Tag Archives: family

Darlek is 8 Years old!

Darlek is 8 Years old!

Yep, one of my little munchkins has reached 8 years old.  She is still alive, healthy and very full of life.  We must be doing something right.  It’s good to remind myself of that sometimes.  I’ve included some of the birthday cards I could find, apologies to relatives if your card isn’t here, Darlek has scattered a few in her room and I couldn’t find them all.

Happy Birthday to you!  Happy Birthday to you!  You look a monkey and you act like one too!  (Except we didn't sing that really and don't mean it either)

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! You look a monkey and you act like one too! We sang the nice version to be honest so she had no reason to throw the cake at me. 

Darlek wanted a puppy for her birthday.  This was as close as she got....  Maybe another year when she can take responsibility for one.

Darlek wanted a puppy for her birthday. This was as close as she got…. Maybe in a few years when she can properly take care of one.  Don’t tell Horace I said that.

It was a school day, so was a normal day really and I was worried it would be a bit of an anti-climax for her.  You know how it is.  They get so excited and I just didn’t know how we’d get the day to live up to her expectations.  With a bit of thought, Horace and I worked something out.  We bought a ton of ‘goodies’ so she could make her own special packed lunch in the morning so she had a birthday lunch break with posh sandwiches, an exotic yoghurt (one of those Corners yoghurts with crunchy biscuity balls), a Cheese string (which I don’t usually allow) and a nice fresh fruit smoothie.  There were lots of other little extras she could add if she liked too.  Darlek loved being able to make her own packed lunch and felt very grown up I think.

You see, we really do call her Darlek

You see, we really do call her Darlek

The presents were all opened by about 8am, with wrapping paper and ribbon strewn all over the living room. She squealed and giggled when she opened her birthday card from us which featured a Darlek blowing up a pile of eggs and shouting ‘Eggsterminate!’ We bought her ‘Paranorman’ on DVD for a token present as we had a visit to ToysRUs and Pizza Hut planned for the weekend so she could choose her own present.   The lucky girl got some clothes, a Zubber bracelet set, a Skylander bought by her brother and some money that she could spend at ToysRUs.  She’s such a love, and grinned from ear to ear.

A beautiful card for a beautiful little girl.  I'm biased, but I think she's the cutest 8 year old in the whole wide world.  So there!

A beautiful card for a beautiful little girl. I’m biased, but I think she’s the cutest 8 year old in the whole wide world.

We also bought her one of those variety packs of breakfasts (you know those tiny packs of different cereals so she could choose her own) so she had Cocoa Pops to start the day.  This is another banned breakfast cereal at our house.  When both kids piled out the door to go to school, she turned to me and said ‘Mum, and you said that it wasn’t going to be very special!’ so she must have been impressed.  It made me grin from ear to ear too.

There was a Darth Vader birthday badge on this which her brother tried to claim.  We told him he wasn't 8.  He tried to tell us he was and sulked.

There was a Darth Vader birthday badge on this which her brother tried to claim. We told him he wasn’t 8. He tried to tell us he was and sulked.

I had a hospital appointment in the afternoon so I couldn’t pick her up from school which wasn’t great.  In fact Darlek was in tears the day before, asking me if I could change the appointment.  I explained I couldn’t and felt terrible.  Sis picked her up instead and she went to their house for tea where she was thoroughly spoilt and forgot all about feeling upset at me for not being there at hometime.  When I went round to pick her up, all the kids had been fed hot dogs (on Darlek’s request), a chocolate caterpillar birthday cake with candles; there were helium balloons bouncing around the living room and she was as happy as a happy thing.  Sis, you are a star!

Another puppy birthday card, but this one's in a jumper.  Aww....

Another puppy birthday card, but this one’s in a jumper. Aww….

So there we are, a record of the day.  A written postcard for me to look back on when she’s a stroppy teenager requesting designer hundred quid trainers for a birthday present and sulking because they’re the wrong colour.  It’s so sweet that even though we couldn’t do much for her due to the timing and prior commitments, that she still appreciated the effort that we made.  Darlek gave us huge boa constrictor hugs after she opened her presents and said ‘Thank you!’

This is such an idyllic setting.  Lovely!  If we placed Darlek in the same setting she'd be up to her armpits in mud and and playing swordfights with the net.

This is such an idyllic setting. Lovely! If we placed Darlek in the same setting she’d be up to her armpits in mud and and playing swordfights with the net.

They never grow out of teddies do they! Well, I never did. My old teddy still sits in my bedroom looking, old, faded and loved. I didn't dare give him to either of my kids in case they ripped the ears off him.

They never grow out of teddies do they! Well, I never did. My old teddy still sits in my bedroom looking, old, faded and loved. I didn’t dare give him to either of my kids in case they ripped the ears off him.

This is a photograph of Darlek with her brother, just before they went to school.  Sausage looks like he's trying to get away, I think it was another of those boa constrictor hugs.

This is a photograph of Darlek with her brother, just before they went to school. Sausage looks like he’s trying to get away, I think it was another of those boa constrictor hugs.

So, my darling Darlek is 8 years old.  Today this blog is all hearts and flowers, I make no apology.  My kids are the sunshine of my days and today I feel particularly proud of both of them.  They must be wellard to survive our chaotic parenting techniques…  Darlek has managed 8 years!  That’s one tough cookie!

Christmas in Sparkly Summary!

Christmas in Sparkly Summary!

The Xmas tree is expertly decorated and styled.

The Xmas tree is expertly decorated and styled.  The house is not falling down in the background, that is an illusion.  Clever eh?

Darlek the Red Nosed Reindeer!  Had a very baubly nose!

Darlek the Red Nosed Reindeer! Had a very baubly nose!

Father Christmas is on anti-biotics for toothache so he has to drink milk instead of sherry.  Father Christmas is not very happy about this.

Father Christmas was on anti-biotics for toothache so he had to drink milk instead of sherry. Father Christmas was not very happy about this.

T'was the night before Christmas, when all through the house........Not a creaure was stirring, not even a mouse....... but if you listened very, very carefully with your special Xmas ears you could hear the  distant sound of vomiting at about 4.30am.

T’was the night before Christmas, when all through the house……..Not a creaure was stirring, not even a mouse……. but if you listened very, very carefully with your special Xmas ears you could hear the distant sound of vomiting at about 4.30am.

Takeaway Xmas dinner.  I was supposed to be making it all at mum's house, but because we had the dreaded up-chucking bug we thought it best not to go round.  My mum meticulously made all the turkey dinner (even the starters!), bagged it up in plastic sealy bags and Horace went and collected it.  Not ideal, but couldn't be helped.

Takeaway Xmas dinner. I was supposed to be making it all at mum’s house, but because we had the dreaded up-chucking bug we thought it best not to go round. My mum meticulously made all the turkey dinner (even the starters!), bagged it up in plastic sealy bags and Horace went and collected it. That’s a huge round of applause for my parents.  I’m biased, but I reckon I have the best mum and dad in the world.  Felt awful that they had to spend Christmas Day on their own, but Norovirus for Xmas is not a nice gift.

Spent a couple of days at Grandma and Grandad's and had a lovely evening at a family party.  I went to bed at about 8.30pm with bellyache.  I think everyone else had a great time.  I didn't completely miss out though.  In true owl fashion I woke up at 2 am  when everyone was going to bed.  Shucks.

Spent a couple of days at Grandma and Grandad’s and had a lovely evening at a family party. I think everyone else had a great time at the do, although i went to bed at about 8.30pm with tummy ache – I didn’t completely miss out though. In true owl fashion I woke up at 2am when everyone was going to bed. Shucks.  I’m brill at parties. Really I am.

And here is the reason why we have had a truly traumatic Christmas or 'the worst Christmas ever' as Darlek put it........it's a BUG.   Ok, so maybe it's a bee, but it was the closest    photo I could find to a bug.  To the untrained eye it definitely looks bug-like.

And here is the reason why we have had a truly traumatic Christmas or ‘the worst Christmas ever’ as Darlek put it……..it’s a ‘BUG’. Ok, so maybe it’s a bee, but it is sort of a bug. To the untrained eye it definitely looks bug-like.  We have had coughs, colds, throwing up, random scary spots, belly aches and an all round excess of bugs.

Next year we will have a fabulous Christmas, bugs will be banned.  I shall bath the kids in Dettol for the weeks preceding Christmas and no-one will be allowed to cough, sneeze or go slightly green.  December is a no go zone for Norovirus and snivelling snuffles.  Or else….’Or else what?’ you might say.  I dunno.  Perhaps I’ll just get some anti-bac spray and run around the house like maniac screaming ‘Die, you mother-fecking, Xmas ruining, putrid, minging little bugs!’  ‘Die, Die, Die!’   Next year will be different…..

I don’t over react to crises at Christmas.  I think I’m one of those earthy goddess types who takes everything in their stride.  Erm….like…..yep.  *stares sheepishly at feet, which incidentally are in purple slippers.  I got two pairs of purple slippers for Christmas.  I think people might think I have chronically cold feet and an obsession with purple.  I am happy.  I always lose my slippers, so if I have four of them I am guaranteed to always be able to find at least one pair – even if they are slightly different shades of purple and different sizes.  Knowing my luck I’ll find two left feet, same old, same old I suppose….*

Oooh, and I got a fabulous blue and black stripey onesie for Xmas.  MUST mention this.  I think I look like Thing One or Thing Two from Dr Zeuss (except a different colour).  Horace thinks I look like I’m in some strange sci-fi outfit.  All I know is that I am warm as a very, very warm thing and would live in it given half a chance. Bliss, I can wander around like a Dr Zeuss character or a space being, wearing purple slippers for the vast majority of 2013 now.  I is a fashion icon.

Tons more to write about Xmas, but to be frank, I’ve just had a Lemsip and my chest hurts from coughing so I’m going to stop writing and start sleeping.  Hope you all had a lovely Christmas, bug free preferably. xxx

Book Ends.

Book Ends. 

My bath’s running so I thought I’d fill a bit of time and type a little.  It’s to clear my head really.  Tomorrow I have a funeral to go to, as it’s a family funeral I don’t want to write too many details as it’s all rather sensitive and raw at the moment for my in-laws and my husband’s side of the family in particular.

I’ve only ever been to a handful of funerals.  When my Uncle died I went along, I think I was about 25 at the time.  The next one was my friend’s funeral, he was the same age as me at the time, approximately 35.  When I was at college I went to my friend’s funeral, he was 21 I think.  All of these deaths were premature really, they died before their time and there was a lot of bitterness at the unfairness of it all. I know I go on about karma and hippy rubbish like that occasionally, but it really doesn’t apply all the time does it.  Some people just deserve more time, and to see it stolen from them is heartbreaking.  Life is inherently unfair, but I guess nobody promised us that it would be anything else.

At my friend’s funeral I remember sitting there listening to some random vicar struggling to come up with something vaguely uplifting and reassuring about heaven, when all I could think about was that he was only 35 and had died horribly and unnecessarily from cancer (a doctor had failed to diagnose a malignant tumour for months).  I’ll admit I burnt with a quiet rage at the universe.

The thing I remember most about that funeral was that as the vicar stumbled through his words, and clumsily made references to a person he’d obviously not known – in my mind’s eye I saw Dave (I’m not putting his real name on here) sat at the side of the steps on the altar, watching everything going on.  I imagined him heckling the vicar and generally being his usual cocky self – not in an unfriendly way, he just used to take the piss out of everything.  It’s just everything was so sombre, so serious, so tragic, so utterly terrible – and yet Dave never considered his fate like that.  Right up to the end, even though he gradually slipped into such an awful state, he always refused to plan his funeral because he said he was not going to die.  He was a determined so and so right up to the very end.  That was why the funeral was so thrown together I was told, Dave just had not accepted that he was going to leave the party early.

The song played at the funeral for Dave was chosen by one of his best friends and it caught the spirit of the man perfectly.  I can’t listen to ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy!’ by Bob Marley without remembering him now.  He really would have said just that, and although he had a short life, it was a very happy one until the cancer caught up with him – and even then he was surrounded by a loving family and friends who thought the world of him and vice versa.

It’s hard to say where I’m going with this because I’m really writing for therapeutic reasons.  I’m going to make a clumsy allegory now, but bear with me.  I once read that we’re all like books, all people ever see are the covers and how we present ourselves to the world.  The only people who know the contents are those that have read the pages and truly know the person inside and out.  It’s just a shame that the allegory works perfectly, in that in that every book has a beginning, an end and a final page. For those of us that have known these people, and know the plot twists and turns and dramas that make up someone’s life, it is absolutely heartbreaking to see the story end and to watch the book close.

You could even say that every gravestone is a closed book, so much leads up to that final page and that solid, silent piece of stone bearing the words R.I.P.  I guess all I’m saying is that if you’re reading this, you’re still writing your own story; and that we owe it to ourselves and to those that have gone before and will come after us – to make it worth reading.

Tinned Asparagus with Fiery Mustard is Not Nice

Tinned Asparagus with Fiery Mustard is Not Nice.

Yep, I know I’ve gone on about this Jenny Craig diet loads, it’s because it’s the biggest blogging project I’ve ever done and it involves an actual lifestyle change.  And let me tell you, it’s not easy, not at all!

I have allocated meals, allocated snacks, allocated permitted side dishes I source myself, and no allocation of 100gram bars of chocolate.  None whatsoever *whimpers*.  I swear I may go into chocolate withdrawal and start shaking.

We had tea at 4.15pm today, we NEVER eat that early, and do you know why we did?  Because I was starving and had eaten my afternoon snack at 1.30pm in the afternoon.  After my tea I ate my allocated evening snack which was a  yoghurt, that was at about 5pm.  Then I began to daydream about pudding: Chocolate Cake, Coffee Cake, Sticky Toffee Pudding with Custard, Blueberry Muffins, Flapjacks……  They shouldn’t have capital letters in front of them, but in my mind’s eye they were the portion size of small buildings so I thought they deserved capitalizing.  Then I ate some home-made popcorn which isn’t apparently so bad.  Still not enough.

I am officially not as cocky about this as I thought I was.  The evenings are torturous, there are ‘free’ foods (ie ones that don’t have calories really so don’t matter so much) but I don’t seem to have any of them in the cupboard because we need to do shopping.  I’m also quite short on iron because of my colitis, so I had the bright idea of eating asparagus.  I love asparagus normally, it’s also green so has the appropriate vitamins, but it is a bit bland and when you plan to eat a whole tin at once because you’re a greedy guts it’s easy to think, ‘I’ll just add a bit of something’.  I added mustard, it was absolutely dire.  I scraped the mustard off in an attempt to eat it anyway, but failed fairly miserably.

There is a bowl in the front room half filled with mauled asparagus, smeared in burny bright yellow mustard.  My mouth still tastes a bit like fiery pondweed.  (Not that I’ve eaten a lot of pondweed, but you catch my drift) and I still want cake.

Apart from that life is the same as ever, keeping on keeping on.  I’ve felt hassled to pieces recently, same as always.  We have had new doors put in and two new windows which is lovely – apart from that our builder has got gout and can’t come back to finish the job for a bit which is a shame.  So, the window looks rather scruffy without the window frames (it has that bright yellow custardy foam stuff holding it in place), and our doors aren’t edged properly.  Still!  Our house has a sort of faded, knackered glory to it, and the windows and doors now fit in nicely with that theme.   Whoop de doo!   I do actually think the poor bloke has gout so I don’t blame him really, and as long as the doors and windows close and keep out draughts and burglars I’m not so fussy. Just as long as it’s not left for months or I’ll be doing another Homebase rant and nobody wants one of them!

The kids are fine. Sausage spent today wandering around looking like a chimney sweep because Darlek used some random facepaints to make him look like Batman yesterday.  They won’t wash off properly!  His face was almost completely black last night, I got a fair bit off him, but his eyebrows look very big and dark, and his cheeks look very grey.  In fact, he could do quite a good impression of a zombie.

Darlek is fine too, she’s regularly getting herself ready for school in the mornings which is a great help and she’s started trying to get Sausage ready too because she says she wants to be helpful.  She’s such a love.  Mind you this morning I nearly had a fit because both of them were slipping around all over the place on the school run and she kept insisting on running.  I had visions of fractured kneecaps and carrying her back up the hill.  I yelled the old ‘If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice, in fact I think I’ve told you three or four times, DO NOT RUN!’ in an overly aggressive manner this morning, and felt like a proper cow, but I suppose it has to be done.  Normally I’m shouting at them to run or hurry up because we’re late, they can’t win, poor souls.

The Tooth Fairy visited the other day too, which was exciting for Darlek.  One of her front teeth fell out about a week ago, and today her other front tooth fell out too.  She is struggling with her ‘S’ sound at the moment which is kind of cute really.  I reckon she could eat spaghetti with her teeth clamped together now and I’m almost tempted to try an experiment to see if she can.  Maybe I’ll do spag bol tomorrow.

I’d write more, but I want a cup of tea and I need to dispose of that awful green mess of food in the other room.  I aim to update more of my ‘Fortnight in France’ shortly.  I’m sorry if I’m going on and on and on and on and on about it, it’s just it was such a leisurely holiday and I had the luxury of sitting and writing for as long as I wanted without the usual everyday pressures.  Heaven!  If anyone wants to pay for me to go on holiday and just write reams about stuff and nonsense I’ll happily oblige.  That’s not a hint.  (Yes it blummin well is!)

So, that’s goodnight from me and goodnight from the vilest mini-recipe you’ve ever heard off. Mind the bed bugs don’t bite and please do have a slice of cake for me will you, just because I can’t/shouldn’t/desperately want one.  *whimpers again*

A Fortnight in France – Part 3

A Fortnight in France – Part 3

If you’d like to read Part 2 you can find it HERE and if you want to go even further back (you glutton for punishment you!) Part 1 is HERE

In this Part, I write about our children’s divine table manners and etiquette and extol the virtues of gravel as a plaything.

Stinky Stuff

Darlek loves it here, I heard her saying the other day – ‘Can we stay here for ever and ever and ever’  I have to agree.  It’s beautiful.  We’re in three separate ‘Gits’ each with their own facilities, all the amenties we could need are in each property, although I think one of us is lacking a washing machine.  I can’t remember who in the party that is, but I suspect my nose may tell me towards the end of next week.  (not really, nobody stinks, honest!) ….actually having said that Darlek seems to have terrible wind!  Anyone would think we’d been feeding her dead rats for the month prior to the holiday.  It is funny when she does her ‘Farticus’ impression as it has been christened, but it stinks to high heaven!  Thank heavens for light breezes and that we’re mostly outside.

Son is still burping like a bullfrog at every meal.  I suspect our family is now notorious for blowing off in one way or another now.

The park directly in front of our ‘Git’. The kids played outside most of the time which was probably a blessing considering….

Tantrums and Rocket Lollies

Darlek had a minor meltdown over a ice-cream yesterday which was a bit traumatic. There was only one left and as Sausage is younger and often misses out on things because of this, he was given the ice-cream.  Poor Darlek thought that this was unfair and sobbed in a heap in a chair indoors for what must have been an hour.  No amount of cajoling could persuade her to rejoin the rest of the party and I sat there feeling like an absolute cow.  But really, have you ever tried splitting a rocket shaped ice-lolly in two?  Not gonna happen.  She got over it eventualy, but I suspect the emotional scarring may be permanent.

Matilda

Gangdad has been reading Matilda by Roal Dahl to her every evening.  She is spellbound!  Gangdad does all the different voices and really gets into the spirit of the book.  I suspect the voices get more muddled as more red wine is consumed towards the end of the evening where most of the reading is done.  I’m not allowed to read the book now as it’s Gangdad’s special book and he wants to know what happens.  I read a chapter the other day and he re-read it to Darlek as he wanted to keep tabs on the plot.  I know my place!

Saucy and Saucisson

Sausage has been rechristened Saucisson, which is French for Sausage we have  been told.  Speaking of funny names, Horace came back from a trip out with two huge cones of cardboard, sealed at the end with ‘Surprise!’ written across them.  I think they were the french equivalent of lucky dip bags.  Inside were random little tatty gifts for kids, one for a girl and one for a boy.  I think the real surprise was the pretend silver tiara, necklace and earrings that held the brand name ‘Saucy’.  We all decided that this little gift set was probably made in Hong Kong where no-one could speak english, so consequently they’d asked some random translation package on the internet for a translation of the chinese word for ‘Cheeky’ and had ended up with ‘Saucy’ as a suggestion.  With all the erm…’dodgy’ associations with the word, it was generally agreed that the goods had probably been politely refused in the UK and had been shipped over to none-english speaking countries where they could be sold without raised eyebrows.

Darlek thought they were a bit young for her I think and refused to wear them, not ungraciously though.  Grandma Sweara sat beautifully bedecked in plastic jewellery for a while instead until she got bored of them and Saucisson adopted the necklace for a while.  Parading them up and down over his ‘Monster’s’ T’shirt.  Darlek has suddenly become very grown up, and a lot more self aware than she was.  She now refuses to have her hair in pigtails because she says they laugh at girls at school who wear them.  It won’t be long until she starts with a passion for Prada and posh hair straighteners.  I know it’s a cliche to say they grow up so quickly but they really do.  I looked at her the other day and noticed how long her legs have become, and how tall and lithe she is.  I’m not saying she wasn’t beautiful before, but it was a slightly chubby little girl beauty before, with the slightly dimpled elbows and filled out face.  These days she seems built like a racing grayhound as my dad would say, and I can see her running ahead towards her girlhood and away from her babyhood.  Ah, my gorgeous girl!  The most gorgeous girl in the world if you ask me, but then I’m biased.

A quiet interlude on our balcony.

Me stood on the balcony eating toast and looking spaced out.

The gits we are staying in are really like home from homes, complete with sitting rooms with leatherette chairs, well- equipped kitchens, bedrooms with little bunches of lavender tied with ribbons on bedside tables, handy bedside lamps; quirky little paintings on the walls.  The little touches such as the hairdrier in every house is much appreciated too.  I forgot mine, along with Sausage’s specially bought swim pants, the toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo and conditioner and the bottom half of my new bikini.  Thankfully I also bought an all in one costume too so I shall not have to go swimming whilst completely indecent.

I suspect the favourite facility is the outside swimming pool.  there are two, one in the grounds of the house and one raised up further up the hill.  Both are beautifully maintained (no chips or cracks in the masonry, loungers that all work and look new), and are heated by the sun throughout the day.  Around the pool there’s baby doll pink, red and white roses so it is framed very picturesquely.  It may not be an infinity pool, but it’ll do nicely for us.    They’ve even provided a baby floation belt and two floatation tubes so the kids have something to play with in the pool if visitors have forgotten to bring inflatables (which we did!).  The best thing about the swimming pool is that it is completely fenced off with a reasonably tall wooden picket fence, gated with a chidproof lock to ensure there’s no unattended children in there. My daughter in true precocious style has mastered the lock but thankfully has the common sense (usually) not to go in there by herself.  She did once and was right royally told off, she’s not done it since!  Anyway she can swim quite well now. Saucisson cannot swim and is less precocious so cannot get in there, which is a great relief.  I can’t imagine anything worse than having an acessible swimming pool in the grounds of a holiday home.

Slowly burning to a frazzle but not minding at all.

Who Needs Toys When You’ve Got Gravel?

The younger kids seem fascinated with gravel and stones.  The trip to the river resulted in a medium sized basket of stones of varying sizes, the most prized being the lovely amber rose coloured quartz which seems endemic to this area.  The plaza in St John is cobbled with the stuff.  The other stones which have proved as substitute toys are the gravel that covers the pathways from the houses to the roadway.  Endless hours have been spent with the kids shovelling stones from the pathway onto the seated area, and then back again ad infinitum.  Sausage has been taught to use the smaller brush to brush the stuff back on to the path in a vain attempt to stop the path invading underneath our outside dining table.  Unsucessfully of course.  Someone has organised a bowl of water with stones in for the kids to play with, because of course they always look prettier under water and kids love wet stuff.  I’ve just heard the parent of the youngest child shout ‘Stop chewing rocks!’ at her, something you just don’t expect to hear shouted whilst in the midst of a civilised sitting-in-the-garden-drinking-vodka-and-tonics afternoon.

I can’t remember what Sausage was saying at this point, but It was probably something along the lines of ‘The gravel is all mine, all MINE! Mwahhahahaha *evil laugh*’

This reminded me of when Darlek was a ‘littly.’  I was once memorably heard to yell ‘Stop waving that penguin in such a threatening manner!!!’  Another usually unheard of phrase.  Daughter was in the posession of a wooden penguin on a stick and was waving it like she was going to bray someone with it.

The Day France was Closed.

We had a disasterous trip out for the second generation, ie, the older kids, leaving their brethren behind for the first generation to look after them.  The plan was to find the local caves, and then find somewhere for lunch.  As it was we decided to visit a chateau on the way, which was like a huge dramatic building on the outside, complete with gargoyles and towers, inside it looked like it had very little furnishings left apart from some elaborate tapestries and inexplicable, expensive looking paintings of rhinos. And no, I’m not making that up.

Stunning on the outside, loads of paintings of rhinos on the inside. Armadillo’s! (sorry, not sure where that came from, I’m not mentally scarred from advertising or anything….)

We then went on to the caves where they had some ancient cave drawings on display – which was closed.  So we decided to go and get some lunch and stopped off at a roadside garage / cafe – which was closed too.  After a couple of soft drinks we headed off to a larger town to find food – every single solitary place that sold food  was closed.  We laughed it off and starved quietly.

This is so completely alien to me!  I didn’t realise, but France is known for ‘closing’ mid-day for a sort of siesta, and you have to time things around their routine.  In Britain you can find a butty at Greggs almost any time of the day!  The starving bit wasn’t so much fun, so we went to another restaurant – which was, guess what, closed.  In absolute desperation we went to a shop to buy a packet of crisps to share  – it was closed!  I have vivid memories of Annabel in the back of the car saying ‘I’ve got some chewing gum, there’s only one piece, but does anyone want it?’ and I think at that point we thought enough was enough.  About ready to chew our own arms off we all sheepishly returned to the git and devoured bread and cheese and then called it a day.  The day of freedom didn’t quite work out, although I still enjoyed it because we were child free for once.  We could have driven round aimlessly in circles for 2 hours and I’d have been fine about it – wait on…..we did.

I ate more way, way too much French bread and pate. Note the hamster cheeks.

Oui!

Sausage’s potty training has gone to pot, I’m not sure if it is because of the casual french used here and there.  We all say ‘Oui!’ (wee!) at regular intervals and he seems happy to oblige.  I am so sick of wet pants.  It has been suggested that we send him to Africa because they are short of water there.  He apparently has the abilty to wee more than he actually drinks, a valuable resource over there maybe.

To be continued……are you bored yet?……or are you booking a flight to France this very second.  I know what I wish I was doing……. *sighs*

If you’d like to read Part 4 – please click HERE!

A Drizzly Day Out at Cliff Castle!

A Drizzly Day Out at Cliffe Castle!

This is going to be a quick blog full of photos because my poor ikkle fingers are too tired for typing and my brain is giving up on me.   ‘Flibble.’  There’s the proof.

Today the kids and I went for a day out to Cliffe Castle in Keighley.  I have to say it was an ‘interesting’ day out.  If I look at it from one angle, it was lovely.  Quality time with the kids, running around in the castle grounds with flowers everywhere, looking at cute bunnies and guineapigs in their enclosure, ice-creams and laughs.

A field full of wild flowers!

Humungous Bunnies and Squeaky Guinea-pigs!

Looking at the trip from another angle – we spent rather a lot of time in the loos dealing with awful, sometimes very smelly, accidents – why, oh why will my son not be toilet trained!  Sausage refused to put his coat on and when I tried to make him put it on, he hit me several times with the stick he was carrying (which was nice).  It rained intermittently and I had the headache from hell for a while.  I have resolved to A) Toilet train Sausage NOW, B) Ban all sticks, C) Carry paracetamol at all times and D) Adhere to points AB & C or risk admittance to the funny farm by the end of the summer hols.

I have no idea about the names of these plants, but they carpeted some of the flower beds and looked so pretty!

But at least we were out!  I don’t want to get to the end of the summer hols and feel like we’ve wasted the time.  Even if it was pretty stressful every now and then, we were out of the house and doing something interesting and different.  I think Darlek learnt a bit about bees (they have a bee-hive there you can see into), and about history.  Sausage learnt that if he hits the rabbit enclosure railings too much mummy yells at him.  I learnt that I need to take more pairs of pants for Sausage out with me or suffer the consequences.

The see through bee hive! I thought the reflections looked amazing with the bee backdrop.

A lion hide preserved at the museum. Looked like it would still bite given half a chance.

Darlek was an absolute angel in comparison.  If I didn’t have her to back me up sometimes I think I’d go mad.  Often I’ll end up in stupid yelling matches with Sausage – yes I know that’s not an ideal parenting method -and she’ll just calmly go up to him and persuade him to give up his daft, ‘I will not move’ or ‘I’m just going to stand here and wet myself’ campaign by cuddling him or making him laugh.  My daughter has a knack that I do not have I think.  I should learn from her example I think.  Six years old and she’s already got so much sussed about life. I have a lump in my throat now.

A velcro nature scene, the kids could stick the bees and other animals on the scene wherever they liked. Brilliantly tactile!

Anyway! They had an an ‘Ancient Wisdom’ (2nd July to the 5th September) activity thing set up in the main hall which was perfect for kids.  Lots of interactive displays describing about how the Egyptians developed the use of keys and locks, about how the screw principle can be used for drainage, how aquaducts are made and many more topics were covered too.  Sausage and Darlek loved it and threw themselves into the activities.   I suspect Sausage was a bit puzzled though, at one point he looked up at me and said ‘What is this place, I don’t know what it is?’.  I think he expected a castle with ramparts and stone staircases etc.  To be honest, I’ve never really understood this either, it’s called a ‘Castle’ but is most definitely a museum. (entrance is free by the way if anyone is thinking of going)  and if you’d like info on the place, please click HERE.  (this is not a sponsored post by the way)

An example of two of the stuffed birds they have in their display cabinets. Just imagine the skill that went into preserving them and presenting them in such a life-like manner!

This was only one part of a huge embroidered vista of life from the beginning to the current day. Really amazingly detailed!

Here’s a few pictures of the day’s activities.  It’s funny how much nicer and calmer it all looks in retrospective!  It was actually fun when I think about it.  I think I’m just too tired to think about it too much.  In fact I may fall asleep before I finish posting this.  Maybe I’ll just curl up in this chair and…..

So, a drowsy conclusion.  I don’t think I’m cut out for this parenting marlarkey sometimes, but I’m/we’re in it for the long haul.  I reckon the summer hols are a challenge for most mums so I’m not on my own I hope in feeling a bit over-wrought with it all.   I tried my best, there’s not much more I can do.  I hope my little trouble bubbles enjoyed the day out, despite the occassional bit of bickering.

A sunny Sunflower in the gardens!

I bought Darlek a ring at the gift shop, a beautiful little silver coloured ring shaped like a flower with what I think is called a Moodstone (probably a completely different official name) in the centre of it.  She said she will keep it forever and ever because she loves it so much.  We agreed that it would always remind her of her day out at Cliffe Castle and I said that I hoped that every time she looked at it, she’d remember that I bought it for her because I love her so much.  Is that a silly sentimental thing to say?  Probably, ah well.

A Smashing Weekend!

A Smashing Weekend!

**Before we start, I’m introducing new family members here, we have ‘Gangdad’, (Horace’s dad) so called because Darlek used to call him that when she was little – and Sweara.  Swearer does not, as the name implies, swear lots, although I think she might when we’re not there, I’m not sure.  Sweara is Horace’s mother and my lovely Mother In Law.  She’s fabulous, she puts up with me and feeds me cake quite a lot, so it’s all good!  (Sweara please don’t tease me about cake-eating after this…)

Right so, where was I?  It was Horace’s dad’s 50th birthday do this weekend, so we packed up and shipped over there for the duration.  The kids ran wild outside with a very cute doggy that one of Gangdad’s old uni friends had brought with him.  I don’t think dog identity theft is rife so I shall actually name the doggy, as it became a minor celebrity over the course of the weekend.  Poppy!  I’m not sure what sort of dog it was, but she was black, medium sized, shaggy as a mophead, and was obsessed with catching balls.  The kids adored him and happily kicked and rolled around the soggiest, mankiest, half deflated football you’ve ever seen, to Poppy’s sheer delight.

Horace and I milled around inside talking, drinking and I think I probably fluffed a few random conversations with Gangdad’s friends –  but it was a very friendly affair and not half as traumatic as I always expect parties to be.  You see I’m a bit of a numpty at small talk.  You probably wouldn’t want to sit next to me at one of these do’s!  Anyway! Self-deprecation aside, I decided at one point to go and sit in the conservatory and play with the kids.  This is where the ‘smashing’ bit comes in….

I crouched down to get on the kid’s level, and tried to sit on the floor, inadvertantly pushing a chair backwards.  All I knew then was that the chair slipped back rather more quickly than I expected, and there was  an absolutely ear shattering crash, and then another one, and then lots of tinkling noises.  At that point I had my hands over my ears, had shouted ‘SH*T!  I daren’t look!  What is it?!!!!’ really loudly in front of lots of people I didn’t know very well and I think I did the equivalent of commit social suicide.  Sweara burst out laughing and I’ve never been so relieved in my life!  I thought I was going to be written out of the will.  I’d managed to smash one pole mounted light fitting and two jugs in one fell swoop, the floor was very pretty with all the sparkly glass, but it wasn’t ideal so we all had to clear out of there while I muttered countless apologies, turned red (very red in fact, I already had beer flush), and thanked Sweara a billion times for not murdering me.  So that was nice.

The evening progressed and I began smoking.  I can’t help it!  Give me a glass of wine and I turn into the world’s worst cigarette blagger.  Sorry.  The kids eventually toddled off to bed, and us grown ups sat about talking and Gangdad and Sweara’s mates reminisced about the old days.  For the sake of privacy I’m not going to recite whole conversations, but I have to say there was one about a man who wore two pairs of trousers that I found incredibly amusing.  I don’t think anyone will mind me writing about this, well I hope not anyway.  Maybe smashing random ornaments into tiny pieces and then reciting conversations about old uni friends who wore two pairs of pants at the same time, will be enough for them to finally decide to disown me.  We shall see!

Anyway, it was towards the end of the evening.  I was a little tipsy and very tired so wasn’t following the conversation too well, but they started talking about this really massive tub of coffee that Sweara and Gangdad had bought years ago when they lived in their uni flat.  The story goes that they had a huge party, and someone brought along a man who was quite literally wearing two pairs of trousers, one leg length was half mast, and the other was normal length I presume.  I think in fashionable  circles it’s probably called ‘layering’, but in normal circles it’s more commonly known as ‘a bit odd’.  After this uni party all those years ago, the coffee disappeared and Mr Two-Pairs-Of-Pants took the blame and was muttered about for a while I think.  Years later the coffee turned up down the back of the kitchen cupboard where it must have slipped, so the poor man was oddly dressed, but not a thief after all!  I suppose the moral of the story is, don’t draw attention to yourself (ie. wear excessive trousers or smash half of your In-Law’s conservatory and shout ‘Sh*t!’) or you’ll get earmarked as a trouble maker.  So, that’s me done for then, I thought at the time.

The next day we all headed out to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which is simply one of my my most favourite day’s out activities, ever.  It is a wonderful place filled with huge sculptures that dot the landscape.  I love that these most of these sculptures and works of art, aren’t behind roped off areas, or trapped in cramped display areas, they are quite literally scattered throughout the fields and they can be touched and climbed on (unless there’s signs saying otherwise), and children and adults alike can appreciate them in the open air.  I suppose you could say they are free range art?

A sculpture and a slide!

Fabulous location! Surrounded by sheep and hills!

These are huge sculptures, I don’t know if you can see Horace’s legs in the middle of this photograph?  It gives you some idea of the scale.  There are rivers and bridges, wooded areas, fields, a wier – it’s so picturesque and has a dreamlike quality because of these strange sculptures scattered here and there too!  I don’t know if anyone else knows of that old Future Sounds of London video with all the morphing squidgy shapes (I’m showing my age now)? You see I always feel like I’m walking around on the set of that particular video when I’m here.  Which is no bad thing, I just have to pinch myself every now and then to make sure I’m awake!  It is a little surreal.

My favourite ever place at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is the Deer Shelter.  This is a sizeable white, square building with a roof that lets in an open square of sky where the ceiling is.  There’s no glass when you stare upwards, it is just open to the elements.  Very cleverly the walls slope at an angle and the seats at the sides are just out of the reach of the rain, should it decide to tip it down.  The thing that strikes me every time, is that the square of the walls that surrounds the gap seems like a picture frame, and that nature constantly paints a fresh canvas with rushing clouds, or sunlight filtering through rain, or birds darting overhead. It makes me appreciate the sky like a painting on a wall.  Something like that!  The point I’m making is, if you’re heading over that way, you cannot miss the Deer Shelter, it’s beautiful!

In the Deer Shelter (I was disappointed at the lack of deer in there I have to say)

Here’s another photo of my two clambering around inside another of the outdoor exhibits.

This was a metallic, tall, tubular, winding, caterpillar like sculpture you could hide in.

And of course, Poppy the wonder dog!  Darlek and Sausage would love a dog now, I on the other hand am willing only to stretch as far as a pet snail.  Snails are no good on leads and do not catch sticks so the kid’s aren’t keen unfortunately.

Poppy investigating one of the exhibits.

There’s loads more to see, and they regularly update their collection, so there’s always something new to cast your eyes on.  It does cost £5 per car, which seems a little steep, but if you go early in the day and give yourself enough time to explore everywhere, you can certainly get your money’s worth.  The facilities are great, the visitors’ centre features a cafe and a shop, and I spotted a conference centre too, so it seems a very adaptable, well catered for place.

This isn’t a sponsored post by the way, I just love the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.  You should go!  Especially with a mild hangover, it’s a great cure.  Fresh air, dodging sheep poo, admiring massive oversized wire models of half rabbits/half people in fields, wandering over rivers and up hills, it’s fabulous.

Loved the sillhouettes on this photograph!

After trekking around for a while we sadly left for home, after saying our goodbyes to Gangdad and Sweara.  It was a really great weekend, filled with laughs, smashed ornaments, lovely cake (cake!), soggy doggies, and sunshine mixed with rain.  We always have great memories to come home with after a trip over there.  I just hope they’ll let me in the house again after my destructive behaviour.  *Kay looks hopeful and promises to be good next time*

All photos were taken by Gangdad, as I forgot my phone.  Thank you!