Sunday, 2 October 2011

Swimming in the sea in October

Well, that was a first for me; swimming in the sea in October. Like many thousands of other people I packed up the car and headed to the seaside. Our choice was Camber Sands, somewhere I've been many times before, in all seasons. But never have I seen as many people there (or on any other British beach) as I saw on 1 October. We had a struggle to find a bit of beach to put down our rug and bag!
But it was fun. There was a holiday atmosphere you don't often get on British beaches. The weather was warm and so was the sea. I spent a good hour or so splashing and swimming with my daughter, her friend and friends mum.
We spent the whole afternoon there then tootled down to Dungeness. A weird and wonderful place that I never tire of visiting. We had dinner in the Britannia before spending some time showing the girls the stars including the rarely-seen-in-London Milky Way.
A fab day out. The photo is courtesy of my partner. More of his work is at

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Something old, something new...

No, I'm not getting married but have been pondering about fashion recently. It started with a flick through the Next catelogue. There doesn't seem to be any fashion at the moment, other than recycled old fashions. There's 60's style block pattern dresses, 70's maxi skirts and dresses are still with us. Late 80s and early 90s leggings are back with tunic-style tops. But there isn't anything I'd say was defining the decade (yet).
Personally, I've always argued against the slavish following of fashion and am quite glad that we've had a relaxation on the style front. It is still odd that we don't have anything that defines our time.
I've mentioned this to a few other people who agreed. And then found this 100 years/style/East London

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

End of the summer holidays

It's back to school tomorrow, so today is the end of the summer holidays. The wet and windy weather seems kind of appropriate some how. So, what did we do this summer?

We've done lots of day trips to the beach (Thanet, Brighton - Eastbourne, as well as in Scotland), spent a few days in the Highlands, stayed in our summerhouse (aka a Hut in a field in Scotland), went to museums in London (recommend the Wallace Collection), the allotment, played in the garden. And we've been exploring Lidos - in particular tidal/sea water lidos. Been to the library and completed the excellent summer 'Circus' reading challenge organised by Bromley Libraries. It's been a good summer overall, if a bit damp at times.

Here's some more pictures...

A (not-so-)new song I've discovered that seemed appropriate The Kooks 'Seaside'

And here's one last picture - my daughter was fascinated by the statues on the South Bank in London where we went on her last day off school (especially the ones that did their 'thing' on receipt of a few pennies).

Now, lets get those walking boots out for some fungal forays, woodland walks and autumn fun!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Moment's like this

I've just been sitting here reading a blog (Carrots and Kids, one of my favourites) when I realised how peaceful and content I am right at this moment. Sitting here in the study/music room/clothes drying room on an old beat up chair. I'm doing something I enjoy, I can hear my 5 year old daughter laughing in the distance as her Dad reads the bedtime story (one of the Astrosaur books by Steve Cole) and everything feels just fine. A moment to savour.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Discovering new music

I love music... I just don't listen to it any more. I do wonder how I've gone from listening and playing music all the time to not even having a favourite band!

It's not because I lack the means: my iPhone and headphones goes everywhere with me; I have a CD player in the car; a decent hi fi system; an iTunes account and Napster subscription. There's no excuse.

So why don't I listen to music? I guess it's partly because I'm busy (working, digging, cleaning, being a mum). But I think it's more than that - I've gotten out of the habit. It started when my daughter was young - music was replaced by nursery rhymes (we were given some really good American ones that were sung in in different styles and were fun to listen to). Then they went to be replaced by stories and chatting - which is good because my 5 year old is articulate and knowledgeable about her surroundings, science, arts, life and... road signs!

I was reading new blogs tonight and much to my surprise discovered new music. As the nights draw in I think I'm not going to turn on the tv (it's been idle since March). Instead I'm going to try and use my Napster account more, dust off old CDs and records and use Napster, YouTube and other sources to find new music. As a starter, here's a couple of songs I've discovered tonight (mellow because of the hour).

Charlie Winston, 'I love your smile'

And here's a song I loved as a child, sung by Eddi Reader 'Dainty Davie'


Sunday, 27 March 2011

New Hobby

I have a new hobby, well if you can call it a hobby. I usually think of hobbies as something that involves lots of work - normally hard physical labour but sometimes just intense concentration. I also have a lot of them, some of which are seasonal. My most time consuming and probably enjoyable is gardening and my allotment. Followed a close second to walking in the countryside/visiting the grand estates of the past courtesy of the National Trust. I put that one second because my favourite hobby of all time is a bit inaccessible - my hut in Scotland. I have to limit that to once every 6 weeks or so from Spring to Autumn. My other hobby is travelling - I've been to 29 countries, many of them twice, but have recently lost the enthusiasm given the time and increased risk involved with plane travel and the difficulties of taking a child (and she's a great traveller).

My new hobby has been indulged in a bit too much in the last week - at the expense of house cleaning and gardening. I've been spending time at my new leisure centre to exercise/get fit and they have a lovely spa. Before this a trip to a spa was usually a birthday treat - so I've been to Bath Spa a couple of times and to the old Turkish Baths in Bethnal Green. But my new leisure centre has a lovely spa. There's a large multi-functioning jacuzzi, a steam room, sauna and sanarium, various showers at various temperatures, a cold plunge pool and a floating pool. Plus lots of loungers and a nice view over green/trees (not bad for SE London).

So, there you have it, my new indulgent hobby. I usually only do it after exercising and it's working wonders for my skin, but it still feels a bit... well, like eating chocolate or something, maybe a cream cake. Naughty but nice.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Sweetie's sweets

I've had a flu-like bug for the last week and it's completely knocked me off my feet. My daughter is mostly ok about this but every now and then I must look ill or something because she disappears to her latest secret hiding place and brings me back a sweetie to make me get better (she calls them her medicine sweets). What a sweetie!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Garden birds

We did the Big Garden Bird Watch on Sunday afternoon - probably about the worst time I could have picked (but the only time I was available!). We managed loads of blue and great tits plus pigeons, blackbirds, robins and a couple of wrens. But the other usual visitors were missing - possibly starring in somebody else's Bird Watch?

Anyway we, (Elizabeth, my friend Clare and I) sat watching for an hour whilst drinking tea and chatting. I took a couple of pictures but it was too dark and the birds wouldn't stay still enough! But a nice time was had by all. And typical really, soon after uploading the results a whole range of birds arrived for supper before bedtime!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Today is Friday and I feel....

...excited by 3 days without any plans (except to spend an hour watching birds as part of Big Garden Birdwatch)! I'm excited by this lack of arrangements because it means I can spend time:
- in the garden
- at the allotment
- with my daughter
- with my partner
- as a family.

I'm also excited because it's my 4 year old's first school disco tonight (for one hour then the little 'uns leave and the big kids arrive). She's very excited and has decided to wear her sequin zebra top and grey skinny jeans. She also wants something sparkly for her hair!

I'm excited about the garden because I can see signs of life! The bulbs are bravely peeking out of the soil, the rose cuttings I took in the autumn are shooting and I have bought my first seeds! I'm not sure where to start in the garden though. I need to start clearing up the last of the leaves, the lavender at the front needs clipping (I didn't cut back the flower spikes in autumn as they were held their colour and fragrance until December).

i'm excited about the allotment because I'm making progress. I can finish glazing the new (recycled) greenhouse and continue tidying up.

But what to do as a family? It's always harder to decided on cold winter days. The rest of the year we go out walking, to the seaside or somewhere interesting. But in the winter we seem to spend too much time indoors. And then everyone does their own thing.

That's my challenge for this morning - think of some things we could do whilst I clip the lavender in the front garden.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

A mixed week

It's been a strange week. I'm feeling rather bereft but also like I'm settingly into a new routine.

The week began with us saying goodbye to our lovely cat Tau. She was nearly 12 years old and had been with us since she was a kitten. Tau-ie (as we liked to call her) was a tortoiseshell cat who had the softest fur and the softest personality possible. She was lovely and friendly, never hissed, bit or spat (even at my young daughter!). She always purred her lovely rattlely purr whenever you paid her any attention. In the evenings once our daughter was in bed she'd jump up next to me for a good old cuddle. Unfotunately she had cancer and deteriorated so much over the weekend that we had her put down.

Her cousin Mu is still with us and it's felt strange having only one cat to feed and look after, only one lot of food to put down, one plate to clean. Mu's been a bit lost herself and spent a while looking around and mewing.

It's also our daughter's first full week at school, full time, including school dinners. Her dad joined her for lunch on Wednesday and was pleased to report it was like school dinners when he was a child in the late 60s/early 70s! He said there was proper food on the menu and our girl chose lots of veg to eat.

As it's the first full week she also got homework. Now I'm not sure what I think of this. To be honest I'm not sure she should be at school yet - so many other countries wait till they're a bit older... i.e. don't have 'infant' classes. But she's there and they've given her homework every night. On the positive side, she's enjoyed colouring in and practising her 'jolly phonics' and on Thursday evening came home with an laminated elephant picture (coloured in green) with 4 words attached (I, can, said, the) and her very first reading book (Hop, said the frog. I can hop said the snake...) - which she read! Amazing.

The other change this week was my working pattern. For the last few years I've left work on Wed/Thu at 4.15pm to get to our child minder for 5pm so I could spend some time with Elizabeth before bed (I'm at home on Tuesday's and Fridays and her dad is here on Mondays). This week I left the office at 2.30pm to pick her up from school. (I had to do the extra time at home). I felt like I was deserting my colleagues at lunchtime - so early!

We also had our first school friend (and her mum) round for tea on Friday. I planned on clearing up and then baking but got delayed at the allotment for over two hours showing new people around. So I had only 3 hours to shop, tidy, hoover, clean and bake. Something had to give and I'm afraid it was the tidying and some of the hoovering. My bedroom, the spare room and the study were a mess. I closed the doors but Elizabeth gave our visitors a tour of the house including messy rooms (eek). On the positive side, the sandwiches, cakes and fruit I served for tea went down well and the girls enjoyed playing (dressing up, dancing, colouring in, shops etc).

So this week's been all about change. We're missing our beloved cat Tau-ie, we've had to get used to feeding only one cat. We're also now doing the school run 5 days a week and helping with homework. Is change good - I'll let you know in a few weeks.

Oh, one last thing. The strangest event of the week was on Friday afternoon. We were adopted by a big Tom cat. He suddenly appeared a few doors down as we walked from school and followed us home (just like our Tau used to do sometimes). He wanted to come in with us when he reached the door but I wouldn't let him, so he went round the back and tried to get in the cat flap (Elizabeth locked it to stop him). He's now camped outside and given how cold it is we gave in and fed him - he was very hungry. We've contacted the local cat rescue places and tomorrow will put up signs - hopefully his owners will find him soon.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Starting school

Our little girl looked simultaneously so grown up and so little when dressed in her grey skirt, white blouse, navy cardigan and carrying her book bag. She was so slim and feminine (for the girl who usually wears jeans) and her outfit would have been fine at work or in this case in reception class.

At 8.40am we set out from home to walk down the hill with her chatting away about this, that and the other whilst Daddy and I felt very nervous and recalled our school days.

She happily signed the register (located her name balloon on the interactive white board and helped the ballon float into the clouds) then sat down at a table to start an activity. All about us was chaos as mums, dads and grandparents anxiously said goodbye to their little ones.

Promptly at 12 noon we were let into the playground and out they trotted in a line to identify their parent/guardian to the teacher before being released.

On the way up the hill we heard all about the green (good), yellow (miserable) and red (bad) star system as well as about the listening elephant, sitting dog, hands up parrot and looking owl.

The school uniform was discarded at home for jeans and a fleece before lunch and afternoon activities. Then we started all over again this morning... but a little more nervously today. The good news is she played with others and held hands with a class mate on the way back up the hill.

We await day three a little less nervously.