). She and I muttered about men in general – my brothers were equally lax in their contribution to household chores, despite pocket money incentives and tick charts. (Not surprising really when their bossy big sister made the charts and did most of the nagging.) What a goody goody they must have thought me taking on cleaning jobs, the family ironing and, the one I actually enjoyed, helping with the cooking. I have a vivid memory of piping cooked mashed egg yoke mixed with tomato ketchup into the halved hard boiled whites to serve at a buffet supper party – we had very sophisticated tastes in 1972.
There’ll be fish pie for supper when we get home, it’s tradition. My Granny made it with fresh coley. Mother makes it with fish in parsley sauce. I use frozen cod and make my own sauce. But the result is pretty similar.

It is ironic that it is only now, as I contemplate how the time I have with my girls will come to an end of sorts when they fly the nest, that I realise how my parents might feel. Do they mind that we’ve all gone, or are they proud that they managed it… of course they might just be glad to be rid of us and be pretty grumpy because they (well, Mother) feel bound to tidy up and make fish pie.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Just different

When Husband and I went to our very first Parents’ Evening, when Eldest was all of 4, we were told by the elderly and almost retiring reception teacher (Christian name Critchell, a seriously frightening woman to parents, but who was very fond of small girls) that our daughter didn’t take criticism well. We didn’t actually climb over the desk to hit her, but I fear we clearly demonstrated where she got it from. At last week’s meeting with the secondary school teachers, where we had once more gone to talk about Eldest, but this time about her GCSE prospects, and what she should be doing for AS level, we were told that she had a wicked sense of humour, but it was very cynical. We tried not to think about where she got that. It was the only ‘criticism’ we collected.

We are regularly informed that Youngest is bossy. At primary school this was definitely a criticism and deemed to be a potential friendship problem. At secondary school they see it as a plus to be channeled into the school council or anything else that needs a reliable decision maker and ‘doer’. Youngest throws herself into almost anything with immense enthusiasm and willingness to please, but no tolerance for people who aren’t trying.
I’ve said before that parenting does not get easier, just different. I remember potty training as ghastly, but, since I didn’t know anyone who hadn’t mastered the art in the end, I did at least understand at some level that it would all be over eventually! Now the difficulties of parenthood are generally more about emotional than physical things. The guiding hand, and the parental worry, is about friends – or lack of them. About whether they are making the ‘right’ choices about subjects, and doing well enough in them, to lead to the career of choice – whatever that might be!
I know we have to let Eldest do what she wants to do, and if we ‘push’ any particular plan it is liable to backfire – she may be sensible but even she likes to get her own way and not be seen to be doing what her aged parents approve of all the time!
And I’ve no doubt that this too will pale into insignificance when we’re trying to provide useful advice about whether he’s the man of her dreams, worth giving up her career for! Perhaps life will be different then, but I doubt it. We will still be trying to decide how we should run our relationships, who’s job it is to do the washing (mine) and the ironing (his) and how best to raise children (and who should do it).
Our toughest task, I’m sure, is going to be learning to let go.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


In answer to Countrymummy’s request, and in the presence of Seville oranges, I have information about marmalade!
I’ve been making it for years, and, despite owning a handwritten copy of my grandmother’s recipe, I have had the most reliable success from an unconventional Delia recipe which you can find at Delia Online here. It takes longer in time, but not in effort. Juicing all the oranges and cutting up peel is much less hassle if you poach the oranges first, a la Delia: you can scoop out the oranges' innards with a spoon (all that pith comes away), and it is easy to slice up the skins to the thickness you like. Don’t do it in a processor, the bits end up too small. It is worth making, honest!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Not marmalade

A consequence of the enforced long holiday may be that I have missed the Seville orange window. We ran out of marmalade weeks ago – actually I had to buy it in November I think. My very loyal Husband insists on home made and is kind about its varying quality. His mother used to make it, and luckily I dabbled in such things long before I had a family to consider because it was something my Granny did too. So I don’t resent the requirement. Apart from anything else, preserve making of any sort is a darn sight more satisfying than cleaning... ‘Though if whatever I’m cleaning is REALLY dirty, so that you can tell I’ve done it, I’d admit to a sort of pleasure.

So this isn’t the marmalade that I’d planned to make today after Sainsbury’s delivered the oranges, because they didn't. It is Delia’s Spiced Pickled Runner Beans, a delicious concoction that uses up the runners when your family really can’t face another and your husband is still bringing them home from the allotment. It seemed pretty easy this time largely because I'd chopped up the beans as they came in from the field and put them in the freezer. It will be interresting to see if it tastes any different. Still have another batch to make: the church fete will have that.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Convenient choices

Eldest went to 3 primary schools, and Youngest 2. One of these was the same school. We have been remiss, or lucky: they have also been our nearest school, and generally the only one we looked at. Eldest’s first school was the village primary in walking distance of home. The neighbours mostly chose the other village school (requiring a short drive), because it took the bulk of the military children and got better SATs results. The military children came from the military college, so their parents were arguably more able. Since some of these children were foreign, and all of them moved on biannually, if not annually, I questioned the statistics and chose the stability and convenience of the nearer school. It meant we met other local parents and children and could walk to events in school.
When we were posted to south east London we were lucky in getting a quarter in north east Kent. (In London the perceived wisdom was that you needed to get your children into the church schools, and the over subscription meant a letter from your vicar was essential, and, as only occasional attendees this was not a possibility.) Of the nearest schools, all of which needed a car journey, we opted for the pair most of the parents on the patch had chosen so that we’d get to know our neighbours and be able to share lifts. The Infant school (for Youngest) had an outstanding OfSTED; the Junior (for Eldest) did not. For 2 ½ years Youngest soared and Eldest got bored. I spent a great deal of time complaining that she wasn’t progressing and was told she was marvelous: she sat quietly and read a book when she finished her excellent work and caused no fuss. But she had local friends, and was happy, just bored by school. And we would move again!
The future beckoned and we decided we needed to send the girls to boarding school or buy a house. We couldn’t do both, and the military grants would cease before both girls were through school, so we purchased a house. We knew where we wanted to settle; we researched the local secondary schools and shopped in the catchment area of one of several good schools in North Wiltshire. We viewed a house and primary school in our two favourite villages and settled on one. The house was more affordable and the school more welcoming. The deal was done.
The small school size (45 pupils) meant that they went into mixed age-group classes; Eldest with 7-11(Key Stage 2) and Youngest with 4-7(Key Stage 1). Youngest’s teacher was not the best and our daughter had a lovely time playing and making no academic progress whatsoever. Her predicted excellent KS1 results (from the previous school) passed her by. But Eldest flew! Because of the mixed ages everyone had different work to do so she didn’t stand out as odd, and her job-sharing teachers always challenged her to do more. When Youngest moved up to the KS2 class the caring yet challenging ethos worked the same magic on her and she too learned to fly. But our choice of the village school had other consequences. The people we met as a result were pleased that we had committed ourselves to the village by choosing ‘their’ school. They were local so there were opportunities for walk/lift sharing to events in and out of the village. All the children would go to the same secondary school: they go on the same bus and we know at least those parents. In a big centralized secondary school you don’t even know the children they’re making friends with, never mind the parents. Just like everyone else, children will pick up (and drop) friends along the way.
They are now both at the planned secondary school and doing well in their different ways. Both are making new friends and have largely moved on from the smaller possibilities of their primary. Imagine if we had chosen the secondary based only on where their friends were going! I don’t know if we will have got it right in the long run, but for our family so far so good.
My purpose is not to be smug! I am trying to suggest that there are many consequences of choosing a school, and they are not all about academic achievement! If you don’t choose your local school you run the risk that your child’s friends (so perhaps yours) will also live elsewhere. If it is in a different catchment to your residence, the long term consequence may be that your child wants to go with her friends to their secondary school (which may or may not be possible). Once again you won’t have options to share a lift home from after school activities, to and from performance activities and so on. Happiness isn’t just about your child, it’s also about you! Deciding not to move your child from their pre-school where you used to live because they’d miss their friends is the first step on the never having their friends near your home! From pre-school, to primary and on to secondary every decision will have far reaching consequences, and they’re not just about education.

Friday, 22 January 2010

surfing not chores

And these are Eldest’s Christmas cushions.

I have wondered before why I blog, and who for. The who for has to be me since my readership is small – though, of course, perfectly formed! And the why? Well that must be for me too, a sort of memoire come chat with a friend. Having had the family at home rather more than planned I have had very little computer time, and I confess I've made up for that this week with some shocking timewasting! My surfing suggests that there are blogs of every description: there are parent bloggers, food blogs, crafty blogs and writing blogs to name but a few. I like some of all of these, and therein lies the problem! Couldn’t sign up to the groups because I’d need to write a specific sort of post and I am definitely a rambler. Luckily there are some of those too; I’ll just have to keep surfing for that non-group.
On that note, I’ve added some new blogs to my list of destinations. Enjoy!

Friday, 15 January 2010

A friend indeed

It has been my birthday this week. I feel no older, except when I look in the mirror or remember just how long ago x or y happened. And I often miscalculate those dates! It’s age you know. It comes to me when I realise just how long I’ve known the people in my life.

FriendAbroad has just e-mailed me a daft message about how none of the wishes, angels or whatever she has received has worked, and please could we send chocolate, wine or air tickets instead. Over the years we have seen one another spasmodically. We were next door neighbours when we were 9, and wrote termly to one another at our respective girls’ boarding schools until we pitched up at the same sixth form. Our friendship flourished at school despite her being more confident and successful in our co-ed surroundings. She taught me to put on eye-make-up, shared novels and companionship, enthused about our sewing skills and laughed with me. When she needed somewhere to live in London she came and shared my one-bedroom flat. Later, when she moved to the USA to accompany her widowed father, I went to stay for a long summer earning my keep by helping her with the household chores. Later still we lived in one another’s pockets as she prepared for her wedding and I made her dress and my bridesmaid’s dress. I’m her eldest son’s godmother.
Husband-to-be and I visited her family in the Netherlands for a ball and she memorably sewed me back into my dress when the clearly too cheap zip split open! She was, of course, one of my bridesmaids.
Her life has changed direction several times since then, and we have both moved about rather a lot, never close enough for detailed contact, but we keep in touch, and we visit when possible. She usually drops in when she’s in the UK, and we exchange e-mails randomly. Our lives have been different, but the things we have in common remain key, and we never have difficulty in finding things to talk about when we get together.
With a friendship that has lasted so long, it is impossible to imagine FriendAbroad ceasing to be part of my life. I can’t see a reason why two little old ladies couldn’t still be exchanging views on the novels we’re reading, our sewing and our children. Not to mention the Husbands and (future I trust!) grandchildren. Aren’t I lucky.
(The cushions were Youngest's Christmas present.)

Monday, 11 January 2010

White Out

So they went back to school for all of two days and then they came back home again and stayed. Husband too. And it had some real positives: I have enjoyed their company, we have done a number of family things as though we were still on holiday, and I’ve had the heating on during the day (hang the oil, we’ve already paid for it, ditto the logs, but how long will they last?). On the downside I have had no time to myself, could not get access to play on the computer without someone looking over my shoulder to see what I was up to, and have been expected to provide actual meals at lunchtime! The GCSE mocks didn’t get taken and will have to be rescheduled, and we paid for 3 ballet lessons that weren’t running.

There was much talk about how it had been worse or not in the past.
In 1991 when I was a working woman I got stuck in Scotland after a Friday visit to our factory. I was turned away from the airport with a toothbrush and a hotel room. Still no go to East Midlands on Saturday morning, but they’d take me to London instead. Met up with Husband-to-be who lived and worked there. The snow had resulted in some spare tickets to Cats, and I bought an unlikely outfit in Next: green jeans, orange baseball boots and a matching sweatshirt – I only had my suit. (History doesn’t record the purchase of underwear, but I think we’ll take it as read.)
At boarding school in 1969 a heavy fall of snow meant the day girls had to stay overnight and they slept head to toe with their friends. The next morning we were escorted to school by Matron so we wouldn’t have any problems. As she, a distinctly plump lady, herded us along the path in crocodile file she went wide and up to her neck in a drift. We loved it!
I for one can only claim inconvenience and nothing more. But I'm very glad to be alone again today, even without the heating.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Happy New Year

A Happy New Year to one and all, but especially to my very own (and only) Follower! In her honour I have added a Followers' gadget to my Blog and I await the flood with interest, but little expectation. I'm not sure I understand the advantages of joining; I've been content to put people's addresses down the side of my page as destinations I enjoy visiting regularly and haven't felt it necessary to 'Follow'. Perhaps someone will explain?
The Christmas holiday has flown by and the girls have gone back to school. Since the in-laws mass visit we have had a hugely enjoyable New Year's Eve dinner party (Black Tie and party frocks and enormous quantities of champagne and posh food - guests didn't get up from the table 'til gone 2 in the morning so I guess they had fun too); a brief visit from Northern Friend en route home from her holidays; a visit to London to stay with my parents which included a trip to Tate Britain (Youngest and Husband looked at the Turner Prize contenders for £8 each whilst Eldest and I did the rest of the gallery for free. We didn't think we would get value for money being inclined to dismiss large tracts of art as ‘rubbish’); a welcome Italian meal out and An Inspector Calls (very dramatic and interestingly staged so we could all help make notes for GCSE drama) and a visit from my eldest brother and his family for lunch.
We’re now back in the frozen west in our term time routine. Ballet has begun again. My taxi service just needs to defrost my unused car ready for tonight – perhaps we will be snowed off? I don’t know who wished for a white Christmas, but I’ve had enough now!
(The fox is a regular in my parents back garden.)